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Gary V’s $1.80 Instagram Strategy: Outdated and Bad for Mental Health

Published July 30, 2021

Back in 2019 we wrote about Gary V’s $1.80 Instagram Strategy and tested it to see how it worked. Back then, it was a resounding success! But how does it measure up now, in 2021? As we all know, algorithms, platforms, and human patterns change, and with that, so should our tactics for reaching people. We re-ran the $1.80 Instagram Experiment and found that it is much more productive to balance your time with interacting and creating content. Now, time spent creating videos (Reels/TikToks) is much more valuable than spending hours writing messages on posts just because they utilize a hashtag. Hashtags are tricky, sneaky devices – and to really find likeminded accounts sometimes you have to do some major research.

The Experiment

Basically, the $1.80 Instagram experiment is this. Inspired by the idiom “leave your two cents”, you pick the top 10 hashtags you want to be associated with, and you make a comment on the top 9 posts for each hashtag every day. Let’s do the math: 10 hashtags times 9 posts each is 90 bits of $0.02 cents, which equals $1.80. Bingo!

Back in 2019 when I ran this experiment consistently for 7 days we gained 150 followers in one week (from 300 followers), which is amazing growth. Not only did we gain followers, but we also upped our engagement rate – once people started seeing us interacting, they went over to our page to check us out!

It was hard to maintain the $1.80 strategy back in 2019 because making 90 comments every day takes WORK. Gary wrote that you shouldn’t spend more than 2 minutes on a post, but let’s do some more math – 2 minutes times 90 comments is 180 minutes which also equals 3 hours. Gary was also giving out advice during a different time when Instagram didn’t have Stories or Reels and focused only on images.

During the 2021 attempt, I tried to replicate the experiment EXACTLY as I had done it in 2019. However, the two minute rule that Gary V suggested for comments went right out the window. Due to increased posts around selling, micro-niches, and spam, it was like hunting an Easter egg trying to find nine images that were worth commenting on. It would easily take me 10 minutes to find a reasonable post, read into the context, and then make an intelligent comment. I caved in on the second day of the experiment, and sided with mental health and time management as more important than following a slightly-spammy experiment.


Even though I didn’t do Gary V’s $1.80 experiment exactly as I originally intended, I still came out with some great insights and methods to upping your Instagram game.


  1. Do some Hashtag research. Spend a scheduled hour looking at your competitors, potential clients, and Explore page to see what hashtags are out there. Let the content take you to more content and more hashtags. Instagram rabbit holes can be so FUN. Especially when you make sure that you have set aside that hour specifically for that task and don’t feel guilty about burring your face in your phone when you’re with your family. Once your scheduled hour is up, call it quits for the day for IG research. I mean it. 
  2. Keep a document of all the hashtags, handles, locations, and other data you collect. Put it in an easily accessible place, whether that’s a printout next to your computer or a digital file on your desktop. Make sure to add to your collection as time goes on!
  3. Look for and use longer, more specific hashtags so they do not get lost in the swamp of more generic, popular hashtags. Example; rather than using #spaday, use #hotrockspaday
  4. Follow the hashtags you will be using so the content shows up in your IG feed to make those interactions simpler when you sit down to do your focused IG work.

6 Ways to Engage on Instagram

As with anything valuable, you must spend focused time on taking care of it to get good results. For the sake of your own self care, we suggest you pick a time and day of the week that you plan to do some ‘gramming and spend a half-hour or an hour going down this list, every week or biweekly, or daily… whatever you choose, just be consistent and intentional. Make it a task that you can check off your to-do list.

  1. Tag others when it is appropriate and natural to bring them into the conversation.
  2. Find your target demo and interact with them in comments and on stories. Ask questions to get them to engage back with you. Be genuine.
  3. Always engage with your own posts. If someone comments, make sure to reply.
  4. Spy on your competitors and engage with people engaging with them.
  5. Engage with your audience shortly before and shortly after you post new content. This encourages new followers and engagement when they follow your cookie trail of interaction back to your profile. Timing is important.
  6. Share other accounts valuable content to your stories, and tag them! This gives your audience valuable content that they may like, and it starts a conversation with another creator!
  7. Find people who have been tagged in locations near you or relevant to your business and engage with them. Location tags are a huge opportunity for engagement!

We think the $1.80 IG Strategy should be rebranded to a Time-Based Strategy

The $1.80 Instagram Strategy used to be one of our favorites here at Spry. This method works tremendously if you are willing to give it a try, but you need to adjust it for your own goals, if you have any sort of non-digital life that you love.

With Instagram engagement, you really can’t go too wrong if you are spending time on the platform and striking up organic conversations and genuine interactions. We encourage you to make the time and spend the time on the platform. Once that time is up, let it go and work on it again when that time slot comes back around. This might be a slightly slower way to build your audience organically, but we think it will be more enjoyable and you’re most likely to be consistent (which is KEY!) if you aren’t resistant because you are burnt out.

As always, we are cheering you on from here and when you decide you just don’t want to do it anymore, give us a call… we’re for hire!

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