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I just want to start off by saying… Instagram can be freaking frustrating sometimes, don’t you think?!

I see these accounts with tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of followers and I just want to be able to get to that level on the accounts I manage and I want to get there FAST!  With as little effort as possible.  Are you with me?

So I keep trying to find tricks and ways to gain more followers with less effort… and you know what… it doesn’t work.  Or at least I haven’t gotten it to work for me yet. 

And honestly, it’s frustrating and a little embarrassing.  I am a ten-year digital marketer whose managed hundreds of social media accounts.  I should be able to trick the system right?!

Well, what I keep learning over and over is it just… takes… WORK! It’s called social networking for a reason… You have to netWORK! #dangitalltoheck

So… below is a failed Instagram experiment I tried.  Take a look at it, wallow in the pity of failure with me, and then let’s all get back to doing our best and being productive, valuable members of online communities that help to grow our businesses.  Yeah?

Hypothesis: Gateway Accounts on Instagram organically attract more followers than Brand Accounts.


  • Fresh new Instagram account with niche-specific “brand” and handle: @positivethoughtslab
  • Canva for graphic creation
  • Tailwind for scheduling and hashtag recommendations


  1. Create Instagram profile
    • Found an available niche-specific handle which was memorable and not too long
  2. Create logo on Canva based on available handle
  3. Search for famous quotes related to niche
  4. Create a template in Canva for quote posts
  5. Load all quotes into Canva template and export jpgs
  6. Create Tailwind account for new Instagram profile
  7. Upload all quote post graphics into Tailwind
  8. Create a list of 15 or so hashtags to use for the campaign
  9. Post one post per day


I think I can get 200 new followers in 4 weeks posting once per day

Opening Date: 4/08/2019

Closing Date: 5/06/2019

Opening follower count: 56

Desired following in 2 weeks: 256

Needed daily average follower increase: ~7

Final follower count: 53 ☹


Niche-specific accounts with relevant content and hashtags alone will NOT increase Instagram following at a higher rate than personal brand accounts, corporate accounts etc.

Observations to Consider:

  • Throughout the experiment I did not do any presence management (didn’t follow new accounts or comment on other accounts etc)
  • The visual nature of all of my posts was identical.  Each post had the same colored background, same font, same colored text.  Potentially some variety could increase interest and curiosity in the content.
  • Each post used almost the same set of hashtags.  Potentially including some variety in the hashtags selected could increase the reach and attention the posts get.
  • I posted the hashtags in the original caption for the photo.  Potentially putting them in the comments could increase post interest.

If you liked this and want to continue the conversation, consider joining SprySpace – the Facebook group where digital marketers go for education, support, and virtual giggling.