Case Study: 4 Instagram Posts that Got Me 1,000+ Followers Each

And 4 things each post have in common.

I get most of my followers through posts that reach an audience beyond my own. The usual number is in the hundreds per post, but occasionally, I manage to get everything right with the post and gain over 1,000 new followers.

There are four things to master: the photo, the caption, the commentability, and the right hashtags. Get these right, and you’ll get in front of new people. If your profile is in order, that will result in a wave of new followers every time you post.

Let’s look at the four posts — which I’ve included stats for — and the four things to master so that you can all accelerate the growth of your accounts.

A Photo That Stops You From Scrolling

Grabbing the attention of people is your number one priority. Without that, nothing else matters. The photo (or video) is like the title of your article or the subject line of your email. It needs to hit in a millisecond.

That’s done with clarity, quality, and differentiation. People see hundreds of posts every day. You need something that gets its point across faster, prettier, and differently.

Think about the numbness of someone’s brain who has browsed past 200 posts earlier that day. That’s the enemy you have to defeat to stop someone from scrolling.

A Caption That’s Punchy and Easy to Understand

A quote that concisely articulates the core reason people like minimalist wardrobes. Easy to relate to. The promotional part underneath probably didn’t help, though. 1,459 new followers. Photo by @slow.choices.

You have their attention. Will you get their interest?

Now you have more than a millisecond, but not by much. People in Instagram mode have virtually no attention span. They seek quick dopamine boosts and it’s your job to deliver them.

Your captions can be longer than a couple of sentences as long as they always follow a strict red line. Nowhere is this more important than on Instagram.

Almost equally as important is that the caption relates closely to the post. Otherwise, it’s one more mental hurdle for people to overcome when they’ve been stopped by a certain image, and then the caption is about something else.

Only when you’ve successfully stopped some and gotten them to take in all the inspiration your post holds do you have a chance to get some love back.

Easy, Inviting, and Worthwhile to Comment On

Versatility, one of the essential concepts in a minimalist wardrobe, visualized. Mix it up however you like, and you’ll have a nice looking outfit. 1,587 new followers. Photo by @lillyandgrant.

Having a pointless question is the best way to not get comments.

Nobody likes being taken advantage of. People have dealt with social media enough to understand that when a clothing brand asks people what their favorite thing about Sundays is, it’s just to get cheap comments out of them.

However, many people enjoy being helpful and sharing their opinion — when they feel like it matters. If your post gives people a natural chance to share a relevant experience, or to chime in with a helpful note, you will get comments.

Strong opinions invite comments too. There’s a clear difference between writing something that you follow up with “on the other hand,”“of course we have to account for,” or “yes, doing that matters too,” and something that you state with confidence without apologizing for it. The latter opens up discussion, and if you feel like you want to clarify your stance, do so in the comments.

Lastly, some posts simply awaken such strong emotions that people feel obligated to say something.

Focus on the post and the complete message — not cheap tricks — and you will get engagement.

The Right Hashtags

A beautiful wardrobe displayed with an introductory explanation of the minimalist wardrobe philosophy. The perfect first post for people unfamiliar with minimalist wardrobes. 1,611 new followers. Photo by @stonemuse.

If your posts don’t reach beyond your audience, you’re not going to get new followers.

You get in front of new people in three ways: someone sharing your post, getting promoted by Instagram on the Explore Page, and through the use of hashtags. Success with hashtags is the only thing of these three that you have some control over besides making the post as good as possible.

The idea is to understand what most people want to see when they search for, or follow, a certain hashtag — because this is what Instagram will give the most traction to within that hashtag. When people show interest in #sustainablefashion, you need to know if they’re looking for outfit inspiration, specific garments, or info about the sustainable fashion movement.

Fortunately, you don’t have to guess. Just search for #sustainablefashion and inspect the top posts. What kind of questions and interests do they fulfill? Does your post really give people what they want here? Because if it doesn’t, Instagram will notice, and your defense of, “but this can be counted as #sustainablefashion!” doesn’t matter.

Give people what they want, do it well, and you’ll get your prize.

Give a Good First Impression of Your Profile

What happens when you’ve managed to get in front of hundreds of thousands of people with a spectacular post? Many of these people will check out your profile and then decide if they want to follow you.

You’ve impressed them with your post, but a confusing, cheap-looking, or straight up ugly profile will make people swipe back before tapping the follow button.

Having a clear bio and a decent grid aesthetic is low effort, high reward — so make sure those are in check.

A high follower count will help make your profile more attractive too, which is clearly something you’re headed toward if you read this far. Good luck!