How To Grow An Engaged Instagram Following

How To Grow An Engaged Instagram Following

“How do I grow my Instagram account?”

“How do I get more followers?”

“How do I use Instagram to grow my business and make money?”

These are some of the questions our CIRCLE clients ask us on a daily basis.

There is a lot of information about this and when searching Google for Instagram strategy tips, you will find countless articles addressing things like:

  • Photo Quality
  • What to put in your bio line
  • Using the link as a call to action
  • When to post
  • How often to post
  • Tagging people
  • Geo-tagging
  • Hash-tagging
  • Dog tagging
  • BLAH..BLAH.. BLAH!!!

Don’t get me wrong.. this stuff is important… it’s just that.. well.. it’s all everyone talks about and NO ONE is talking about the MOST IMPORTANT THINGS! It’s kind of like building a sailboat without knowing where you want to go and why you want to go there. That is why when we work with brands on their social media platforms we always begin with this question..


… seriously. And why are you even breathing? (just kidding… kind of). Is it just because everyone else is? Just cause you wanna make money? Because you want another place for people to see YOU? Or do you have a reason that is bigger than yourself? It’s not woo-woo… It’s the painfully obvious question that the majority are overlooking!

Brands of the future have this figured out. So if you can’t quickly answer this in a clear and compelling way then I am betting you aren’t one of them. And you probably won’t stand out on Instagram or in life.

Why are you reading this? Is it because you are ready to grow an engaged Instagram following? 

If so, then let’s get down to business and jump into this three-part series on HOW to do just that! 


Don’t know your purpose? Read on and stop strategizing and clarify your purpose! 

The question of WHY is really the question of purpose. And purpose is the foundation of all strategy. Don’t get me wrong.. we teach strategy. We teach people proven strategies that have generated millions of dollars in our own companies and with clients. But the truth about strategy is that it’s really not the starting place. Most people want strategies but they haven’t even figured out why they exist. There are strategies that work, but they come and go, they change and evolve… and if you build your business on a strategy you may win in the short term but eventually things will change and you will need a new one. Then what?


Having a deep and great clarity on your WHY is one of the most powerful things you can do for you brand. Period. It will provide a framework from which you can create endless strategies.. and reincarnate a hundred times while remaining consistent in your marketplace. And having a compelling WHY is really the secret sauce to companies that stand out on Instagram. It cannot be underestimated. That is why we make this the foundation of all social media strategy.


Important questions to ask yourself when approaching your “why”:

  1. Is it abundantly, insanely clear? Can you and others picture it instantly? Could it be more specific or simple? Can it be understood by a 6 year old? Or are you hiding?
  2. Is it ridiculously compelling? Does it save lives or solve problems that real people actually have? Does it enhance people’s lives in a tangible way? Does it make me want to do a backflip with a half twist into a champagne pool? Or is it boring?
  3. Is it authentic? Do you actually give a f**k? When you woke up this morning did you say “Thank GOD that I get to do this today!!” Did it crawl out of the deepest core impulse of your soul? Or are you trying to be something you’re not?


The clearer you are with your customers about why you exist, the more easily it will be for them to build a relationship with you and trust you. We help brands clarify this stuff so they can get on to the work of their business. Sometimes that means we take them through long and deep journeys of soul charting exploration to uncover their vision, mission, purpose, values, disruptive angles, offer, and messaging.. But other times we just use the X, Y, Z test. Here’s how it goes: 

We help X do Y so that Z.

X= type of person
Y= type of activity
Z= type of result

Some examples:

Hi, my name is Morpheus. I help the chosen one find his path so he can liberate all of humanity.

The Disruptive: We help socially conscious entrepreneurs grow their businesses so they can change the world.

There are all sorts of variations of this formula.. Such as this:

Hi, my name is Willy Wonka. I make fantastical candies for children so they can rediscover the magic of life.

The bottom line here is that when you can articulate yourself in a clear and compelling way, it will naturally resonate with your community. Which leads us to the next most important question..


Your reason for being on Instagram is to add value to your community. So who are they? Are they painters? Teenage girls who love fashion? Anyone who likes travel? Hikers and Kayakers? What makes them who they are? What is their life like? What do they value? What things do they like? What do they want in life? What makes them laugh? What is holding them back from achieving their dream? What is their biggest fear and greatest pleasure? What books have they read? What shows do they watch? If they had a million dollars, what would they spend it on? What makes them angry!? Who else do they follow?

The better you know your community, the easier it will be to create positive experiences for them


Stop selling and start creating an experience. 

When you are selling, it’s all about you. But when you are creating an experience it’s about them. Your goal is not to build a following. It is to cultivate a community. And there IS a difference. Just because you get 1,000 likes when you post photos of your booty, does not mean you have a community!

In order to build community, you must stop thinking of people as ‘followers’ or ‘customers’ and start thinking of them as fellow travelers on an epic journey to a better life that you can help them get closer to.

Are you helping them do that? Are you actually connecting with people? Are you leading them into an experience that they like and want? Are people living better lives because of you? Or are you just posting pictures of your new product? Or your booty?


The basic idea here is to treat your Instagram community more like people with souls and less like passive onlookers, voyeurs or cattle to herd toward a purchase. Imagine your brand was putting on a 3 day event. What would you plan? Where would it happen? Who would come and why? What questions would people be asking? What would the space look like? Would there be speakers? If so, who would you bring in? What kind of things would you do together? What would conversations be like? What kind of food would you eat? How would you want people feel? What would they be wearing? How would people’s lives change? Would there be an after party?


A recent study showed that brands that inspire a higher emotional intensity receive 3x as much word of mouth than less emotionally-connected brands (Journal of Marketing Research). Instagram is not just the place to express your brand visually, it is a place that will actually start people on the pathway toward an (emotional) experience that they want to have. Quality experiences are what create trust over time.. and trust is real life magic sauce. Instagram is not about the Insta-sale.. It’s about the long term relationship. Every time someone clicks “Follow” they are allowing your brand the privilege of being known.. giving you permission to take them on a journey, and the brands which can deliver the best experiences to their community will win.


Here is a list of questions to help you clarify the experience you are creating on Instagram:

  • How would I define the experience that I want my community to have?
  • What are 5 benefits my community will receive from me?
  • What are 5 things they will learn from me?
  • What are 3 emotions they will feel?
  • What are 3 places I will use Instagram to lead them to?
  • Have you asked your community what they like, love, want, or feel?

When your community experiences something great on your platform.. when people are made to feel something awesome.. then the numbers will start to grow. THEN!!! ….. THEN!!! … when your own garden is thriving with life and abundance and people are frolicking around in a pastoral utopia of adoration…

THEN you are ready to look to the hills and harness the secret weapon, to tap the hidden wells of the 3rd most powerful Golden Rule of Instagram Growth!