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How I Organically Grew My Instagram Account to Over 40,000 Followers in 2 Years

Kerrie Fitzgerald
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The Dapper Dog Box:

The Dapper Dog Box is a company I founded in late 2016 and build from the ground up, so everything I created was from scratch. I grew this account organically to 41,400 followers, (no bots, no purchased followers, no pods, no follow for follows.

Personal Disclosure: In all honesty, when I first started this account, I didn’t have any strategy, nor did I know what I was doing. I had never really used instagram before and it was pretty intimidating. As I starting using it and gaining customers, I saw how incredibly valuable of a business tool it was. I dove in to learn and test as much as I could. I did trainings, listening to too many podcasts and started to create and formulate a strategy that allowed me to grow quickly and gain thousands of loyal customers for the business.

Once I started to utilize the analytics and see what content was working and what wasn’t working, that is one of the ways I grew the account. In 2018, I grew almost 25,000 followers and with the help of ads and amazing followers, i leveraged 20-30% of my yearly revenue from this platform.

The feed was filled with a combination of my personal content, user generated content, images from influencers and ambassadors, images from customers and then fun pet accounts. The look and feel was all about being fun, being vibrant and being colorful and 100% on brand!I made it really fun for people to follow us. I incorporated story telling into all my content and built a little family on the instagram account.

 

Kerrie Fitzgerald Marketing Instagram

Below are sample instagram accounts that I created a new growth strategy for and created a sample look and feel through with new image content in Planoly

  1. Bobby and Bambis Dog Bakery: An Organic Dog Treat + Bakery Company in Los Angeles

Although they have a stunning feed, I wanted to incorporate a proper strategy to help them with not only getting more business from instagram but also growing their follower count. For their new feed I did the following:

  1. I incorporated fun images of dogs that make people laugh or smile. These types of fun images are what attracts new followers. Instagram should not be about 100% selling or pushing products to a follower, its about building trust and connections and people will follow accounts that make them smile.
  2. Added personal images of the owners dog Bobby. Every 9 posts should be a personal one, that builds trust with followers and tells a story. In this particular image ( 3rd down on the right) I chose a birthday image because Bobby and Bambi will start to rebrand and shift focus on the products they want customers to purchase and will be focusing more on a dogs birthday and birthday cakes.
  3. Sprinkled in some fun inspirational quotes. With the right hashtags and captions, these are meant to build strong engagement, with a CTA so people comment on the photo and with relevant hashtags to potentially get in front of new followers.
  4. Added only a handful of product photos. The feed is meant to build connection not to focus only on products 100% of the time, which sadly gets the least amount of likes and engagement.
  5. I used a preset photo filter so all content has the same look and feel and aesthetic is consistent.

This is a sample feed I built in Planoly and incorporated the new strategy and plan.


This is their old feed. Although stunning, it focuses almost 100% on product photos and lacks engagement and focus.

2. Style By Nic: A Boston based Hairdresser

When I spoke with Nicole, she expressed frustration that despite her efforts her account wasnt growing and it lacked engagement. I developed a growth strategy to increase followers, engagement and build her brand so she gets more customers at her hair salon. For Nicole’s feed I did the following:

  1. Because Nicole is trying to attract more customers to her salon, I wanted to really incorporate more of her into the feed. This really allows followers to build trust and connection with her. Adding personal images of her in different settngs and some from her salon team will really allow customers to build that connection.
  2. Adding other trendy lifestyle imagery that would be appealing to someone interested in hair, ie- coachella style, trendy hair braids and flower crowns, . This allows her to get her images in front of new followers with similar interests and allows nicoles brand to be able to pivot or evolve from hair to other makeup or lifestyle brands.
  3. Incorporating wedding style images. Nicole gets booked for wedding hair and she wants to build up that clientelle, so adding wedding images and the correct and relevant hashtags will allow her to get her images in front of brides looking for a hair stylist for their special day

Bellow is Nicoles old feed. It mainly focused on back of head images only, and lacked engagement and proper strategy for growth.

3. Gemma Rose Project: A Long Island based dog poop bag company

One of my personal favorite pet companies! They are an amzing small business run by Nick, an IT professional by day and small business crusher by night. He was inspired to start this company based on the love he has for his rescue german shepard named Gemma. He created a brand that focuses on giving back to pet charities and a product that is extremely high quality and earth friendly. After speaking to Nick, I knew I wanted to transform his feed into a more high end feel, that included images of Gemma, himself, fun dog images that followers love to see and a minimal of fun product images.

  1. I wanted his look and feel to be on brand and since his product is pink, it made sense to have a general pink theme to the feed. Since his main target customer is a female, 20’s to 30’s this pink light and fun feel is very attractive to millennials who want to spoil their dog.
  2. Incorporating images of Nick and telling his story and reintroducing himself to his followers. He has a powerful story and one that evokes emotion to a follower so it’s important to keep pushing that. I also wanted to add in photos of Gemma ( the bottom right) because she is the muse and inspiration behind the company. I worked with Nick to take a collection of images of himself and Gemma with clean backgrounds and use content spread out over a few months to incorporate into the feed and new website.
  3. Using some product photos, but only photos that have clean backgrounds
  4. Incorporating fun dog images! This is what customers want to see- they want to smile and laugh at images and luckily there are an abundance of pet images that Nick can repost and focusing on different dog breeds will constantly get him in front of new followers.
  5. Hashtag research. For this account we needed to do some hashtag research and get top hashtags for a lot of different pockets of content, since I wanted to get this account in front of a wide variety of dog groups ( doodles, shepards, Labradors) etc its important to get a lot of hashtags to use and use different ones
  6. All images have a preset photo filter for a consistent look and feel

This is their old feed. It lacked a strategy for growth and monetization and included things like the white or black reposting strips on the bottom of some images, no consistency of images.

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