Deep Dive – DIY Instagram Guru’s Secrets: 900k Followers & Beating the Algorithm!

Dive into the world of a DIY content creator who took Instagram by storm, amassing 900k followers with their unique growth strategies. Uncover the secrets behind their success, from pivoting content to hashtag usage, and learn how to apply these insights to your own Instagram journey. Don't miss out on the opportunity to beat the algorithm and grow your account!
Deep Dive - DIY Instagram Guru's Secrets: 900k Followers & Beating the Algorithm!

Get ready for the second article in our Deep Dives series, where we’ll explore the journey of another DIY content creator who’s made it big on Instagram. They’ve got just under 900,00 followers and gained the majority of their audience during 2021.

We’ll be covering growth and growth rate, post types and how they pivoted, engagement rates, post caption sentiment, length, and more. Plus, we’ll be checking out their reels and diving into hashtag usage and what insights we can glean about affiliate/sponsorship posts.

By analyzing their data, we hope to provide you with insights and strategies that you can use to grow your own Instagram account. Let’s dive in and discover what makes this DIY content creator’s Instagram account so successful.

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    Instagram Growth

    Unlike last week’s creator, this DIYer’s growth is much more stair-stepped (which is more like 1776 Faux Farmhouse). There are growth phases and stagnant phases as well.

    As you can see in the chart above, I’ve broken their growth into 8 different phases. Each phase corresponds to the following time periods:

    • Phase 1: Before November 1, 2019
    • Phase 2: Between November 1, 2019 and January 3, 2021
    • Phase 3: Between January 3, 2021 and October 1, 2021
    • Phase 4: Between October 1, 2021 and January 1, 2022
    • Phase 5: Between January 1, 2022 and April 1, 2022
    • Phase 6: Between April 1, 2022 and July 15, 2022
    • Phase 7: Between July 15, 2022 and October 1, 2022
    • Phase 8: After October 1, 2022

    30-Day Growth Rate

    One of the most important metrics to monitor for your own account is your growth rate. We like to look at our growth rate over a 30-day period so that we are able to capture enough data to see if what we are doing is working.

    As you can see for the content creator above, their growth rate is all over the place and gets smaller as they get bigger, which always happens. Growth phases (phase 2, phase 3, phase 5, and phase 7) all kick off with a jump in their growth rate at the beginning of the period.

    What Changed At Each Phase?

    The phase transitions are very important. This content creator has been smart enough to analyze their data and figure out when something is no longer working. Each phase transition represents a pivot in their content strategy.

    Number of Posts per Day

    PhaseAverage Number of Posts Per DayPosts Every What
    Phase 115% of days had a postAbout once a week
    Phase 214% of days had a postAbout once a week
    Phase 311.8% of days had a postAbout once every ten days
    Phase 47.61% of days had a postAbout once every other week
    Phase 57.78% of days had a postAbout once every other week
    Phase 68.57% of days had a postAbout once every 12 days
    Phase 77.69% of days had a postAbout once every other week
    Phase 85.95% of days had a postAbout once every 3 weeks

    This analysis is based on the data currently (March 17, 2023) posted to the creator’s account. Creators are known to delete or archive certain posts after a certain amount of time. That being said…

    A big change that has occurred over this creators career is that they amount of posts they have has been steadily decreasing by phase. A large change happened between Phase 2 and Phase 4, when the creator went from posting once a week to posting every other week.

    We’ve noticed in our own account that changes in posting frequency, either lower or higher, can kill any momentum your account might have. It looks like this happened with Phase 3 growth ending and Phase 4 beginning. The same could be said for the Phase 7 to Phase 8 transition as well as the Phase 5 to Phase 6 transition.

    Algorithms love consistency. As a data scientist, consistent data is the easiest kind of data to model.

    Percentage of Posts that are Videos/Reels

    As we talked a bit about last week, Reels were a giant opportunity to grow your account. This creator actually did the opposite of most creators in Phase 3 and it looks to have paid off.

    Reels were launched on 8/5/2020 and many creators pivoted immediately to Reels. Reels made up a minimal percentage of this creator’s content until 2022, at which point they pivoted. Phase 3 was their biggest growth phase, and the majority of their posts were posts other than videos.

    Phase 172 (45.9%)83 (52.9%)2 (1.3%)
    Phase 213 (21.7%)43 (71.7%)4 (6.7%)
    Phase 310 (31.3%)15 (46.9%)7 (21.9%)
    Phase 41 (14.3%)5 (71.4%)1 (14.3%)
    Phase 51 (14.3%)3 (42.9%)3 (42.9%)
    Phase 60 (0%)3 (33.3%)6 (66.7%)
    Phase 70 (0%)0 (0%)6 (100%)
    Phase 80 (0%)0 (0%)10 (100%)


    The engagement rate for the content creator has been going down over time. This is normal as an account gets bigger. The average engagement on Instagram for home and living is 0.49%, which they are currently well above.

    Engagement Rate by Post Type & Phase

    With fewer posts in all phases after phase 4, the data starts getting a little sparse and it’s hard to draw conclusions. Unlike many of the other creators I’ve looked at, this creator didn’t see a jump in engagement for videos when Reels were immediately released. Their strategy during phase 3 to stick to images and carousels (sidecars) was the right decision for their account and led to exponential growth.

    I think this finding highlights the need to analyze your specific data for your audience. What works for one creator won’t always work for another. Double down on what works for you, not just what the masses are telling you.

    Caption Analysis

    Next up are the captions for their Instagram posts. Captions are an essential component of any Instagram post, providing context and personality to the visual content.

    In this section, we’ll be analyzing the sentiment, length, sentence structure, and question usage of the captions of our featured content creator. By understanding the language and tone used in the captions, we can gain insights into how the content creator is connecting with their audience and how they’re driving engagement.


    Sentiment is calculated on a range from -1 to 1, where -1 is negative, 0 is neutral, and 1 is positive. Most Instagram captions I’ve seen have been more on the positive side and it’s no different here. The plots got a little bit too busy if I put all 8 phases on the graph. 86% of this creator’s posts have a positive sentiment. Phase 7 is an interesting phase where there was slightly more negative sentiment in their posts.

    Word Count

    As with our creator last week, caption word count has been trending down over time. Except for Phase 4 that saw a large jump in word count at the beginning of the phase.

    View count is used as a proxy for reach/impressions since reach and impression count can’t be seen publically. This creator has a slightly negative relationship between the number of video views and the number of words used in their caption.

    Sentence Count

    The number of sentences used follows the relationship to the number of words. I like looking at sentences and word count separately because it might have been a focus of the creator to write smaller easier-to-read sentences. In this case, the creator has always used about 10 words per sentence.


    Next up is hashtags! Hashtags are a powerful tool for increasing reach and engagement on Instagram, allowing content creators to reach new audiences and connect with like-minded individuals.

    In this section, we’ll be analyzing the hashtag usage of our featured content creator, including hashtag counts, top hashtags, and bottom hashtags. We’ll also be examining how hashtags are used in affiliate posts vs non-affiliate posts and ad posts vs non-ad posts.

    By understanding the hashtags that our featured content creator is using and how they’re using them, we can gain valuable insights into how to effectively use hashtags on our own Instagram accounts. We’ll explore how different types of hashtags impact engagement and reach and provide recommendations on how to optimize your hashtag strategy.

    Number of Hashtags

    This creator has used hashtags from the beginning. Over time though they have used fewer and fewer hashtags. Currently, they are using about 5-8 hashtags per post.

    Another interesting finding from the data on video views was that the more hashtags used by this content creator, the lower the views. The correlation between this relationship was low (0=no relationship, 1=perfect relationship), but it is still discernable to your eye.

    Top Hashtags

    RankTagCountEngagementAvg CommentsAvg LikesTotal Video ViewsVideo CountAvg Views

    Bottom Hashtags

    RankTagCountEngagementAvg CommentsAvg LikesTotal Video ViewsVideo CountAvg Views

    Top and bottom hashtags are always interesting to me. It always surprises me how much of a difference you can see between different kinds of hashtags. A couple of things that stick out to me about the hashtags are that hashtags tend to be broader hashtags such as farmhouse, whereas bottom hashtags tend to be more project based hashtags. This is very different from what we saw last week.

    Affiliate Based Hashtags

    This creator, as far as I can tell, does not use an affiliate based hashtags such as #amazon, #ltk, etc.

    Sponsored Based Hashtags

    Sponsored or NotCountEngagementAvg CommentsAvg LikesTotal Video ViewsVideo CountAvg Views

    This graph is very interesting. It’s surprising that 100% of the posts at the beginning of this creator’s journey were sponsored, and it looks like he had sponsorship deals almost every month.

    Deep Dive Final Findings

    Based on this analysis, there are a couple of things that content creators can take from this deep dive to implement in their own content creation.

    • Don’t be afraid to go against the grain: just because everyone is posting Reels doesn’t mean that you have to too.
    • Maintain consistency: algorithms favor consistency, so maintain a regular posting schedule to keep your account’s momentum going.
    • Optimize your captions: Pay attention to sentiment, length, and structure of your captions, as they provide context and personality to your posts, helping to drive engagement.
    • Use hashtags effectively: experiment with different types of hashtags (broader or more project-based) to increase reach and engagement. Monitor the performance of your hashtags and adjust your strategy accordingly.

    Thanks for reading this Deep Dive! I was able to learn a lot about how to improve our own content creation business, and I hope you have too.

    When You Are Ready, There Are 3 Ways I Can Help:

    1 – If you’re looking to further improve & grow your social media using analytics, I’d recommend starting with a course:

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        3 – Promote yourself to over 140k+ followers/subscribers by collaborating with me on a project!

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