Deep Dive: From 0 to 1.4M – Dissecting Success on Instagram

Get ready for the fourth 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 1.4M followers and gained their audience over a 5-year time span.

I decided to analyze a creator in a different niche this week besides DIY because analytics can help everyone, not just those in our niche.

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 content creator’s Instagram account so successful.

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    Instagram Growth

    This creator has had more sustained growth over a long period of time. This creator has been around for a long time. The growth is very similar to our first creator who saw linear growth.

    As you can see in the chart above, I’ve broken this creators growth into 3 different phases:

    • Phase 1: Through 3/01/2021
    • Phase 2: From 3/01/2021 to 11/22/2022
    • Phase 3: From 11/22/2022 to present day

    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.

    For this creator, in Phase 1, and a consistently high growth rate. There was never explosive growth though like we’ve seen with other creators. There were certainly peaks, above 15%, but nothing close 600% growth we saw last week.

    What Changed At Each Phase?

    The phase transitions are very important. If creators analyze their data and look for trends, they might be able to replicate the explosive growth that happened at specific times.

    Number of Posts Per Day

    PhaseAverage Number of Posts Per DayTotal Number of PostsTotal Number of Days
    Phase 178.6% of days had a post9081155
    Phase 218.0% of days had a post110610
    Phase 316.5% of days had a post25151

    I wasn’t able to get data on the really old posts, and that’s why it shows 0% very early on. I’d expect the trend in Phase 1 to continue clear back to the beginning of the time frame if I had all of the data.

    There is something very interesting about this account that we haven’t seen with other creators. They post multiple times per day. For the majority of Phase 1, they were posting more than once per day on average. This trend was unsustainable and slowly trended down over time whereas towards the end of Phase 1, they were posting about 1 time per day.

    During Phase 2, the stagnant phase, they were posting about once every 3 to 4 days. Interestingly enough the creator again started posting more in Phase 3 and their growth started accelerating.

    Percentage of Posts that are Videos/Reels

    This creator missed the boat during Phase 2 and the main thing that can account for the stagnant growth during Phase 2 is not recognizing the shift to Reels. Reels were released in August 2020 and we didn’t see a video from this creator until 13 months later. This highlights the importance of analyzing your data and staying on top of trends, even for large creators.

    Phase 1805 (88.6%)103(11.3%)0 (0%)
    Phase 238 (34.5%)60 (54.5%)12 (10.9%)
    Phase 30 (0%)5 (20%)20 (80%)

    So What Caused The Growth?

    The sustained growth in Phase 1 can be attributed to consistently posting every day, sometimes multiple times per day. In the beginning, the creator was posting almost 2 times per day. I think this played a large part in their growth, especially when static image posts were the only thing available on the platform.

    The slowdown in Phase 2 can be attributed to missing out on the Reels and the value that they could provide your audience during this time period. Pivoting to new things is very important as a creator, but it’s not the only thing that defines your growth. The slowdown in the number of posts per day also led to slower or a stagnant audience. We saw the same thing with our 2nd deep dive where changing the frequency of posts can alter your growth.


    This creator has had very consistent engagement month after month, usually hovering around right around 10%. Phase 3 however has seen a steep drop in engagement, which is kind of interesting. I’m guessing the creator’s audience doesn’t interact with Reels the same way they interact with carousel and image posts.

    Engagement Rate by Post Type & Phase

    The drop off in engagement in Phase 3 is really interesting since it also happened to carousels. There is something that has changed in Phase 3 that has altered this creator’s engagement and I’m not sure what it could be.

    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. 87% of posts by this creator have a positive sentiment.

    Each phase has been getting slightly more positive as well, which is an interesting trend.

    There is a slight negative relationship between caption sentiment and video view count. The more negative, the higher the view count. However, this creator has such few videos that until there is more data this isn’t a concrete finding.

    Word Count

    Similar to other creators, the captions have been getting shorter and shorter over time. I’m not sure if this trend is caused by burnout among creators, or if there is an actual advantage to shorter captions at the moment. I would need to analyze data from multiple creators to figure out if that’s the case.

    As with our last two creators, caption word count has been trending down over time.

    Number of Questions by Phase

    Using questions has been a common tactic among creators to increase engagement for their content. I looked at the number of questions asked in their captions to determine if anything had changed.

    This creator usually asks a question about once every 4 posts. The interesting thing though is that engagement actually goes down for this creator whenever there is a question mark in their caption:

    The average engagement rate is 8.83% when no question is asked and increases to 9.36% when at least one question is asked. That’s a 6% increase in engagement due to asking questions.


    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

    The number of hashtags used has been trending down since the beginning. This is consistent with the finding that the number of words in their captions has also been trending down.

    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. Affiliate hashtags were top AND bottom performers for this creator which is interesting. Ads were similar with #sponsor being 6th on the top list while ad is 3rd on the bottom list.

    Affiliate Based Hashtags

    Affiliate or NotCountEngagementAvg CommentsAvg LikesTotal Video ViewsVideo CountAvg Views

    This creator is a heavy affiliate link creator, even in their latest posts if you look at the manually. They have just changed their hashtag strategy from #ltk, #amazon, etc. to more retailer-specific hashtags such as #target. These are harder to group as affiliate hashtags since they might be either an affiliate or sponsored posts.

    Sponsored Based Hashtags

    Sponsored or NotCountEngagementAvg CommentsAvg LikesTotal Video ViewsVideo CountAvg Views

    This is that rare creator where engagement is actually higher on sponsored posts. Back to back weeks now that we’ve seen this. A creator like this is incredibly valuable to brands because of the increase in engagement on advertisement posts.

    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.

    • Analyze your data! Without looking at your data, it can be hard to know why your growth has stopped and what to do about it if it has.
    • Posting multiple times a day can be a useful strategy for some creators. It’s not for everyone though because it can lead to higher rates of burnout.

    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:

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