Deep Dive: From Zero to 1.2 Million – Instagram Growth Strategies of a Leading Content Creator

In this blog post, we dive deep into the success story of a top Instagram creator with over 1.2 million followers. By analyzing their growth, engagement, content strategies, and more, we uncover valuable insights and actionable Instagram growth strategies that can be applied to your own account. Learn how consistent posting, embracing video content, optimizing captions, and utilizing effective hashtags can propel your Instagram success to new heights.

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 the majority of their audience since 2020.

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 consistent growth. The growth is very similar to our first creator who saw linear growth. Even still, there is an inflection point in February of 2022 where their growth jumps into overdrive.

    As you can see in the chart above, I’ve broken this creators growth into 2 different phases:

    • Phase 1: Through 2/01/2022
    • Phase 2: From 2/01/2022 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.

    This creator has had consistently high growth since 2020, their average 30-day growth rate was 11.14% which is significantly higher than the average creator. This is a testament to the type of content that this creator is creating.

    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 12.0 posts per day729365
    Phase 21.51 posts per day661438

    I wasn’t able to get data on the really old posts, and I removed this data from Phase 1. 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. This is very similar to the last creator we did a deep dive on.

    For the majority of Phase 1, they were posting almost twice a day, if not more. The creator has slowly had a trend trending down over time. This slow down in posting however has led to accelerated growth.

    Percentage of Posts that are Videos/Reels

    This creator didn’t go all in on Reels until Phase 2. I would strongly contend that this is the reason for their increased growth.

    Phase 183 (11.1%)422 (56.3%)244 (32.6%)
    Phase 23 (0.4%)18 (2.72%)640 (96.8%)

    So What Caused The Growth?

    The sustained growth in Phase 1 can be attributed to consistently posting every day, and even multiple 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 acceleration in growth in Phase 2 can be attributed to the pivot to Reels. Clearly, the creator has gone all in on Reels during this time period and it’s paid off.


    This creators engagement has been fairly consistent, however, there was a large spike in engagement at the start of phase 2.

    Engagement Rate by Post Type & Phase

    Even in phase 1, video had a much higher engagement. If the creator had picked up on this fact, perhaps their growth might have been accelerated sooner.

    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. 90% of posts by this creator have a positive sentiment.

    In each deep dive I’ve down so far, most creators get more negative over time. It’s the opposite for this creator. This could be another reason why their growth was accelerated in the second phase.

    Word Count

    This creator is also different from other creators in that their captions have stayed a consistent length over time. I think this speaks to the dedication that the creator puts in their craft day in and day out.

    On other thing I found interesting is that for this creator there is a slight negative relationship between video view count and caption length:

    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 20 posts. For this creator, engagement increases when they ask more questions:

    The average engagement rate is 1.72% when no question is asked, increases to 2.60% when one question is asked, and increases again to 3.09% when 2 or more questions are asked.

    Video Analysis

    From Phase 1 to Phase 2 this creator had a dramatic shift in strategy. They switched to very short videos:

    In Phase 1 the average video length was 26.4 seconds, while in Phase 2 it dropped to 17.7 seconds. That’s a 33% decrease in video length.

    Another interesting finding is that with this creator, the shorter the video, the higher the view count:


    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 seems to be consistent with every creator we’ve come across so far.

    Top Hashtags

    RankTagCountEngagementAvg CommentsAvg LikesTotal Video ViewsVideo CountAvg Views

    Bottom Hashtags

    RankTagCountEngagementAvg CommentsAvg LikesTotal Video ViewsVideo CountAvg Views

    This is the second time I’ve seen InstagramReels, Reel, and ReelsInstagram on the top list of hashtags for a creator.

    Affiliate Based Hashtags

    This creator doesn’t use any affiliate-based hashtags like LTK or Amazon.

    Sponsored Based Hashtags

    Sponsored or NotCountEngagementAvg CommentsAvg LikesTotal Video ViewsVideo CountAvg Views

    This creator sees significantly lower engagement on sponsored posts, which is pretty normal.

    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.

    • Consistent Posting: Maintain a consistent posting schedule, ideally at least once a day or more, to keep your audience engaged and increase visibility on the platform.
    • Monitor Video Length: Consider creating shorter videos, as they have been shown to garner higher view counts for the analyzed creator. Test various video lengths to determine the optimal length for your content and audience.
    • Optimize Captions: Craft captions that are positive, engaging, and concise. Incorporate questions in your captions to encourage interaction and increase engagement rates.

    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.

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