What is Instagram Growth Hacking? – Increase Your Reach on Instagram

social medias growth

Wow. Hello world!

This is the first-ever blog post on Viralspy and it took me time to figure out what to write first. In the beginning I thought to give it the title “what is Viralspy” but one cannot simply answer that question in a technical matter.

I probably should write the technical explanation about the advanced technology behind the research features that help you find what is currently trending on social media. But I think that before talking about technicalities, we have to understand the why.

And when you ask why then the answer is clear: growth. I’m here and you’re here for the same purpose, generating growth for social accounts like the Instagram account you try to gain followers to. And the best part is that your focus is to generate organic growth to your Instagram account while my goal is… the same!

I want to introduce you to growth hacking and how it’s related to social media marketing. I want to help you figure out how to become a growth hacker and make more from the content you post on social media.

Why do you need a content research platform to grow on social media?

The most important question that content creators ask if they want to generate healthy Instagram organic growth of real followers is: What content should I post to get the maximum reach and the most engagement?

What is your maximum reach today?

With 39.6% of the US population Instagram offers an incredible reach opportunity. OK, maybe you won’t reach 140 million people, but can you imagine a more realistic number that you could reach in your niche?

The number of Intagram users is takes from Hootsuit’s Q4 report for 2020

Who does content research to generate organic growth on Instagram?

People that want to generate organic growth on Instagram include:

  1. Theme account owners (For example, meme accounts. These are also known as “faceless accounts” and called “reposting accounts” when they don’t generate their own content)
  2. Influencers
  3. Brands
  4. Social media marketing agencies

And basically, anyone that is looking to generate growth on Instagram organically, without paying for fake followers and likes. And that’s a lot of people… How many exactly? According to Instagram over 1 million posts per day mention the word “meme”.

Here is one of the top viral memes of 2020:

This meme got over a million likes, not bad considering the average likes this account is getting at the time of writing this article, only 211K. That’s how viral looks like.

So what is Instagram growth hacking?

As I said, the title I chose for this post uses the term “growth hacking”. It might sound to you like some illegal activity of hacking Instagram in order to get more likes and followers but it is quite the opposite.

All of the activities that are used to generate actual high quality engagement with your account including: likes, comments, shares and followers – are called together “growth hacks” or “growth tactics”.

“The term growth hacking may cause confusion. Many people identify it with computer hacking and believe it’s immoral and unlawful” Says Tal Klinger, CEO of The Social Proxy.

He then explains the difference “computer hackers are renowned for exploiting security flaws, growth hackers exploits open gateways for business results. Both of their objectives are to discover breaches, but Growth hackers do it in a way that enables companies to succeed intelligently and rapidly. All within the bounds of the law and ethical principles” 

Growth hacking is a wonderful thing. If you are not familiar with these famous stories of companies going viral and grow to billion dollar companies within a short time – allow me to introduce you to it. Then, I will explain what does it have to do with Instagram growth.

Social media growth hacking explained

In 2010 the CEO of growthhackers.io, Sean Ellis, coined the term growth hacking.

Growth hacking is a subfield of marketing in which companies use different techniques to generate business growth. One of the most famous examples is of Dropbox.

The growth hacking story of Dropbox

Look at this growth, that’s in millions of users (!!!).

Source: statista

You might have experienced this growth hack in action if you had a chance to use Dropbox. This is how it works: as soon as the user is close to reach the limit of storage in Dropbox they get two options:

  1. Purchase a paid subscription
  2. Invite a friend to use Dropbox to get extra storage (500Mb up to 16GB)

Intuitively it doesn’t look like a good deal for Dropbox, you are just about to make a sale – why would you give extra storage for free and delay the time at which the user will upgrade?

But the secret lay in understanding the costs of lead generation. For Dropbox to get a new user they would have to advertise and spend a lot of money while recommendation of a friend is known to be an extremely form of marketing compared to other marketing channels, especially compared to pain advertising.

Here, see for yourself. This is the list of minimum and maximum price per click for a Google search ad for keywords that are relevant for a company like dropbox. How many clicks does it take to get a signup? How many signups does it take to get a paying user? Damn. expensive, right?

Just look at these statistics, I wanted to give an example of a metric that is improved by the usage of referral of a friend but there’s so many of them that I don’t know which one to choose.

To Dropbox, the other companies that use growth hacking techniques, it is eventually all about the ROI. If you can increase your user base in a way that is cheaper than the traditional marketing channels – go as well as you want and as creative as you can.

Growth hacking is not only “refer a frined”

While I focused on this example, take in account that “refer a friend for X” he’s just one out of an infinite number of examples of how growth hacking is applied for business growth, the topic has been advancing so much since the term was coined that we could probably fill up a library of books with all of the content that is related to this topic.

Basically, growth hacking is the art of making things go viral. Though I should mention that this definition only refer to growth hacking activities at the “top of the marketing funnel”, but I’m trying to keep things simple and in relation to social media that definition should do.

If you want to dive deeper into the topic here are 23 famous examples of growth hacking that actually went viral.

Growth hacking in social media

So growth hacking is cool, but what does all of that have to do with social media? Why, for example, does it have to do with gaining followers for your Instagram account?

Social media accounts, just like any other business, gain their value from their user base. It is the number of followers, average engagement per post and the sentiment in the comments of your followers that defines your potential earnings from the monetization of your account.

I used the collaborations pricing calculator of Inzpire to calculate how much should I expect a shoutout of one post and one story would cost me on 9gag, I don’t know if it will actually cost $233 (I don’t think so, not with such a well-known brand) but the point is that the more you reach – the more you get rich.

Whether it’s paid promotions, affiliate links, shout outs, or your own product or service that you’re trying to promote on social media. All of which grow when you’re able to generate more traffic.

Therefore, Instagram marketers are very busy with the questions: “how do I grow my following?”, “How do I increase my reach?”.

The popular subreddit r/Instagrammarketing is packed with posts about accounts reach dropping like this one.

Social media growth hacking techniques

There are many techniques for Instagram marketing that can fall under the umbrella of “growth hacking”. You might have been using them already and just didn’t define it so:

  1. Giveaways for people that share your content (as long as you do it according to Instagram’s guidelines)
  2. Reposting content and tagging the content creator with the hope that they will share the content with their audience
  3. Joining power groups of like for like in order to push likes as soon as you release the post so it would go more viral.
  4. Conducting research to find out what content went viral for other accounts that target the same audience as yours and then generating content that resonant with it or just reposting it

The last example of conducting content research, I’m not mentioning without the reason. 

Good news! You are already a growth hacker

If you’ve been following content that tries to answer those questions of how to grow your social account – you are already a social media growth hacker!


Define yourself as one, this is the field of expertise that has tons of value in today’s digital marketing oriented world. By defining yourself as a social media growth hacker you differentiate yourself from other marketers who are more traditional marketers.

You have the knowledge how to generate growth on one of the hardest and most pursued marketing channels that even the biggest companies in the world are struggling to figure it out.

Call yourself a social media growth hacker and commit to continue learning the latest techniques, the most reliable information about how does these social media platforms work and how you could potentially dominate any niche.

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