Growth Experiment: Gary V’s $1.80 Instagram Strategy

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Welcome to a new type of posts! I am going to use this format to start reporting on some of the growth marketing experiments I run. Hope you enjoy it — let me know in the comments!


In some niches, growing an Instagram audience makes or breaks a business. Building a playbook for growing on the world’s 7th largest social media site is a worthwhile endeavour.

There are many listicles that will give you neat tips and tricks on how to grow, some better (‘post loads!‘) than others (‘follow/unfollow like it’s 2010‘).

For this growth experiment, I tested Gary V’s ‘$1.80’ strategy.

Fresh, honest, and actionable growth content. In your inbox.

Gary V’s $1.80 social media strategy

I won’t introduce the man himself, I’m sure you can find all the info you need on the web.

His strategy is simple, I’ll give you the TL;DR. (Full credits)

The TL;DR

  1. Find a bunch of hashtags related to your niche.
  2. Follow 10-20 hashtags.
  3. Monitor posts that do well.
  4. Drop an insightful, useful, encouraging comment.

Basically, be a part of the community. Engage with big accounts without hoping for much else than providing value.

With each comment, you provide your 2 cents to the user and their audience. Do this 90x a day (90*0.02=$1.80) before uploading any of your own work. The hope is you’d get noticed and attract followers.

For the purpose of MVPing this strategy, I ‘only’ did 10 per day for 30 days. I suppose this makes it the $0.20 strategy? 🙂

Why I experimented with this

What really attracted me to this strategy were:

How much sense it makes. Social media are social platforms. Engagement is what the overlords want us to do. It’s what makes their world (read: ads) go around. The more you engage, the happier they are.

How much sense it makes vol.2. We’re all on these platforms to engage with likeminded individuals. We’re all trying to find our tribe. It makes sense that people will enjoy getting the engagement and reciprocate.

How easy it is. All you have to do is browse and comment on stuff in your niche. Nice.

How scalable it is. I guess this is debatable (we’ll see why later). I still think this is a very scalable way to start growing an Instagram audience.

How fun it is. If you’re trying to grow an account in a niche you care about, your ‘job’ with this strategy is to engage on content you enjoy with people who enjoy/create similar content.

Ok, enough chitchat. Let’s see how it performed:

Grow instagram followers through community engagement (v2)

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As you can see from the chart, the experiment was a success!

In 30 days, I grew my Instagram audience from 139 to 208 followers; a 49.6% growth. My somewhat arbitrary target for this experiment was 60 new followers, and I added 69 — another success.

Next actions: experimenting with posts

Growth works in loops. Rarely do you come out of an experiment without a new idea to test, iterate on, or compare.

This experiment was a first for me on Instagram, which is extremely exciting. I can now take this experiment as a benchmark and start testing new things.

The premise of this experiment was all about engagement, more precisely engagement with other people’s content. It’s a core functionality of social media, so it’s great we started there.

For my next experiment, I want to test another core functionality of social media: posting. A lot. What would happen to my audience size if I started posting every day for 30 days? What if I posted twice a day? Three times?

Unsurprisingly, Gary V also talks about this; frequently suggesting to people they post at least four times a day on Instagram.

I’ve recently completed that experiment, so tune in soon for the public report (or sign up below not to miss it).

Fresh, honest, and actionable growth content. In your inbox.


This was a first of its kind post for this blog. Did you enjoy it? What would you change? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below!

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ALEX DEBECKER

Digital marketer. Company grower. Bearded internet warrior. I grow projects into profitable businesses.

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