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If you couldn’t tell from our numerous blog posts on the subject, we take Instagram very seriously over at Foundr. So seriously, in fact, that we’ve created an online course on the subject called Instagram Domination (IG Dom for short), in which we share all the knowledge we’ve amassed over the years and teach others how to grow their own Instagram accounts.
At the time of this article, more than 1,000 students have taken the course, and taken their businesses to the next level using Instagram, and we couldn’t be any prouder.
Just like last year, we ran a two-month competition within our Instagram Domination community, in which we challenged our students to level up their Instagram skills.
Not only were they tasked with growing their Instagram accounts as fast as possible, but they also had to show us how they were using Instagram to creatively improve their businesses. In the eight weeks that followed, we had students grow their accounts by over 900%, and students successfully creating sales funnels to generate warms leads, sales, and revenue!
At the end of the challenge we picked out our Top 10 and each and every one of them blew us away with how inventive they were with uses of Instagram. They all demonstrated, once again, the power behind this social media platform.
Without further ado, I present to you our…drum roll please…
Instagram Domination Challenge Winners! From digital magazines to personal brands, a whole range of niches are represented within the following Top 10 list, and each entrepreneur shared with us their best advice on how to grow your Instagram account.
Aveline Clarke, @TrueFormula
Aveline is passionate about helping people grow—both personally and in business—and has spent the last eight years as a business consultant in online marketing automation, developing strategies that business owners can quickly adapt to streamline and automate their businesses. She has partnered with Rohan James to build @trueformula and she and Rohan have a new ebook showing people how to get “unstuck” and overcome the blocks to achieving their big goals and dreams that can be downloaded here: http://thetrueformula.com/unstuck
We started using Instagram because we wanted to create a new funnel for generating leads, apart from Facebook—which to us was a paid platform, and we wanted something free and fast! We had only just decided to create this business together, after all.
We’d actually just decided on the business name and what we wanted to create when the IG Dom course was recommended to me. We decided to go ahead with the course and created our first Instagram account.
In four months, we were able to grow our account to 28,000 followers, and generated more than a thousand new leads in our database.
We’ve created products to match our new leads’ problems AND added a bunch of new coaching clients. We’ve also been able to launch a website, create a new online product and membership site and launch that, which has already got traction!
Plus we’ve made some great partnerships and met fabulous people who we’ll continue to work with and support mutually as we grow.
The number one thing I learned about using Instagram was how critical it is to be super clear on your positioning for your market. To brand yourself with relevant content to them.
The next thing I’d say is the value of partnerships and how they are a huge boost for growth.
Instagram is a brilliant tool for any business and in any market, you just have to get the fundamentals right first and then it will produce results!
Muoyo Okome, @DailySparkTV
Muoyo Okome is a Huffington Post blogger & host of the Daily Spark Podcast, where he interviews successful entrepreneurs and shares insights from his own entrepreneurial journey. He is also the founder of the Daily Spark Entrepreneur Community, a fast-growing online community dedicated to the empowerment, education & support of entrepreneurs. He has previously started, grown, and sold a mobile gaming company and runs several businesses in the mobile, online & e-commerce spaces.
I first started on Instagram because I wanted to build exposure, leads, and a community.
Instagram has been a core part of building my email list/webinar list to over 700 people. The growth of my account has also given me quite a bit of credibility and social proof I can leverage in a number of ways.
My top learning about Instagram has been that it’s all about understanding your audience and exactly what kind of content they like so that you can post as much of that content as possible and let the growth take care of itself. I would certainly recommend that a total beginner focus primarily on learning their audience and then posting the best possible content they can on a consistent basis. It’s also important to know that this content can be either created or curated.
Things truly picked up for me when Crowdfire went down and I had to think about how I was going to grow my page without it. After asking some questions in the Instagram Domination community, I decided I was going to focus on posting the best content I could and eventually learned of unicorn generating tactics from other rockstar group members.
The most important piece is to really use the data to get a sense of what type of content your audience LOVES and focus on posting that type of content as much as possible as Nathan talks about in the Unicorn video.
From the moment I started on the challenge my Instagram account more than doubled from just under 9,000 to over 20,000. Very happy with the result because it represents tremendous acceleration.
Charlie Turner, @metromarketermag
Charlie Turner is the founder and publisher of Metro Marketer Magazine, a digital magazine for local business owners. Charlie is fascinated by what makes businesses, especially small ones, remarkable. He has known, studied, and interviewed some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the U.S., always searching for the unique combinations of hard work, innovation, inspiration, and intelligence that skyrocket a business to legendary status. These stories are the backbone of Metro Marketer Magazine. You can download a free special edition PDF version of Metro Marketer at http://metromarketer.biz
I am a Magcaster. I first read the Foundr blog post about how to do a digital magazine the Foundr way and I was very impressed. Then Ed Dale started talking about what Foundr was doing on Instagram, leading into the launch of Instagram Domination. Ed was really encouraging Magcasters and Scrivcasters to look at what Foundr was doing. I know he was selling a launch, but the product has more than stood the test. Just a great investment and I think Instagram will be key for me over the next several months.
My first Instagram post was on Feb 29, 2016 and I didn’t finish the course for a couple weeks after that. Since then, we have been grinding away without a break. We wanted to use Instagram to give Metro Marketer Magazine authority and influence, on a big platform. We’re getting there, and we will be starting some limited product push campaigns, now that we have a bit of mass.
It’s hard to pinpoint what the most important thing I learned from the course was. All the different techniques are important, when used in combination, and posting consistently has led to steady account growth.
Kamarin Lee, @Kamarin
I started using Instagram as a method to build excitement around the release of my travel blog and company and to generate a comprehensive email list for quality leads.
Here are three powerful strategies that I would recommend to all beginners:
- Discover your influencers and engage their followers (anyone with fewer than 800 followers) by commenting and liking their posts (I personally like six photos/videos and comment on one or two per account). You will find that these accounts will notice you and return the favor in the form of likes, follows and comments, but some will also become thoroughly engaged in your future content as well.
Comb through smaller related hashtags within your niche, and like and comment on posts from smaller accounts (you can discover related hashtags in a category placed above the hashtag photostream). This will also yield similar results.
- Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate! As your Instagram account grows in followers and engagement, you will come across similar accounts offering similar types of content. Network with these accounts through giveaways, collaborative content making, or simply shouting each other out (S4S). These relationships will prove invaluable as you and your counterparts scale in size and expand the diversity of your followers. Many brand partnerships and other opportunities are often obtained simply by proximity and familiarity.
- QUALITY CONTENT IS KING! Take the time to know your brand. What kind of product/service/content do you want to provide your customers? Determine how you want to be represented. What qualities represent the ethos behind your brand? How do the influencers in your niche brand themselves? Which branding elements work? Hack their approach, experiment with aesthetics and craft an intentional image. Curating a tight and visually inspirational feed on Instagram drives engagement and growth.
As a Digital Marketer, achieving success on Instagram has taught me how to use solid sales funnel strategies to drive traffic and scalability for client brands, whether it is in the preliminary stages of a company or the product development stage.
Cheryl Tom, @vain_pursuits
Cheryl is the founder and CEO of Vain Pursuits, a natural skincare brand helping busy young professionals eliminate frustrating & expensive skincare mistakes by offering personalized formulas and skincare coaching via text message. Check out her free 7-day challenge on how to go from goal-getter to glow-getter here.
Vain Pursuits is using Instagram as a lead funnel for our personalized skincare brand. It’s the perfect place to tap into our ideal customer: driven, busy millennials striving to achieve a beautiful glow, both inside and out. We also really value being able to talk to our community in real-time; Instagram has really shaped our brand.
Our biggest achievement with Instagram so far has been creating a funnel that consistently brings in customers, warm leads, and collaboration opportunities. We experiment aggressively based on user feedback and aren’t afraid to break rules. If something doesn’t work, we can try something else and get results within minutes. We always ask new Vain Pursuits members why they sign up, and it’s very common to hear that they fell in love with the brand on Instagram—this keeps us motivated.
It really takes a lot of energy to build a brand on Instagram. Finding like-minded businesses that all help each other is key, and it is difficult to juggle all of our other business activities with the always-on Instagram schedule. My advice is to jump all-in if you want Instagram to be your main marketing channel, otherwise you won’t get the results you desire.
The most important aspect of IG Domination is the Facebook community—it is a really active and passionate bunch of people. I’m not a big Facebook user, so didn’t realize the power of the group until recently. So many people from all over the world are helping each other build their businesses, every day, multiple times a day. It’s really invaluable.
Dan Dynneson, @DanDynneson
Want to grow, engage, and convert your social media with Instagram and beyond? Dan is a certified Web Friendly social media director and 8020.media founding partner. He loves writing, specializes in community building, and has assisted dozens of authors and coaches with his five-step Hero’s Journey process. Visit Dynneson.com to grab his free guide to Hiring A Social Media Director or join WriteNation on Facebook to learn more about his work.
I was drawn to Instagram because I wanted to gain more exposure for my podcast. As I built up a community of writers, I pivoted away from the podcast and more to content they wanted to see. The result is a Facebook community and now an anthology book launch I’m doing with 30 stories.
Instagram paved the path for me for opportunities outside the platform. It’s a good starting conversation for how I can assist businesses to start generating profitable leads. I do that through online advertising and sales funnels and a few other income streams. I talk about Instagram Domination because that is what got me started.
A third benefit is that I have been able to collect 30 stories for my first book launch, an anthology project based on the theme of my account, writer inspiration.
Instagram works great as a daily microblog. It did more for me than my podcast, so in the end it became my focus.
Group collaborations are important because of the crowdsourced ideas and pooled efforts to get likes, followers, and comments you couldn’t get by doing it alone or by doing it with amateurs. Everyone brings their own interpretations and skill sets to the table. When you give, you get back a lot.
There are so many great individuals in the IG Dom community. Total beginners should check out Foundr’s free Instagram guide and get on their webinar.
Instagram Domination is at the cutting edge of strategies and tactics. We know what’s working before you even read about it on Social Media Examiner.
For me, the best things are the advanced strategies and how they can be used not only in combination, but also in unique ways. The fundamentals, growth, engagement, conversion strategies are great, sure. But they become dated, and the real power comes from crowdsourcing and combo applications.
Ultimately, the best thing I learned is that, yes, it’s possible to leverage the platform, even if you are in a bizarre niche like mine, and there are many excellent case studies of accounts already doing this.
Josue Pena, @ElationFootball
Josue is all about helping others through fitness, something he does through multiple social media platforms like YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook. Most recently, he’s started Elation Athletics, a site that provides premium sports, health, and fitness programs along with lifestyle and athletic gear.
I started using instagram as another way to build my brand, gain more exposure, build a following and help/inspire people. I have dedicated a lot of time to it because I also want to release my own product and having a following to sell to is one of the best ways to do so.
Thanks to Instagram Domination, I’ve been able to grow from 0 to over 35,000 in less than four months! For me this is insane! I’ve also had several viral posts reach over 100,000 views. Brands have been contacting me since I reached the 10,000 mark, and I’ve been able to network and establish relationships with really awesome people.
I have been able to grow my different social media pages like YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook among many others. Now I have a platform of loyal fans/followers who are like family and friends that support what I do and where the brand is going.
Finally, I would say that my biggest achievement on Instagram has been that I have been able to impact people’s lives in a positive way. Reading the messages I get about how my account and what I’m doing has helped inspire others is worth more than I can ever express.
I’d also like to say that, yeah, I love the fact that we get a course that actually teaches us something. Yeah I love the fact that I have been able to grow my account. Yeah I love the fact that I have lifetime access to all the future updates of IG Dom.
But the thing that I love the most is the IG DOM COMMUNITY!
I have been part of a lot of different communities and groups and nowhere have I seen so many positive, like-minded individuals who are there not only to grow personally, but also to help each other out. Every single person there understands the importance of teamwork. You can accomplish so much by yourself, but once you have a team that you can depend on and will hold you accountable, this changes everything.
In the group, you not only find people similar to you, but also people who are literally in all realms, niches, and skill levels, who are making a ton of revenue using IG Dom strategies. The group is worth gold!
Also, when you have a question, you can be certain that several community members are going to hop on and help you out with whatever it is you are asking. Each member there understands that the more you give, the more you get in return. The love there is real.
I just want to say that this has been indeed awesome. Collaborating with companies, being able to connect with like-minded individuals, and having a platform where I can build a sustainable business, inspire, change, and impact people’s lives in a positive way has been priceless.
David Gulick, @nosurfingnyc
@nosurfingnyc is a street art/photo project using unique street art/35mm photos, paired with carefully curated beach related images of beautiful women and perfect empty waves. David pairs the visual stimulation with his own social commentary to begin conversations and stimulate action related to clean beaches, environmental concerns, and sustainable living alternatives.
I have three accounts, but @nosurfingnyc, the account I entered in the contest, began as an art project. The project has been going on for over three years now and it’s evolved to have a message I’m proud to share with the world. I combine my own art/photos with images that inspire me, with the beachy/surf lifestyle of a New Yorker. The conversations and messages paired with these images is one of being a conscious human. It’s about sustainability and a “leave no trace” mentality when in nature or on the beach.
I wanted to grow the account to reach more people and make more of a difference. It’s also gotten to the point where I have a decent size body of work and a bit of a following. I’d like to use the exposure to monetize the art, and open up possibilities of working with bigger brands and nonprofits dedicated to sustainability and environmental issues. To me it’s about waking people up and making a change, but doing so with style.
In my opinion, the biggest achievement has been personal growth and connection. Personal growth, because the account has kind of been an organic extension of me that has evolved over its lifetime. What began as a joke now has purpose and has really altered the way I look and act in the world. Because of this I’ve been fortunate to connect with others on a similar mission. That’s pretty rad in my opinion.
The biggest thing I’ve learned is that high quality, original and well curated content is king. There’s no shortcuts to that. Sure there are tips on when to post and how to tag etc., but there’s no substitute for a well thought out concept that’s beautifully executed. Stay true to your vision and take each lesson/strategy as a foundation, but use your own intuition and creativity to apply it.
At the end of the day this is all about connecting with people, having real conversations in comment sections and direct messaging or connecting via email or in person. You’re really enrolling people in a vision. At least this is the case with my @nosurfingnyc feed.
Paul and Cindy Ajao, @Overdalefabrics
Overdale Fabrics is a small but passionate supplier of quality fabrics to the crafting, quilting, and sewing communities. Our aim is to provide the highest standards of professionalism and service, while bringing unique products to the marketplace.
We chose Instagram to help us gain exposure for our brand with the aim of increasing sales.
We needed to get into social media more, and personally prefer the interface of Instagram over Facebook. Instagram works really well for us, as we have a very visual product.
Making sales has to be our biggest achievement. A high number of followers is obviously great for exposure but our key focus has always been on conversion to sales.
Consistent posting of quality content helps to keep existing followers and gain more followers. I’ve been able to interact with more people in our community and really get to know what they like and enjoy seeing. In the future, I’m going to be using this to help decide on future product lines.
My advice to others would be to create really top quality, focused content from the word go and post everyday! Your posts have to be true to your brand.
Darriel Pujols, @TheGentlemensRulebook
With Instagram, I’ve been able to a gain over 50,000 followers in four months, and spread massive awareness with no expense at all.
I’ve learned that consistency and staying true to your niche pays off massively. Once the growth starts to come in it just grows exponentially. My favorite technique is keeping track of the best times to post and S4S. I would tell anyone who is beginning to make sure they always provide quality over quantity and stay consistent.
The best thing I learned from IG Dom is that it’s not impossible to start from absolutely nothing, and meet people along the way who are on a similar mission and are willing to help you, which makes building a business and spreading brand awareness extremely easy.
The thing that’s been most rewarding for us at Foundr as we’ve continued to offer our Instagram Domination course over the years, is watching the diversity of the people who have taken part, and the boundless creativity in their uses of social media.
The winners of this year’s IG Dom Challenge have yet again shown us that, when given the tools and support they need, entrepreneurs will always amaze with how they mix, match, and expand on what’s come before them.
It’s also been a thrill to see the IG Dom community continue to thrive and facilitate new friendships and collaborations. You can see from these winners’ experiences, the network has taken on a life of its own, and it’s just as rewarding for us to be a part of as it is for them.
Congratulations to all of our 2016 winners; we look forward to watching their continued success!
Got any questions for these folks on how they crush it on Instagram? Hit us up in the comments.