My Instagram Experiment

In typical “Sarah” fashion, I have been thinking of more ways to grow and learn both at work and in my personal life (I’m also a yoga teacher). See, my degree is in Marketing, but I have found that I’ve learned little-to-nothing in my studies that actually applies to my job today. I’m amazing at time management and get the highest grades in my class- as long as I’m interested. If I’m not interested, C’s get degrees, right? Part of the work that I’ve been doing here at Trademark is managing our client’s social media accounts, writing blog posts (woah, you’re reading one), creating brand identities, and learning more about SEO/analytics. Talk about a steep learning curve from the informational “fluff” I was presented in school. Nothing even remotely related to these things was taught and I’m actually interested in what I’m doing, finally.

In wanting to get better at my job, I realized that the best way to do so- the best way to figure out how to increase social media engagement and word of mouth- was to create my own experiment. How can I present myself as being knowledgeable, how can I give recommendations on how to help our own marketing efforts if I haven’t walked a day in my own shoes?

It’s no surprise that Social Media is being called the new Word of Mouth. Customer engagement spreads information like wild fire, both good and bad. (Queue the online reputation management talk!) That’s where teaching yoga comes in to the picture. I decided that my experiment would include increasing engagement on my own social platforms (Instagram, namely) and working toward gaining new yoga students and I began my experiment roughly 4 weeks ago.


Here’s How it Went

WMMAFor the past 81 weeks, the entire time I have had an Instagram, my account has been private. Switching to public view, so everyone and their mother can see my feed, was quite a feat for me. I started with 330 followers which consisted of family, friends and acquaintances I made while competing in MMA. I used to be way more badass than I am today.

Hashtags Matter

I began to experiment with hashtags on my existing photos: food, traveling, working out, DIY projects, family… you get the idea.
Result: I began to immediately receive “likes” on all of my photos I added additional hashtags to, even photos posted over a year ago.

Play to Your Audience

Next, I decided to see what types of photos received the most attention. I did a little digging and found that people with thousands of followers all had a theme. This meant they posted according to one central idea in order to distinguish exactly who they were.
Result: I was resistant to the idea of only posting photos according to one theme; I have a multitude of different interests and didn’t want to be defined by only one of them! I play piano, violin, do CrossFit, teach yoga, travel the world and create DIY projects- to name a few. However, I have come to find that it is indeed the most effective way to gain followers. Find your theme, what you want people to remember you for, and stick with it. Through theme consistency, people begin to talk about certain Instagram personalities and Word of Mouth spreads. “Did you see Jackie Perez’s new CrossFit photo? She just did a competition with her friend, it looked amazing!” Consequently, Jackie works from home, does a Podcast about CrossFit, has lots of sponsors and basically works out for a living. Not a bad result of a huge Instagram following!

Find Your Theme

After finally giving in and deciding that I’d stick to a “fitness” theme (for the most part, I’ve wavered a couple times) I found a way to get more involved with the yoga community on Instagram. And yes, there is definitely a yoga community. I found a yoga challenge spanning the month of February and decided to
give it a try.
Result: The least amount of “likes” one of my photos had ever gotten was 3. It was a photo of a cod filet with some vegetables. Simply writing that sentence was gross, I wouldn’t have liked that photo either! Fast forward three weeks in to my experiment and I now have a photo with 87 likes. Not bad for 21 days.



Just like Shakira’s hips, numbers don’t lie. Thanks to Iconosquare, charts of my growth history are shown below. From December 2014 – February 2015, the growth has been substantial. At the end of February, I can revisit my stats and see if engagement has dipped, risen and figure out what I may have done differently to cause a change.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 2.12.48 PM

I can also tell which filters I should use if I want more likes or comments. According to my stats, Nashville is my number one- giving me 68 average likes / media. This directly counters the pre-thought position that photos using no filters or #nofilter gain more likes. I’ve found that even when a photo says there’s no filter, there usually actually is. Sneaky little Instagrammers.

Overall Experiment Results

+132 followers: gaining 4.5 followers/day, posting 1.6 times/day
+623% engagement increase (likes)
+385% engagement increase (comments)

In addition to the increased engagement on my chosen social platform, I’ve equally been able to establish myself more firmly in my yoga practice and as a yoga teacher. I have 5 new students and 2 more interested in learning out-of-state.

As for my job, I’m confident now in my ability to engage consumers on social, grow and create brand identities and I don’t just mean on Instagram. I’m not a big proponent of “fake it till you make it” and I know that not only can I talk the talk, but I can walk the walk.

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