How To Hack and Model Successful Instagram Pages

When a social media influencer shares their secrets to success, you never hear the phrase “I’m a one-man show and I did it all by myself.”

There’s a reason that it’s called SOCIAL media.

In the overwhelming majority of cases you will find that an influencer was successful because of someone before them. They may have received a shoutout that boosted their reach, or some form of mentorship that put them on the right path.

But there’s a better way to get mentored by successful Instagram pages. In fact, you can receive direct guidance from MULTIPLE pages at the same time without having to say a single word.

How do you do that?

You become a model. No, not the type that walks down the lane during a fashion show.

I’m talking about modeling what’s worked for them so that you can hop aboard the faster path towards becoming successful on Instagram.

What Tony Robbins Taught Me About Instagram Success

It’s perfectly acceptable and rational to look at what has helped other pages become successful, and then emulate it.

You get to stand on the shoulders of giants and learn from their successes and failures. Why on earth would you want to drive yourself crazy trying to reinvent the wheel?

In an online article titled “The Key To Success? Model The Best,” Tony Robbins outlines three key tips to achieving success in any area of life:

Secret #1: …Model someone who is already successful. If you don’t have good models, find someone who is the best in your chosen field and emulate them…What steps did they take to end up where they are today? How can you imitate their actions or incorporate their philosophies to reach your end goal?

Secret #2: …Whatever you want in life, someone has already discovered how to get it — and you want to figure out what they are doing right. Someone who has already unlocked the key to success can likely save you time and pain with the knowledge they’ve gained in their own experiences.

Secret #3: Success leaves clues. People who consistently succeed are not lucky; they’re doing something different than anyone else. They have a strategy that works, and if you follow their strategy and you sow the same seeds, then you’ll reap the same rewards. 

Breathe! Nobody’s going to stalk your account and harass you because you wanted to follow the bread crumbs left behind the giants in your niche. 😉

With that resolved, I’d like to warn you about something before you start modeling pages…

Is Your Favorite Instagram Influencer Worth Modeling?!

Before you choose to hack and model a page, you may want to double-check and ensure that they are actually successful.

Appearances can be extremely deceiving to well-intentioned newcomers who do not know what to look out for.

Here are the three most important signs that an Instagram page isn’t worth modeling:

 1) Poor engagement rates

To keep the math simple, an engagement rate is calculated by adding up all the likes in the 15 most recent posts, taking the average number of likes across all 15 posts, and then dividing that by the total follower count.

According to InfluencerFee, an online Instagram engagement calculator, you should look for engagement rates of 4-10% in accounts with less than a million followers, and 1.5-3% in accounts with more than a million followers.

Here are two quick suggestions I strongly recommend to make this calculation more accurate:

  • The first post you use should be more than 24 hours old. More recent posts have not had the time to get the full amount of engagement they usually do.
  • Avoid any ads or promotions in your count. You want to calculate engagement rate on the basis of organically posted content.

2) Legitimate organic growth

Trust me when I say that you do not want to look at pages which have to pay for their followers as a model for success.

Paying for fake followers is not a sustainable strategy and it always goes down south. You either get your account banned, or if you live to tell the tale, you get a dramatic drop in follower count and it’s not a good look.

Either way, it’s a sure sign that the person who runs the page doesn’t have any clue what they’re doing when it comes to running a successful Instagram page.

The easiest way to tell is to use GetIGData.com. It’s a free online analytics site that allows you to put an Instagram username and get all of the juicy social media data from their page.

You can see how many followers they have gained over the past 30 days, along with daily summaries of performance and projected growth.

Look at the past 30 days – what you should see is a green line slowly going up over time.

The major red flag to watch out for is rapid spikes and declines in follower count. It is your immediate sign to run because it signifies that the person is buying followers.

Do not emulate them, and ESPECIALLY do not work with them. I promise that you’ll only waste your hard-earned advertising budget.

3) NOT in your niche

I don’t care if some fancy tactic worked in a niche completely opposite of yours. You are not trying to market to those people.

You should only be concerned with the successful pages that are directly in your niche. At worst, they should be strongly related to what you are offering and more-or-less be attempting to reach the same target market.

It will take you a decent amount of time and effort to analyze the analytics and behavior of several successful pages. Don’t waste it on people who aren’t in your niche.

What works best in your niche is what matters. That’s it, nothing more.

BTW…it goes without saying that you are NOT going to become a copycat. There is a fine line between modeling and plagiarizing!

Let’s go over some of the features you should be taking notes for. These features will be presented and described in short form so that you can know exactly where your focus should be.

Page Hack #1: The Name

It goes without saying that your name should be unique to you and nobody else. But when you look at the names of other profiles, observe the following:

  • Are the names very long? Or do they tend to be shorter and abbreviated? How many syllables are there?
  • Are the names unique? Or do they directly communicate a benefit that you’ll receive from following them
  • Are the names in any way, shape or form related to the niche or the content being published? Any keywords in particular that stick out?
  • Are there any separations within the name in the form of periods, dashes or underscores?

In Hubspot’s online article “The Anatomy of a Perfect Instagram Profile,” marketers noticed that Instagram names on successful pages are instantly recognizable and easily searchable.

People’s attention spans on Instagram are very limited and you’ll lose them if they have to spend an extra second trying to pronounce or remember a complex and vague name.

Page Hack #2: The Biography

Now that people’s eyeballs are on your page, whether for the first time or not, you want to direct them towards your bio.

Take a look at the most successful pages and honestly think about whether you found their bio captivating at all.

If so, write out the specific characteristics of the bio that kept you wanting to read it all the way to the end (and engage with it).

While you are doing that, pay attention to some of these other characteristics:

  • How long/short are the sentences? Is it one sentence per line, or do they occupy multiple lines? How long is the overall bio?
  • What’s the vocabulary like? Is it full of jargon, or is it really easy to understand after reading it just once?
  • Are there any benefits included in the bio? Do people understand what they will get out of following the page?
  • Is there a call to action? Are you instructed to click some sort of a link?
  • If there is a link, how is it formatted? Is there a special way of presenting links common within all the pages you are looking at?
  • How are emoji’s used, if at all?

One useful tip from the social media experts Hootsuite in their article “How To Write a Great Instagram Bio: Ideas, Tips and Examples” is the following:

Use line breaks and spacing to break your bio into bite-sized chunks of information that are easy for visitors to scan.

That way, it will be far easier for your audience to digest your core message.

Page Hack #3: The Photo

There’s not much to say here, as there is an infinite amount of ways to go about designing logos.

With that being said, here are some key features to look out for:

  • What does the profile picture dominantly look like in your niche? In the fitness realm, it’s usually a photo of an extremely fit guy or girl. In the motivation niche, it’s usually a super-simple logo of an abbreviated version of the page’s name (or an easily recognizable symbol).
  • Is the logo easy enough to discern without having to click on it and expand it?
  • What is the color scheme like? Is it 2-3 simple colors, or did they go ahead and use the entire rainbow?
  • What’s the contrast like between the individual colors used?

Remember: We are NOT copying! We are only taking a look at the common characteristics and then emulating them. Naturally, your logo needs to stand out in a way that your name is the only one popping in people’s minds when they see it.

It’s imperative that you get the logo right early on. If you try to change it once you’ve “made it,” you’re going to end up confusing a lot of people and see a big dip in your engagement rates.

Page Hack #4: The Pictures Used As Content

Having high-quality images is going to be the bare minimum. EVERYONE is putting up beautiful crisp images, so having that as a stand-out quality won’t fly.

Take note of the following things:

  • How many of the pictures are of real life people/things? How many of them are text super-imposed over some kind of background, whether natural or artificial?
  • What font colors do they use? Are they using the same style of font throughout all pics, or is there some kind of variation
  • Is there much variety between individual posts, or is it more-or-less the same type of picture each time?

You’ll be surprised to find that the answers to these questions are highly niche-dependent, so don’t be surprised if you find your answers early on!

Page Hack #5: The Caption

This is one for all the copywriters out there!

The caption is just as important as the picture itself. This is the final gap between opening your content and engaging with it.

Be on the lookout for these important features:

  • What kind of information is being offered? An inspirational story? A famous quote? An actionable tip? A description of a product?
  • How do the captions open up? With a question? With a fact?
  • What kind of benefits are being sold to the audience? Is there more of a focus on benefits over features?
  • What is the writing tone? Is it joyous and informal? More serious and formal?
  • Is there a call to action, and if so, how is it framed?
  • How long are the captions overall? Are they short and sweet, or do they drone on? What is the spacing like between individual phrases? How many phrases are there?

A common formula that’s used in the copywriting world is called AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.

The content marketers at Buffer have provided a neat summary of AIDA that you can use in your captions. Use 1-2 phrases for each letter, and you’ve got a high-converting caption!

Attention – Get the reader’s attention

Interest – Interesting and fresh information that appeals to the reader

Desire – Benefits of your product/service/idea and proof that it does what you say

Action – Ask for a response

For more copywriting formulas to use for your Instagram caption, check out their article “If Don Draper Tweeted: The 27 Copywriting Formulas That Will Drive Clicks and Engagement on Social Media.”

Page Hack #6: Posting Activity

This one will be the hardest to track, and you’ll have to be really specific when you record these details.

But actions speak louder than words, and this is your chance to take a sneak peak under the wood and see how things are really done:

  • How consistently is content uploaded to their page? A few times a week? Once a day? Multiple times a day?
  • What times during the day are they publishing content? Is it sporadic, or is it on-the-clock?
  • Are they liking, commenting or engaging with any of the content being shared by their followers and fellow influencers?
  • Are they giving shoutouts of any kind?

From personal experience, you want to be posting no less than once a day. I’ve found that your audience will eventually warm up to your content as they can expect to see it in their feed at a certain time.

This is where most people fail. They don’t necessarily fail because their content sucks. They fail because they aren’t putting out content regularly!

Believe me when I say that you are easily replaceable. Tough love, but your viewers will gravitate towards someone else who provides the content they’re looking for on a daily basis.

One Final Tip To Keep In Mind: Look At Patterns, Avoid Exceptions

There’s nothing more annoying than having to deal with nit-pickers who try to take the tiniest thing and use it to disprove a general rule.

Let’s say that you take a look at 10 legitimate Instagram pages in your niche. You notice that 9 out of 10 pages like to use plain-colored backgrounds in their pictures and rarely go for more “artistic” options.

You manage to find the 1 page which breaks the rule and does it the other way.

I’ve seen so many beginners face information overwhelm at this preliminary stage (before they’ve even STARTED), and it’s a common trap.

NOTE: If you’re suffering from information overload this early on, I’d look into solving that problem ASAP. You’ll find it much more difficult to run you page properly when things start to get more complex.

If you come across this situation, go with what the majority of successful pages are doing.

Now is not the time to worry about “What if’s” and hypothetical situations. Now is the time to find the vital few fundamentals that are proven to work, and execute them consistently.

Once you’ve grown a substantial following and you get used to providing high-quality content to your audience every single day, then you can think about optimizing and tweaking.

Will You Be The Next “Copied” Instagram Page In Your Niche?

Instagram’s total monthly active users just reached the 1 billion mark in June 2018. It is growing at an exponential rate and there is no sign whatsoever of slowing down.

Despite how daunting the task of becoming successful on Instagram may be, remember that your favorite pages had to go through the same mental challenges.

They were once insecure when comparing themselves to larger pages. They were once stuck and unsure if they were ever going to figure things out. They once struggled to learn how to produce high-quality content and tailor their message towards their target market.

There’s enough pie on the table for everybody to succeed, even if you’re a total newbie on Instagram who just opened their account yesterday.

You don’t need any special advantages, connections or talents. You just simply have to get started.

And when you get to the promised land, don’t forget to pay it forward. Let someone stand on your shoulders.