2017: The Year Growing on Instagram Was Everything

RebelMouse can help you grow Instagram followers + drive growth on all social platforms. Let's create contagious media together!

What started as a simple, social photo-sharing app has turned into a daily staple in the lives of 400 million people. Instagram continues to shatter new benchmarks and establish its dominance in the age of social with no signs of slowing down.

Instagram's success hasn't gone unnoticed. Influencers, advertisers, and brands are going all in, capitalizing on all the eyeballs using the platform as yet another means of monetization. Publishers are piling into Instagram video, too. 2017 is certainly the year businesses take notice of Instagram.


After its launch in 2010 as an easy one-stop shop to edit and share your personal pictures with your social network, it wasn't long before the world was decorated with a myriad of vintage + beautiful #filters. The platform was named "iPhone App of the Year" by the end of 2011.

Facebook acquired the platform in 2012 and only furthered its popularity. Instagram has since added more features to its arsenal: videos, additional filters, ad options, and the recent addition of "stories." It's officially a force to be reckoned with, taking down other seemingly promising apps in its path.

So let's look at the whys and the hows around using it to grow your Instagram followers.

Instagram Is Big — Really Big

It's a Proven Moneymaker

  • By March 2017, the platform reached 1 million monthly advertisers.
  • It is expected to generate about $1.5 billion in mobile ad sales this year, and $5 billion in 2018.
  • Instagram influencers are charging up to $100,000 for a sponsored post.
  • There are various types of ads for monetization purposes: photo ads, video ads, carousel ads, stories ads with robust targeting options.

You Can Monetize with a Small, Dedicated Team

The beauty of Instagram lies in its simplicity. You don't need a huge team to execute a successful strategy on this social platform. When it sold for a billion dollars, Instagram itself had only 13 dedicated employees.

It's a platform where any publisher — big or small — can make huge waves in terms of brand awareness, and that means money, too. Take a look at ATTN:. The media company has nearly 100K Instagram followers. Their small team of five, dedicated solely to Instagram, has brought in an entirely new revenue stream from the platform — seeing growth in followers, interaction rate, and sponsorship. When done right, Instagram's a no-brainer to add to your marketing strategy. It's an easy way to gain influencers and eyeballs with a small(ish) team.

Companies Are Investing More in Instagram

While Snapchat is busy clinging on to relevance, we're seeing brands slowly begin to invest more in Instagram. Instagram has doubled its user growth in the past two years, just recently adding 100 million users in only four months. Much can be credited to the addition of the Snapchat-inspired feature called Instagram Stories, which has fueled growth + retention. At this point, nearly 100 million more people use Instagram Stories than Snapchat.

Instagram has officially hit 700 million monthly users.Source: TechCrunch

Aperol Spritz is a prime example of the ease with which you can garner Instagram success. The brand has increased how much it's been posting on its own Instagram, using both ads and organic content emphasizing their product with pretty photos and GIFs. As a result, its organic social engagement has increased 300% since January, driven by people tagging friends in comments. They've capitalized on a campaign called the "Aperol Brunch Society," which asks people to upload Instagram videos explaining why they should be the "chief brunch officer." As if we needed another reason to love brunch?

A beautiful example of the power of striking images.Source: Digiday

Engagement on Facebook tripled, sales increased by 45%, and everyone was happy. The question is: How do you leverage Instagram to do the same for your brand?

How to "Do" Instagram

It's important to not lose sight of the initial purpose of the platform: Share striking images. Once you've got that part down, ensure that your photos are relevant + branded. If you check out our Instagram at RebelMouse, you'll see tons of bright, beautiful images with insightful quotes that reflect our culture. We follow a simple strategy that can get you going in the right direction.

  1. Find beautiful images by searching hashtags on Instagram. When you find an image you like, take note of the original artist so you can credit the source back to them when you post. (Hint: Most Instagram users <3 photo cred.)
  2. Download apps. We're constantly experimenting with new photo editing and video apps like Snapseed + WeVideo. It's an easy, low-cost way to make your images look beautiful and professionally done, and, ultimately, shareable. There are always new apps to try every week, so don't just settle on one.
  3. Use the images you've found, and overlay them with a quotation and/or logo that reflects your brand.
  4. When you're ready to post, make sure to tag all relevant accounts. This means influencers, like-minded pages, and any potential sharing partners you can find. We have proprietary technology that fuels influencer search capabilities within RebelMouse.

Using RebelMouse, you can search for relevant Instagram accounts as you create content.

It's really as easy as that. You'll be amazed at the number of accounts that start finding your content + engaging with your brand. Instagram is fast, and it's easy. You don't need Adobe products or an entire team of designers to create beautiful, shareable content. And that's the beauty of it.

But remember: To really capitalize on the capabilities of the platform, you have to actually socialize. Interact, like, comment, and — the big one — follow. Here are some tips to help you find relevant influencers and gain new Instagram followers:

  • Search relevant hashtags. We are a social CMS, so we search for hashtags that relate to us. #social #smm #media #newmedia #uxdesign
  • Find influencers. If you're familiar with prominent figures in your industry, find them and follow them. Search for accounts they follow, and continue to find as many people to reach out to as possible.
  • Don't be afraid to follow many people. We aim for 200 a day here at RebelMouse. But follow strategically.
  • Direct message. Don't be shy — send a message. After all, who doesn't like to hear a friendly "hello"? Just be human. You'll start to see engagement and mentions of you increase.

RebelMouse Can Help Grow Instagram Followers

If you can't seem to move the needle on Instagram, we are more than just a CMS. We are also a creative agency with expertise in creating contagious media. With lean, multifunctional teams, we can help drive growth on Instagram and other social platforms.

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RebelMouse Outperforms Every Other CMS. Here’s the Data to Prove It.

Our Core Web Vitals drastically outpace every competitor, and we have the receipts

In an effort to build user retention and increase conversions, publishers are making a common mistake. They're adding more features to their websites, including ad placements, but losing sight of the main revenue driver: user experience.

The key to unlocking user retention lies completely in site performance. Currently, publishers are trying to build optimized websites that translate easily across devices and platforms, but fail to deliver an experience that checks all their boxes and prioritizes their readers. It takes less than a second of delayed load time to turn away a user. This is why Google has made page speed a top ranking factor on search, and shepherded the entire open web's newfound prioritization on site performance.

Game Changer: Google's Core Web Vitals Announcement

Google cemented its seriousness about page experience with the announcement of its Core Web Vitals measurements in Google Search Console. Core Web Vitals are three specific metrics that Google uses to determine a site's overall usability. While these data points will evolve over time, the 2020 version of vitals consists of three specific metrics:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): A website's LCP is the time it takes to load the main content on a page. Google wants LCP to happen within 2.5 seconds of when a page first starts loading.

First Input Delay (FID): This metric quantifies a user's experience when trying to interact with unresponsive pages. This usually occurs between First Meaningful Paint (FMP) and Time to Interactive (TTI) (more on what these two mean below). You want your FID score to be low to prove the usability of your site. According to Google, pages should haven an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.

Cumulative Layout Shift Score (CLS): CLS determines how often your users experience unexpected layout shifts or changes on a page. To ensure visual stability, you want your CLS score to be low. Google wants pages to maintain a CLS score of less than 0.1.

From Google.

Google says Core Web Vitals scores will be considered across every page, and will be a ranking factor in its Top Stories feature. While relevant quality content will always be the most important, the page experience ranking is now a make-or-break metric for your site's survival.

"A good page experience doesn't override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search." —From Google's page experience announcement, May 2020

Core Web Vitals will determine every site's performance score. You can see your site's Core Web Vitals specifically via Google Search Console, but your website's overall page performance is measured using Google's PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse tools.

At RebelMouse, we guarantee a performance score of 90 or higher via PageSpeed Insights. To do this, we've built out a platform infrastructure that exceeds industry standards on Google's key metrics, particularly its Core Web Vitals, outperforming most industry leaders.

You can read more about how we've mastered Google's KPIs here. But the truth is in the data. Below is table that provides a snapshot into how RebelMouse-powered sites score:

And here's what the scores look like for some of the biggest sites on the open web:

As you can see, there's a lot of data Google takes into account even outside of Core Web Vitals. Here's a quick summary of the other important metrics that Google trusts to measure page performance:

First Contentful Paint (FCP): This metric measures the time from click to the time when a user's browser renders the first bit of content from the Document Object Model (DOM), which is your site's HTML structure. According to Google, this is an important milestone for your readers because it provides signals that your page is loading.

First Meaningful Paint (FMP): This is the amount of time it takes the most important content, what Google calls "hero elements," to load on site. Hero elements are different for every site, but should be intuitive based on your content. This metric helps determine your site's usability.

Time to Interactive (TTI): This is the most important metric to keep an eye on. This is when the site is fully rendered and ready for user action. This is a critical point when slow load time can occur, usually because JavaScript or other complex content hasn't fully rendered. So, in short, think of TTI as how long it takes for your site to load in its entirety.

Total Blocking Time (TBT): TBT measures a page's load responsiveness to quantify how long a page is non-interactive prior to becoming interactive. You want your site to have a low TBT to maintain its usability.

Speed Index (SI): SI is the measurement of how quickly the contents of a page are populated. You want your speed index score to be as low as possible.

Creating quality content is only half the battle in 2020, and publishers are already burdened with the around-the-clock task of creating content that resonates. This is why quality content must be supported by modern technology that can keep up with the speed of the web. RebelMouse provides publishers with a CMS that supports the new content lifecycle with an editorial suite designed for reach on site, search, and social.

Click here to read more about our modern approach to web performance. If you want to make performance a priority, request a proposal today. We can easily transform your site into one of the fastest on the web, giving you increased user retention and better conversion rates than ever before.

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