2017: The Year Growing on Instagram Was Everything

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.