Look For Leaders — An Essay Draft

What it takes to spot the best talent among Instagrammers. In order to collaborate or learn from them.


In this chapter, we’ll be taking a look at data on the leading instagram accounts. We’ll look at what you should care about and what you shouldn’t care about. Who you should care about and who you shouldn’t care about.

Top Ranked By Followers

If you were to rank the top accounts of Instagram, you’d find that many of them would be singers or actors with millions of followers. However, these accounts don’t sell products. Selling product is our focus. When we look at the top 100 channels and only select those who are selling a product. We come out with 40.

What Kind of Product?

Of that selection, 80% are style, beauty, and clothing brands. All of these accounts are very active, posting an average of at least twice per day. Remember when we said we should be posting once per day?

They’ve Got Money

It’s intimidating to look at these top profiles, see millions of followers, great content, and high levels of user engagement across the multiple channels. But understand that every top profile on that list was a large brand before Instagram. Their marketing budget is in the millions and then they only spend a small percentage of that on their Instagram. In addition they have teams of photographers and art directors making their content.

You Have Creativity

Don’t freak out! It’s important that you recognize how to appropriately compare yourself to these successful accounts. While major brands have huge budgets and large teams dedicated to creating and marketing content, you may be working with a small budget and a small team — so you’ll need to get creative.

The Best, not the Rest

The best at Instagram, aren’t the ones with the multi million dollar budgets. It’s the ones who make the most of what they have. Editing software is free. Thank you Snapseed. Your phone is a better camera because it’s the one you have. Let’s find the people who are making the most of these tools and creating engaging communities.

Spotting a Community

The easiest part of finding communities, is finding them. Just look for accounts that people talk about, recommend and have a high number of comments. Likes, don’t matter that much right now. A true community is one that talks. If you find that people, not the account holder, are having a discussion, you found the right place.

Billboards vs Influencers

Most accounts on Instagram I would define as a “billboard”. It’s just something that looks nice, Sometimes an eyesore, but generally we have to pass it to get to where we are going. Influencers, however, make me want to drive to them. I have an urge to stop and engage. Find yourself looking at 3 or 5 posts? You may have found an Influencer.

Observe Conversation Drivers

Leaders are not just posting photos — they’re encouraging conversation. Simple comments aren’t what they’re after. They don’t want “great” or “cool”. They want genuine interest in their products that converts to sales. Leaders are those who can drive the conversation beyond “tag a friend”, beyond “what’s your favorite band?”. They have complex, integrated conversations across more than one post.

If you find someone mentioning fans in a post, that’s a key indicator they are building a community.

Recognize Influencers

You must find those who engage in complex conversation. If you find some individuals with large audiences, make sure they are driving the right conversations.

Recognize Reviews

Are they reviewing of products or just endorsing products? An endorsement doesn’t do much to sway an audience. A review, discussing the best and worst parts of a product, show that the influencer has a true mastery of their industry. You can tell from their comments if they are driving real engagement.

“I Just Bought One”

Look for people who had the need to come back to the post days later and mention that they bought it, to their source of information. Or even if they bought it before and want to comment. These are key indicators you have foun an influencer and not just a billboard.

Once you see those conversations in action and they prove they can move people’s perspective to a product or brand… you’ve found an influencer.

Measure Growth On Actionable Terms

You might believe the number of followers you gain is an indication of success. In actuality, percentage of growth is a more accurate indicator of growth.

Among the top 40 brands, the monthly follower gains range between 150,000 and 1.9 million new followers per month. Whoa! That’s what I call “A LOT”! Also, that’s quite a wide range. Let’s dive deeper and take a look at their percentage gain instead.

Most of these top 40 accounts grow between three and four percent each month. Put this into context for a small business: If an account has 50,000 followers, it will only need to gain 1,500 followers a month in order to grow at the same rate as the leaders. With 10,000 followers, the account only needs to gain 300 new followers in a month to match the top brand accounts.

That’s doable. Only 10 new followers a day!

Remember: Gaining 10 followers a day might be good this month but next month, you’ll need to gain 11 followers a day. Set goals, but make sure you’re adjusting them as you grow.

Thank you for reading!

Any and all edits, suggestions, critiques are welcome.

Final draft of this essay, along with 11 more are to be published as “No Bots About It!”. Each essay hyper focuses on a single aspect of Instagram. Learn what it takes to build and grow an audience on Instagram.

Originally meant to teach e-commerce stores how to Instagram, topics covered have been a huge help to my private clients who include: Actors, Models, Pro Athletes, TV Hosts, Moms, and more. If you have passion, Instagram has your audience.

NoBotsAbout.com for more info

No Bots About It! All Chapters

  1. Post Every Day
  2. Schedule Your Posts
  3. Ideas Are Free
  4. Answer Every Comment
  5. Write Epic Captions
  6. Look For Leaders
  7. Hashtag For Exposure
  8. Hashtag For Engagement
  9. Get Physical
  10. Influence the Influencers
  11. Don’t Call It a Contract
  12. Curate and Create

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Former Santa | Maker | Coffee Drinker

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