Hey buddy, how are you?

This won’t be a standard blog post where I will just pour out wisdom based on 1000 articles that you’ve already read. In fact, I’m going to tell you a story. I want to tell you what happened to me and what can easily happen to you.

08:35 – Friday, February the 15th, I went to a coffee shop where I usually hang out (and sometimes work) thinking about one idea: how strong profile I can make on Instagram in 30 days without spending a dime and without a support of influencers.

08:40 – My morning dose of caffeine arrives (espresso and Cockta). As a caffeine addict, I immediately drank half of a cup, being surprised how good they made it… literally the best since they opened. When I tried this piece of perfection, one thing came to my mind: what if I create a page related to coffee?

There are only a couple of profiles on Balkans related to coffee and there’s a lot of potentials to create a killer profile. I went full Barney mode!

So, I don’t want this to be another coffee blogger page, but a friendly community of people who consume coffee for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Since I decided what I’m going to do, it was time to set BIG GOALS… goals that will make me wake up at 6 am every day, thinking about how to make it the best page possible. The goals I’ve set were:

  • # of Followers: 1200
  • Reach – 7000
  • Engagement Rate – 15%

Growth Strategy

The key to disruptive growth on social media is the laser-targeted audience. What I mean by the laser-targeted audience are people who are contributing and engaging with content on a daily basis. My growth strategy was based on two tactics: following engaged users from nano-influencers and scraping Instagram profiles from people who are participating in a targeted Facebook Event.

Engaged users from nano-influencers.

If you want to do Follow / Unfollow growth activity, you need to be really careful not to cross limits and get your account banned. If you want to do a targeted approach, you need to understand that everyone is not your audience. The biggest mistake you can make is to follow users based on hashtags and location.

I decided to scrape engaged users of nano-influencers in the niche. Who are nano-influencers? They are people that have between 1000 and 10000 followers with an engagement rate over 10%.

Why I targeted nano-influencers? These are small profiles that need exposure. Since they are small, they don’t have funds to invest in promotion, hence why their engagement is completely organic. Also, they are not focused on selling products. On the contrary, they are focused on building a strong and engaging community.

Scraping Instagram Profiles from Facebook Event

There’s a very interesting tool called PhantomBuster. It’s an API library which is applicable literally everywhere. I don’t want to explain to you in-depth about PhantomBuster. You can check it out by clicking on the following link.

Two APIs which I used are Facebook Event Guests Exporter and Instagram Profile URL Finder.

Two events that I targeted are happening in Sarajevo, and they start in a couple of days. Those events were CoffeeFest Sarajevo and CoffeeArt Competition – part of CoffeeFest with a different audience.

Through Facebook Event Guests Exporter API, I pulled out 2835 Facebook profiles that were either Going or Interested for the event in just minute and 30 seconds.

I uploaded the list with all data into Instagram Profile URL Finder API. In 30 minutes, I got around 1150 Instagram Profile URLs. Not everyone is on Instagram. Now, PhantomBuster doesn’t guarantee you a 100% success rate when it comes to getting an exact match. It goes from 50% to 70%. Once I sorted out exact match profiles, I got a list of 785 people which are 100% interested in coffee!

Over the course of 3 days, out of 785 profiles that I followed, 418 of them followed me back and 80% of those profiles were actively engaging with my content! 

Content Strategy

This is not another coffee blogger profile. As I previously mentioned, the goal is to create an engaging community that dives in coffee. For this reason, I decided to go for Content Curation.

For the first 5 days, I was researching what type of content went viral on Instagram, what type of content was consistently ranking on top of Explore Feed and for specific hashtags. I was researching hashtags by types of coffee that had the highest engagement per post while having between 10000 and 100000 posts in total. I filtered out 156 pictures that would possibly be posted.

When it comes to Instagram Aesthetics, I decided not to go for specific filters. Instead, I dedicated a specific theme for each grid. Once users scroll past my Instagram Profile, they will see mapped out content, and they can predict what type of post will be posted each day.

Based on the strategy and curated content, I decided to go for three specific themes: 3D Coffee Art, Coffee with a look (traveling posts) and truly unique, interesting photos which can’t be found anywhere on Balkan. I chose these themes to motivate coffee shop owners and baristas to enhance their service and bring their coffee shop to a whole new level.

In addition to Curated Content, I also went for UGC – User Generated Content. I branded a hashtag and whenever people used the hashtag and tagged my profile, they would get featured on Instagram Stories.

Caption Strategy

A few days ago, I finished an internal training for copywriting on Social Media for one of the clients, and I talked a lot about storytelling, long-form content and how they are a key to succeeding in 2019. Since I already have a unique content which will bring engagement, I decided not to go for long-form content.

The copy is obligatory short-form with a clear CTA – invitation to engage with the post through comments, shares, DMs or answer to an asked question.

Why? Comments on Instagram are the most important signal for the algorithm and if you consistently get comments, your profile will be recognized by the algorithm as a profile that has authority and engagement. 

Hashtag Strategy

For months, I’m looking at discussions about how a large number of hashtags reduces your reach and impressions, so let’s bust this myth. NO, INSTAGRAM DOESN’T LOWER YOUR REACH IF YOU HAVE A LOT OF HASHTAGS! However, it lowers your reach if you do not have relevant hashtags for your content. For example, why would I put #lunch if I post my coffee in the morning?

If you want to grow disruptively on Instagram without spending a dime, setting up relevant hashtags is what you need to focus on! So, how do hashtags work?

Think of hashtags as keywords for SEO. You’ll certainly not position your website on a keyword which has high volume. Instead, you’re going for specific keywords where you can position your website. As Google display sites that have high authority, Instagram ranks content which has the highest engagement. Therefore, Engagement rate is the crucial metric that you need to measure! The higher your engagement rate is, the higher chance you have to position your content on hashtags which are highly populated.

The way I set hashtags is the following:

  • Branded hashtag #volimokafu
  • Hashtags that describe the picture, but they have from 10000 to 75000 posts in total with at least 400 likes per photo.

This is literally the basis, but I also decided to go for Hashtag Outreach. What is Hashtag Outreach? It is a principle of rapid organic growth where the largest amount of reached people comes from hashtags. In order to be able to do Hashtag Outreach, you need to position your content among the highest searched hashtags. And for that, you need very high engagement rate. I started applying hashtags such as #coffeeart, #espressoart, #latteart, #espresso, #latte and #barista. End goal was this:



In 30 days, I managed to achieve the following results:

  • # of Followers – 1574
  • Reach – 46 611
  • Reach (Balkans) – 15 813
  • Impressions – 102 186
  • Average Likes per post – 721
  • Average Comments per post – 13
  • Engagement rate – 46.62%

Let’s sum it up!

Rapid organic growth is insane! Of course, if you have the whole strategy in place! In many niche-focused groups, I saw how people are saying that the Follow/Unfollow strategy will kill your account. However, my view of the Follow/Unfollow strategy is like creating a custom audience for your ads. If you target profiles that are a perfect fit for your niche, you’ll dominate on Instagram! Thanks to various automation tools and Phantom Buster, not only did I get high growth in terms of followers, but I created an army that interacts daily with my content!

Quality above Quantity – Some previous profiles that I managed for clients achieved over 2800 followers per month with 0 dimes spent, and the engagement rate was solid (from 10% to 15%). It doesn’t matter how many followers you have. Most important thing is to have an engaged community around your business that will interact with you on a daily basis.

Engagement Rate is the single most important metric you need to measure! Volimo Kafu profile now has 1724 followers and 55.26% engagement rate. Although this is not a large number of followers, the content I publish is in the top 3 posts for hashtags that have over 9 million posts! According to my estimates, if you have an engagement rate over 15%, you can easily place hashtags that have up to 3 million posts. The stronger your authority is, the faster you grow.

Focus on HASHTAGS, but only the relevant ones! The Follow/Unfollow strategy can help you grow faster in the beginning. My advice is to use it until you reach your first 10k followers and stop. If you’re doing a laser-targeting audience approach, count on growing that number within a few months! Then, shift your focus to growing via Explore Feed and relevant hashtags.

CONTENT IS KING! If you run a community-based profile, curated content can help you increase your engagement rate on a scale you can’t even imagine. When you reach your desired audience, let them create content for you. People want to be a part of a community. When they see their photo/video shared on their favorite page, you’ll get free marketing!

CHALLENGE COMPLETED – Under-plan, over-deliver! And here’s my advice for you:

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