From 0 to 110k Instagram Followers In 5 Months: The Growth Story of Foundr

We break down how Foundr has grown their Instagram following to over 110k in just 5 months.

If you’re just starting out on Instagram it can be a daunting task to catch up to brands and competitors that have built a loyal following over the last 5 years.

I recently caught up with fellow Melburnian – Nathan Chan who cofounded an online magazine for entrepreneurs called Foundr.

We chatted for a few hours on various growth strategies, until a particular topic really piqued my interest.

Nathan started posting images to Instagram for Foundr Magazine on 2nd November 2014. We’re now in April 2015 and to date the account has:

  • 777 Posts (5.18 per day)
  • 1.43M Post likes (1.8k per post)
  • 61k Post comments (78 per post)
  • Averages 20k CTA clicks per month

I was seriously impressed with the amount of growth he has driven in such a short time. Not only that, but that he’s turned Instagram into one of his largest channels for driving new Foundr Magazine subscribers.

Foundr's Follower Growth

Let’s dive into some of the tactics that Nathan is using to turn Instagram into a huge growth machine for his business.

Aligning Post Content To The Target Audience

Nathan knew that he wanted to get involved with Instagram, but first needed to understand the type of content to best engage his audience with. This can often be the biggest challenge facing businesses on Instagram, and some just end up posting whatever they feel like.

Nathan’s idea was simple. Create powerful quotes that entrepreneurs and business owners could relate to. Give them inspiration to keep building every single day. In return, he could start building a small community of engaged Entrepreneurs that may eventually subscribe to Foundr Magazine.

Consistency Is Key

You need to be consistent with your content. If Nathan only posted once a week, or once every few days then people wouldn’t know when to expect new quotes or content from him.

Iconosquare helps you find the best time to post on Instagram

Instead, Nathan’s strategy revolves around religiously posting on average 4 quotes every single day. You can see the times above where he gets the most traction with his posts.

This strategy can be tough, especially when he has a hungry crowd of followers eager for the next post.

To achieve this Nathan has to plan posts far in advance, getting the quotes, images then preparing them for posting (more on that below).

Automating Image Creation

Word Swag Example

The main app in Nathan’s arsenal of tools is called Wordswag. It allows you to upload your photos then turn them into beautiful quotes in minutes.

Wordswag will automatically save images to your camera roll, and you can then decide how you want to get them into Instagram. For example, I like to sync my camera roll with Dropbox so the images appear across all my devices right away.

Using Questions To Drive Engagement

Some of Nathan’s most popular posts engage his community in some way. One tactic he uses is asking basic questions like below.

Question related posts on average drive over 300% more interaction than normal images for Foundr.

Get Users To Tag Friends

Another strategy Nathan uses to increase the reach of his Instagram images is asking users to tag friends.

The post below is actually the most successful they’ve ever posted with over 1,600 comments.

Double Tap If You Agree

A small tactic Nathan adds to question based posts is asking users to double tap if they agree. This is a big reason why Foundr has managed to drive over 1.4M image likes. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Running Competitions On Instagram

When you have a large audience you can start leveraging them to drive more awareness. One of the best ways to do this is via some sort of incentive.

Nathan runs competitions on Instagram giving away magazine subscriptions (which costs him nothing). In return he drives users to tag friends and check you his podcast.

Foundr Magazine Giveaway

Appeal To Emotion

Nathan uses images to trigger emotion from his audience. Every entrepreneur knows how hard the struggle can be, so they find it easy to relate to certain messages – in turn increasing the engagement rate on posts.

You can use all different sorts of tactics here to trigger certain emotions. Desire, hope, pride, empathy or fear, the list goes on.

#Hashtags In Comments Not Descriptions

Nathan has found the Instagram post description area to be very sacred ground. As such, he recommends to avoid using #hashtags when you can write compelling copy instead.

You can then comment on your own post with any related #hashtags you want to use, and it’ll have the same impact as including them in the description.

Foundr Uses Hashtags in Comments

Use Emoticons

Foundr Uses Emojis on Instagram

You can use emoticons from your mobile device to draw attention to certain areas of your description. Nathan uses these to ask users to visit the Foundr bio link, to give visual cues on interacting with posts, and to simply liven up descriptions.

Add Your Branding To Images

Images are one of the most sharable forms of media we can use. In Nathan’s case he wants to make sure that if they get shared inside Instagram or on other social platforms that it’s driving inherent value for his brand.

You’ll notice that for all his own images, Nathan includes his own branding. Another tip is to include links or memorable URL’s in images to send users to downloads, squeeze pages or even competitions.

Driving Revenue From Instagram

Foundr Instagram Bio Call to Action

Finally we get to the main reason why brands use Instagram. Driving revenue.

Instagram is a really hard platform to drive revenue from, since the only real way you can redirect users to your site is via links in your profile bio (and you can’t have clickable links in individual posts).

Nathan uses this to his advantage. He’s setup a memorable redirect in his bio:

This redirect takes users to a squeeze page which opts them into a educational course Nathan has created, along with 2 value packed PDF’s. The amount of value he gives away here is insane.

Foundr Linked Guides

The Foundr Magazine Instagram page is sending over 20k users per month to the bio link, which converts 45% of users into email subscribers. Nathan believes that using Instagram as a source of customer acquisition will drive over 6 figures in revenue this year (and it’s completely free for him, minus time and effort).


Stuart McKeown

Stuart McKeown is one of the Co-founders at Gleam. Aside from writing and helping businesses grow, he also enjoys sound design and drinking tea ☕️