The REAL Secret To Growing On Instagram (Why Is Nobody Saying This?!)

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Two weeks ago, the Copy Posse FINALLLLY hit 200K subscribers on IG!

OMG – yayyyyy!!!!!

I started that account with ZERO followers back in 2019…

So how did I grow it from 0 to 200K – in just 4 years?

Keep reading!

Hey Posse, what’s up? It’s Alex!

Today, I’m going to share the biggest social media tips and lessons I’ve learned from growing my Instagram following from scratch…

Including the #1 thing you should start doing in your captions TODAY to drive the retention rate of your audience up to as much as 65–70 percent.

And let me tell you… the last tip is PURE GOLD.

According to a recent Instagram study by Metricool that analyzed hundreds of thousands of professional Instagram accounts and MILLIONS of posts, stories and reels…

The average reach of reels is still twice as much as feed posts, but across the board, reach has been reduced by up to 76% compared to last year.

This means growth is harder than it was before…

BUTTTT if you can get your audience to stick with you and engage with you…

Those Instagram followers you do get are worth WAYYY more to you.

Because if you haven’t noticed, the reach of an average Instagram post is WAYYYYY down this year compared to last year.

Nope. You aren’t imagining it.

That’s why retention is SO FREAKING important right now….

So I’m going to share with you the #1 thing you should start doing in your captions TODAY to drive the retention rate of your audience up to as much as 65–70 percent.

Plus THREE super detailed examples to really demonstrate how this works. 

I am convinced that this has contributed MASSIVELY to my growth recently – no, not just with followers…

Because, honestly, followers don’t mean much, and that can be a slow process (I mean, it took me forever to go from 198K to 200K)…

I’m talking about growth in my business, which means more cash in my bank account…

Which, let’s be honest, is what REALLY matters.

But before we get to that, pay close attention to every tip I’m about to share because they really need to be done TOGETHER to be the most effective. 

So, let’s count them down…

My top 5 tips for growing on Instagram…

#5) Actually Show Up… Consistently 

You know this already…

You are NOT going to achieve much growth on Instagram – or ANY other platform for that matter – if you’re not putting in the work and actually showing up. 

And yes –  it IS work. 

Especially in this world of instant gratification that we live in.

We’re addicted to this idea of “going viral”. 

And we think that if we’re not doing THAT, well, then we must doing something wrong. 

But I’m here to tell ya…

The exact opposite is often true.

If you haven’t “gone viral” or had an “overnight explosion” in your following – you are NOT doing ANYTHING wrong. 

Growing your audience online is a LONG GAME. 

If you can reframe your thinking and ditch this unrealistic fantasy of waking up tomorrow and suddenly having thousands of new followers… then you’ve won half the battle already. 

It can be super discouraging to keep showing up when you’re not seeing the results you want. 

But trust me, keep going! 

It takes time and consistency

And honestly, I don’t think how often you post is what truly matters…

It’s not the frequency – it’s the consistency – that’s important!

Don’t post then ghost.

When I first started, I posted maybe 2-3 times a week because I was working solo…

Then I hired a social media manager, and we went to once a day…

Then twice a day… but honestly, that was too much. I was getting tired of ME haha

So we moved back to once a day, SOMETIMES twice a day if we’re in the middle of a launch or campaign, and that works for us right now…

In general, the more often you post, the faster you’ll grow. But it’s going to backfire if you can’t stay consistent. 

So don’t overcommit!

The key takeaway here is to decide how often you want to show up, create a plan and stick to it!

Alright, the next thing you need to keep in mind if you want to grow…

#4) Deliver Real Value

People are generally on social media for three reasons…

  1. To be entertained…
  2. To be educated…
  3. To be inspired. 

They are NOT on social media to shell out all their hard-earned money!!!

Of course, this happens. 

But it’s not the goal most of us have when we absent-mindedly open our apps. 

So what this means for YOU – as a person who wants to grow your social following to hopefully one day be able to sell them stuff is…


And stop always trying to “sell” something. 

Now, when I say “stop always trying to sell something,” I’m not just talking about the very obvious promotional posts – which, by the way, I do when I’m in a launch or promotion, but not ALL the time…

I’m also talking about those sneaky cold outreach DMs that smell like a sales pitch from a mile away…

So INSTEAD, when you’re first starting to grow…

FORGET about ONLY trying to convince people they need what you have to offer.

I personally like to make sure my posts always follow what I call the “Four Pillars” of social media content.

  • Promotional Posts: You’re clearly promoting your product or service to your audience.
  • Educational Posts: You’re delivering serious value in the form of free education or inspiration. 
  • Personal Posts: You’re building rapport with your audience, letting them know more about you, your personal story, your quirks, likes and all the things you might think are “irrelevant” to your business!
  • Engagement Posts: Your opportunity to engage with your audience, ask them questions and uncover their needs, wants and desires. 

I break down these four pillars in more detail—including examples AND swipe copy for you to use—in my free Cheatsheet for writing click-worthy captions & CTAs.  

Alright, next tip (it’s almost unbelievable how many people overlook this)…

#3) Engage With Your Audience

This one is so simple, but it needs to be brought up because, unfortunately, this sooooo uncommon today. 

And it’s so sad!

Never overlook the importance of replying to your comments and DMs!!!

When you don’t reply to your messages, you’re basically saying, “I’m too busy for you” or “You don’t matter enough for a response from me.”

Which is NOT how you’re going to build a loyal following! 

You might think the two are unrelated, but actually…

When your followers KNOW they can count on you to reply – they’re more likely to comment on your other posts, tag you in stories and share your brand with other people. 

This is HUGE.

Because you’re getting higher engagement, word of mouth marketing AND teaching the algorithm that people find your content useful – which increases your chances of getting shown to new people. 

All because you replied to someone. So simple and can make such a drastic difference. 

Alright, before we get into the JUICIEST secret of them all, let’s cover the basics of a well-written caption…

#2) Caption Writing Basics

Remember, the main reason people are on social media is to be educated, entertained or inspired…

So, every single caption you write has to deliver a sort of experience for your audience. 

And you cannot do that with terribly written captions. 

A good rule of thumb to follow when writing your captions is to remember your ABCs…

First, you need to capture ATTENTION.

On social media, the first sentence of your caption is prime REAL ESTATE. 

If your first sentence isn’t captivating, then the reader won’t tap “more”.

So, putting forth a lot of effort into writing a great first step.

Next, you need to provide a BENEFIT or BIG VALUE in the form of education, entertainment or inspiration.

Once you have your readers’ attention, here comes the hardest part…

You need to KEEP them engaged and reading!

Yes, RETENTION is key here, which we’re going to dive more into in just a minute…

And the final part of your caption needs to have a strong CLOSE

In other words, give your readers a call to action. 

Whether it’s to save, share, like, comment or buy – tell them what you want them to do! 

Ok, now here we go… the biggest secret – and #1 skill you need to master if you want to grow a robust social media following…

#1)  The BIGGEST Secret For Writing Great Captions 

Know how to tell relatable stories that create emotional resonance with your readers…

And in just a moment, I’m going to share three examples of exactly how I do this…

But it all comes down to the simple fact that humans relate to humans. 

We want to feel seen

We want to feel like we belong

We want to feel understood

We want to feel connected to each other. 

And we want those things whether we’re looking to buy a product or service…

Or whether we’re choosing which accounts to follow on Instagram. 

And this isn’t just a biased opinion or theory…

According to the London Business School study, storytelling can drive the retention rate of your audience up to as much as 65–70 percent.

What this study found is that if you tell someone straight facts…

Like listing off some statistics or a list of benefits – then people are only 5-10% likely to REMEMBER what you said. 

But if you tell someone the same facts THROUGH A STORY, they are 65-70% more likely to remember what you said. 

That is huge!!!

So if you REALLY want to grow, build a thriving community that happily buys from you and keep your community engaged long-term…

Then using storytelling is key.

But what does it actually mean to “tell a story” in your captions…

NO, you don’t need to devise some epic tale for every caption you write. 

Storytelling is a lot simpler and easier than you probably think. 

And it comes down to the maxim: “Show, don’t tell.”

You DON’T just want to tell your audience something. 

You want to communicate your message through an engaging, personal, real-life demonstration. 

This makes what the reader learns more memorable, AND it helps them actually feel more connected to you. 

So here are some real-life examples from some of my more recent top-performing Instagram posts… 

This post was promoting a free workshop. We promoted the workshop every day for a week, and this post was by far the best performing…

Notice, I didn’t just say, “Hey, I’m running a free workshop. You should sign up.” I told a story – a very compelling story that made a lot of people want to pay attention. Who doesn’t want to be a millionaire – right?!

The hook was great, but I didn’t use it as clickbait – because in my caption, I deliver on my promise, and I tell you exactly how I became a millionaire. Doing one thing, really well, over and over again. 

But structuring my caption in this way allowed me to captivate the audience and pull them into my story. This kept them engaged and reading, rather than just saying, “Hey, I did this thing, and it made me a millionaire. Sign up for my free workshop.” See the difference?

Let’s check out another example…

This is another promotional post. But you’d never guess it until the very end, because the entire caption is delivering TONS of value.

This caption really reads like a friend telling you a story about something that happened to them that day – this is KEY. You should aim for all your captions to read like they came from a good friend. And AFTER I tell my story, I deliver some great value – the three components of a perfect upsell. 

Then, I talk a little bit about why upsells don’t work.

THEN, I finally pivot into promoting my marketing program, STORM. 

So this post doesn’t feel like a ploy to get into your wallet – right? It’s very useful, and even if the audience doesn’t buy… when they finish reading the caption, they feel like they gained something valuable. 

Which keeps them coming back to read MORE of my content – EVEN IF they don’t intend to buy.

Okay, here’s one more post that ISN’T promoting anything…

This post definitely falls under the “inspiration” category – right? But what I’m actually doing is revealing MORE ABOUT ME that I know a good majority of my audience can relate to. 

A lot of the people who follow me on Instagram are copywriters or aspiring copywriters, so this post was really geared towards making them feel validated about their dreams, and showing them that doubts and fears are normal. But also to encourage them to go for their dreams. 

It would have been such a yawn-feast if I had just said, “Follow your dreams” – right? (That’s so overused.) So, instead, I sent the same message but made it way more impactful through storytelling. 

I hope those examples help you grasp just how SIMPLE storytelling and writing engaging captions can be

If you want even more help nailing your social media captions, make sure you download my free Social Media Cheatsheet

And if you want to learn how to write compelling call-to-actions AT THE END of your captions, then check out this blog, where I share 24 CTAs to help you boost traffic, engagement, and sales. 

Until next time, I’m Alex. Ciao for now!

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