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The Magic of 10K Instagram Followers – A No-Gimmicks Approach

Magic happens when you get to 10k followers on Instagram. 

People take you seriously and recognize your expertise. Instagram unlocks special features for your account and paid opportunities are within your grasp. But…

Only 10.9 percent of Instagram accounts ever get to the magic 10k number!

Anytime something is valuable, spammers, fakers, and quick-money-makers will create myths and shortcuts that promise immediate wins. If you are like me, you’re seeing these offers everywhere!

We don’t want you to be fooled by quick fixes like these or get frustrated by weak plans that don’t focus on results, so we’ve developed some solid tips for getting to 10k Instagram followers —  without spamming people, using sketchy tactics or losing momentum. 

The 10k Follower Feature You Need to Unlock This Year

A 10k follower count on Instagram isn’t just an awareness metric. The milestone comes with an immediate, tangible benefit. 

Once you have 10k followers, Instagram will make it easier for you to get people to your website via Stories with the swipe up to link feature.

Swipe up is the only way to get a direct link from your Instagram to your other web properties. And, it’s available in STORIES, if you have 10k followers. 

The swipeable link in stories lets you send people to your blog, your ecommerce page, or your email signup list, without requiring the visitor to click to your bio first. 

The feature alone is a game changer!

“Before that, Instagram rarely showed up as a traffic source for my shop or blog. Since that feature was added, I’m able to get more traffic to my websites directly from IG.”

@bydawnnicole 93.k followers.

What’s the problem with buying Instagram followers? 

Once you see the goldmine available in the swipe up to link, it might be tempting to take shortcuts to get there. 


Here’s why. In the worst case scenario, your account could be removed from Instagram, causing you to lose all the followers you earned the hard way, and the ones you bought. 

Fake followers can also keep you from getting the blue check mark, verified status on Instagram.

And, no matter how much a seller promises you a “high quality” audience boost, fake followers won’t like, comment, or share your content, keeping your engagement score low.

Engagement is based on likes, tags, shares and DM’s, all of which signal Instagram that your account is important to the user. The algorithm behind the feed uses those signals to prioritize the content it displays. 

Buying fake followers is a vicious cycle: Low exposure leads you to buy followers, which limits your engagement, which decreases your exposure, which starts the cycle again. 

Instagram Fundamentals

To succeed on Instagram, we need to inspire our audience and offer them visually appealing content.

We also need to post on a regular basis. Research into 100,000 Instagram posts found that posting at least once per day increased engagement by a wide margin!

“I do feel like I gained more traction after hitting 10k in followers. It all goes back to consistency though, and when I’m being more consistent, it’s easy to see the growth. It took me almost 22 months to hit 10,000 followers, and then it took me 14 months to go from 10,000 followers to 20,000 followers. The longer I’ve done this, the more I’ve been able to hone in on what works for me, and I just try to be as consistent as possible. – @sharilynscookiestudio, 22.3k 

The No-Shortcut, No-fluff path to 10K followers

“Hours of conversations with Instagram users reveal that the biggest need they have is a simple, results-oriented plan for getting to 10k followers.” Rebekah Radice, Social Media and Marketing Performance Strategist. 

Our answer is the VALUE Framework. 

It’s a 5 x 5 grid which divides Instagram posts into 5 broad categories: 

  • Valuable — helpful or educational posts that teach your audience something new.
  • Aspirational — offers idealized, tangible help for attaining a vision or a goal. 
  • Lifecycle — builds awareness, nurtures relationships, or encourages action.
  • Unique — focuses on your business, proprietary
  • Evergreen — timely, relevant posts that are also useful for years to come.

To put the VALUE framework in action, create a post for each category on a weekly basis, one per weekday. And, for the most value, plan for 5 weeks of content at a time. 

ValuableAspirational LifecycleUniqueEvergreen

The framework can benefit anyone on Instagram. If you’re a content marketer, Content Marketing Institute offers a great description of the VALUE framework specifically for driving blog traffic. 

Let’s look at a few examples of each type of post:

Valuable posts teach or educate. 

In this video post, Mari helps her audience learn about the importance of paid reach on Facebook. 

This is also a great example of repurposing content from a longer video into an Instagram-friendly format. 

If you have a lot of Facebook Live or Webinar content, consider editing it into bite-size chunks and adding it to your Instagram feed. 

Notice that Mari uses a simple frame, based on her brand colors, to convert the video to square and provide a space for her logo. 

Aspirational posts offer help for attaining a vision or a goal. 

To get started creating aspirational posts, think about the problems your product or brand can solve or the value you offer to your customers or audience. 

For example, a coffee shop offers a place to socialize, a drink to boost energy, a friendly smile. 

These posts from @coffeehubohio taps into aspiration with simple images that link it to the value offered–energy on a busy day. 

Image quotes like this one from @suebzimmerman are another super quick and easy way to deliver aspirational content. 

Consider using pre-made templates from a tool like Canva to quickly create 5 weeks worth of image quotes. 

Heather Bruggeman is a blogger who offers a paid online course called Summer Soul Camp. Her value proposition offers “a self-paced online retreat – a place to celebrate the light and warmth that summertime brings. A place to savor the sunshine, linger into the evening, welcome creativity, and allow time for stillness and spontaneity.”

This photo from the @heather_bruggeman feed is aspirational–reflecting the value that she offers via the class, and suggesting a quick way to get there…sitting outside with an iced coffee.

Lifecycle posts build awareness and encourage action.

Posts that you could imagine repeating often fall into the Lifecycle category. Think of event promotions or invitations, challenges, or blog post announcements. 

Inbound uses Lifecycle posts to encourage followers to register for their event. 

And Brooklyn Tweed, a knitting supply store, uses Lifecycle posts to get blog visitors.

Unfortunately, some accounts rely solely on lifecycle content, focusing on what they want their audience to do. The result is a boring feed, that doesn’t offer enough value to keep people engaged. 

The VALUE framework keeps us honest by steering us away from repeated lifecycle content.

Unique posts offer something only you or your business can provide.

Social Media Examiner has a nine-grid full of Unique content. The photos are cleverly branded, with visible name badges or stage props from Social Media Marketing World in each shot.

The effect is subtle, but it portrays @SMExaminer’s flagship event as a great opportunity to learn, have fun, and get to know a diverse crowd of people interested in social media. 

Customer testimonials or links to case studies are other examples of Unique Instagram posts. 

Here’s an example from @KillarneyMetals. Notice that the customer’s name, and the product installation are both included! The background is a nice match for the brand’s logo, too. 

Evergreen posts have long-term value and are instantly relevant. 

Statistics, snippets from research you’ve done or content that answers a Frequently Asked Question about your industry or product all fit into the Evergreen category. 

Ask yourself if the post is useful today, then ask if you can imagine it being useful in six months or a year. If the answer to both questions is yes, you’ve got an evergreen post.

Tailwind has a series of Evergreen posts for the #instasta series.

There’s no need to create your own hashtag. Just search Instagram for a hashtag related to your industry, then tag any relevant evergreen posts you create. 

Now that we’ve delved into the VALUE categories, let’s look at how to integrate video into your posting system. 

Using Video as Part of the Value Framework for 10K Instagram Followers

Video is social media’s megaphone. 

If you want attention, video is the way to go. Instagram is no exception! 

For example, videos on Instagram get 3x the number of comments as other posts. 

Let’s take a list of video ideas for Instagram and assign them into the VALUE framework.

Valuable video ideas:

Convert your blog post into video format using a tool like If you compose your post in Google Drive, the outline section on the left is a great starting point for text to layover your template or other images. 

For this outline, I’d make slides for:

  • Only 10.9% of Instagram accounts get 10k followers
  • 10k followers opens up the swipe up to link feature 
  • Don’t take shortcuts to get followers
  • Follow the VALUE framework
  • One post a day, for 5 days, each on a different topic
  • Valuable posts teach or educate
  • Aspirational posts offer help or inspiration for a goal
  • Lifecycle posts build awareness and inspire action
  • Uniques posts offer something only you can give
  • Evergreen have long term value and short term relevancy

Aspirational video ideas:

Unboxing videos are the perfect choice for aspirational posts. Describe the benefit you expect to get from the product as you reveal it to your audience. 

Lifecycle video ideas:

Record a quick video to advertise events or to tell people why you wrote a particular blog post.

Unique video ideas:

Behind the scenes videos are unique powerhouses. And, giving your audience a glimpse of your work life helps build trust. 

If you can, get testimonials on video, then you can use the video and convert the text for use on your website or other materials. 

Evergreen video ideas:

Use video to offer tips for solving problems that plague your audience. Or create a series of QA videos with an expert who can answer common questions. If you find evergreen overlapping with How-to or Unique content, don’t worry! The definition isn’t the most important factor, posting a variety of content on a regular basis, and you’ll be fine!

To get the reach, engagement and features you want on Instagram, you need a great plan. 

The VALUE framework gives you the tools you need to craft a great feed and build a loyal audience of at least 10k followers on Instagram. 

Susan Moeller

Marketing Partnerships Manager, Tailwind. Founder Women in #contentmarketing.

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