Is this the fastest way to grow your Instagram account without buying followers?

July 20, 2017

A common question I get from aspiring “influencers” is how can I grow my following. Well here’s the mother of all growth strategies, although it comes with a catch.

We noticed some weird growth activity on Dovetale. Users with tremendous growth started bubbling to the top of the charts.

Our first guess was bots, but to our surprise it wasn’t. We calculate the number of bots based on a range of different metrics, but the average number of bots was only 4.2% on the list above.

Here’s where things get interesting. All of these accounts posted something about a giveaways/ contest that looks something like this:

Each photo is captioned with a referral. So we decided to see where it lead. Just before we got tired of clicking, we reached the end, where it circled back to the first person we stumbled on. 40 people are in the ring all promoting the EXACT same image. We noticed during the process that the engagement for these posts is through the roof!

We ran each post through Dovetale to get a report and pretty much every metric was off the chart.

Bot activity is pretty low so my only assumption is that the biggest influencers are driving massive engagement across the community and presumably the big influencers are being paid while the smaller ones are being incentivized to do this by getting more followers. Just a theory at the moment. It’s also surgical in execution. Each post goes live at almost exactly 6:00 PM UTC 🤔.

post times

Post times

We also noticed going through some of these users that they like to post other giveaways. So we decided to follow each one… until we got tired. It seems like these concentric rings are all over Instagram. We tracked two others and saw many more as the rabbit hole seems to never end. Giveaway Ring #2 had 45 users while Giveaway Ring #3 also had 40 users contribute. Here are the posts:

Giveaway Ring #2

Giveaway Ring #3

There’s big differences in these campaigns. The average followers is lower and the engagement is dismal. Could these ones be the copy cats? The image quality is lower. The users don’t have as many followers and there are more bots on average. I would guess that these users remove the posts after a while so we’re going keep a close eye on the activity. Perhaps find who the winners are and reach out to some of these users. Regardless of what’s actually going on here, one things for sure, these Giveaway rings lead to lot of growth for the creators involved.