Growth Letter #1 - Instagram and Quora

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In my first growth letter, I will shed light on strategies for Instagram and Quora. Make sure to try out at least one of these strategies.


Instagram used to be my favorite social media platform until I fell in love with LinkedIn. Instagram kept on decreasing the organic reach but it kept on making the platform engaging.

I grew @writersnetwork from 0 to 69K in less than 9 months. On performing numerous experiments on Instagram, I feel here’s what you should do on Instagram:

  1. Have a powerful bio: Mention your or your brand’s name, add a link, a quality display picture, a few lines about you or your brand, mention relevant accounts, and hashtags.

  2. Engage with the ones who like or comment on your posts. Visit their profiles, like 3 of their posts, and comment on their latest post. Don’t follow them at this point if you do not know them personally.

    On following the above process, here’s what they are most likely to do - visit your profile, like and comment on your posts, and maybe follow your account. Follow this process as soon as you share a new post.

  3. Create multiple hashtag sets. Each hashtag set can have a maximum of 30 hashtags. Your hashtag set could consist of 10 small-size, 10 mid-size, and 10 large-size hashtags.

    Here’s how I generally categorize a hashtag when I’m in the initial stages of building an Instagram community: If the hashtag has less than 10,000 posts in it, it is a small-size hashtag. If the hashtag has 10,000 to 200,000 posts in it, it is a mid-size hashtag. If the hashtag has more than 200,000 posts in it, it is a large-size hashtag. Note that if my account already has more than 50K followers, my categorization will be different from the one I mentioned previously.

    A large portion of the audience on Instagram view large-size hashtags in real-time. However, it is extremely difficult to have your post among the top posts in the hashtag. Use large-size hashtags to get likes and comments on your posts as soon as your post goes live.

    As soon as your post gets engagement from the large-size hashtags, it gets enough engagement to land up among the top posts in small-size hashtags. Our ultimate goal should be to get our post among the top posts in mid-size hashtags.

    You must not use banned hashtags in your posts. Always check your hashtags before using them. To make sure a hashtag is safe to use, you must be able to see all posts in that hashtag (in the recent feed as well as in the top feed). Here’s how a banned hashtag looks like:

  4. Engage with posts in hashtags and locations. As soon as your post goes live, it needs likes and comments so as to hit the top posts in small and mid-size hashtags. Hence, like and comment on recent posts of mid-size hashtags. If your brand provides location-based services, engage with posts in locations or location-based hashtags (say #delhidiaries for the location Delhi).

  5. Re-share posts from Influencers in your stories tagging them. Provide extra value to your audience. Influencers may re-share your story on their stories. Who doesn’t like getting featured on an account with (let’s say) 20K+ followers?!

  6. Use links in stories. If you have more than 10K followers on your Instagram account, you can add swipe-up links to your stories.

  7. Give your audience a chance to interact with your content in a lively manner. Create polls in stories to better engage your audience. Create funnels using polls (I’ll discuss this some other day).

  8. Let your audience know you or your brand better. Conduct AMA (ask me anything) in stories using the “Ask me a question” widget.

  9. Use multiple hashtags in Stories. To start with, create 2/3 stories every day (well-spaced in time) and use only 1 (different) hashtag per story. Do this to know the hashtags for which your stories get featured in the hashtag. Once you know the hashtags which are good for you, use them (up to 3) in your stories. Hide hashtags behind other story elements. If your brand provides location-based services, use a location in your story.

  10. Highlight your stories.

  11. Avoid malpractices on Instagram. Don’t buy likes, comments, or followers. Build your audience bit by bit - there’s no shortcut to success on Instagram. Also, don’t follow accounts and then unfollow them. It damages your reputation. Not only do you lose followers, but the engagement rate of your page reduces. Thus, your posts have a lesser chance now to be in the top posts section of the hashtags.

  12. Tag community accounts in your posts (in the picture). Use community hashtags. If your post is good enough, you may get featured on community pages. Believe me, it’s totally worth it.

These are my favorite tools for Instagram:

  1. Instagram Engagement Calculator by Phlanx

  2. Instagram Analytics

  3. Iconosquare Instagram Analytics (+ much more)


Quora can be a goldmine for you if you know how to use it well. Quora is much more than a platform for answering questions. I increased’s social traffic from 50% to 70% in a month using Quora.

Here’s what you should do on Quora:

  1. Suggest edits to high-quality answers - Find answers in your niche (with 20+ upvotes) where you would like to include your content. Before suggesting an edit, visit the author’s profile, follow them, upvote their another answer, and thank them for writing that answer.

    Now, proceed with suggesting an edit. Click “Suggest Edits”

    Here’s what you will see on your screen:

    The trick is to correct spelling mistakes and improve grammar using the Grammarly plugin. Once the fixes have been done, include your content in the answer and press the “Suggest Edits” button.

    You may also choose to fill in details about the suggested edits in the “Explain Your Suggestion” field. I usually don’t fill this field.

    To improve conversions, suggest edits on answers that have been recently written as this indicates that the author could still be active on the platform.

  2. Answer questions - Find questions relevant to your industry that rank on the first page of Google for relevant keywords.

    You will notice that only results from showed up. Visit these questions and start answering. Don’t forget to have a look at the suggested questions on the sidebar.

    Another way to find relevant questions to answer will be by visiting the relevant topic pages. Ex: for Instagram Marketing, here’s the topic page -

  3. Post Questions - Post questions anonymously about your brand. Add relevant topics to it. Attach a link to the question. Here’s the pop-up that gets displayed on clicking “Add Question”. Select “Anonymous”.

    Here’s the question I want to ask:

    On clicking “Add Question”, you’ll see this page:

    Click on “Edit Question & Source”.

    Include the link and click “Update”. Now that the link is included in your question, let’s update the question topics. Open the question in a new tab/window. Click on the edit button.

    Add or remove topics as per relevancy!

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I hope you learned at least something from my first growth letter. Stay tuned for the next one! In case you’d like me to cover a channel or category of your choice, reply to this email and share your thoughts with me!

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