On New Year’s day 2022 I reached 14,000 followers on my @massiveagent Instagram account. A month later I completely deleted it… Say what?

I decided to burn the whole thing down and start over, from scratch. I went from 14,000 followers to zero…just like that.

Why the hell would anyone in their right mind delete an account that they put years of work into?

To be honest, it was the only option I had if I wanted my IG to ever grow again.

You see, I fucked it up years ago. I completely screwed myself over and made the algorithm hate me forever. But, I was just another real estate agent with a shitty IG profile that no one cared about. What could I have possibly done?! Stay with me..

Over the last couple of years I had super slow, minimal growth despite a consistent posting strategy. As I stewed in my misery I watched some of my friends grow their IG accounts with lightning speed over the same time period. It seemed like my posts kept hitting an engagement ceiling and I began to get more and more frustrated with the snail’s pace of growth.

After some research, I learned that the algorithm may have put my account in the “IG dog house” because of some bad behavior and bad decisions I made YEARS AGO.

What did I do to get me on this permanent shit list?

Trigger warning: this is heinous. Some truly repugnant, unforgivable actions… in the eyes of Instagram, at least. 

Ready!? I BOUGHT FOLLOWERS over the span of a year…or two. Dun dun dun!! I know right!? I should be in prison. Even before I made that lethal decision I used one of those auto-follow/auto-liking services to speed up the growth on my account. For a short period of time, it worked! I justified it because I was only automating the activity that I was doing myself! Uhh huh.. Right. Spamtastic!

Before I really understood what the future implications would be, or how the IG algorithm actually worked, I nailed my own coffin shut. It just took me a couple more years to realize it.

At the time I made a crucial mistake. I didn’t realize there are good followers and bad followers. I didn’t realize that some types of followers will actually hurt your growth instead of helping it. I was in the mindset that more followers equaled more business. I was way too focused on the number and failed to understand that engagement is much much more important. More on that later.

Why did I do it?

Well, I was so focused on the follower count that at one point I bought 2500 followers just to get over the coveted 10,000. At that time you needed 10,000 followers to get the swipe up link functionality and I wanted it. Little did I know that they were going to offer the link feature TO EVERY SINGLE ACCOUNT a couple years later. 

So, after some dumb, shady decisions, AND years of posting mediocre (borderline shitty) content, Instagram made up it’s mind up about me. I was shadowbanned and blackballed.

This became glaringly obvious when I changed my content strategy back on Dec 1, 2021 and began posting much higher quality Reels, every single day, with the direct target being real estate agents.

I was sick of the slow growth and leveled up my content dramatically, using the main feature that IG was/is pushing. I knew it would take a month or two before I could really judge if it was working, and I luckily did see a decent  boost in views and engagement. Finally after 2+ months of posting high-quality Reels, every single day, I had my first real glimmer of growth. My reach increased and my followers increased too. But, it fell off. My content was still hitting a ceiling every time, so I went into my IG Insights to see what the data showed. 

After months of improved quality, consistent posting, and higher engagement I noticed my followers had grown only 0.8%. Despite an enormous investment in time, quality, and posting I still wasn’t reaching a new audience. At this point I knew something had to be off and decided to reach out to a friend who deleted his IG account a couple years ago and has since grown it to over 100k! Even more importantly, his mortgage business exploded along with his audience. So, after talking with him I learned that you can’t grow something that is already dead. He advised me to start a new account and stop spinning my wheels on an old account that was throwing good content on top of bad content to an unhealthy mix of real followers and fake.

I finally did it and learned about how to grow on IG organically.

Once you understand the algorithm you realize that not all followers are good. You really only want followers who are real people that actually engage with your content. 

When you post on Instagram, the post first gets pushed out to a small handful of your followers. If that group engages with it and receives it well, they’ll push it out to a larger handful of followers, and so on. The more engaged your audience is, the more the content will keep being pushed out to more and more of your followers, and then accounts who don’t even follow you. This is how you get discovered.

if a chunk of your audience is fake, they can’t engage with your posts.

If 40% of your audience is fake, you’re playing with one hand tied behind your back. Even if you post something truly amazing and all 60% of your real followers love it and engage with it, the IG algorithm is still noticing that a large portion of your audience didn’t touch it. Your post is doomed from the get. The only way to truly have your content perform at its best is to only have real followers that have chosen to be there and want to see your posts.

By the way, this applies to shoutouts, contests, engagement groups, etc. Getting followers from means other than they “chose to follow you because of your content” will almost almost always end up hurting your engagement. The slow, consistent, organic growth will actually lead to more explosive growth in the long run as IG continues to put your content in front of people who want to see it. The short term follower account is NOT worth it.

Where are we now?

It’s now been just over 60 days since I deleted my “successful” IG account and started the new one. I can honestly say that so far it’s been one of the best moves I’ve ever made on social media. So good that I’m pissed I waited so long to do it. But I had to get past my own ego and this idea of holding onto some “credibility” that came along with an account with over 10,000 followers. 

Today my post engagement and DM’s are through the roof. The best part is my Reels are now averaging more views than I have followers, reaching an audience way outside my existing one. It only took me 24 hours with the fresh, new account to realize I made a smart move. Now, I just have to stay consistent and continue finding ways to put out great content that’s relevant for my audience; you, and other real estate agents.

If you think your account is in IG jail like mine was, there’s a specific process of how to start from scratch. I can help expedite the switch and help you grow much faster if you do things in the right order. I’ll go over this in my next article. 

In the meantime, go follow my new account, @massiveagent, and watch what I’m doing to grow an audience and increase business. Shoot me a DM and let me know you heard about it from this article. Would love to meet you, fellow Realtor person!