There’s a discussion happening with some of my fellow public speakers. We want to know the Instagram secrets. Most of us are under 10,000 followers and can’t crack 200 likes. People “like” us, but our stories are only watched by about 10% of our audience.

People in my social scene want to know — Is our audience throttled? How can we increase our Instagram numbers? How do we earn more likes and follows without being obnoxious? Does advertising make a difference? What are the Instagram secrets?

I’ve done some digging, watched a few webinars, and tried to shake things up on my account. Here’s the number one secret for more Instagram followers: be young and pretty. The second Instagram secret: have an exciting life. The third Instagram secret: you’re going to have to spend more than $50 on an advertising campaign to make a difference. Those aren’t shocking Instagram secrets, are they?

Want more Instagram followers? Helps not to be a middle-aged former HR lady with a confusing brand proposition. When people follow me, I’ve learned they have a ton of questions. She travels for work? That’s great, so does my mom. And she’s not even going anywhere fun. Does she like cats? Her cats don’t seem to be famous. Is she a narcissist? You bet, no thanks, pass.

Want more likes and follows? It’s reverse psychology, and you can’t get more likes and follows if you want them. The “look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me look at me” philosophy is a repellent. Unless you’re asking to be looked at ironically, which is still very sad but people might give you a pity-like and pity-follow.


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Super lucky to work with Kathy on a makeup-free portrait and headshot progression series. Honestly, I rolled out of bed and was treated to a fabulous experience. Love @kathyhoward @winkhairandmakeup and can’t recommend them enough. #Repost @kathyhoward with @get_repost ・・・ Yesterday was a great day✨ Began with this fun beauty Portrait Session… ‘Third time’s a charm’ is evidently truth, as this was the third time I’ve had the privilege to photograph this amazing #girlboss , magic was definitely created✨ — Hair & Makeup by Kristi @winkhairandmakeup . . . #kathyhowardportrait #behindthescene #portraits #portraitphotography #raleighnc #raleighphotographer #ncphotographer #raleighheadshots #raleighpersonalbranding #personalbranding #magazinestyleportraits #thisis43 #imtoosexyformycat

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Want to grow your engagement numbers and unlock the secrets of Instagram with 10,000 followers? Hire an agency. Seriously. That’s what all of those other IG-famous people have done. While everyone can ask to be verified, an agency-driven request moves mountains.

As middle-aged public speakers and authors who haven’t cracked the best sellers list from The New York Times, it’s tough to play a young person’s game unless you have young people on your staff. Thankfully, Instagram secrets are easy to grasp. You’ve got two options: throw a bunch of money at it, or ignore it and be the most authentic version of yourself possible while pretending that you don’t care about likes and follows.

So, I’m going to try “not caring.” I dropped off a thread about how to increase my Instagram audience. Imma be my most authentic self. And my most authentic self is a 43-year-old woman who loves looking at travel photos, cats and cool hairstyles on the internet. It’s a pretty ordinary existence with moments of fun experiences on the job.

For the 10% of my audience who sees it and cares, that’s great. I appreciate you. And I love your average, ordinary life back.


  1. I’ve been messing with Instagram for my lil’ ol’ side business using videos for eye-attractions and sponsoring my posts. I get a bunch of likes, and handful of followers but no identifiable sales.
    I believe you’re right, be young and pretty or drop a wad of cash, or get lucky

    (shameless plug allowed?, copper and glass artisan sprinklers)

  2. Hi Laurie,
    This is brilliant! I wish more people didn’t care about their Insta likes! Me, I cannot even get the boomerang app-thing to work (and I am Aussie!!)
    I love all your social media stuff. Keep on being you.
    Am I your target audience?

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