How I Grew My Businesses On Instagram

floating in the water

So how did I grow the 2 instagram accounts for my businesses? The truth is that this whole journey started with myself. I joined IG a long time ago when it just came out and it was this thing that people didn’t quite understand or knew what to do with it. I was pretty skeptical myself as nothing like this existed yet, but because I’m quite creative and visual, I joined. What I didn’t know at the time was that my personal journey on Instagram was going to turn into something pretty wild, which later down the line would also allow me to travel the world with my businesses. So please welcome to my “case study” where I talk about the 2 different brands, what’s gone right and wrong for them on IG and how I did it.

Nothing happens overnight.

I was on a personal IG journey for a solid 2 years before my 1st brand My Mantra Active came about. I was the early days fitness and healthy recipe girl and used to fill my days with Personal Training clients, creating healthy recipes and day dreaming of one day travelling the world. I didn’t know that it was possible to do all of the above just by being committed to this amazing platform called Instagram. What I was doing at the time is what’s required to be done on the platform to succeed; post daily, be committed, be passionate, provide free content, connect and create value.

Taking the leap of faith.

My journey isn’t that simple and I’d be lying if I said the answer was short and straight forward. So, everything started with the day we both decided to take that wild leap of faith and move to Koh Tao, a small tropical island in Thailand. It was here that the idea of creating leggings came about. I knew nothing about business, design or manufacturing, so I had a lot to learn. On top of that I also knew nothing about marketing and finding new customers to sell my brand to. I was starting from 0 and had a long way to go in the world of retail, marketing and being your own boss.

Just start somewhere…

So this is where I decided to just start an IG account for My Mantra Active and see where it would take us. I was still in the “research” stage when I started the brands IG account and I thought well, if I want customers on the day I launch my brand, I need to go and find them now, 6 months before the brand goes live. So I started my IG account and slowly started talking about the brand that was soon to launch. At the time I didn’t even have a product to sell, so I would post photos about an active lifestyle, I’d engage with my followers, comment on their accounts and would become a part of the community. This is not a big secret… If you want something, you need to do it first. Get your account active, share your own content if you have it, if not you can source other content from IG & Pinterest until you create yours. Just get started…

Your following number doesn’t define your success. Your connection and relationship with them does.

6 months passed by and I was ready to launch my business. I had less than 1000 followers on @mymantraactive which I was very proud of and when I hit the LIVE button, I was shocked to find that people were really excited and waiting for this day to arrive. In the first month of launch I made £1500 (I’m not shy to share numbers, it’s just a number to me and it gives you an idea). Thinking about this makes me really emotional because it brings back bitter sweet memories of all the hard work, the waiting, the anxiety and wondering if anyone will show up to shop from me that day. It was amazing. From this point onwards my IG following started to increase really slowly.

active wear in Koh Samui

Hacking the algorithm.

Instagram isn’t what it used to be and due to the fact that it’s now owned by Facebook, the algorithm makes it super difficult for me to be found naturally on IG. I’ve seen a huge slump in business in the last year and a half and that’s due to two factors. 1 - increase in business competition and 2 - the algorithm changes. However, things are slightly different for my 2nd brand New Horizon Escapes due to the fact that we work with the type of content that ends up being super popular. I’ll explain in a minute why that happened and how come my 2 brands have different levels of success on Instagram.

Working with the right people.

New Horizon Escapes started less than a year after My Mantra Active. This is probably the wildest business decision we’ve ever made. We came up with an idea and just went for it. Things really started looking up for us when we first welcomed Zanna Van Dijk to the team. All of a sudden we were able to sell spots a little bit easier, get exposure a lot faster and our Instagram account started to slowly creep up to what it is today at 22.1k and growing. Unlike My Mantra Active, New Horizon Escapes is doing a lot better when it comes to natural engagement, new followers etc. It’s also worth noting that New Horizon Escapes grew its account a lot faster than My Mantra Active. So what’s changed?


So what’s different between the 2 brands and why one’s more favourited by the Instagram’s algorithm over the other? It’s super simple. Influencers. We work with influential trainers and we invite influencers away to help us spread word of the brand. So here’s a quick example of what I mean by that. One day I posted a photo of 3 fit and good looking male influencers on NH IG account (abs and the whole package:) . The photo ended up getting a ton of comments, likes and impressions. Instagram started to show this photo to more people because everyone was engaging so well with it. Usually this type of photo will also end up in the explore section on Instagram (hooooray). But then on a different day I posted a photo of Adam (he’s also a hot guy with abs - worth noting ;) and it got little engagement or fuss. So why’s that?Because no one knew him, therefore no one really engaged with the photo.

Exotic locations.

So what’s the difference? When the brand talks about people who are recognised on Instagram, everything changes. People engage with the content a lot better. We also do well when we post photos with loads of blues in them, specially Hawaii, Maldives & Philippines. Thailand photos don’t actually do that well, which also tells me that people not only favour the colours in the photos but also the location, less known, less explored, more exotic. We all dream to travel and get lost, so it’s not a surprise to me to see these kind of photos doing really well.

So what’s the fast track to success?

So to conclude. There’s no fast track to success. As long as you educate yourself on how Instagram works, you post real and honest content, you share your story or your journey, people will follow. If you want it to just be a platform where you post content with your cats, your nan and your food, that’s all good you keep going. But, if you want your account to be taken as something a little more, then you need to focus on your “why”. Why are you posting? Are you just keeping up with the trend or are you really passionate about something? Because when you’re really passionate about something, it will really show in the work you put out there.

How can you do it?

The best place to start is by choosing a niche and sticking with it. Choose a few subjects you’d like to touch on and rotate on your feed. My niche for example is lifestyle. I share my journey in business, us as a travelling family, Malia (cute babies always do well), of healthy foods and wellbeing. My demographic is someone who likes being healthy and staying active, wants to travel the world and wants to be their own boss + maybe have cute babies one day. I’m not doing this as a business, I’m doing this to share my journey, inspire the world and put a face to our 2 brands.

Instagram is a community and you have to be a part of that community to be successful

Don’t give up. My advice to those wishing to get something out of their Instagram account is to not give up. I know it’s hard, and I know that most of the time it can feel like you’re talking to a brick wall, but hang in there. Please remember, Instagram is not all about you. Instagram is a platform for a community of people. In large communities people help each other. Instagram is the same - show up daily, post stories of your day, respond to comments on your feed, engage with others, show them support and love and they’ll do it back for you. It’s a community and the sooner you forget that it’s all about you the quicker you will unlock the potential of Instagram. So on that note, if you’re still here and you’re still reading, stay tuned for more BLOGS about IG in the future.

kickboxing retreat in Thailand
BusinessIna Plesca