3 Habits of Insanely Productive content creators

Hi Friends and welcome back to the channel. If you’re new here my name is Bram van Houtum and I help brands become heroes on Instagram.

In today’s video, I want to talk about productivity.

3 Habits of Insanely Productive content creators

Maybe you are just like me…

my attention span has always been shorter than a goldfish.

The problem is, there is so much going on in this beautiful world. And this doesn’t always make me a productive content creator.

Especially when I’m in a creative flow, I can come up with 10 different ideas in under an hour and I lose track of sight.

And this brings me to the first habit: sometimes it’s better to let go.

There are also days I have a huge writer’s block. I just feel completely empty and I don’t know where to start. When this happens I simply open my computer and browse to my favorite industry blogs, websites and social media channels for inspiration.

If after 30 minutes I still feel drained I simply agree that it’s now not the right time and place to continue. This may sound harsh but I’ve been creating content for the past 20 years and one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that creativity is something that happens.

It’s a bit like love. You can create an ideal setting, cook a nice dinner, put candles on the table, put your best shirt on, but you cannot force your heart and your brain to love someone.

The same goes for creativity. You can have the best tools, software, and hardware to create mind-blowing content, but if you’re not in the right mindset, you’re finished.

That’s why it’s not productive for me to force myself into that mindset. Whenever I have a writer’s block I simply do something else and let my subconsciousness do the work.

What I mean with this is that I stop consciously create new ideas, I do something else. And this can be as silly as cleaning the office or to go outside in the forest for a long walk. What happens is that your subconscious is still working in the background on that idea, without you even knowing it.

This method has saved me dozens of times. Especially when I was hitting a deadline. But it also comes with a downside. As we almost cannot control our subconsciousness a new idea can hit you at uncommon moments.

More than once I woke up at 3 am with the best idea ever. As you can imagine it great that I’ve got a great idea, but for my partner and my own good night’s sleep it’s not really helpful.

What I do is write out an outline of the idea in Notion or Evernote. These are both note-taking apps I’ll dive into in a moment, and I continue to sleep.

tip number 2: Sleep is very important for our brains (and for productive content creators)

Everyone needs sleep, but up to this date its biological purpose remains a mystery (and that can really grind my gears and honestly keeps me up at night)….

If you’ve been following me for a while you know I was a DJ and Producer for over 18 years. I’ve traveled the world and my music reached the top 10 charts more than once.

When I was younger and a new hook (or melody) hit my brain at 3 am I simply jumped out of bed, opened my laptop and continue to work on that idea.

But as I got older, I also noticed that sleep is a very vital part of us, especially for our brains.

Honestly, I always said that sleep was a waste of time. On average we sleep one-third of a day, and it is as essential to survival as food and water.

I noticed that without good sleep it’s harder for me to concentrate and respond quickly.

After doing some research I also found out that sleep experts report that lack of sleep can lead to depression, weight gain, and other health problems. Which, of course, I do not want.

And while I thought sleep was a waste of time, I did put things into perspective.

Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep, while babies sleep as much as 16 to 18 hours. Also, my cats sleep at least 12 hours per day (well honestly I believe that one sleeps at least 20 hours, but I cannot check it because I need those 8 hours myself) so I’m okay with 8 hours.

We’re drifting away a little bit, in any case, I hope you understand sleep is important. But the real question is:

Is lack of sleep-depriving your creativity?
As a productive content creator, you want to be free. Free from distractions, free from roadblocks, and have a free mindset.

We develop our own rituals in order to get into that necessary creative mindset.

And it doesn’t matter if you create a stunning blog post which feels like stories, record podcasts which keeps the listeners hooked till the end, or creating mind-blowing content for social media. A creative spark is what fuels all the ideas, and keeps your audience engaged.

Even better, scientific data from Medical News Today proves that creativity is beneficial to our mental and physical health. And it also shows how important sleep is to be creative.

And yes the next thing I’m going to say is a cliché, but productive content creators with poor sleeping habits often rely on coffee to keep them going.

But this “writing fuel” isn’t the healthiest way to fight against a lack of sleep.

In fact, the high caffeine content found in traditional coffee beverages can increase blood pressure, as well as nervousness and anxiety.

Not only that, here in The Netherlands it’s pretty common to drink a cup of coffee after dinner. So for example, if you drink coffee at 7 pm, the effects of the caffeine are still going strong at 11 pm.

If you’re a die-hard coffee consumer you get resistant to the caffeine, and you still can fall asleep at night, but this doesn’t mean everyone can do that.

In any case, I do believe you shouldn’t be drinking coffee late at night if you want to be creative.

To stay awake and alert as you compose your most recent masterpiece, getting adequate sleep is a much healthier method than caffeine intake.

So here are my final thoughts on getting enough sleep for productive content creators. If you feel you hit a writer’s block more than often you might want to check your sleep cycle.

With better sleep you not only can become more creative, poor sleep habits are also linked to a variety of health problems, from depression to obesity.

In order to be a high-quality and highly productive content creator on a consistent basis, without burning out, sleep should become an integral part of your content creation process.

Tip 3: take notes

As mentioned earlier I used to get out of bed at 3 am to work on my idea. But as this is counterproductive, I now use note-taking apps for all my ideas.

And honestly, this can be as easy as a pen and a piece of paper, the standard note-taking app on your phone, or you can use paid applications to really get the most out of your creative habits.

Personally I have too many note-taking apps. But they all serve a different purpose.

For example, these video outlines were made in Bear. What I like about bear is that I get a dark theme, no-nonsense interface. All I see is a black background and white text, without any buttons.

For me, buttons mean distraction, and distraction = killing creativity. Especially for podcasts, it doesn’t matter which headline size I use, or which font to use, or if there’s a quote which needs to be highlighted.

All I do is write down my thoughts, and if it’s a new chapter, I put the title in bold. That’s one of the many easy tips I can give as a productive content creator!

The second app I absolutely love is Notion.

Notion is a powerhouse, and much more than a note-taking app. I use notion to schedule and plan my webinars, podcasts and YouTube videos. I also use it for my content.

I keep track of my goals, I share my ideas and it’s very easy to categorize the thoughts I have. Also, the search function is one of the best I’ve seen.

Also one feature I absolutely love is the resonance calendar. Whenever I stumble across a great inspirational blog post, piece of content or for example YouTube video, I can send it with a click of a button to my resonance calendar, add some quick notes and it’s saved. It automatically copies the full content from that website into notion, which means I can easily edit it to my liking.

Last but not least I use Evernote. I’ve been an Evernote user for ages, but it feels like everything I do in Evernote, can be done in Notion. I use Evernote for my meetings with customers, mainly. And it’s also the place where I store pieces of content I absolutely love (especially copywriting).

What I liked about Evernote is that its integration with mac, pc, android, and IOS is flawless. I can start edit on my phone, open my computer and continue.

But it also feels like Evernote is the windows XP that’s not been receiving updates to make it feel like a 2020 application.

Don’t get me wrong: the things Evernote should do, it does perfectly. But as time goes by I noticed that I’m using Notion and Bear more often.

One last honorable mention is the basic note-taking application that comes with your iPhone.

Over the past years, they’ve updated it a lot, and I like it. I can say to Siri “Hey Siri create a note called shopping list for my birthday”.

It has a checklist function, which I use for grocery shopping, you can add attachments, create folders to organize, and the gallery view is amazing (especially when you use images from unsplash to categorize things).

Also, just like the other apps, it’s integration with the MacBook’s and such is flawless.

Final thoughts

Being more creative is more than just the above 3 tips. But I feel these 3 tips can accelerate your business today and are all easy to implement. The key takeaways of this podcasts are:

  • Sometimes it’s better to let go, do something else and the idea will come. Don’t worry too much and you’ll become a productive content creator!
  • Getting good night sleep can mean the difference between day and night for creating content
  • Last but not least: take notes of your ideas. Track them and put them in a big file. You’ll thank me later

That’s it for this week’s video! Thank you so much for watching. If you liked the video please give your thumbs up. If you haven’t subscribed yet please consider doing so (I will leave a link in the description). If you like this stuff please leave any questions in the comments and I’ll answer them as soon as possible. Thanks for watching and see you in the next video, bye-bye!

How to Manage Your Social Media Like a Boss

These 5 apps have helped me grow my audience on Instagram to over 2,700,000 people

Do you want to take your photo editing skills to the next level? Create stylish stories? And even edit/crop/add music to videos right from our phone? Then you might be interested in watching today’s video where I will highlight the 5 best FREE apps you should use to thrive your business online!


2:19 – Linktree ? https://youtu.be/jHmY8uqsBA0?t=139

4:52 – Snapseed ? https://youtu.be/jHmY8uqsBA0?t=292

7:25 – Inshot ? https://youtu.be/jHmY8uqsBA0?t=445

9:41 – Canva ? https://youtu.be/jHmY8uqsBA0?t=581

11:47 – Later ? https://youtu.be/jHmY8uqsBA0?t=707

15:31 Extra: Hypeauditor ? https://youtu.be/jHmY8uqsBA0?t=931

? My Proven IGTV Strategy How to Get 1 Million Views – Even If Your Account Is a Disaster Right Now

Gain 100 followers a day with IGTV

The 8 Step Strategy to Getting 1 Million Views on IGTV

You might wonder at this moment:


is Instagram a bad place to grow your audience in 2020?


No, Instagram is not a bad place to grow an audience.


And yes, there are ways to work around the death of organic growth.




Easy: IGTV!


In this video, I want to share my easy strategy to get 1 million views on Instagram via IGTV


even if you’re not an Instagram expert, or have a large following (in fact, I only had 5,500 followers when I posted this video).


I encourage you to stick till the end as I will explain step-by-step how you can utilize IGTV the best way possible and how you also can get 1 million views with a single video on IGTV.


We are going to split this video up into 3 parts:


  • Firstly we’re going to talk about why you should consider using IGTV


  • Then we talk about why this strategy works


  • And finally, we do a deep dive into the strategy in detail by showing you some examples and how you can incorporate this strategy for your own IGTV channel


If you’re already familiar with IGTV I encourage you to skip to step 3, where I explain the strategy in detail.


Before we dive into IGTV I just want to say thank you so much that you have been watching my videos and supporting me here on the channel and being completely awesome because of you rock!


The joy that I get from publishing videos like this is just immense!


And if this is your first time watching, You might want to consider to hit that subscribe button: because you know: that’d be appreciated!


Let’s jump into IGTV!


1. Why should you use IGTV?

If you haven’t used IGTV yet, you should consider so because of 3 powerful reasons:


  • 1) Not only can you record, upload and share long-form content to your Instagram channel, but you can also now connect, engage and grow your brand on Instagram by sharing your story and message on a whole new level.


Allowing you to upload up to one full hour of video at a time, you can leverage your social media strategy  even more with IGTV and it’s custom search feature, connecting you with potentially millions, no, billions of other Instagrammers worldwide


  • 2) A lot of influencers and agencies are saying this for a long time: Instagram is slowly killing the organic reach on their platform.


Speculation around an algorithm change was dispelled by an Instagram spokesperson, but it’s left a question mark over what caused performance drops.


But it does raise the question of how we as content creators can claim more watch time from our followers and boost our organic reach.


Luckily IGTV can really help with that! Because I noticed a huge boost in organic reach when using IGTV.  I wondered if this was a one-off success so I tested it on several accounts of mine and they all showed similar results.


Instead of the usual 10-20% organic reach you can organically reach up to 60% of your followers via IGTV, how mind-blowing is that!?


  • 3) Last but not least: Go viral


using IGTV is maybe the easiest way to make your content go viral and reach millions of people, without spending any $ on ads!


IGTV is here to stay, and just like me, I hope you now see how powerful this tool can be for your social media strategy.


What if I told you that only 2 months ago I hit 1 million views on IGTV, while I only have 8,000 followers?


And this is not a one-off successful video. After this video another one hit over 600,000 views, a second one 320,000 views and last but not least the third IGTV video hit 705,000 views.


This success was done without spending any dollars on ads, and today I want to share with you how you also can hit over 100,000 views with a single video.


But…before we dive in: please let me know in the comments what you prefer:

  • landscape videos
  • or portrait videos


I hope it’s clear WHY you should use IGTV for your social media strategy, so we can now dive into the fun part: my strategy how I got 1 million views with a single video via IGTV!


2. Why this strategy works


Instagram really tries to push IGTV as much as possible, and they do this with subtle changes to their native app.


  1. Sharing IGTV content via preview to your feed

Instagram introduced sharing your IGTV content to your feed via previews…! And this is very important for making your content go viral.


  1. Sharing IGTV content via Stories

And recently when you share your IGTV content to Stories the video is no longer a silly still photo, but it actually starts to play the video in your stories: how cool is that!


  1. Place where the magic happens ?

IGTV is being skyrocketed in the explore page, and this is THE MOST IMPORTANT place where the magic happens.


As a content creator, you want your content to appear on the explore page. On this page, you can reach millions of people without spending any $ on ads.


The explore page is Instagram’s nifty trick of keeping you on their platform.


How do they do that? Again with the “ALMIGHTY” Instagram Algorithm.


I’ve made a full video on how the Instagram algorithm works. If you’re interested in this video you can find it “HERE” or you can click the link in the description down below.


But back to this video about IGTV and the explore page.


The explore page serves 1 purpose: keep you for as long as possible on the Instagram platform.


They do this by showing you compelling content you absolutely would love to see (or at least, they think you would) which is based on your previous behavior on Instagram.


And there is more good news for IGTV. This feature gets promoted like crazy. And for IGTV it means they get highlighted like crazy. For example, on the explore page they have a dedicated button, and the video highlight is taking up 4 tiles instead of the usual 1 tile.


That’s 4 times more exposure for you, for free on the explore page → FOR FREE!


Let’s quickly sum up why IGTV is so powerful:

  • Your organic reach goes up
  • Very easy to go viral
  • Instagram favors IGTV above other content in the explore page
  • It’s very easy to reach new hyper-targeted potential followers
  • And you can post content longer than 1 minute, making it ideal for content creators who love video (like me)


Is there a secret formula to go viral via IGTV? I don’t know, but what I do know is that I have an easy 8 step strategy I always use for IGTV and which has given me over 1 million views with a single video.


Which I’m going to share with you now.


3. The strategy I used to generate over 1 million views on IGTV


What are the key ingredients for making content go viral on IGTV?


For every video on IGTV, I use the same strategy or method, whatever you would like to call it.


The strategy you are about to learn is easy. Trust me its not rocket science, and if I can figure it out, you can figure it out!



You don’t need any special tools or Instagram hacks to reach that 1 million views.


So without further due, here are my 8 steps to getting 1 million views on IGTV:


  • 1) Only post content you are passionate about (even if it’s user-generated-content)
  • 2) Know your audience: why are people following you?
  • 3) Share compelling content
  • 4) Have a good cover photo (or still photo)
  • 5) Post a Preview on your newsfeed (this is crucial)
  • 6) Have a Call-To-Action (CTA) in the title
  • 7) Use relevant hashtags
  • 8) Last but not least: don’t forget to share the IGTV video on your Instagram Stories


1) Only post content you are passionate about

Why is it important to only post things you are passionate about? Social media is about resonating with each other’s values. If for example, I’m not a huge fan of hitting the gym. But I do like to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Instead of posting tons of gym exercises I post a lot of nutrition info and healthy food ideas to my followers. This is where I get my energy from and this is where I can thrive. If you do not post content you are not passionate about you won’t last long and you will get bored.


2) Know your audience: why are people following you?

Social media is a two-way street. People follow you because they want to identify with your values, but if you truly understand why people follow you and on which content they resonate the most with you can provide them with the right content at the right moment.


If you want to know more about finding out why your followers follow you you can read a blog post I did. I will share the link in the description below.


3) Share compelling content

When doing masterclasses I always ask my students: are your followers interested in another photo of you having breakfast, or can you actually provide value to them?


An easy way to do this is by sharing what you are eating, and why. For example, if you try to lose weight why are you having a healthy smoothie at breakfast? What’s in that smoothie? What are the benefits of that smoothie compared to having American pancakes and last but not least: how can I as a follower make that smoothie to make my life easier and healthier?


4) Have a good cover photo (or still photo)

Having a good cover photo can mean the difference between day and night.  Without a good cover photo, your audience might face difficulties watching your content.


A common problem is that my clients choose the first frame of the video as the still photo. This can mean that your cover photo is fully black. Trust me, this will kill your engagement by 100% and it happens more than often.


How can you fix this? You can either choose an interesting cover photo from the video, or you can make an interesting cover photo and add it to your video on IGTV.


Extra tip: to really boost your engagement you can use the center square space as your main image. When sharing your content as a preview on your feed (which I will talk about in step 5) you also have a great still photo there which screams to be clicked and watched by your audience!


5) Post a Preview on your newsfeed (this is crucial)

Engagement is key for getting your getting to viral. Luckily you can now share a 1-minute preview to your Instagram feed. If your video is longer your audience will get a pop-up to watch the full content on IGTV.


I highly recommend sharing your content via the preview of your feed. This has provided me tons of engagement on my content and given me over 1 million views with a single post.


6) Have a Call-To-Action (CTA) in the title

Like said in step 5, engagement is very important to make your content go viral. An easy way to get engagement is by adding a Call To Action (also known as CTA) to your IGTV content.


For example, in the video I shared earlier I simply ask my audience to write “Mango” in their own language in the comments. But you can ask any other questions, for example:

  • do you like mangoes?
  • would you eat this?
  • tag a friend who would eat this
  • YEAH or NAH? Comment below


Just by adding this little question at the start of your caption (or as the title of your IGTV content) you can boost comments with over 1134%!!??


7) Use relevant hashtags

Hashtags are still very important to make your content go viral and reach millions of people who are looking up hashtags for inspiration and motivation. To this day I still hear a lot of people saying that hashtags are dead, and maybe you’ve heard the same.


Let them talk: this only means that there is only less competition for you and me out there on Instagram.


But with using hashtags you have to understand that you should only use relevant hashtags. Instagram’s algorithm is really smart, and it not only scans your hashtags and captions: but also your photos and videos. The machine learning knows it’s a mango on the image and not an apple.


Also, stay away from spam hashtags like follow4follow or likes4likes. I usually use 5-15 hashtags in my posts which are all video related.


8) Last but not least: don’t forget to share the IGTV video on your Instagram Stories


Recently there has been a new update for Instagram Stories where IGTV content plays automatically in the Stories. With over 500 million users Stories is really interesting for any brand or content creator out there to share content with. Since the dimensions for Stories and IGTV (Both 9×16 in a vertical setting) are the same the user experience for the viewer is the same.


I highly encourage you to share your IGTV content to Stories to give it that extra boost and make it go viral.


Final Note:


So is IGTV one of the easiest ways to reach more organic followers, and new potential new followers?


I believe so.


After running tests on over 7 of my accounts and posting more than 100 IGTV videos I can say it worked out for me pretty well, and thus I highly recommend it to you too.


Thank you so much for watching. If you liked the video please give your thumbs up. If you haven’t subscribed yet please consider doing so (I will leave a link in the description). If you like this stuff please leave any questions in the comments and I’ll answer them as soon as possible. Thanks for watching and see you in the next video, bye-bye!

Is Kim Kardashian an “influencer”?

In this short video, I want to talk about influencers, and if we use the term correctly.

When you ask any random person to name 3 influencers they most likely will say:
✅Kim Kardashian
✅Kylie Jenner
✅Or any other celebrity

Don’t get me wrong, they all have their own awesome talents, but honestly, I don’t believe their #1 job is being an influencer.

Yet, on Instagram, many believe they are real influencers, and this might raise the question: what is an influencer?

Let’s find out!

Your comments are my oxygen, please take a second and say ‘Hi’ in the comments and let me know what you thought of the video … p.s. It would mean the world to me if you hit the subscribe button 😉

5 Secrets about Social Media We Can Learn From Cats (#3 is unusual)

In the last 15 months, I’ve been busy with the development of my Social Media Canvas. During my research, our cats (Nova and Bo) were my company for many days (and very long nights).

I always enjoyed their company (some might think I’m one of those ‘crazy cat persons’), and while observing them I also noticed there is more to them than you might think.

You’ll be amazed how much cats know about the secrets of social media.  

While dogs are seemingly more concerned with your happiness, cats are more concerned with their own. 

What follows are 5 essentials to being more successful on social media and life inspired by observations of my own cats, friends’ cats, and those that just show up for breakfast and dinner.

1. Look before you leap

Look before you leap

Before a cat jumps, it always looks and makes sure what they’re about to do is okay. Cats are very cautious and we should be too. 

As humans, we should carefully make decisions for social media. Don’t take a leap without assessing and analyzing the situation. 

A common mistake on social media is that there is no social media strategy. If you don’t know where to go, it will be difficult to take a look before you leap. Having a social media strategy can mean the difference like day and night.

2. Appearance matters

There is no day that our cats don’t clean their fur. We tried to make Nova wear a collar, but she simply won’t let me put it on. 

After nights of debate, Nova and I agreed we should leave the collar, including other accessories I might come up with. They simply don’t fit her appearance.

Like it or not, your appearance on social media shares how you feel about yourself with the rest of the world. Even though you have eloquent words if your fur and accessories are a mess you undermine your royalty. 

3. Respect is essential on social media

Nova and Bo will growl, or moo for an extended time, if I:
* wake them from a nap
* take their catnip toy
* bring a dog home
* or otherwise disturb their environment

Respect for them and our shared environment will make my life with them easier, and they will be happy. They don’t need much, but they do love respect. 

The lesson learned here is that I don’t expect much from my audience on social media as well. They are free to disagree with me obviously, but I do believe they should always share their comments with the same respect I have for them.

There will always be keyboard heroes out there who just try to stir things up. I always say “I try to inspire the masses, but I can’t please them all’. 

So don’t get your hopes down: 99% of the negativity is not personal. If I had got a dollar for every bad comment on social media I ever got I would have been rich by now. 

But there are some rules to follow: 

  • don’t share lies
  • don’t share fake news
  • don’t manipulate
  • (note to myself: count to 10 before posting ‘that’ comment)

Don’t say anything on social media that you wouldn’t want plastered on a billboard with your face on it.

4. Patience can be learned

I never had any patience for anything. I used to hate waiting in a line for my coffee, and I was always impatient when it came to success on social media

If I learned anything from our cats it’s having patience. Cats are the masters of this skill and I can really admire this. 

We have an apartment on the 6th floor with a balcony. On our balcony we have a ‘cat net’. 

Balcony cat nets offer protection for daredevil cats on balconies and terraces. Balconies can provide a nice way for indoor cats to catch some rays or a bit of fresh air, and balcony nets can help make them a safe place for cats who just may not quite know their limits.

Nova is one of those daredevils who does not know her limits (or maybe she does, and she is really crazy…. I honestly don’t know). 

During the summer periods, we leave our balcony door open so Nova and Bo can enjoy the long summer days. We always keep an eye out through the window, or I work outside. 

During the first summer, she already had caught her first bird on the balcony. I was surprised. How did you do this? There is a net, and in all those years we live here there was never a bird on our balcony (or at least, not when I looked). 

I was curious. I needed to find out how she has done this. I decided to watch her movements and balcony habits.

Nova has two favorite spots on our balcony. You can find her either under the couch or under our relaxing chair. 

She can sit still in that spot for hours and hours, lurking and waiting for a little bird to enter her cat cave of doom. 

Most of the time nothing happens, but she is determined. 

There are only 4 situations why she decides to move:
1. It’s time for a well-deserved power nap catching some rays (she goes one level up, and sleeps on the couch or on the chair)
2. It’s time to fuel up the battery. She goes inside for food
3. She’s thirsty and goes for a drink
4. Or she tries to catch a fly, so she can train her reflexes a bit

There is a good lesson to be learned from this. Instead of aiming for instant success with millions of followers we should be patient.  

Social media has big potential if you’re willing to put in the work–but it won’t propel you to fortune and fame in one day.

That’s probably frustrating to hear because it’s contrary to what a lot of people say. There’s no shortage of Instagram personalities and hustlers who claim they’ve hit the jackpot with this one simple trick.

Overnight success is a myth. It’s a lie sold by social media gurus. 

It took me more than 6 months to get my first 10,000 followers on Instagram. Now, two years later, I manage 2.7 million followers on multiple accounts. I was only able to do this by being patience. 

5. Make Sure You Always Have a Curious Spirit

Though a cat’s curious nature can often get them both into a bit of trouble, it also allows them to take advantage of all that the world around them has to offer. 

Why not try tapping into your adventurous side by exploring the woods behind your house or researching a topic that has always interested you?

I love social media (particularly Instagram), but I also love my cats. At first, it sounded crazy to see if these totally different worlds could meet. I learned a lot, and this post might also be the most fun one I have ever written.

Before finishing up, I do would like to share a little side note: don’t try and post content just because you want a lot of likes (unless you want to master clickbait thumbnails with cats)… 

This skill is only mastered by a small population of cute (and funny) cats on Instagram, and we should respect this.

Do you know why people follow you on Instagram?

Do you know why people follow you on Instagram?

If you ask most influencers (including businesses with a large following or a high engagement rate) why their followers are their followers, most will tell you it’s because of superior quality, features or service. In other words, most businesses and influencers have no clue why their followers are their followers.

This is a fascinating realization. There is no Instagram page out on the market today that customers can’t visit which offers the same kind of content, quality and/or services. If you truly have a first-mover’s advantage, it’s probably lost in a matter of months. Someone else on Instagram will soon come up with something similar and maybe even better.

If most of these influencers don’t really know why people follow them on Instagram, then how do they know how to attract more followers and encourage loyalty among those they already have?

Influence human behavior

There are two ways to influence human behavior:

  1. You can manipulate
  2. Or you can inspire

In business, we try to manipulate customers on a daily basis via sales and marketing. Typical manipulations include:

  • Dropping the price
  • using fear (i.e. only a few items left, this deal is only available for 24 hours)
  • promotions
  • peer pressure
  • aspiration messages

If influencers don’t have a clear sense of why their followers are their followers, they tend to rely on a disproportionate number of manipulations to get what they need. Examples are:

  • Shout out for shout out
  • Fake it till you make it (fake followers and engagement)
  • DM groups to push content
  • Put their account on private creating fear that they only accept the next 10 followers
  • Peer pressure

And for good reason. Manipulations work (in my opinion only on a short-term basis). Even companies hire influencers for peer pressure. For example, Tiger Woods endorses Nike golf products. Which makes sense. But Tiger has also endorsed General Motors cars, management consulting services, and even credit cards. Peer pressure works. It’s used to appeal to our aspirations and our desire to be like them. The practice is designed to do one thing, and one thing only: to pressure you to buy. To make you feel you might be missed out on something.

My mother told me if everyone else stands in ?, would you do it too? I won’t.

But there is some truth behind it. Sadly, influencers started the dangerous “Tide Pod Challenge” which was a trend for months…

Manipulations lead to transactions, not loyalty.


Manipulation works. On some level even I use it. We all do. They can help influence behavior. They can help an influencer become quite successful on Instagram. But there are trade-offs.

Not a single form of manipulation breeds loyalty. the gains are only short-term. Leadership is the ability to rally followers not for a single event, but for years to come. On Instagram, it means that followers will continue to support your page even when you slip up. And I did that plenty of times. Yet, my followers are loyal and stayed.

And that’s the difference between repeat business and loyalty. Repeat business is when people do engage with your content now and then, but don’t follow you. Loyalty is when people are willing to turn down a better page and keep following you.

Loyal followers are in my eyes your brand ambassadors. They don’t even bother to research the competition or entertain other options. The reality is, in today’s world, manipulations are the norm.

But there is an alternative.

The golden circle: Why people should follow you on Instagram

There are a few Instagram pages who choose to inspire rather than manipulate in order to motivate people. Whether individuals or organizations, every single one of these inspiring leaders thinks, acts and communicates exactly the same way. And it’s the complete opposite of the rest of us. Consciously or not, how they do it is by following a naturally occurring pattern that is ‘The Golden Circle’ by Simon Sinek.


It all starts from the inside out. It all starts with Why.  Very few influencers can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. When I say WHY, I don’t mean to make money—that’s a result. By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?

When most influencers think, act or communicate they do so from the outside in, from WHAT to WHY. And for good reason—they go from the clearest thing to the fuzziest thing.

We say WHAT we do, we sometimes say HOW we do it, but we rarely say WHY we do WHAT we do.

But not the inspired influencers. Every single one of them, regardless of their size or their industry, thinks, acts and communicates from the inside out.

is the WHY important?

YES! At least, if you want them to follow you on Instagram.

You need to realize that: people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.

Your content needs to give life to their cause. And that’s the reason why people should follow you on Instagram! And the only way to achieve this is by inspiring others.

Most companies try to sell us WHAT they do, but we buy WHY they do it. This is what I mean when I say they communicate from the outside in; they lead with WHAT and HOW.

In order to know why people should follow you on Instagram, you need to dive deep into the fuzziest things first.

Why people should follow you on Instagram should be the center of your social strategy

Knowing your WHY is not the only way to be successful on Instagram, but it is the only way to maintain a lasting success and have a greater blend of innovation and flexibility.

When a WHY goes fuzzy, it becomes much more difficult to maintain the growth, loyalty, and inspiration that helped drive the original success. By difficult, I mean that manipulation rather than inspiration fast become the strategy of choice to motivate behavior. This is effective in the short term but comes at a high cost in the long term.

Our desire to feel like we belong is so powerful that we will go to great lengths, do irrational things and often spend money to get that feeling.

People follow you on Instagram because they have the need to belong. Our need to belong is not rational, but it is a constant that exists across all people in all cultures. It is a feeling we get when those around us share our values and beliefs. When we feel like we belong we feel connected, and we feel safe. As humans, we crave the feeling, and we seek it out. For example, we’re not friends with everyone from our country. But if you travel abroad you’ll form instant bonds with other Dutch you meet.

When influencers talk about WHAT they do, they may have appeal, but they do not necessarily represent something to which we want to belong. But when an influencer clearly communicates their WHY, what they believe, and we believe what they believe, then we will sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to include them in our lives. This is not because they are better, but because they become markers or symbols of the values and beliefs we hold dear. Those influencers make us feel like we belong, and that’s the reason why they follow you on Instagram.

Win hearts before minds

Great influencers are good at seeing what most of us can’t see. They are good at giving us things we would never think of asking for. Great influencers are those who trust their gut. They are those who understand the art before the science. They win hearts before minds. They are the ones who start with WHY.

We make decisions all day long, and many of them are emotionally driven. Rarely do we sift through all the available information to ensure we know every fact. And we don’t need to. It is all about degrees of certainty.

Influencers with a clear sense of WHY give people a way to tell the outside world who they are and what they believe. If an influencer does not have a clear sense of WHY then it is impossible for the outside world to perceive anything more than WHAT the company does.

To inspire starts with the clarity of WHY

You can’t convince someone you have value, just as you can’t convince someone to trust you. You have to earn trust by communicating and demonstrating that you share the same values and beliefs. You have to talk about your WHY and prove it with WHAT you do. Again, a WHY is just a belief, HOWs are the actions we take to realize that belief, and WHATs are the results of those actions. When all three are in balance, trust is built and value is perceived.

When a WHY is clear, those who share that belief will be drawn to it and maybe want to take part in bringing it to life. If that belief is amplified it can have the power to rally even more believers to raise their hands and declare, “I want to help.” With a group of believers all rallying around a common purpose, cause or belief, amazing things can happen.

Learn how to skyrocket your Instagram Stories views for free

Did you know that Instagram thinks that Stories are the future? Stories can have a huge impact on how to get Instagram Stories views for free. The goal of Instagram is to push users to Stories. They believe the future is in short-form videos, not the News Feed.

They’re focusing on strategies to increase consumer consumption rate of video. They want more creators making videos, and increase ROI of advertisers leveraging video.

I love Instagram. Instagram Stories, IGTV, and Instagram’s feed are all valuable to me. It allows me to have multiple options to serve my audience with quality content.

Instagram stories grow in popularity every year. In January 2019, around 1/2 a billion people interacted via Stories. This is 100,000 more than in June 2018. The trend continues to rise. Stories was an instant hit with users. It has helped Instagram overtake the likes of Snapchat and Vine.

So today I want to dive into Instagram Stories. How you can get Instagram Stories views for free? Did you know you can still go viral on Instagram on a daily basis? Even with Instagram Stories? On some of my Instagram Stories 90% of the audience DIDN’T follow me. And that number is mind blowing. Keep in mind: I never spend any $$$ on ads.

Did you know Instagram Stories can go viral too! Instagram Stories is still one of my favorite ways to share content on Instagram. And that’s why I will share my 3 secrets in this blog post.

Instagram Stories views for free

There are multiple ways to get more Instagram Stories views. But we want to have the biggest impact with the least amount of effort.

Before we dive in, there is one aspect I need to share. This is important for the success of your Instagram Stories. You actually need to try to post Instagram Stories a couple of times per week. If not every day.

I still see brands who only use feed posts on their Instagram profile. They are missing out on so much fun which Instagram Stories can give, such as:

  • Interaction with your audience with Instagram stickers
  • Behind the scene material
  • Test your feed content via Polls
  • Get to your audience
  • Go live with Q & A’s
  • Use Instagram Stories to promote your IGTV content

Maybe you are one of those who don’t post on Instagram Stories yet. Maybe you didn’t know this function was available. Or maybe you don’t know how to use it. But first I will briefly explain how to post on Instagram Stories.

If you are familiar with how to post Stories, you can skip this section. Head over to the 3 methods.

How to post Instagram Stories for business

It’s not difficult to post on Instagram Stories. Don’t worry if you’re new to Instagram. I will explain how you can post on Instagram Stories.

  1. Swipe right from your home screen. Or tap the camera icon in the top left corner of the screen. This will open the Instagram camera (see image below).

  2.  Take a photo by tapping the record button. Or take a video by pressing and holding down the record button. You also have the option of taking a type, live, boomerang, super zoom, rewind, or hands-free  video.

  3. You can also upload a previously taken photo or video from your camera roll. Swipe up, or down. If the content older than 24 hours, a sticker will be added. This sticker will contain the date when the photo or video was made. You can easily remove this sticker by selecting it. After selecting you drag & drop it in the trash bin. You can find the trash bin on the bottom. Drag & drop it in the bin to remove it.
  4. Tapping anywhere on the screen will bring up the text tool. You can play with text size and color. Instagram has five beautiful fonts you can try:
    • Classic
    • Modern
    • Neon
    • Typewriter
    • Strong (my favorite one)
  5. Last but not least you can draw doodles. Select from one of three different pen styles to doodle on your photo. You can also erase any drawings you’ve made. Use the eraser brush to do so.
  6. Now the fun begins. STICKERS! You can also add stickers by selecting the sticker button in the top right corner of your screen. Another way is by swiping up on your story. Some of the more valuable ones include the location sticker, hashtag sticker, mention sticker, selfie sticker, poll sticker, emoji slider, and question sticker!

  7. I’ve never been a fan of filters for my Instagram Stories. But there are multiple filters available you can try. To access them you simply have to swipe left. You can also swipe right.
  8. When you’re done you click “send to” and click “add to Stories”.

Your story will pop up at the top of your followers’ feeds. It will also be visible on your profile page by tapping your profile picture. Let’s dive in how you can get Instagram Stories views for free. I have three different methods ready for you.

Method 1: Instagram Stories views for free via the feed

Once you posted your Stories your followers can get a notification (if turned on). Another way how they can discover your content is via the feed.

Smart algorithm

Instagram switched from a chronological feed to a different algorithm. This is based on machine learning. This machine learning helps Instagram determine which profiles may appeal to you more than others. The algorithm tracks the profiles that you are ‘closest to’ your. Like your friends and family. Or whose pictures you often like and comment on, or who you talk to via direct messages. A similar method applies to the order of the stories too. Interactions define the Stories feed.

Despite their similarities, Instagram’s Stories algorithm is different from their feed algorithm. The main difference is that, with Stories, Instagram looks for “signals”. These signals are patterns of your behavior. Once it defines the signals, the algorithm adapts to your way of using this app.

Some signals are:

  • Interests; If you search the same profile daily it means that you are interested in it. It can be your friend, partner, crush, celebrity, or a brand you like. If you follow it for some time, Instagram will know. It will try to give their stories priority.
  • Interactions; Interaction is the relationship between your profile and others. If you frequently exchange likes, comments, and direct messages with them, your interaction is stronger. Based on interaction Instagram will move profiles. These stories get higher on the ‘pecking order’ in the top bar. The logic is simple. You are more likely to watch a story posted by a person that you are constantly interacting with.
  • Timeliness; Instagram sometimes orders the stories from the newest to the oldest. While an old story posted by someone you interact with gains priority.
  • Experience; You always tap the same profile’s stories once you open the app. After a while, you will notice that it is always first on your Stories feed. It doesn’t matter when the profile uploaded the story. Until you watch it, it will be the first in your feed. This is because Instagram relies on experiences. It. tries to assume whose fresh stories you can’t wait to see.With these factors taken into consideration by the algorithm, Stories become more interesting. If you are seeing someone that you’re interested in, it means that the algorithm set you up due to similar interests and online behaviors.

Can you change the order of the Stories highlights?

Yes, you can influence Instagram’s algorithms to get Instagram Stories views for free. Change the order of stories in your feed by behaving differently. The machine learns and adapts to your behaviour. If you don’t want some profiles to seem first on your feed, you should try interacting with them less frequently.

One of the main problems with this algorithm is that after a while it narrows the feed. Only a small percent of the profiles that you interact with will be on it.

Do you want to adjust the algorithm and rearrange your feed? You will have to visit other profiles, interact with other people, and engage with the content they post.

Keeping this in mind it shows that content still is king. You need to produce quality content which inspires or motivates your following. Otherwise your ‘ranking’ in the Stories top bar will fall behind.

A quick hack I always use is to add interactive stickers to my stories. I try to build a relationship with my followers. An excellent way to achieve this is by adding a POLL. With the POLL I can not test my feed content. If the poll is ?, I won’t even post it on my feed.

With interactions, you can “fool” the algorithm. You make sure you end up as the #1 Stories your audience have to watch.

Another way to boost engagement in your Stories is to add FOMO (fear of missing out). How I personally use FOMO?

For example, I share the result of this Mexican Grilled Chicken Bowl. In my caption, I write: “Want the recipe and tutorial how to make this? Head over to my Instagram Stories”. My audience needs to head over to my Instagram Stories to view the tutorial on how I made it. Or they need to go to my Stories for the recipe. The Stories are only available for 24 hours. Adding some pressure to it.

Due to this time pressure, something interesting is happening in the human brain. As you don’t want to miss out they instantly head over to the Instagram Stories.

Method 2: Instagram Stories views for free via hashtags

Twitter may have invented social media hashtags, but Instagram put them on the map. Giving marketers something else to lose sleep over: how to get Instagram Stories views for free via hashtags.

These days, Instagram hashtags not only categorize your content and makes it visible by users, but they are an effective way to get more followers, increase engagement and expand reach and brand awareness.

If you’d like to tap into the platform’s potential to reach a huge audience, upping your hashtag game is the way to go.

What I really love about Instagram is that they bring hashtags to a whole new level. I’ve always been a fan of hashtags. It’s one of the easiest ways to get new followers. What many don’t know is that you still can reach thousands of highly targeted people, without spending a single $ on ads due to hashtags.

As of now, Instagram allows hashtags on Stories too. In my experience using a maximum of 2 hashtags which are related to the Stories give the biggest impact. Using more hashtags kills the reach. Same goes for using unrelated hashtags (for example #cats on a dog post). Instagram’s AI and machine learning is so clever it scans your images and videos and knows exactly what’s on it. From the number of people, but also if there is a banana on the table or not.

Overusing the same hashtag is also not advisable. Always try new angles and new hashtags which relate to your Stories. There are many hashtags out there. I’ve written an excellent strategy about it, which you can find here.

Method 3: Instagram Stories views for free via the “explore page”

This is my favorite and best method, but it might be hard to achieve it. Going viral is the holy grail for many social media managers. Yet I believe that going viral is the easiest way to achieve on Instagram, compared to other platforms. This is due to explore page.

If you’re trying to figure out how to get on Instagram’s Explore page, you’ve got to think differently. You can’t just post and pray. If you want to get on the Explore page, you’re going to have to do something to stand out and GO VIRAL…and the best way to do that begins with a proper strategy.

Instagram’s Explore page evolved from the Popular or Discovery page, which displayed the most-liked content at the time of your visit. The issue with the popular page was that it failed to cater to specific users’ interests.

Now, with the Explore page, the content presented is different for each user. Instagram Stories is now included (see image above)!

Instagram’s Explore page comprises posts liked by people whose posts you’ve liked, posts from accounts similar to those that you follow, and posts with high engagement. In this way, Explore selects posts to show you, without being hemmed in by who you follow and what you claim to like.

By monitoring how you interact with Instagram, it is able to use the algorithm to select the content that syncs up with how you use the app. This is exactly why Wired calls the Explore page “the most honest place on the Internet.”

This change is good news for business owners with interactive Instagram audiences (and vice versa: good news for users when businesses like their photos), as there is a chance that your post will reach previously unconnected, yet interested, users.

The Explore page also allows you to find Stories from accounts Instagram thinks you’ll find interesting; location stories from areas near you; and top live videos. Also, this is where you will find Picked for You videos, which were introduced in June last year, and the events video channel, which shows user-generated videos for top events, such as concerts and sporting events.

Why You Should Get on Instagram’s Explore Page

If you are a brand or business, you should be strategically aiming for the Explore page for the same reasons you are using any aspect of Instagram.

To garnering more likes, getting on the Explore page will also help a business’s bottom line by building brand awareness, selling products, and acquiring new customers. This is possible because the Explore page offers the chance for exposure to a new audience, which is targeted—not random.

Taking advantage of the Instagram Explore pages is absolutely free. You don’t have to use ads.

Instagram is always adding new features to the Explore section. They want it to  be more engaging for their users. Recently they added Location Stories to Explore for example. Learning how to get on the Explore page now will pay dividends in the future.

The big question is: how can my content end up here?

This is only possible with a golden content strategy. Without diving into the details, there are 8 important metrics you need to master:

  1. Know your audience
  2. Use related hashtags to your content
  3. Look for a conversation with your audience (i.e. find interactions)
  4. Include call-to-actions
  5. Post timing is crucial: when are the majority of your followers online?
  6. Use influencer marketing within your niche
  7. Ask your audience to turn-on post notifications. This makes it easier for them to engage with your content
  8. Ask your audience to save or share your content. This also counts as engagement for the Instagram algorithm

Getting on the Instagram Explore Page is Pretty Hard — But I Believe in You!

There are over 1 Billion Instagram users now. Let that sink in.  1 Billion Users. That’s a lot of eyeballs, a huge audience. Whatever it is your trying to promote, the Explore page can probably help you.

The Instagram Explore page isn’t rocket science. It’s a mix of good content and timing.

But by having a clear vision of your target market, selecting appropriate hashtags, engaging followers, and optimizing your content by releasing it at the right time, it’s possible to bolster your base and your bottom line—without having to pay for Instagram Ads.


I hope this post was helpful!

Do you have a recommendation for me? Please leave a comment or send me a message. You can find me on Instagram: @bramvanhoutum.nl. Or reach out via hello@ignanny.com.

Is hiding likes on Instagram the solution to anxiety?

Is hiding likes on Instagram the solution to anxiety?

Instagram is testing a feature with a small audience where only the person who shares a post will see the total number of likes it gets.

“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get.” That’s how Instagram describes a seemingly small design change test with great potential impact on users’ well-being.

Could hiding like counts reduce herd mentality?

A mentor of mine told me I need to treat Instagram as a visual representation of my résumé. So much of our success opportunities depend upon our Instagram. But where should we draw the line?

Is censorship on Instagram the best move to make against social anxiety, negative moods and comparing yourself to others? And is hiding likes on Instagram the best solution?

Being swallowed by social media is so dangerous for our mental health when you don’t have the right mindset. When you begin to treat your Instagram posts like a performance everyone’s watching, you start staging your life in unhealthy ways.

Instagram says: “Hiding likes on Instagram could reduce herd mentality, where people just Like what’s already got tons of Likes. It  could reduce the sense of competition on Instagram, since users won’t compare their own counts with those of more friends or superstar creators. And it could encourage creators to post what feels most authentic rather than trying to rack up Likes for everyone to see.”

If you continuously use Instagram this way, it becomes a place of judgment, comparison, and self-doubt. This practice plants the seed known as Instagram anxiety, which is deeply rooted in the minds of many who use the app.

hiding likes on instagram

The design change test is found by Jane Manchun Wong, the prolific expert who has spotted tons of Instagram features before they’re confirmed or launched. Wong discovered the design change test in Instagram’s Android code and was able to generate the screenshots above.

Instagram confirmed to TechCrunch that this design is an internal prototype that’s not visible to the public yet. A spokesperson told TechCrunch: “We’re not testing this at the moment, but exploring ways to reduce pressure on Instagram is something we’re always thinking about.” Other features we’ve reported on in the same phase, such as video calling, soundtracks for Stories and the app’s time well-spent dashboard, all went on to receive official launches.

My Story and why I don’t like hiding likes on Instagram

Before my Instagram journey started I was a DJ, producer, and record label owner (which I still manage) for over 15 years:

  • I signed records at multiple labels around the world (including Spinnin’ Records)
  • I was able to travel to many places around the world so people could enjoy my music.
  • My biggest audience as a DJ was roughly 10.000 people at a festival, deejaying prime time. Standing in front of such a large audience is one of the best feelings in the world, but with great success also comes a downside.

Before my gig I had the same thoughts, almost every other day: Every move I make, every track I played had to be perfect. I could not disappoint 10.000 people at the same time was my major fear. But, I also knew that people came to that festival to enjoy my DJ set, my energy, and vibe.

I knew my strengths would overpower my only weakness: insecurity. Realizing this I knew I had to change things for good. Get the right mindset.

I used to hate critics, now I embrace them. Critics only give you the strength to improve yourself.

That said, my #1 rule back then (and still is):
“you cannot please them all”

(p.s. I nailed that gig ?)

Why I share you this story?
At a young age, I had to teach myself how to deal with pressure, anxiety and different kinds of people who all had an opinion about me or my music. Back then “a like” didn’t exist, and social media only just had started out. But a crowd of 10,000 people who look you in the eyes while you put your hands up in the air waiting for the next drop to kick in is real.

Let’s fast forward to the present moment.

I deleted my personal accounts 5 years ago. I don’t follow friends or family online. If they want to reach out they got my phone number and I’m able to chat with them via iMessage or WhatsApp. I purely use social media for my businesses I run online. And it has been a blessing for me every single day.

I do however own multiple pages in different niches myself. I have 2.7 million followers and still growing every day. On average 25-50 million (!!) people get to see my content every week.

If I would have received a penny for every negative or hate comment/dm I received, I would have been a millionaire by now. Does that mean I would like hiding likes on Instagram or even comments? NO!

I’ve found myself questioning my purpose on Instagram (or in life) so many times. I’m only experiencing feelings that are human I guess. But have I ever doubted what I am doing is wrong? Not once.

I don’t believe hiding likes on Instagram is the solution to anxiety on social media.

I believe that the problem of anxiety on social platforms is not because of these platforms, but because of the mindset of the users. Many believe that they only should share their best self online. That we all live the ‘perfect’ life filled with joy and blessing.

That’s not true.

I never share the ‘perfect image’ when setting up social strategies for my own accounts (including for health and fitness). By adding value to my followers with free tips & tricks I give them the right tools and knowledge to improve their lives.

One of my favorite quotes is:
“If it took you 10-20 years to get here, stop expecting to get the perfect result in 30 days”.

This also counts on the mentality for social media.

Although it is a natural human instinct to compare yourself to others, the birth of social media has heightened this feeling to a whole new level.

Rather than making comparisons to people who are in the same boat as we are, we now have a global landscape to draw from.

Mass media is one of the commanding influences today for social comparison and studies show it takes a toll on our wellbeing. It’s true: Images on Instagram can create a crippling feeling that plagues self-confidence.

But censorship on social media is never the solution to this problem.

In my opinion, education and awareness are the best two methods to kill this growing problem in our society.  It helped me, so why can’t it help others?

I know my situation is different than others, but I do however am able to share my experience with you.

Hiding likes on Instagram can bring a change, as Instagram says “it could encourage creators to post what feels most authentic rather than trying to rack up Likes for everyone to see”.

To highlight this: it’s exactly what I teach companies I visit and also implement in my own strategies.

You should never try and rack up likes.

The best strategy for social media, and especially on Instagram still is:

  1. Stay close to your values
  2. always provide added value to your following
  3. experiment, don’t be afraid to fail
  4. embrace critics, learn from them

I do believe the stress and anxiety social media can give is something that needs attention and a fix.

But still, I don’t believe that any kind of censorship on any kind of platform is the way to go.

I’m looking forward to what the future will bring and what will happen on Instagram.  Will this function only be part of a small test, or is Instagram going to start hiding likes on Instagram any time soon.

What do you think?

How powerful is a clickbait thumbnail on Instagram?

The power of a clickbait thumbnail on Instagram

Video is still booming on social media. Of the 51 percent of marketers who have used Instagram video, 88 percent found it to be an effective strategy. Handpicking the right thumbnail (still photo) can be the difference between going viral, or not. There are still little tips, tricks and hacks available which work really well for Instagram’s thumbnails. One of them is the clickbait thumbnail.

As of today it’s still very easy to go viral on Instagram with a clickbait thumbnail and get thousands and thousands of likes, impressions and followers for free. But it comes with some disadvantages for brands. Let’s dive in and find out what the perfect clickbait thumbnail can do for you!

What is a clickbait thumbnail?

A clickbait thumbnail is a link that is designed to entice users to follow that link and read, view, or listen to the linked piece of online content. A clickbait thumbnail typically aims to exploit the “curiosity gap”, providing just enough information to make audience on Instagram curious, but not enough to satisfy their curiosity without clicking through to the linked content.

How a clickbait thumbnail works

There are only few pages out there which really add value with a clickbait thumbnail, but most of them fail to do it right. In my opinion the power of the right clickbait thumbnail on Instagram is picking the right image from the original video, instead of creating a new thumbnail which is totally off.

Yet I asked myself this question: why do people sometimes pick random (most of them) weird clickbait thumbnails and after a second the actual video starts (which is like a 180 degree of what the thumbnail was about).

So I thought: why not give it a shot and see what the power of the right clickbait thumbnail actually is.

My own clickbait thumbnail experiment on Instagram

I own a motivation page, which was the perfect pool to test my best clickbait thumbnail for Instagram. The page has around 100,000 followers and hits around 2,700 likes and 40 comments average.


I’ve spend 3-5 hours analysing several clickbait thumbnail videos which went viral, and analysed the likes, comments and views.

The video I went for is pretty funny, but the clickbait thumbnail even raised my eyebrows. But that’s the power of the perfect clickbait thumbnail! This clickbait thumbnail exploited even my curiosity gap (and trust me, I thought I’ve seen it all on Instagram).

The clickbait thumbnail has 100% nothing to do with the actual video.

This photo from June 1, 2015. When a deep-sea oarfish measuring 13.5 feet (4 meters) in length washed up on Catalina Island in California on June 1, 2015, it offered scientists the rare opportunity to take a closer look at the elusive fish’s biology. Because oarfish live in ocean depths, there is much about their anatomy and behavior that is unknown, and teams of scientists jumped at the chance to study the animal’s skeleton, muscles, feeding structures and reproductive system — which included 7-foot-long ovaries.

As you can imagine, both the image and text are extraordinary, food for thought and perfect clickbait material.

You need more than a good still photo to fool the Instagram algorithm and go viral. With videos it’s important that the Instagrammer at least watches 3 seconds. We nailed the first second with the clickbait and grabbed the attention of the audience. It’s important to play with the interest span of the audience for as long as possible.

The actual video is made by @coolman_coffeedan. A very talented animator from NYC. Even he made a fun video about clickbait thumbnails, you really should watch!

The original video can be watched here:


Een bericht gedeeld door Danny Casale (@coolman_coffeedan) op


So what happens if we combine 2 engaging videos on a 100K account averaging 2.7K likes?  534.000 unique views (of at least 3 seconds), 44,600 likes, 370 comments, 8,000 shares via DM and 8,600 saves ?‍⚕️

clickbait thumbnail results

With one share I reached almost 1,800,000 unique accounts within 3 weeks. As of today the post still gets views, likes and shares.

What’s in my opinion even more interesting is that it only generated 312 followers. Which is really, really low.

So can we fool the Instagram audience with a strong clickbait thumbnail?

yes and no. My experiment was a bit over the top, and the combination of the photo and video was outrages.

That said: handpicking the right thumbnail is very important. As shared earlier it can be the difference between going viral, or not.

A common mistake many Instagrammers make is using the first frame of the video as the thumbnail for the video. You can actually change this.

How to select your thumbnail for videos on Instagram

  1. Start adding the new video (+ button on your home feed).
  2. select your video and press “next”
  3. on the bottom you have 3 options. One of them is “cover” select it.
  4. You see a new bar below the video preview. You can swipe through the video. Select an appealing still thumbnail for your video.

pro tip: You can also add custom thumbnails to the video. It requires some editing skills but it’s still really easy (especially when using inshot on your iPhone). What I do for videos I make for clients is create a custom thumbnail in photoshop and add it to the video. If you are a video editor you can edit the video in premiere, lumafusion, InShot or any other video editing program and add the still photo (which should have the same dimensions as your video) as a 1 second clip (I like to add it at the end of the video).

pro tip 2: In my opinion the best practise still is not to use content which is way to off your original content. Stay close to your values and strengths as an individual or company. This viral video was only an experiment for me to see how human nature would behave on Instagram with this kind of content types. I’ve had better results with content and clickbait thumbnails which are on point. I might not had the amount of reach, but I did gained a lot of on-points followers (which is at this point more valuable in my opinion).

pro tip 3: There are still other great ways to gain a lot of followers and engagement besides a strong clickbait thumbnail. My favourites at this moment are IGTV  and growing your audience organically by using hashtags for example.


I hope this post was helpful, there are still tons of methods I would love to share how to grow your Instagram, but I clickbait shouldn’t be on your priority list. I hope you did learn how important the thumbnail is for your videos on Instagram.

Did I missed anything or do you have a recommendation for me which I should try out? Please leave a comment or send me a message on Instagram: @bramvanhoutum.nl, or reach out via hello@ignanny.com ?