How I Increased My Instagram Followers Nearly 5000% in Three Months

How Spirit and Groove Increased their Instagram Followers Nearly 5000%


On October 18th of 2016 my new drumming tee shirt venture Spirit and Groove had just 118 followers on Instagram. In less than three months, we had increased that number to 5,645. That’s a 4,684% increase in followers.

Even more impressive is the fact that this increase isn’t the result of bought or “fake” followers.  In fact, they are engaged individuals who actively like, comment, and tag the Spirit and Groove brand.

So how did we do this?

It is all part of a three prong strategy that utilizes a specific “following” software combined with personalized commenting and following by our team and a unique Call To Action (CTA) that focuses on community building and not necessarily selling product.  This strategy has resulted in unprecedented results for Spirit and Groove, which is in-line to connect to over 12,000 engaged followers by mid-April of 2017 – an increase of 10,070% in just six months.

To help you achieve similar results for your brand, here is our strategy broken down. Just keep in mind that every business is unique and your goals and resources may not align with this type of plan…or even with Instagram in your marketing mix at all.

Software:  We do not buy into the Web 2.0 concept that you should build your online presence entirely organically and this includes Instagram. We do agree that certain approaches should be avoided including following and unfollowing popular accounts repeatedly; posting to and tagging names with large follower pools, but do not have any relation to your product; and buying followers blindly through those “coin” programs you find with popular apps. However, there is far too much noise in the platform and unless you are a Kardashian, make it on TMZ, or are very lucky. You simply won’t break through in a business-efficient timely manner without some sort of algorithm helping you out.

After trying out a bunch of options, we found Influx Social to manage our Instagram presence. You can check them out here. Influx offers a number of services for your Instagram strategy including liking, following, unfollowing, and top engager analytics. We started with a five day trial and were immediately hooked.

How to Increase Your Instagram Followers

Once connected to your IG account, you choose top tags, locations, and accounts surrounding your niche. For us, it was drummers. We chose tags such as #drums, #drumming, #drummers as well as top accounts such as @vicfirth and @drumsdaily.

The program will follow up to a number of accounts you specify in your dashboard. If you have quality content and a great call to action (see below), a percentage will follow you back. After Influx reaches your follow limit, the program will begin to unfollow users up to another number you specify, omitting persons you followed organically or whitelist during the process.

Users subscribe to varying speeds that the follow/unfollow algorithm runs. These include Fast, Insane, Ludicrous, and Professional. You can try out the program for five days by using this link. Spirit and Groove started at fast, liked what we saw and moved all the way up to professional, which is a combination of the fastest following speed and analytics on your top engagers. This is an important part to our strategy, because it allows us to analyze and instantly whitelist top engagers right in our Influx dashboard. It is super easy and efficient…and we love efficient.

Organic: Never, ever, ever, ever should your social presence be dominated or entirely run via software.  That is not the intent of this marketing channel, it makes for a bad user experience, prohibits engagement and monetization, and is just lame. So don’t do it! If you are going to use Influx, think of it as a way to grab people’s attention – that’s all. From there, you (the person with fingers) should be engaging, sharing, and providing great content in hopes that potential customers will choose to follow you.

Engaging your potential prospects: At Spirit and Groove, we spend a few minutes multiple times each day scrolling through accounts related to our brand. We like a number of posts that we dig and comment on really interesting ones with our infamous cookie 🍪 comment.


Is Your Groove Cookie Worthy – Spirit and Groove Drum Tees Marketing


Content: We love drumming so much that creating content is totally groovy for us! We have countless drum videos, pictures, quotes, and memes on the subject ready to go.  In addition and as a way of building our social community, we re-gram approved user posts and videos tagged with @spiritandgroove or #spiritandgroove multiple times per-day. The latter also helps with brand recognition as drummers will include our tags in their posts in hopes that we may re-gram them to our budding community. This means that they are typing Spirit and Groove multiple times a week, which increases memory retention.

Conclusion: A core component of the Spirit and Groove marketing strategy relies on building a community around the idea of “groove.” Through lots of time and money spent elsewhere, we found that Instagram is a great choice for us to engage with our demo.  Influx Social is an exceptional tool to help us find and engage prospects within our niche.  However, we realize that for our community to succeed. We must supplement that technology with a personal touch. Taken together, this has resulted in exceptional growth for our company, which has elevated attendance and engagement in our other channels and ultimately more sales for our brand.


Reflections in the Ocean

An Empty Beach

I celebrated my Christmas weekend of 2016 with my family at St. Augustine Beach in Florida. Since the holiday is also my birthday, I get to choose where we spend our annual family time. Having lived on the sea for years, I feel a unique pull to the surf and take any chance I can to get back to those crashing waves, so this year I chose that we hit the beach.

I believe humans are drawn to the sea because of what it represents…life. Great tales have been written about brave men facing the ocean since the adoption of the written word. Homer gave us the Odyssey. Hemingway wrote The Old Man and the Sea and no list would be complete without Melville’s Moby Dick. All of these tales share a similar thesis. They are stories of men challenging what the sea, or better yet…life, is throwing at them. Each sets sail on a journey through uncharted waters seeking to find their own sense of being, accomplishment, and truth. Their success hinging on an understanding that they do not know what may lie ahead and the confidence to overcome obstacles that will undoubtedly exist in both calm and rough waters.

During my ship time, I remember we would sail for days on end and never see land, a bird, or another ship. Much like life, we could go in any direction we wanted. We just never really knew what would lie ahead in our course. The surf could be calm or it could rise-up as if it were trying to force us in another direction. Life is like this as well. You have so many choices of which way you shall live, but each carries with it its own unique risks and rewards. It is up to you regarding how long you shall stay that particular course, choose to re-navigate, or if you will give up and let the current take you away.


It is the last day of my birthday weekend and I am sitting on an empty beach as a storm rolls in. I must be stuck in its eye, because the beach has disappeared into the rainy darkness both to my right and left.  The only clear site is the ocean in front of me. It looks so peaceful framed against the approaching storm. Yet, despite the apparent calm path at my bow the cool gray waves continue to crash on the shore and then return to the deep.

It is as if the sea is reminding me that even though the course ahead looks the clearest. There will always be challenges on my journey. The waves will never stop. It is only up to me what kind of captain I shall become and which course I am willing to sail.

May you all navigate your own success in 2017 and in the process find your own truth.

Using A&R in Venue Management

Live Concert Venue

Artist and Repertoire is a cool job. The A&R men, as they are known, were record label executives who found and nurtured talent toward stardom. The position was integral during the record industry boom, as they were the ones responsible for keeping a record label’s pool of talent both fresh and full.

It takes a very specific skill set to be exceptional in this department. For one, You have to have a good ear for music and be able to hear how much potential an act has by doing what I call “listening through the show.” You have to be a powerful influencer. Not just with potential artists, but with those who hold the purse strings at the record label. I once worked with a legendary A&R name on a very limited basis. He taught me that the Artist and Repertoire agent never has the “final say” if a band will get a record deal. Instead, he had to work with potential acts to prep them for the pitch to those with the means to launch their careers.

Once an A&R person lands the act they have been hunting, the job truly begins. Now, they must work between artist and label to align the talent in a way that meets the business needs of the financier. They may work on the entertainer’s image, adjust their marketing and promotion, or train them to become better performers live among a host of other tweaks.

Unfortunately, the A&R gig has been downsized along with the mammoth record labels that existed pre-Napster. Something I was saddened to be reminded of during my undergraduate studies in music business.

Six years and an MBA later and I am on my way to a second venue in one night to catch a band. This will be one of four venues visited that day and about ten in two weeks. This act is one of nearly twenty on my evolving “need to see list” that stems from research online, word of mouth, and solicitations from those looking for work. It is not uncommon for me to check a country band, Ozzy Tribute, Tejano lounge act, DJ, and guitar soloist in one week.

I am directly responsible for filling nine lounges with weekly varied entertainment. On top of that, the company I work for is always on the look out for talent to place in lounges in Vegas, Texas, Arizona, Seattle, Oregon, and on every major cruise line. We need everything from DJ’s, to duos, trios, rock bands, Latin bands, tributes, bingo callers, and soloists. On top of that, our clients demand professionals who can read the room and meet very stringent brand aesthetics.

So, I am out scouting to fill our talent funnel working like an A&R man. Never letting the bands know I am coming. You can’t see how they will “really” act if they know a suitor is there. When on site, I am working. I am observing the band. How do they look? How do they sound? Is the crowd into it? Are they holding the crowd? Are they drinking? Is the crowd drinking? Would their song choices, style, and delivery meet my client’s needs?

Now, if you think I find acts that meet all of these criteria. You are sorely mistaken.  As I analyze, I look at what they do well and the investment we would need to make them into a good match for any of our buyers. Are they simple fixes, like updating their dress or more complex situation such as adjusting their music selection or learning to read and control a room. If I think we may have a match, I reach out. If not, I may come back again to see how they are progressing.

I’ve got a list for that as well.

Much like an A&R man of 1987. After we have landed a group for our client’s. My real job begins. We work on getting them ready for our stages, our protocols, and our needs. I catch their gigs, take notes, and if needed call them the next day to suggest changes. And just like the A&R men of the past, I am working with the record label (or in my case my venue client), probably assuring them that the new act will result in positive ROI, or that we will adjust their dress, drinking problem, or break times to help push those metrics.

I find great talent and nurture it into a successful product for my client’s needs. It is just that instead of my client selling records, they are looking to sell drinks, cruise getaways, or more time in the casino. By looking at my procurement funnel from the view of an A&R man, I can help them achieve those goals by crafting a pipeline of talent that will keep their venues fresh and full.

I guess I got to be an A&R guy after all.


Listen Through the Show

Sound Guy with Headphones


As an entertainment manager, I receive a constant influx of artists looking for work. These emails and requests come from numerous sources including colleagues, agents of our venues, and (of course) the artists themselves. This results in one large “procurement funnel” I work with daily.

I attack the funnel strategically.  First, I weed out acts that do not fit our client’s geographic, budget, and demographic needs. Next, I check out the musician’s live videos. You read that right.  Their “live” videos.  From my experience, I can attest that most entertainment bookers prefer live videos that are un-doctored over flashy promo. Yes, iMovie and Final Cut are cool, but we want to get an idea of how you handle yourself in a live situation…and how you sound when you do it.

If these videos pique my interest, the next step is to go see you live…but, I won’t tell you when I am coming out.  Why? People act differently when they know a booker is in the room, so if you are in a band. Here’s a hint. Always think an agent, label, or other type of gatekeeper is in the room.  Later on in this blog, I will share a story from my days on the road that demonstrates why you should do this.


But Jeremy, we don’t have the gear to make quality live videos and the places we play have horrible FOH, so we always sound bad, but we are really good. I swear.


This is where “listening through the music” comes into play. I have over twenty years in this business with the majority as a performer in a variety of bands. I have worked with legendary artists, taught music, done cruise ship orchestra shows, fill-in theater gigs, and even studied at Berklee where I was my Production and Engineering roommate’s go-to session drummer. I have been through countless challenging live-sound situations, which have taught me some key attributes “professional” artists possess that prepare them to succeed in, pretty much, any live situation.

These fundamentals vary by instrument, but boil down to musical ability and stage presence.

Musical ability: This covers the gamut of being a professional musician.  How does the intonation of the brass section sound?  Can the rhythm section keep solid time? Is the singer holding her mic properly and projecting from her diaphragm? Is the guitarist using the right gear and producing a quality tone? Does the entire group start, stop, and make the band hits together?

Stage presence: Are all members into the show…especially when there are only three people in the audience?  Are they reading the room correctly? Are they controlling the room properly? Are they smiling? Do they talk to fans during their breaks? How are they dressed? Do they care about the show…no matter how big or small?

Now look at those again…did you notice that I am not worried about the front of house mix? Nor the monitor mix or the lighting?  That is because it is my job to listen through the show and analyze the core of the product on that stage.

But, why?

It all boils down to an old saying: “garbage in… garbage out.” Sure, a bad mix can impact your gig, but you shouldn’t let it define your musical ability.  The greatest band in the world – The Beatles played before over 56,000 fans with nothing more than 100 watt amplifiers.  They couldn’t hear themselves. Ringo relied on watching Paul’s foot to keep the show going and they harmonized blindly.  Zeppelin recorded the best drum sounds I have ever heard with just three microphones (and one in the chimney on occasion). Duke, Bird, and Miles made some of the most iconic music ever and didn’t use in-ears, a separate monitor mix, or line-array speakers.

All of these acts created great music because they relied on their musicality and ability to control the stage night after night. When this can be done, the sound crew is capable of working from a clean slate and can enhance that quality and make it sound great at any time… at any volume.



A second lesson regarding why you should “listen through the music.”

Ok, here’s the deal with booking rooms. Contrary to what everyone thinks. You are not guaranteed a great night. I have watched numerous outside forces kill an amazing event. Weather, economic downturns, a competing concert that suddenly pops up and steals your marketing momentum can all kill your night.  As a venue booking agent (especially in the minimal cover/free club scene), we must do what we can to mitigate losses on those particular nights. One of those ways is to find entertainment that can “hold a room” no matter how many people are in it.

If you have read my article on Herd Mentality in Entertainment, you know that I believe strongly that an “adoption point” can be acquired if a room-specific attendance percentage is hit. I also believe that maintaining that crucial number and avoiding the “exodus point” is critical to the success of your live venue and this is directly related to the skills discussed before.

Sometimes you catch a potential group and the room is jammed. You immediately start thinking. This band will save my venue and maybe they will, but first. Take an inventory. With the room jammed, the band may have better than average stage presence.  However, is their musical ability up to snuff or has herd mentality simply taken over.

Flip the switch.

Don’t just walk away if the room is dead. How does the band sound? Do they look enthused? Are the people in the room hanging out, drinking, and pulling their eyes away from their phones to watch the group? If the answer is yes, maybe you need to keep your eye on this particular act and return to check them out a few more times.

Data is a funny thing. The good stuff sometimes likes to hide. Checking out an act is not checking out the room. You are looking at the band to see if they meet your needs or could be coached to meet those demands. Taking away the external elements and listening “through the show” will make it easier for you to book quality entertainment for your venue.


Would you like to discuss your venue needs?  Contact Jeremy today. 


PR and a Drum T-Shirt Company called Spirit and Groove

Spirit and Groove Groovy Press Release

As I write this blog post, I am preparing for the first press release to hit the wire for my drummer t-shirt company, Spirit and Groove .

I chose to add a PR marketing channel to my online business to achieve a couple of marketing objectives, but before I hand those out. I wanted to explain why I chose to add this channel to my marketing mix.

First, understand that I always think “big-picture.” If I am going to do something, I am going for it. As for Spirit and Groove, my ultimate idea is a clothing brand, not just a drummer tee shirt company.  This dictates that my planning always be long-term and to properly build a brand. I must tell everyone what the heck groove is all about and why I am placing so much faith in one word.

“The goal of our first Groovy Press Release is let everyone “step into” the mindset of our brand. You shouldn’t be afraid if you are not a drummer, because as you will learn.  The beat is beyond any other instrument. It mimics the heartbeat and as such it was our species first language. We celebrate with it, we have worked in unison to it, and we have followed it into battles. We are all connected by the drum. It doesn’t matter if you play it, move to it, or feel it in your soul. We are all part of the groove.”

Second, we are building a community and that requires a very strong social presence. To achieve this organic build, we need solid backlinks to increase our credibility and reach. In addition, strong backlinks will provide increased “Opportunities to See” at a lower cost through higher Search Rankings. PR can be a cost-effective way to achieve worthwhile backlinks that Google will respect and hopefully bump us up the search ladder.

Finally, I was a newsman and enjoy writing. So why not write about something I am passionate of… the groove.

Click here to read Spirit and Groove Drum Tees first Groovy Press Release. 

My New Groovy Venture

It has been a long time since I last posted in the ol’ blog here, but there is a good reason.

Earlier this year I launched a drummer clothing company called Spirit and Groove. It is an exciting venture that is pulling from all of my professional experience (e.g. running my own company, my work as a graphic designer and photojournalist, my MBA training, and absolute passion for drumming).

I am working Spirit and Groove during my down time as a booking agent, and if you are in the business you know there is very little of that. However, I have accomplished a lot in these first few months.  We currently have forty plus drumming and groove-inspired t-shirts up for sale and a whole bunch in the coffers.  We have also established a number of “Groovy Communities” on various social platforms where we give out Groovy Cookie Comments to people we feel have got groove.


Is Your Groove Cookie Worthy – Spirit and Groove Drum Tees Marketing

You can join those networks by clicking on these links:

Spirit and Groove on Facebook

Spirit and Groove on Twitter

Spirit and Groove on Instagram

Spirit and Groove on Google Plus

Spirit and Groove on YouTube

Speaking of YouTube, we have also put together a groovy drumming video blog where we offer insights into best drumming practice techniques, top groovy drummers and albums, and a whole lotta’ fun.  Here is our most recent video for you to check out and you can follow the entire drum video lesson blog here.


Well, I’ve got to get back to designing some more drumming shirts, checking our drummer website, optimizing our SEO, working on our paid click campaign, or launching another Facebook ad among other things, but please go check out my groovy new website

You’ll be glad you did!