Growing Your Instagram With The $1.80 Strategy

Whether it be for business or personal vanity, many Instagram users tend to struggle when trying to grow their online following. It can be very demoralising when you’re putting out, what you feel is, great content and you’re getting next-to-no likes or comments. You’ll be left wondering, “How can I get engagement on my posts?” Well, the $1.80 Strategy is without doubt one of the best methods of growing your Instagram account, but firstly… what is it?

The $1.80 Strategy is an Instagram marketing strategy, coined by outspoken entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, which pushes users to focus on a set of targeted hashtags which are being used by their ideal followers (and clients), and has those users leave genuine comments on the most recent posts within those respective hashtags, in an attempt to raise brand awareness to the content’s creator. If it sounds simple, that’s because it is.

The main focus is in gaining the attention of the content’s creator and having them check out your Instagram page. This strategy works best when you’ve got an Instagram account worth following, you can do this by creating engaging content that speaks to that (potential) follower directly. If you want to achieve maximum results with this, then I suggest you check out this post on why you should niche down your business or blog!

Gary Vaynerchuk recently featured on my list of the 50 Best Entrepreneurs to Follow on Social Media. Has your favourite entrepreneur made the cut? Find out here!

How does the $1.80 Strategy work?

It’s as simple as searching for 10 different hashtags within your niche & commenting on each of the top 9 posts. The name itself comes from the term ‘leaving your 2 cents’. In short, you’ll go onto Instagram & leave your 2 cents on the top 9 posts within 10 relevant hashtags. $0.02 x 9 x 10 = $1.80.

Step 1: Choose your hashtags

So let’s use an example here; Let’s pretend that you’re running an Instagram account for a Pet Shop that sells animal products online. You want to grow your following to increase brand awareness & sales. The first step is to jot down & search for 10 relevant hashtags. You’ll want to get a nice mix of the popular hashtags and some smaller niche ones too, such as;

  1. #cat
  2. #dog
  3. #pugs
  4. #rabbit
  5. #petsofinstagram
  6. #dogstagram
  7. #parrotlovers
  8. #petfood
  9. #pethealth
  10. #catblog

Instead of picking 10 hashtags out of thin air, It’s worth spending some time researching them, it will save you time and effort in the long-run. An easy way of finding some decent hashtags is to type in a generic term, such as #dog and then let Instagram suggest some related tags. The more specific a hashtag is, the more likely you are to find a potential client.

For instance if you just use the hashtag; #dog, that could include a wide range of people, many of which wouldn’t be interested in your product or service. For instance some users may use #dog when dressing up as Scooby Doo for Halloween, or when professing their love for a certain ‘rapper’ from California. The chances of selling dog food to these people is far less likely than if you were to target accounts using #dogmom instead!

Want to know which hashtags you should be using to grow your Instagram? Click here to learn how to find the best hashtags for your niche.

Step 2: Start dropping your $0.02 cents!

The next step is to go through each hashtag and click through the top 9 posts, these can either be the top performing post or the most recent, either both work. You’ll want to check out the post creator’s account for an indication of whether it’s worth commenting or not. You can look at the number of followers the user has. If they’ve got 10,000 followers yet they’re only following 200 accounts; it’s highly unlikely that they’re going to be interested in what you have to offer.

Why? Because the likelihood is that they get a lot of engagement are don’t spend much time checking out other accounts. From experience if an account has less than 2,500 followers & is following a similar amount, then it’s a post worth commenting on. Just make sure the account is active! If the account hasn’t posted in the last 7 days, move on. The perfect Instagram account has 250 followers or less…

BUT… They also have high engagement in comparison (e.g. 50 likes & 10 comments).

The reason that an account like that is so good is because not only is your comment more likely to be seen by the post’s creator, it’s also likely to be seen by the rest of the people engaging with the post. Hence, killing two birds with one stone.

One you’ve checked out their account, and given it the OK, leave your 2 cents. Drop a genuine comment on their post and repeat this process another 89 times, across 10 different hashtags!

Still stuck on how you can grow your Instagram account quickly? Check out this post for a more ideas on how to get more followers on Instagram today!

What should I say in the comments?

It’s less about what you say, but how you say it. First and foremost; Be Nice. Nobody likes someone who’s just constantly negative all the time, especially on social media. So take these words of wisdom from my Mum, as she used to tell me…

“If you’ve got nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all”

It goes without saying that if you’re going to be critical of someone and their content, it’s unlikely that they’re going to follow you – Let alone purchase anything from you. Everyone loves compliments, so go ahead and spread some of that positive energy. Compliment their dress, their photo editing, their perspective, or whatever it might be – get specific, get positive.

It doesn’t work when you leave generic comments such as “Great post!” or “Love this”, people can spot a copy & paste-job from a mile away. Take the time to read people’s captions, watch their videos & check out their profiles. It can really help when crafting a perfect comment to leave on their post. Who knows, You might find some accounts you want to follow yourself!

Is there a quick way of doing the $1.80 Strategy?

Did you ever read the story of the Tortoise and the Hare? Because Spoiler Alert… The Tortoise won. Many people reading this post and think that they can automate the process by either implementing a bot or just copy & pasting the same, generic comments over and over. Unfortunately for them…

It wont work.

There’s nothing worse than receiving a bot-like comment such as “Wow, this is a great post!”. You need to be genuine with your responses. After all, the intention here is to get people to buy into you & your brand.

Imagine this…

You don’t know me. I don’t know you. You’re busy chatting away with your friends & out of nowhere I’m shouting over to you, “You made my day!” That would be weird, right? Well this is basically what you’d be doing if you try to automate the $1.80 strategy.

So if you want to avoid a digital restraining order, drop the template comments that hold no relevance to the post itself. It’s so generic and can often be perceived as spam. Nobody likes spam. Instead…

  • Take a look at the picture, what do you see?
  • Read the caption, what does it say?
  • Check out their profile, what do you like?

Refer to details that can give you the added edge when commenting on their post, and get them (and others) to take notice.

Compare these two comments, which do you prefer?

  1. “Amazing! ❤️”
  2. “OMG he’s so cute. I love pugs, what’s his name? 😄”

Clearly the second is a better option. For one, it shows you’ve taken the time to actually look at the photo or video. Many comments are from bots that just leave generic messages irrespective of the contents of the post. In the following picture, there’s a similar comment to the above which says “OMG so cute, lets collab DM us!”.

You could argue it’s somewhat generic, but that’s not my main concern with this message. My concern is with the Call-to-Action (CTA). Not the fact that it has a CTA but instead the way it’s been done. At the moment it just sounds like “yea, yea your dog’s cute but look at me instead!”

Not cool.

There’s nothing with adding a CTA if it’s done tastefully, just show some genuine appreciation for the post and its creator first!

Commenting on a post for #pugmom. Using the $1.80 Strategy
A photo I found in the most recent posts for #pugmom.

Doing it my way

On the very same post I’ve left a comment that would work well for the Pet Shop example we used earlier. I found this picture in the Most Recent Posts section under the hashtag #pugmom. I figured it was a good post to comment on because it had a low amount of engagement, meaning it’s more likely that my comment will be seen.

Like the “lets collab” message I’ve also mentioned how the Pug is cute, however I went for a slightly different tactic. Instead of telling the user to collaborate with me, I asked her what her dog’s name is. In doing so I’ve shown a genuine interest in both her & the very thing she LOVES

Her Pug.

By complimenting her canine friend, she’s far more likely to respond to my question and carry on the conversation. Conversation can help build trust, and trust is essential when it comes to sales. No that you see why this comment works, let’s look at another example…

Compare the following comments:

  1. “This is great! You should check out my latest post!”
  2. “I also quit my 9-5 to pursue my dream job and I haven’t looked back since. This post has reassured me that i’m on the right path. Keep up the good work 👏”

Again, why is the second comment better? Because it makes direct references to the post itself, when it mentions the “9-5”, meaning that it’s not a spam comment from a bot. It also praises the user for the “good work”, showing appreciation to the user for their content.

Like I said; everyone loves a compliment! Not only that, the comment also leaves a bit of mystery as to what your dream job is – is it mentioned on your Instagram? Only one way to find out 😉

How many followers will I get with the $1.80 Strategy?

It depends. How many followers you get by using the $1.80 strategy really does depend on the quality of your comments & how consistent you are with it. You could have one comment that just goes viral within the comment section, whilst the rest of your theoretical Dollar (and 78 cents) is wasted. That’s just how it is.

In order to understand the importance of the $1.80 Strategy, you need to look at the bigger picture. The $1.80 isn’t going to get you 1,000’s of followers overnight, but it is going to get you the few followers that are likely to buy your products and services.

It’s better to have 100 followers that love your content, than 100,000 followers that don’t. So unless this is just a vanity project for you, I would highly recommend using this method to grow your social media profile.

Perhaps you’ve actually been losing followers recently? Well, aside from just posting crappy content; there may be another reason why your follower count is dropping – this post will explain why!

Why should you use the $1.80 Strategy?

To get the most of Social Media, you need to be Social. That’s as simple as it gets. The $1.80 Strategy purely gives you a simple structure that you can stick to on a daily basis. 10 hashtags, 9 top posts each, 90 comments in total at 2 cents a piece. You can leave more comments or you can leave less, either way your results will reflect the quality & quantity of your engagement.

If you’re leaving quality comments then not only will it draw attention from the creator of the original post but also other people that are commenting too. Take the time to write a genuine comment that’s specific to the content that you’re commenting on. What might take you an extra minute to write, may gain you a new follower for a lifetime.

Does this work for other Social Media platforms too?

Definitely. Any Social Media platform that allows you to comment on behalf of your ‘business page’ will work with the $1.80 Strategy. Think of platforms such as YouTube, Twitter & especially Linkedin! The strategy works exactly the same way on every single platform.

  • Use the search function
  • Audit the posts & post creators
  • Leave your 2 cents
  • Repeat

In order to get the most out of the strategy, it is imperative that your social media profiles are optimised for the objective that you’re trying to achieve. When people click through to your page, they need to know immediately who you are & what you do.

To make use of the $1.80 Strategy on sites like LinkedIn & Twitter, continue to search for relevant hashtags & keep dropping your 2 cents. Remember – It’s called Social Media for a reason!


The $1.80 Strategy is a great way to actively engage with potential followers every single day, gaining their attention towards your Instagram account, and raising brand awareness in general. The strategy works best when you’ve got a niche page that’s obvious in its message. If that message speaks directly to the people that you’re genuinely engaging with, then rest assured you’ll be growing your Instagram account in no time!

Do you have any questions or feedback on this post? Let me know in the comments below!

Why you should be using Gary Vaynerchuk's $1.80 Strategy for Instagram #instagram #garyvee #garyvaynerchuk #followers #engagement #social #socialmedia
I’d really appreciate it if you could pin this image to your Pinterest 🙂

44 Responses

  1. Hi Mike,

    I wanted to ask how often you do this, whether you do this method all in one sitting or whether you pick say 1 hashtag per day? You are right, it takes time to do this but I’ve seen great results from it.

    1. Hello Lisa, thank you for the comment. It really depends on how much time you have on your hands. If you can spend 30 minutes a day doing this, then I highly recommend it – especially if you’re looking to get 1,000 followers. That being said though, I now actually tend to engage with the followers of my main competitors more than I do by searching hashtags.

      1. Hi Mike – great article!! You mentioned in your answer to one of your comments that you are spending a lot of time engaging with your competitors followers. Would you be willing to share a few tips of how to go about doing that? Many thanks!

        1. Hey Greg, sure… I’d love to help. So basically I would get a good idea of who my closest competitors were by doing some quick searches on Instagram. For instance, if Gary Vaynerchuk was a close competitor of mine, I would not only follow him but also the suggested/related accounts that the platform suggests too. I would begin to engage with the accounts that I genuinely like, as well as with the people in the comment sections of those account’s posts. In short, I would engage with the people that follow Gary because I know they are interested in his (and my) line of work. Make sense? 🙂

      1. Bro let’s be friends on insta, I could really use the help with my follows. Btw I’m writing longer to bypass the “Akismet” thingy. My acct is Ryder-lee.angel374. . . I think.

    1. Hello Dave, yes I have. I was told about it a while back and I never saw the benefit in it. Just double-checking the features and I still think you’d be better off just using Instagram.

  2. Hey Mike! I appreciate the info. When I go to the top 9 post of any has tag they have 1000’s of followers… sometimes hundreds of thousands, but then your article says they should have under 250. I think I’m missing something. How would such a small account make it into the top 9? Thanks for your time:)

    1. Hi Mel, thank you for your question. I think it would be best to switch from Top Posts to the Most Recent Posts instead. That way, you are far more likely to find smaller (and often more real) accounts! Let me know if you have any other questions

  3. Wow this was very helpful, thanks for sharing it. I am diving into trying to figure out how to grow my business following on Instagram. I have a Food Truck and a chocolate business so its completely different then what most people are trying to grow. I will be trying out the $1.80 strategy soon.

    1. Hi Esther, the $1.80 strategy should work really well within the food industry. For your Food Truck, I would actually suggest targeting people within your immediate location. To do that, instead of focusing on hashtags – look for posts that have been shared within your location instead!

  4. Thank you for helpful, original advice. This is something that is realistic and easy to do. I am just learning about hashtags and now I know they can be put to good use.

  5. soy gamer recien comienzo, algun tip de como crecer mi audiencia y formar una comunidad
    soy bien noob en redes sociales

    1. Google Translation: “I am a gamer just beginning, some tip on how to grow my audience and form a community
      I’m fine noob in social networks”

      Reply: Hey Raz, my suggestion would be to implement the $1.80 method across different platforms that are popular amongst the gaming community. YouTube, Reddit & Twitch seem to jump out at me the most. Obviously though, you can find some success on Instagram by reaching out to other gamers.

  6. Hey Mike, interestd to know if you’ve tried a variation of this method using “Social Listening” tools?

    The gist is to social listen for mentions of specific brandnames, keywords, and phrases. Different tools allow you to filter these in sophisticated ways, so you only follow up on relevant mentions.

    Example – “terrible sleep”.

    If you were a bed retailer, you could find conversations on twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, etc, and start engaging these people in an authentic, helpful way.

    1. Hi Teisha, I suggest that you only follow the accounts that you genuinely want to follow. If you’re doing it just to get a follow back, you’re going in with the wrong mindset 🙂

  7. Hi there great breakdown
    what I’m struggling with is putting it into context for the painting and decorating industry

    I would really appreciate your advise on this if you don’t mind and I’d be happy to share my insight on it all.

    Just as I think I’ve cracked it my mindset shifts an alternative way in terms of which hashtags I should be following.

    1. Hey Mitchell, I’d be happy to hear more about your insight on it all. How can I help specifically?

  8. I think you explained the strategy better than our buddy Gary V hahaha. Thanks for the post bro!
    Saludos from Argentina!

  9. Thanks Mike,

    Really well explained! We’re trying to grow our Insta account for our fitness brand and I really want to do it without using the Follow Unfollow method, so this seems like a great strategy!

    I noticed there is service called which provides software to help with this method – do you think its worth using (the basic service is free)?

    1. Hey Michael, appreciate the kind words. Great question. As long as you’re engaging with people in a genuine and selfless way, there is no reason why you can’t use a service like dollareighty. Remember that you should be going into each engagement with the intention to give – not receive. Hope this helps!

  10. Hi Mike,

    Antoine here from France!

    I started yesterday this technique and I replied on 27 posts. I had some interaction with the owners of the posts so I’m happy with that but I realized the vast majority are competitors.

    My question here is should I better go on the Recent Posts top 9 instead in order to engage with people instead of brands? Our page is we are producing handmade leather goods in Paris.

    Give me your 2 cents 😉


    1. Hey Antoine, nothing wrong with engaging with your competitors. You’re both working towards the same goals, trying to help the same people, so why not push each other towards that goal? 🙃 That being said, feel free to mix it up and engage with both the top 9 and the 9 most recent.

  11. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me. My target market is wealthy people. Using hashtags like #art, #homedecor etc does not really get me to my target market. I do have a lot of other artist that follow me and I follow them also, but rarely will other artist buy. What type of hashtags would you recommend for me to stand out in the crowd? I have been working hard to figure out a way to get my artwork to the right buyer.

    1. Hey Tammy, my best recommendation would be to check out my ebook… Six-Figure Hashtags. It should give you a step-by-step guide to finding the right hashtags that your future clients are searching for. You can find my ebook here.

  12. Hello Mike.
    Step 1 Hashtag choosing idea was very good. Even the example given with it was very informative. Through this, the issue of Hashtag Choosing has been cleared a lot. Thank you

  13. That’s great! There are many common-sense pieces of advice here. Your hashtag recommendation makes perfect sense. Let’s hope our Instagram account works with it.

  14. Great hacks! Effective social media management will drive more potential customers for your business. To gain social media engagement you have to invest a significant effort to improve your influence. Thanks for sharing these hacks, very useful for people just like us — businesses & brands communicating through social media!

    1. Thank you David. No hacks here though, just a simple strategy that helps people to stay consistent 🙂

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