Instagram: Milestone – The first post to get over 5,000 likes

Instagram: Milestone – The first post to get over 5,000 likes

As with all of my posts that seem to be popular: I didn’t expect this one to be such a hit. It was just another morning before work as I frantically tried to think of a question that I hadn’t already asked before that would also be relevant to my current life (which at that moment was juggling a social and learning a new code base)

I was surprised when 6 hours in the post had already broken all of my previous records, for my account at its current engagement rate 2k likes is considered above average

When it was almost 24 hours and the post had gained momentum, I was still feeling baffled. Excited, but baffled.

Before the end of the second day, it had exceeded the 5k mark by a significant amount, leaving me curious about whatever had sparked this kind of response.

What Did This Post Do Differently?

I’ve never had a post get 3k or even 4k likes before, so reaching 5k on accident meant that I was doing something different.

But the post really isn’t that different from any of my others: it’s a picture of me at a computer, asking a simple question and answering it. I posted it around the same time as usual and it’s really not that exceptional.

What was different this time is that the question I asked:

  • had an easy binary answer
  • was industry agnostic (i.e. you don’t have to work in the tech industry to answer the question)
  • was applicable to everyone at any stage of career development

What this did is opened the dialogue up to people who wouldn’t necessarily be in my audience, but still like engaging in posts. People being able to answer in 1-2 words boosted the number of comments I got which also makes the post look more popular.

How Instagram Helped Boost This Post

At the time I’m writing this, this post has been viewed 69,314 times by 57,943 individuals. Around 52k of those views occurred from people’s home pages. That means it showed up because they follow me or because they follow one of the hashtags I use. The next biggest viewing source was 12,134 views that came from an ambiguous “other” category, which could mean people sharing links, in messages, etc.

77% of the people who viewed this post weren’t my followers (around 45k of those people who saw it) –  but it had to be propagated up into their news feeds somehow. My guess is that the culprit responsible for all these views is Instagram’s “follow hashtag” feature that has been rolled out and updated over the past six months.

Now You Can Follow Hashtags on Instagram

What’s cool from a branding perspective is that it makes using hashtags even more valuable (though it also means you need to be selective about the ones you use, because if it’s off-topic people will absolutely complain). It makes it much easier to be exposed to a wider audience if your post is one of those that consistently makes ‘top posts’ for particular hashtags.


Making an industry agnostic post that was just techy enough to keep tech people engaged while not being so specific that others outside of tech didn’t know was I was talking about was a major factor in hitting this milestone. Additionally, the fact that hashtags are now more prevalent on people’s feeds make it easier for strangers to discover new content (thanks, Instagram). I’ll definitely be playing with these ideas more in the future.

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