Bots, Ghosts, and Organic Followers on IG

IG, You Know You Love It!

IG, You Know You Love It!

This week I learned how to avoid bots and how to boost organic followers via other accounts. The main way to do this is to see if there is an “igers” account for your area. I live in Tampa Bay so there are “igers_tampa” and “igersstpete” accounts that I will hashtag (not tag) when I post event photogs.

Bots: Fake accounts generated out in cyberspace

Organic Followers: Real followers

Ghost Followers: Real followers but don’t engage, like or post much.

Avoiding Bots:

Stay away from any of the following tags and you will have a better chance of avoid fake accounts and fake likes:

#love #TagsForLikes #TFLers #tweegram #photooftheday #20likes #amazing #smile #follow4follow #like4like #look #instalike #igers #picoftheday #food #instadaily #instafollow #followme #girl #iphoneonly #instagood #bestoftheday #instacool #instago #all_shots #follow #webstagram #colorful #style #swag

If you use these you will attract fake accounts.  You can’t get rid of them all the time but the following measures will help eliminate much of the junk traffic.


To attract real people(organic) find “igers” that relate to your subject and support an IG account that posts those things. For instance for our high school event posts we now use #stpetersburgfl and #ilovetheburg (which is an account and hashtag) to share our work with local people. Because of these two new hashtags we have a few likes but not as many as if we used #like4like. However the tradeoff is that the people of #stpetersburgfl are seeing what we are doing in the area.

Geotag your posts. Here is the issue of geotagging. It seems as if you have to be in the area to get a proper tag. If not you will have to rename the tag and it will just add the tag to the map of your geographic area. That kinda sucks but IG is more of a realtime application unlike faccebook where it is more archival. I have yet to find a fix for this but I am sure it is out there.

We do our best to geotag our stuff in St. Pete and are close enough to pick up areas where events have taken place however our Orlando events aren’t picking up so we just use a hashtag to describe the event.

Use a hashtag of your location:

SAMPLE: #stpetehigh #greendevils #homecoming2k13 #throwback at #stpetecoliseum. We geotag “St. Pete Coliseum” in our map option and hashtag it in the description. You can then add more info and hashtags if you like.


To improve your account organic reach run your profile through this site to get proper measurements: This site is free and powerful. It measures your communications and traffic. You can also search hashtags before you use them to see how many media are attached to the hashtag. Anything hashtag over 1200 media pieces I will use.


I enjoy using the Samsung tablet because it remembers a flow of key words that I normally use in combination. This is how I engage. I will sit for 30 minutes and just look at pics from the search #prom. Thursday is usually the more popular day for this hashtag to reveal new stuff since kids are “throwing it back.”

When I like something it gets a heart, if I really like it I will use a combination of “Very nice, Love it, Nice, Beautiful, Perfect, Funny group, and so on. Figure out what general combinations you will use to engage. Then if the image really strikes you then add more info. Keep it short.

By now you should have a method and should have at least engaged 50 accounts over the last week. From that you should see a return of 5- 10 followers. That is kind of the ratio that we get.

If you ask to follow you will get less return.

  1. Engaging is the best way to get followers.
  2. Following accounts that you like and hashtagging them when you post is another way. Just make sure the content relates in some way.

Hopefully you have something to sell to the people that will follow you. For our account Firefly Event Photography we decided to focus on hashtagging in such a way that it engages Florida, Tampa Bay, Orlando and Miami. Those are the places we want to connect with our service. When we get likes outside those geographic areas, it does us no good since we can’t service them. The likes are good but we have to look at both sides of our account direction. That is where comes into play. That site is dedicated to every prom goer outside of Florida that would like prom photography. We are working our services to travel to other areas of the US and world to capture prom images.

As for my personal Pierce Brunson IG account, I just do what I do on Facebook; make it all about me and what I like. My mind works better if my business is separate or my accounts become junk. I will use Pierce Brunson to display my photography and delete Pierce Brunson Photography. Not worth the extra time.

Use Events: Go and be a part of live events to gain followers. Have a product and sell one to a person? Snap a pic and post it to your account. Tag them, geotag and hashtag the event. To make this faster, prepare a script in your digital notebook area. I have prepared 7 different ones that I use at various times. Copy the script and just paste it into the comment space for better results.

As much as social media reduces direct physical contact, your best people, sales, and loyal followers may come from something that isn’t virtual. That can be your product or meeting you at an event. Take the time to get out and then connect people to more of you online.

Ask any questions you may have. I discover stuff every day and my accounts are looking good.

It does take time to build. Try to post 5 times a day for the next 5 days and see how your account grows.

No agenda for next week but I will have some new discovery for you.

Follow Pierce Brunson on Twitter, IG and Google+.

Pierce Brunson , M.Ed., is a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia, and spends his time working as a mentor and speaker while developing businesses that help improve the high school experience for students and teachers. He has over a decade of experience teaching in the public school system as a high school Social Studies teacher, majoring in World History and Sociology. Pierce believes everyone can do more to help improve the education system in their local communities, which is part of the backbone of any society. Pierce’s advice is simple: stop complaining and do something to help improve the situation. Good people have to stop being afraid to fight for what they believe in. Get in the game, help others, share culture and move the world toward equality and justice. Connect with Pierce at,, and

My Youtube:



Instagram Away: Likes, Follows, and Other Tips

If you are new this is part 2 of my IG experience and I am sharing what I have found out through trial and error, other blogs, and the actions needed according to my marketing plan. This week on Instagram I didn’t spend as much time as before to see if I had any momentum. Come to find out I do have some momentum but fair better if I engage people.

Since last writing I spend very little time liking and following people. Here is what I found:

A follow is weak and a like is better. How? A like (the little red heart) is actual engagement and you will more than likely get a return follow if you have something engaging on your site or your site is based on what you are engaging about.

This week we are about +70 organic followers. This is from just looking at a pic in the #prom search and clicking the like button. Since our site has a call to action, it seems that 25% is our like to follow ratio. In other words as we like a pic in the prom category we are getting people to follow and like our site.

As for the direct message of prom pics, if we ask there is about a 70% chance that a person will send us a pic to have it featured. One day we had 24 out of 35 requests. Busy posting day.

I believe that Instagram has three categories of people:

  1. I just follow my friends
  2. I follow stuff I like
  3. I create stuff people will follow

I haven’t noticed any other categories.

What works on Instagram if you have a business?

  • Anything fashion will attract a ton of followers, just hashtag correctly.
  • MOST things beauty related
  • Most things health related

What businesses suck on Instagram?

  • Selling “wraps”…I have no idea but I guess it is the MLM version of SPANX
  • Selling vitamins
  • Selling any juicing program

Your Instagram has to be alive. Fashion is alive because many of the pics are about going out or being out in the world.

Vitamins and such are stale and stiff. The sites that do the best with those show their workout (my T & A theory) and show much of their life. If you are going to eventually sell something make sure you add life to your site.


PAYING for followers:

Does this work?

Truth be told, yes and no. You can use a site like to boost your numbers. This is promoted as a marketing strategy and it somewhat works. You may want to boost your followers by 500 just to legitimize you site and work organic from there.

We used this site and it did help us get more people to our site. Something with being over 1000 that makes people take notice and follow.

For $6.99 you can get 500 followers and it is fast.

The no part: Almost all of the likes are very similar in account makeup. I found that over 100 only had 5 images and the images were random at best. This isn’t as bad as using the #like4like and getting “follow bots”, but enough to realize that this process is just paying for random marketing.

Today we will be trying to purchase 100 likes for $2.97 and see how that works. The thought is that it will generate more people to the site to follow and to my other sites. There is a claim that they are from real people, we will see.

GETTING Followers at different times:

One of the best days for us is #TBT when kids are reliving their prom night. Find a day that works for you and hit it hard to get followers.

Use #MCM to post shoes

Use #WCW to post fashionable attractors

By knowing a popular posting hashtag and attach other tags that relate to your subject, you can increase your followers.


YOUR IG Profile Words:

On @promphotography we a call to action to get followers. Consider using a call to action if you want to gain more followers and likes. Our message is

TO BE FEATURED Follow Us DM your fav prom pic. Follow @fireflyeventphotography Visit our blog for prom tips.

Figure out what your call to action is and you will see increased traffic there. The IG is just a start to leading a person to become a customer.

Without any push on our site we are getting 7 visitors a week just from this call to action. That is a lot considering the blog isn’t started and the site isn’t fully functional.


  • Instagram is great for products
  • Using pay services helps a bit but you still have to work the organic side of IG
  • Change up the times you post to catch different people
  • Use popular posting days #TBT to post
  • Call to action on your profile

Next Time: Following statistics, buying likes results, questions answered.

Follow Pierce Brunson on Twitter, IG and Google+.

Pierce Brunson , M.Ed., is a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia, and spends his time working as a mentor and speaker while developing businesses that help improve the high school experience for students and teachers. He has over a decade of experience teaching in the public school system as a high school Social Studies teacher, majoring in World History and Sociology. Pierce believes everyone can do more to help improve the education system in their local communities, which is part of the backbone of any society. Pierce’s advice is simple: stop complaining and do something to help improve the situation. Good people have to stop being afraid to fight for what they believe in. Get in the game, help others, share culture and move the world toward equality and justice. Connect with Pierce at,, and

My Youtube:



My 6 Week Instagram Experience

This is my Instagram experience. I am in no way a social media guru but I do have an understanding of social media forms for regular people starting out and working to develop a following. Many people have asked and so I am delivering my 6 week experience of building a following on Instagram.

This is just a small part of what I have discovered so if you want to use social media to increase your business connections without paying for it, follow along for the next 6 weeks.

I currently run four accounts:

@piercebrunson (my life posted, low post frequency, minimal engagement)

@piercebrunsonphotography (my photography, low post frequency, minimal engagement)

@fireflyeventphotography (my high school event photography business, regular post frequency, minimal engagement)

@promphotography (my prom photography business, high post frequency, high engagement)


IG: Instagram

Posts: The pic or media you are sharing.

Hashtags: “#” and then some words

Followers: People that follower your account

Likes: The heart that people click when they like your pic.

DM: Direct message

Engaging: Actively talking to another person.

Organic Follower: Real followers that are interested in your content, you built them by engaging and hashtagging your pics.

Igers: Actually “IGers”, a person that Instagrams.

Creep/ Creepin’: Looking at someone’s account to see what they are doing, then looking at who their friends are and what they like (also used to gain information about someone without asking)

Ok, time to get started. As of today I have worked the Instagram from zero to over 600 followers for a solid six weeks. I didn’t use the Facebook feature to instantly boost the account. The account where I did all of my learning is @promphotography. I have spent hours during the day and night to figure out how to build my account organically.

What I know:

  1. To increase likes it has to be a decent pic, not professional. Though professional helps.
  2. The IG filters help a crappy pic…they help a lot.
  3. There are people that sympathy like things because you posted a pic of your face and it has only two likes.
  4. Stay on topic
  5. You will gain and loose followers for a number of reasons
  6. Don’t take this personal
  7. It takes a ton of time and dedication to build a great site.
  8. If you engage you will have followers that are real people.
  9. Fake accounts will like your pics and follow you, mostly like pics.
  10. Follow4follow is useless, engage for follow
  11. Purchasing followers is a rip-off, no matter what the company says.
  12. I think products are easier to post, attract followers, and sell (though I have zero proof of this).
  13. People will DM (direct message) you pics that are related to your content if you feature them, tag them in the pic they send you and shout them out. (the most DMs I received in a day were 22, it was overwhelming)

What I have yet to figure out:

  1. How to turn any social media into buyers of product.
  2. How a person with 4 posts has 10000 followers.
  3. How to make money with these platforms.

What I believe now.

  1. You think you want 10000+ people that follow until you have to engage with them.
  2. You better figure out how to make some cash off of your efforts.
  3. Starving social media guru is the new starving artist.
  4. Social media is a 24 hour job. God bless Gary Vaynerchuk @garyvee, his social media obsession, and ability to turn this format into gold. Shit ain’t easy.

How to HASHTAG (#)

How to # (hashtag) properly? Simply type “#” and then add a word or phrase behind it. There you have just properly used the hashtag.

How do you get more likes to your images? Use this hashtag site to keep up.

I used this site’s hashtag suggestions and did get a lot of likes but many they were from fake accounts.

IMO (in my opinion) the best way to hashtag is with this formula: general topic, regional topic, local topic, extra tags for likes and followers.

Sample: I post a lot of prom pics for my Firefly Event Photography business, @fireflyeventphotography and a sample posting for general images looks like this.

#northeast #vikings #nehi The #best student event #image company delivering #amazing #instagood #homecoming, #prom, & #graduation #style in #florida. Use #fireflyeventphotography at your #highschool #formal #event and get unlimited photos for everyone. Free downloading of images for 20 years. No credit card needed. #photooftheday #photobooths #props #memories #orlando #miami #stpete #tampa #tampabay #Sarasota #palmbeach #bocaraton #daytona #verobeach contact

A bit jumbled so here is the breakdown of what I am doing:

General topic: #homecoming, #prom, & #graduation #style #highschool #formal #event

Regional topic: #florida #orlando #miami #stpete #tampa #tampabay #Sarasota #palmbeach #bocaraton #daytona #verobeach

Local topic: #northeast #vikings #nehi #fireflyeventphotography

Extras: #amazing #instagood #photooftheday

I combined a few from the tagforlikes site and developed my own formula. It is working out well.


One tag that I discovered the other day was the term “igers” there is a local tag for this.

#igersoftheday has 8 million pics connected to that hashtag.



To increase followers post a ton of this type of content:

  1. Food: IDC (I don’t care) how much you exercise at the gym, food or #foodporn, is attractive. We all desire to eat whatever we want without the consequences.
  2. Tits and Ass: Shocking, I know but there is no way your meme about loving life will out attract a chick that is willing to post her body in the skimpiest outfit possible. These ladies will get easily 1000 followers in a few days from a fresh account.
    1. These type of women are also followed by the fitness girls that are just using the gym selfie to separate themselves from the porn (soft-core) world.
  3. Shoes, Animals, Jewelry, HDR Pics:

The aforementioned three are just for the regular folks…celebrities have a ton of followers but you aren’t them so don’t be shocked that you only have a third of your Facebook friends following you.

Want to easily increase your followers?

  1. Do a local search of users, example “stpete”
  2. Follow everyone related to that search in terms of your personal interest.
  3. Creep their followers and who they follow to increase your follow list.
  4. Like some of their pics and follow. If you are slightly interesting you will get some return follows as some will instantly follow back. #followback

How to organically increase followers?

  1. Use 1-4 above
  2. Like others that have the same interest.
  3. Follow others that are dedicated to the same interest.
  4. Engage by publically contacting them.
  5. Have contact that they will want to follow.
  6. Hashtag properly

Ok this enough for today, my brain hurts. If you have any questions or comments just leave them below. Every Friday until September I will share how the @promphotography and @fireflyeventphotography accounts are going and share tips that will help you increase your Instagram account.

Follow Pierce Brunson on Twitter, IG and Google+.

Pierce Brunson , M.Ed., is a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia, and spends his time working as a mentor and speaker while developing businesses that help improve the high school experience for students and teachers. He has over a decade of experience teaching in the public school system as a high school Social Studies teacher, majoring in World History and Sociology. Pierce believes everyone can do more to help improve the education system in their local communities, which is part of the backbone of any society. Pierce’s advice is simple: stop complaining and do something to help improve the situation. Good people have to stop being afraid to fight for what they believe in. Get in the game, help others, share culture and move the world toward equality and justice. Connect with Pierce at,, and

My Youtube:

Wasting College Years

Chapter 2: High School to Early College

Let’s forget my friend and his amazing “career knowing” at the middle school educational level, and fast forward to high school. To me, good grades only mattered to my parents. As long as I stayed off restriction or avoided the near death experiences of a beat down by my dad, my grades were good enough to me (mind you, in those days it was ok to bust a kid’s ass if they did something wrong). In high school, I continued to play baseball, and as a freshman, I wanted to attend the University of Georgia to continue playing. They had just won the national championship, and one of their players was from a local high school that we played, so I wanted to continue to play baseball. I busted my butt to get better. I worked on my game before there were videos and private coaches that came to your home. Good career move, or so I thought.

Thinking about this moment as it relates to my teaching career, I remember having had many freshmen enter my classes where they would express ideas like this. They had a pretty big dream, but were not ready, or in a position, to achieve any part of it. At least I was on the team and working hard. Many students I have had will say these outlandish dreams and aren’t even in the right solar system to achieve them.

One thing that I was lucky to have in my educational life was the art magnet program. Thank goodness for the Pinellas County Center for the Arts, and the teachers that pushed us to be skilled artists. I was able to spend three hours a day focusing on and producing some sort of project. With the program having real expectations of results, I needed a concentration. I enjoyed the support of a great art teacher that gave me the challenge of throwing 25lbs of clay on the wheel, “because baseball players need strong hands”. Once I became a senior, I focused on ceramics. At that time, I envisioned a life with a house of my own with a wheel and kiln in the back. I still smile at that vision because I have never shared it with anyone. I did envision a small house where I just worked with, and produced, this amazing stuff that people wanted. That vision made me happy, so at least I wanted to do something that made me smile. There was also a problem with that vision. I didn’t want to go to a “nerdy” art school with no real sports teams, so I avoided Art College at all costs. I see that as at least knowing where I didn’t want to go.

Maybe my mistake was thinking things would be different once I got into college. I really thought college would be more challenging. To me, it became an extension of what I didn’t like in high school; more studying and writing papers. I became more lost once I got to the place where I was supposed to find my direction in life. At this Tennessee college, I was one lost soul. If I didn’t say anything in high school, where I knew people, I definitely wasn’t going to say anything to new people, in this new place, where I barely knew anyone. Where were the inspiring teachers that I knew in the high school art program? The “what” I was going to become turned into just-pick-something-panic-time because I still had no idea. Coming from an intense art program, and now not having those teachers that had interest in my educational success left me feeling alone in my decision of what to study. So, looking at what I was good at, I decided to be an art major. Big mistake. I had to start over at the bottom of basic drawing classes after spending three hours a day throwing on the wheel while in high school. I had a great portfolio of my skill, but I had to slum it in lower level classes that paced me into a fog of disinterest. As you probably guessed, art didn’t hold my attention. After the first year, I was packing my stuff and heading back to Florida. One year of college, and I was further away from any knowledge of where I wanted to head in life. Back home, I did what my long lost friends were doing; taking classes at the local junior college. Many of the things I was involved in were hobbies, and my choices lacked any real connection to what I wanted to be in the immediate or near future.

After finishing the AA degree, it was time to head back off to a 4-year university. Well, now it was time again to pick the college of my dreams. You know, the place that is right for you, where you will become something great by entering their educational facilities, taking some classes, and graduating to a fruitful life. Once again, I am still believing that college will be this golden ticket when just two years before it wasn’t. Ah, yeah, not that I missed the memo on what I wanted to do, but I still just didn’t know. So, once again, I was at a major college and still stuck on trying to really know if this choice of major was right for me. I was literally experiencing the same thing where other students were picking from a list of majors to study and I had no clue of what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. At that point I just wanted to know how other people knew that the major they were picking was right for them.

So, after a summer of videotaping my friends, I decided to be a film major and study secondary education. This choice was hardly on the road to personal success and inspiration, but finally I could see a light at the end of the tunnel.


This is a part of a chapter from my book Learning Curve: How to Prepare For Success When You Don’t Know Where Your Life Is Going by Pierce Brunson. Every Monday and Thursday for the next 12 weeks I will share parts of the book starting today 3/17/2014.  The next shares will come from my new book Rock The Crowd (Wednesday/ Friday Schedule starting 4/21/2014), a book that helps teachers give the best performances of their life as they teach their students.

Learning Curve: How To Prepare for Success When You Don’t Know Where Your Life Is Going is dedicated to helping the high school student that desires success in life but doesn’t know exactly what they want to do or how to do it.  During this confusing and stressful time most students just pick a college major or get a job and just hope things work out. Well, that strategy is terrible!  The best strategy includes learning and adding the characteristics in this book to one’s personality so that as the right opportunities come along the student can take hold of them.  Learning Curve is the jumpstart information that helps teens prevent a lifetime of wishing, “if only someone would have told me”, once valuable opportunities have gone away.

Direct Link:

Follow this blog to enjoy more samples from the book.

12 Albums That I Love, Beginning to End

My brother posed this question the other day on Facebook.

The Album Challenge:  Name 12 albums that you can listen to from beginning to end?

My brother’s musical tastes are all over the place but mine are pretty steady.  I hear many things that I enjoy but these albums are ones I would play in the car if I had to go on a long ride. My 12 went like this.

Prince: Love Symbol
LL Cool: J Bigger and Deffer
Gerald Albright: Smooth
Ice Cube: Death Certificate
Tupac: Strictly for my NIGGAZ
Michael Jackson: Off The Wall
Prince: 7
K-Ci & JoJo: Love Always
Big Boi: Sir Lucious Left Foot the Son of Chico Dusty
Beastie Boys: Paul’s Boutique
Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Dr. Dre: The Cronic

Do you have a top 12 to share?

My Short Visit With an Old, Destructive Friend

ill take it from hereToday I visited an old friend from my past.  I decided to visit this person because of all the frustrations that have built up over the last four years where I took on the responsibilities for another person and it burned me.  I should have known that taking on another’s responsibly is never a good thing.  It doesn’t help me or the other person.  It doesn’t help me because I am doing things that don’t help me grow in the ways I need and it doesn’t help the other person because I am taking away their growth experience.

The person I visited I haven’t allowed to an influence in my life in about 7 years.  They were a destructive, but fun part of my life that I had to leave behind to move toward the things I really wanted.  That person is my alter ego.  My alter ego is a dick and just does things to be a dick.  I know they are always there for me when I need someone to be a dick but I don’t allow them in my life, well not until last night.  I have avoided them but in the last few weeks the frustrations have just been too much and “alter ego” has decided to help me teach someone a lesson.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my alter ego.  They help me do other things but I don’t visit them enough to allow them to take over my attitude.  I learned a long time ago that they were destructive and had a mean streak.  Since our last life attitude visit, I have been happier in my life and know my real desires.

I love being a father, husband, writer, entrepreneur, photographer and all around cool person.  Well when old Alter shows up I don’t have the concentration needed to be successful.

I like people in my life that empower me and I have to continue to connect to those people, even if it means giving up those people or alter egos that I like.

I have such a good relationship with Alter that it now asks if I am sure that I want to visit him.  Funny even the most hateful side of me know I am more productive without him in my life.

This morning I learned something more about myself.  I am happy.  I like where I am going but I do need people that can push me and help me improve.  Though I have never had a real life mentor I have been able to get a ton of positive information from books, videos, audio and internet sources.

I also learned that I have to focus on my thing and help others along but not do it for them.  That takes too much energy.

I know what is right for me and even though I had a nice visit again with Alter a few hours ago we both know that our life will be better if we part ways before someone gets hurt.  That someone will be me because the wrong attitude will only help me to miss the opportunities I desire.

My advice to myself.

  1. You found a way! Let others do the same.
  2. Help, but don’t parent adults.
  3. Remember your desires in life.  Don’t let someone get in the way.
  4. Also know that I can be a burden to others. Continue to work on self.