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SPI 739: Rapid Growth and Instagram Secrets with Zach Benson

Paying for ads is a fine way to get more followers on Instagram. It’s what Facebook (aka Meta) wants you to do. But what are some of the more organic ways to boost your growth?

In today’s episode, I’m chatting with Zach Benson to find out!

Now and then, I stumble onto creators on platforms I’m still figuring out and wonder how they get so much more traction. What are they doing that I’m not doing?

Zach is a great example of this and the perfect person to learn from! He is the founder of Assistagram, an agency that helps brands build massive audiences on Instagram. He has worked with everybody from Shaquille O’Neal to my friend and frequent guest on the show, John Lee Dumas.

This is a fascinating session and a deep dive into marketing tactics that are rarely talked about. Zach shares his tips for collaborating with and even buying Instagram accounts in your niche, using hashtags the right way, the types of posts to focus on, transitioning your followers into customers, and more.

The old tricks don’t work anymore, so listen to learn about the strategies that do!

Today’s Guest

Zach Benson

Zach is the Founder of Assistagram, a company that empowers influencers and Fortune 500 companies to connect with real followers in their target audience. Dubbed “the influencer’s secret weapon” by Entrepreneur magazine, Zach has helped influencers such as Robert Kiyosaki, Russell Brunson, and more cut through the noise to accrue millions of new followers on Instagram. Throughout his career, Zach has shared stages with powerhouse speakers such as Tony Robbins, Sylvester Stallone, Grant Cardone, Daymond John, and Gary Vee, sharing his expertise on Instagram growth.

You’ll Learn


SPI 739: Rapid Growth and Instagram Secrets with Zach Benson

Zach Benson: Meta, you know, Facebook, Instagram, they want you to spend money, right?

So they want you to run ads, and you can grow that way too. But what I’m teaching right now is more like, semi organic tactics and strategies to help give your Instagram a little boost. And to make it a little bit easier to grow and reach more people.

It’s like a win, win, right? Like, even with all these different hotels that I’m working with, I’ve also traveled the world for free and gotten over like 800 nights at, you know, some of the world’s craziest hotels, right? $30K-$50k a night.

Pat Flynn: Every once in a while, you run into somebody who is on the same platform that you’re on, and you just wonder, how are you able to do that, right? Like, they’re just growing at a much more rapid rate, they seem to be a lot more successful, yet we seem to be going through the same motions. What is the difference?

Well, guess what? Especially if you have an Instagram account, and even if you’re not a lot of the things that we’re going to be talking about today with our guest, Zach Benson from Assistagram. I mean, he opens the treasure trove for us to help us understand more about the kinds of things that a lot of bigger creators are doing, and people on social media are doing that we might not even be thinking about to grow on these platforms. And then of course, grow our brands as a result. And Zach again, over at Assistagram is doing some amazing things and he’s here to just share with us exactly how this goes down. Plus we got a lot of other amazing tips, just as business owner in general.

And he’s got an incredible story. He’s done so much. A world traveler has been on So You Think You Can Dance and has helped many, many people, huge Instagram accounts from very famous people that we all know grow and he’s doing it himself. And he’s going to tell us how to do it today. So let’s not wait any further.

This is Zach Benson, session 739 of the SPI podcast. Here he is.

Announcer: You’re listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network, a show that’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, he’s still thinking about that story to write in a fiction book one day. It’s gonna happen. Pat Flynn.

Pat Flynn: Zach, welcome to the SPI podcast. Thanks for joining me today.

Zach Benson: Hey, Pat. Thanks for having me. Excited to be here.

Pat Flynn: Now you are a world traveler. You’ve been to a ton of different places. If you could snap your fingers and be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?

Zach Benson: Oh, that’s a good question, man. I, I really want to check out Norway.

So I’ve been to over a hundred countries, but I haven’t been to Norway yet. So I love nature. I love hiking or skydiving in Switzerland. Yeah, I love the mountains and stuff, so that would be fun.

Pat Flynn: That is amazing. Did you always grow up kind of into that kind of thing and going outdoors, or was this kind of later in life that that happened?

Zach Benson: Well, I grew up in Iowa, man. You know, so I was actually, I was actually born in Korea and then adopted by my parents and grew up in Iowa, lived there most of my life, went to high school, college there. But I caught the travel bug in 2006 when I was studying abroad in Spain for a semester. And then I started, you know, traveling all over Europe.

And, you know, since then I’ve taught breakdance in 50 countries and now I do social media consulting and trainings all over the world. So now I’m at about 106 countries.

Pat Flynn: That’s wild, man. And we’ll talk about Instagram. I know you help a lot of others with Instagram, including people like Shaquille O’Neal and other big names as well.

And including names that have been here on the show before, like John Lee Dumas and Richie Norton and some of my good friends. So I’m just excited to know how you got from adopted kid in Iowa to social media mogul, like, what’s the story there? How did that all happen?

Zach Benson: I basically fell in love with breakdancing and this guy gave me a breakdance DVD and I started, I fell in love with it and started teaching it all over the world in 2016.

B boy, huh? Yeah, I was b boying around the world. I was on So You Think You Can Dance, didn’t make it all the way, got cut. But the producer was like, go out and make a name for yourself. And you’re good enough to teach it around the world. And so that’s what I did for several years. But in 2016, I actually fell during a performance in India, which ended my dance career.

And I was rushed to the hospital and yeah, it was crazy. And I couldn’t dance again. And basically broke my back. So the same guy who got me into dancing got me into social media. And this was, yeah, the early days of Instagram. And so I invested in like a 400,000 follower account in the comedy space. And we started growing famous people like, you know, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle and all these comedians, right.

With this meme account. And we were growing people’s accounts, thousands of followers per day. And so that’s kind of how I got into it and just built a network.

Pat Flynn: Oh, man. I mean, there’s so many things to uncover there. I mean, that’s a very quick rundown of a, I’m sure, a story full of ups and downs and surprise and discoveries and whatnot.

I have heard the story many times before of somebody going down a path in life. I have my own version of this, but not quite as traumatic to a broken back. But when that happens, I mean, it felt like your dream was to dance. What happens when your dream like that gets taken away? How do you recover from that?

Zach Benson: Well, yeah, to be honest, I didn’t really have a plan B because I was like kind of cocky and confident. I was like, I’m never going to get hurt. And so, yeah, I, I mean, it was just, I was super sad when I became depressed, I became overweight. I didn’t work out and do anything because dance was my life. And to have that taken away from me, I, I didn’t know what to do.

I mean, I had a college degree. I had a personal training certification, but I didn’t really want to do that. And so, teaching was my passion. Breakdancing was what I loved to do. So it was really hard for me. But yeah. Eventually got out of that funk and started, you know, traveling again and found my… Voice, like social media.

Pat Flynn: It sounds like you weren’t able to do that on your own, that you had some outside influence during your coverage stage and your rediscovery stage. Who was that person or who were those people who helped you out of that funk and find yourself?

Zach Benson: Yeah, I mean it was really the same guy, like one of my best friends growing up in, you know, Iowa and went to high school with him and the kid that got me into dancing, instagram. Like, man, you, I know you’re depressed, but listen, like you got to snap out of it. Right. Like me and my brother are making a ton of money and doing a lot of cool things on Instagram. Like you got to get in on this. And so that’s when I was just like, okay, like, this time is now, you know, this, this opportunity could be gotten in a second.

So it’s going to jump in and go all out and see what happens. So it was really just that same print and I don’t think it’s too much. I just act and I do when I decided to do things. So it was kind of like, it’s my style. So it worked out, you know.

Pat Flynn: Kind of like break dancing, right? Like if you think too much.

About your next move, like, things don’t flow very well. Versus, you kind of just kind of get in the motion and let things flow. I used to pretend to be a b boy. I remember in elementary school, like, the cool kids had the shaved heads, but, like, the bangs were very long, and they were wearing the JNCO jeans, and they were bringing their boomboxes to school, and there was, like, you know, the sporty people were playing basketball, the other people were on the playground playing foursquare, and there was a group of us who were in the grass doing like daisy kicks and just trying to figure out like what we were doing, you know, coffee grinders and like, all the basic stuff. And I was never good enough to do any of that stuff. I’ve always wanted to do a flare that was like my life goal back then. I was like, I need to do a flare.

And then I was just, I just, I had no confidence and I, I later in life found confidence, but I still have yet to do a flare. So maybe that’s a bucket item list down the road from me, but. Enough about me. I want to know about this Instagram thing. So back then, what was working on Instagram and, and how are you growing channels back then?

We’ll get to now very soon, but I want to know what it was like when you started picking it up and how you discovered what was powerful about that platform.

Zach Benson: I kind of got into like 2015, like 16 ish, but really started to go on like all out in 2016. But I mean, back then, like, you could simply post and grow, right, like hundreds of followers per day.

Pat Flynn: Like, yeah. Those were the good old days.

Zach Benson: Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, we still had our own, like, system where we did like, you know, giveaways and shout outs to on these pages that had millions of followers to grow people’s accounts. Right. We just. Paired them up with the same niche and same types of followers, and that’s how we grew accounts, right?

It was through shoutouts and giveaways. And then you have the automation, right? Follow unfollow technique and all these different methods that people use to like follow people and unfollow them. And you could grow thousands of followers per day, just doing that method. But nowadays Instagram’s algorithms are too smart.

So none of that stuff really works anymore.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. I mean, we’ve seen changes in algorithms across all the different platforms. I mean, Facebook probably being the most prevalent, but even search engine optimization on Google and other things, I mean, times have changed. So let’s fast forward to today. You obviously have this agency, Assistagram, I think it’s called, which I think is amazing.

And how are you helping people, clients, and how can you help people like us who are on Instagram, but just kind of seeing very slow growth. I personally have seen very slow growth. I’d love some tips from an expert like yourself on, you know, what is working today? And it’s hard because we hear tips from a lot of quote unquote experts.

It’s like, Oh, make carousel posts. And it’s like, that’s it. That’s all I have to do. And obviously there’s a lot more to that, but I mean, maybe that’s a part of it. I’d love to hear from your perspective, Zach, like what’s, what’s the approach that we should be taking on a platform like Instagram today?

Zach Benson: It is really about content.

Cause with great content comes growth. But like the thing is this. If you work really hard on creating that content, it’s still like, a lot of the time for a normal person, it’s not gonna be seen by anybody, right? It’s not gonna help you get, get followers all the time. I mean, not everyone is like a unicorn, like, like one of my friends, and, and, of clients like @DevonRodriguezArt, right? He three years ago. He had 10, 000 followers on Instagram wasn’t on TikTok Fast forward today. He’s got over 60 million followers, right? He’s a guy that draws people’s on the subway in New York And oh, yeah, wow gives them like hands them their portrait. He’s a good buddy It he’s awesome, but not everybody can go super viral like that, right?

So for people that are just starting out like I think the best way to grow nowadays is to create your own network. So, whether it’s on Instagram or LinkedIn, right? Like you see these engagement groups where people are liking and commenting and shouting each other out several times throughout the day, right?

So you have to get into these pods and if you get enough likes and comments in a certain window of time, right? Like, let’s say 10 to, you know, 15 minutes after you post. Like it’s going to still kind of hit the algorithms on social media and help boost you to the top and reach more people. So that’s kind of like a semi organic tactic and strategy that helps you get more reach. But really the only way to grow nowadays on instagram is through shout outs and giveaways and partnering up with other celebrities and influencers and paying them for shout outs and to promote to their audience, right? That’s it’s just really hard.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. I mean, collaborations have always worked, but when you can collab with a celebrity who has a lot of influence, that’s even better, but usually it comes with a price, right? So should everybody be doing celebrity brand collaborations and, and, or, should we wait to a certain point before we go and do that?

Like, do we, or should we have something that we know we’re going to drive people to, to eventually generate revenue? Or is it just a game of we need as many followers as we can get? And how do you know? If you’re getting the right followers as well, I’m curious. I hope you don’t mind me kind of poking at this a little bit.

Zach Benson: Yeah. Yeah. They know these are all good questions. Like what I really recommend for people to do, like if you’re just starting now, or if you’ve been in the game, like for a while is I recommend buying like a feeder account, right? Like a hub page. So let’s say, you know, Pat, like you’re into like Pokemon and food and travel, right?

So let’s say that maybe like you or your wife, like you guys got a big foodie account or a big, you know, posting about all the best restaurants and the best foods all around the world. So if that’s kind of like one of your mean, like passions and something that you really love to do, I would try to find like a foodie page.

That’s just reposting, you know, the best, like, the best craziest, coolest foods and restaurants all around the world using that page to get into what’s called these engagement groups with other food bloggers. And because that, that account has thousands and tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of followers in it, you’ll get into some really high quality engagement groups with other people that are posting about food.

And you can use that Repost Foodie account to grow your personal brand or to grow, you know, the page that you’re trying to grow, right? So you can find those pages for a few hundred bucks, right? Like to, I mean, depending on how many followers, you know, the engagement, like you can find something for a few hundred bucks to a couple thousand bucks and use that to speed and accelerate up your growth.

Pat Flynn: So are you paying the owner of that page to essentially promote and post or send people to your way? Or are you, or are you like buying that page from somebody else?

Zach Benson: Yeah, I do both. Right. And so if it works and like if I pay him for a shout out in 24 hours, you know, I didn’t see it. I’m seeing more engagement.

And seeing some good results, like I, I test them out a little bit more. And then if it’s a good quality page, I make that person an offer and I just acquire it and own it a hundred percent outright. And then I have like a new Instagram asset that I can use to grow and feed my other page pages that I want to grow.

So that’s crazy. That’s kind of like a growth hack.

Pat Flynn: Right. Yeah, I mean, that makes sense. I mean, it’s, it’s similar to, you know, acquiring businesses to help the business you already have. It’s just a social media account. What kind of due diligence are you doing when you do that? Or is it just I mean, I don’t even know where to begin as far as like, how do you make sure it’s legit?

And, and, and, you know, what are the things to look out for? Are there any red flags you have to worry about when you do something like that?

Zach Benson: Yeah, see, like we don’t really use any kind of tools or anything like third party, like we just ask them for the straight up for the insights and demographics and you know, they share those.

So that’s just like Instagram’s internal thing that they use for accounts. We’re just looking for high quality, you know, tier one countries. So normally I, I want people from, you know, like English speaking countries cause I post in English. So for me, like I want that. And then I want people, you know, in US, Canada, I see like how many percentage wise, like how many followers are from there.

I see like the impressions and engagement on like the reels and the posts and I’m looking at all that stuff, right? So the better the account and the engagement is more money I’m going to offer that person, but I also know because I’m an Instagram, like kind of guru master, I know how to flip an active page and make it go viral again.

Pat Flynn: That makes sense. And I think looking at the engagement of that page is obviously important. Cause there’s a lot of people who might have millions of subscribers or followers on those pages, but then very little engagement. That’s kind of, you kind of want to avoid those, right?

Zach Benson: Yeah, yeah, exactly. So like you said, it’s just kind of like buying into a business or investing into it, if you know what you’re doing, or if you have the right people in the network to market it and get it out there, it could be very possible and very good deal for you.

Pat Flynn: If you don’t mind me asking, and I’m sure it’s different, maybe across different niches, but what would one expect to pay for a page that has, let’s just say like 10,000, let’s just say 10,000 followers on a page in my niche. And I think that’s important to you, right? You like, you don’t want to just get any random page.

You want to get one that’s in alignment with the niche you’re in. It sounds like, like the foodie to foodie thing. But if I was to find a page that was, you know, reposting stuff and it was at 10,000 followers, it had really good engagement. Like what, where would I even begin to offer, like, is it, is it you know, $500 or is it literally like tens of thousands of dollars?

I’m, I’m curious to know what’s maybe average.

Zach Benson: So I would say for that account, $500 to a thousand max, maybe it’s 1500, but like the really big ones that are like 500,000 followers to main, those can go for, you know, 30, $50,000. Oh, wow. Minimum.

Pat Flynn: And that’s to acquire it, right?

Zach Benson: Yes. Because they’re making passive income like, by some doing promos and sponsorships and collaborating with brands. So they’re basically paying them. Like, for example, we have an account like luxury hotels like best hotels all the hotels in the world want to be on best hotels. And so they’re paying us every single month to post about them. Basically, that’s what the page is about.

And we’re just giving, you know, using other people’s content that they’ve already created and just charging them to post on that page because we have the name in that account. And so that’s how, one of the ways that we’re monetizing it.

Pat Flynn: That’s wild. How many followers does that particular account have?

Zach Benson: Oh, so that one’s like, you know, around 250, 000 followers. Really good name, but we have pages that are millions of followers. It’s kind of a good way to get your foot in the door. You’re buying into a network. Yeah. And then you have somebody that’s already running it successfully.

Pat Flynn: So let’s just say I acquire a 10,000 follower foodie blog, right?

For 1500, let’s just say, am I now responsible for doing everything? And like, how do I go about making sure that that page continues to not just stay active, but grow right the I’m buying that person out there. They’re kind of done with it, right? They’re not posting on it anymore It’s now my responsibility to do that And how do I make sure I stay on top of things because I can imagine a person going wow, this sounds great I’m gonna buy, you know, 20 different accounts and then now there’s 20 accounts that are dead because they’re they’re just they don’t know what to do or they don’t know how much they have to post like what?

Let’s say I buy that foodie blog Instagram. Like what are my next steps from there?

Zach Benson: Right. So I usually like in the beginning, like this is what I did right when I first started out on Instagram and I didn’t have millions of followers in a big network is I like reach out to these big pages. I go on to like the top trending hashtags and find the accounts that were at the top posts and I’d reach out to them and make an offer and then, you know, buy the account, but then I’d also have them teach me their secrets or have them continue managing the account for me. So would you pay them? Yeah, you could pay the person that you bought the account from to keep managing it for you or it could keep teach you all of the tips and secrets that he or she’s been doing to grow the account and to source the content and get into all the engagement groups and how to find the right hashtags and how to do all the things that you need to do on a daily basis and then have them, you know, make a game plan and then get a VA to do it.

I mean, that’s just one way, but you know, these are kids, these normally like these, they’re like 18, 19 years old, so they want to just make some, you know, extra money. So to pay them, you know, 500 bucks and then to give them a monthly retainer is pretty cool.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, I mean, on one hand, I can hear the audience’s voice right now going, man, this, this sounds a little fishy, right?

It’s like, it’s almost like back in the day, a lot of people used to create blog networks in order to sort of gamify Google and try to get number one rankings. And this is a little bit different because it’s social media. But at the same time, it’s like, you’re acquiring these properties to then increase exposure for the one main property that you have, or perhaps use it as a passive income source to collect other income from different sources who want to be on that same page.

But at the same time, it’s almost like a business that exists that may be, you know, getting a lot of views or is pretty popular, but it’s not being necessarily run by somebody who knows business or has affiliate relationships or is able to take it to the next level. And if you were to acquire it, maybe you could take it to that next level and to connect it with the brand that you have and a network that you have.

I mean, I can definitely see this being kind of a win for everybody, right? Like, especially if it’s like a kid, it’s like, wow, what a payday and what a thing he’s created. And he can, he or she can use that money for something else or, you know, they start working for you. Or my, my, my, like that, my mind is blown, but it kind of is because I think we all knew this kind of stuff was happening, but to hear it and to hear it presented in this way, it’s just really interesting, Zach. Like, do you get any pushback for how you do what you do? I mean, I don’t think it’s illegal. It’s not anything like that at all. It’s even more white hat, if you want to call it, versus what I once used to teach on the blog, which was these backlinking strategies and stuff.

So, you know, I, I can’t hate on it, but do you ever get any pushback for, for sort of this kind of growth? Because I feel like on Instagram specifically, people believe that it’s just like, no, you just have to post and hope that you go viral. And that’s it.

Zach Benson: Yeah. That’s the problem now. I mean, it’s just become so hard and difficult, like Meta, you know, Facebook, Instagram, they want you to spend money, right?

So they want you to run ads and you can grow that way too. If you want to put the money. And, but I’m, what I’m teaching right now is more like, yeah, just kind of like semi organic tactics and strategies to help give your Instagram a little boost. And to make it a little bit easier to grow and reach more people.

So, you know, I see it as more just like it’s like a win, win, right? Like, you know, even with like all these different hotels that I’m working with. And I’ve like, I’ve also traveled the world for free and gotten over like 800 nights at, you know, some of the world’s like craziest hotels, right? 30, 50, 000 a night.

Pat Flynn: I got to get a hotel Instagram account now. Yes. I mean, that’s wild, man.

Zach Benson: It’s just really creating. Win win, right? It’s like you’re giving them the hotel exposure. You’re creating really good content for them. And instead of paying 30, 000 to 50, 000 a night to stay there, right, you’re really like leveraging and using your account’s audience to give this hotel more exposure, to reach more audiences and people, and to potentially get them more customers.

And that’s what’s gotten me like, you know, in touch with the Ferragamo’s family, like got them as clients, like all these famous wine families and hospitality groups, like they all want to just reach more people and on social media. So it’s actually been a really good thing and a positive thing for me and a lot of people.

I think it’s, it’s, yeah, just help people like open their minds to a whole new world, right? A whole new marketing. Yeah. And, and way to lead generation.

Pat Flynn: I mean, it’s opening my mind for sure. It’s also making me wonder if I should invest in a a really popular fishing Instagram account so I can get free access to all the lakes and boats that I want.

Zach Benson: Maybe. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s, that’s the way to look at it. Right. Like, I mean, definitely they’ll, they’ll want to host you. Right. But it’s also created some awesome like relationships. Cause once you go there and you help that person, you help that hotel, right. Like they want to stay in touch. So it’s, it’s, it’s been pretty cool.

Pat Flynn: It’s cool. I can see that you’re doing this for the right reasons. And, you know, it seems very powerful and obviously with great power, as we often say, and we know, comes great responsibility. So don’t abuse this power, if you will. And I love how you’ve taken this to the level of like, you know, this is a win for everybody.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to maybe go back a few exits and get off at the point at which, you know, a lot of my listeners are at, which is, okay, we have accounts on Instagram, but they’re growing slowly and maybe we can’t necessarily afford or, or just, we’re not quite at that point yet where we can purchase another account or, or what have you, how do we increase engagement?

I mean, this is something that you obviously want to do when you acquire another account. What are the things that you do to take an Instagram account from where it’s at to just more lively and, and just more life, if you will.

Zach Benson: Yeah. So what we’re finding that works best now, like for like hashtags, for example, hashtag research, you want to use like between like five to seven hashtags on your post with, you know, smaller number of posts on them.

Right. So you don’t want to use the biggest hashtags that have millions and millions of posts on them, because if you use them in your account, you probably won’t get that post won’t be seen because it’s going to be drowned out. Because all the people that are hitting the top post for that hashtag that has millions of posts on it have probably millions of followers and really high engagement.

So when you’re doing the hashtag research, try to find posts that have maybe between 10K to 50K posts on them, 50 to 100, 000 posts on them. And in between those ranges and use, yeah, 5 to 10 hashtags is kind of like the sweet spot. So let’s not like more is better. Sometimes less is better, you know, and so that’s what the hashtags and then I still recommend getting an engagement group.

So even if you have like 20 bucks or 50 bucks that you want to toss towards getting into some high quality engagement groups, reach out to accounts that have like, you know, a bigger following than you and ask them and pay them to gain access into their networks. Right? So then you’re getting into these like in these comment pods, which will help you get more reach and engagement on your post.

Because these are the two main ways. I mean, everybody’s like getting more engagement and it still works on like LinkedIn and you know, all the platforms, right? Using the engagement groups. So you, you really need those two things to write hashtag research.

Pat Flynn: So when you get. Into an engagement group, essentially, I would imagine that you would be then required to engage on other people’s posts, sort of like in exchange for them also engaging with your posts when they come out and, and how structured is the format of this?

Is it like, do I get a message that says like, okay guys, in five minutes, I’m going live. Or I’m going to post in five minutes, like, please like, and after you like it, take a screenshot so you can prove it or else you’re out of the group. Like, does it get to that level or is it just kind of honor system that will like, how does everyone keep track of what they’re supposed to do?

Zach Benson: Yeah, yeah, yeah. They do have like managers and people like watching, you know, making sure everybody’s yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, like the really big ones, big groups, but basically what you do is once you post, you just drop that URL link to your post and inside the engagement group. It’s so all goes down in the DMs.

Yeah, and then once you say hey, posted, everybody likes and comments on each other’s posts throughout the day I mean, we’re in you know, hundreds of groups, but we have people that are doing this like whole time just manually leaving genuine comments, at least, best as we can, and replying to all the comments as well.

So Instagram loves, like, activity, and so the more that you’re on it, spending, doing hundreds, thousands of menu actions every single day, using all the different features, I mean, they reward you, and they see that, so they give you, you know, growth and engagement rewards. The more that you’re on it, using the stories and the lives.

Pat Flynn: There’s a line here, right? Cause you could pay somebody to comment immediately and not in a group of peers, but rather I know there are services out there that will guarantee a number of people commenting and guarantee, you know, likes and those kinds of things and that’s not what we’re talking about here. Right, we’re not talking about the bots or anything like that.

And that’s that that should be avoided, right? We we want it to be like you say semi organic where it isn’t a pod it is sort of In a way manufactured, but it’s, it’s still genuine and like you said, you want to still comment thoughtfully and watch the person’s posts and, and, and all that sort of stuff, right?

Zach Benson: Yeah, a hundred percent. So it’s all like real human being doing this because Instagram doesn’t like robots, right? They don’t like robotic activity. So if you do that, your account is going to get compromised and shut down, maybe.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, I mean, play at your own risk, obviously, and even in this regard, I mean, you want to make sure you’re in a group that is legit.

I know from my own personal experience that Facebook and Meta, Instagram, are, you know, once you lose an account, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to get it back. So, so, you know. Be careful, but I mean, what’s to say, zach, if a group doesn’t exist, or you know, maybe we don’t want to pay for one, or we can’t find one, can you just create your own with your own peer group and your own network that you already have?

Is that, is that a possibility?

Zach Benson: Yeah, yeah. So I recommend doing that too. Reaching out to your other friends and friends on Instagram and creating your own engagement groups. You can put like yourself and 14 other people inside the group, in one group. So try to create as many groups as you can, because the more groups you’re in and the more engagement that you receive, I would post the better, like the better results you’re going to get. I do recommend creating your own groups, trying to pay to get inside some higher quality groups. If you can, saving up and buying an account because that’s just going to take time off your like Instagram learning curve when you can simply buy an account doing really well and then learning from someone like that or like buying into a network, right? It’s it’s valuable It’s just like a mastermind.

Pat Flynn: That’s really cool a couple final questions here Zack and again. Thank you for taking the time I know you’re on the other side of the world right now and it for me is 11 p. m. So we’re doing this late at night for me, but I’m I’m having a great time I’m learning a ton and I’m sure others are even more curious about everything that’s going on here. I’m curious about Are we talking about creating posts that are like post posts, photos and photo carousels and those kinds of things?

Or where does Reels fit into this? Do you prefer one over the other or is it a completely different strategy there? Can you enlighten me on that a little bit?

Zach Benson: The main thing that we’re focusing on now are like reels, right? Like even just like a few months ago, like Facebook reels taken off as well. So I mean, that’s where people are getting the most like growth and reach is with reels.

And so we’re trying to post, yeah, I mean almost every day, like minimum, right? Like you want to do three to five times. It’s a week. If you can post more two to four times a day is better to get more growth. Now with stories, if you want to get more reach, like we’re recommending only posting like maybe two to three stories max a day. That’s that’s working best.

Pat Flynn: And then. Finally, in terms of let’s say a client comes to you, Zach, and they’re like, hey, okay, let’s do this thing. We’re going to get more reach, but I want it to have an ROI. I want to grow my email list or grow my business from the growth that will occur as a result of the strategies that we’re doing here.

What’s your best practice for taking it from exposure to, you know, engagement inside of a business. What, what, what do you recommend? Is it a Instagram to email list to product play? Is it a Instagram to free webinar to sale kind of thing? What are you seeing is working right now for actually making sales for a product that you might have?

Zach Benson: So you got to do some cool giveaway. What you guys should do is this. Most people love to do like enter into travel giveaways. So like winning like three nights at a five star hotel in the Nalges or something like that. Reach out to a big travel page on Instagram. Ask them how much they cost to do a 24 hour promo or shout out on their page.

Right. Maybe they’ll charge you 50 bucks or a hundred bucks or a couple hundred bucks. Leverage that page right that in the travel space that has maybe a few hundred thousand followers or 500,000 followers reach out to a hotel and say, Hey, like I have a friend. And the travel space, this is the page, you know, 500,000 followers strong, like in exchange for a post on this page, promoting your hotel, would you guys be keen in doing a two night giveaway at your hotel for a random person that we can do a contest on these pages, core and tag you and give you more exposure.

And so then you’re only paying like a hundred bucks or something to leverage somebody else’s page and then get the winner has to do this, this, and that, right? Every contest has some rules and maybe the rule is it’s your call to action. Whatever that’s one you want to do to grow your email list, to buy your book, to buy your products, your course, whatever they have to do these things.

to Be entered into the contest and then, you know, I, I feel like that’s the best way, right? Like just creating a bunch of buzz and like viral, like noise is partnering up with someone like that and doing like a crazy giveaway like that because it gets a lot of people interested in, they want to do those things, the steps to potentially win the prize.

Pat Flynn: For the steps, is it like follow the account, tag three people, like, like what, what are those three steps that you’re often kind of sharing in that?

Zach Benson: Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. So like, yes, I mean, step number one, these are just, you know, normal, like the normal steps could be different for everyone. But follow my page, follow the hotel page, you know, travel page.

So you’ll get more followers. Everyone’s gonna get more followers. Yeah, like you could say, hey, like opt into my, my newsletter, right? You could say, tag three friends, the more people that you tag, the more like entries you’ll get, right? But you have to show proof of that. Yeah. And DM, right? So there’s, there’s a lot of ways to do it, but usually that gets a lot of people, like, excited. Not only would the winner get a free hotel stay, but then you can negotiate with the hotel to get a free hotel stay for yourself.

Pat Flynn: In exchange for all that exposure that you’ve, you’ve just given them. Leveraging the other page as well. Yeah. So let’s say I have a, I have an Instagram.

I run the contest on my page, and then I pay another page to promote the contest that’s on my page, or is the contest being run on, on the other page?

Zach Benson: You can run it on both your pages, right? It’s kind of do a collaboration.

Pat Flynn: Got it. And then as far as like selecting the winner, is that just like a random name picker kind of thing?

Or are there any tools for, for that in particular?

Zach Benson: Yeah. I mean, we, we normally just do it like pretty like random. There are some tools to do it, but we keep it pretty simple and just. Randomly choose a person.

Pat Flynn: And then finally, cause I have seen a lot of contests run in the Pokemon space, in fact, and what happens when some of these creators do contests similar to what we just talked about, you’ll see like these fake accounts get put up that almost mimic the same name as the creator or the company and they start dm’ing all the people who entered and saying like you won. And and you know, they’re trying to run some some scam or something, is there any do you have any tips for for how to protect not just yourself? But you know the entries or the people who enter the contest to make sure they don’t get scammed in in In that kind of way.

Zach Benson: So I mean nowadays like that’s why I like, you know, Meta, you know created the Meta like verified subscription. So, and kind of like kind of prevent that stuff, but I mean just like anything you got to be like you got to be super careful because I mean still people are like doing all this like phishing and these DMS and these weird like scams right like pretending to be meta or you know, you know Facebook or Instagram and then asking you for all this stuff and then getting access to your account. And that’s how a lot of people get hacked. Yeah, you just got to kind of do your due diligence and be smart about it and know that like, okay, these are the real accounts.

Receive a message from one of these accounts. We ask you to follow. Nobody else.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, that’s good. Just educate your audience kind of along the way. That’s smart. Dude, I could keep talking to you for hours about this and I wish we could talk longer about just how interesting your story is and all the travels that you do.

But we’ll save that for another time. But Zach, thank you so much for today and your time. I really appreciate it. If you want to point people toward something to learn more from you, where would you point them to?

Zach Benson: If you guys need any help with Instagram or social media, you guys can check out our website, and you can follow me on Instagram at @ZachVacay. If you have any more questions, happy to just answer any questions that you have. So reach me there.

Pat Flynn: Thanks my man. I appreciate you and thanks for all the fun insider view of how this works on Instagram. Much appreciated.

Zach Benson: Yeah. Thank you.

Pat Flynn: Wow. I hope you enjoyed that interview with Zach Benson.

Again, you can find him and his company at Assistagram. He’s over on Instagram at @ZachVacay, one of his many accounts, but he has a lot going on and you can see just the kind of caliber of people that he’s surrounding himself with and the kinds of travels that he has. And just, it’s a really great account.

Definitely recommend you check it out. So hope you enjoyed that a little insider information, if you will. with regards to Instagram growth and brand growth and these networks and things that happen. I mean, again, with great power comes great responsibility. And hopefully you take this information and use it responsibly to help and serve others.

So I want to wish you all the best. Thank you so much. Thank you to Zach. And if you want to check out more, you can find them at And of course, all the show notes and links and everything that was mentioned in this episode today. You can find it at smartpassiveincome/session739. Cheers, thanks so much and I look forward to serving you in the next episode. Have a good one.

Thank you so much for listening to the Smart Passive Income podcast at I’m your host, Pat Flynn. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. Our senior producer is David Grabowski, and our executive producer is Matt Gartland. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media, and a proud member of the Entrepreneur Podcast Network. Catch you next week!

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