ep32 - How I Grew 10K Followers in a Year

ep32 - How I Grew 10,000 Followers in a Year

show social media social media for creatives social media for entrepreneurs social media marketing Jan 19, 2022

Tina Reale spills all on how she grew her account to over 10,000 follows!

She was part of my 10 Months to 10K Instagram Challenge group in 2021, and it’s been thrilling to watch her account grow authentically and organically.

During this interview, we cover:

  • Listening to your people
  • The power of recycling content
  • Her process for batch-creating reels 



About My Guest:

Tina Reale is, above all else, a follower and servant of Christ. As a devotional writer, Tina seeks to share uplifting words that are rooted in God’s Word. She has a heart to help women grow in their understanding of Scripture, inspiring them to stand firm in their faith no matter the changes of culture or circumstance. Tina lives in the North Georgia Mountains with her husband and two children.

Her first devotional book, Come and See: Pursuing Christ's Presence and the Power of the Gospel in Your Everyday Life releases in January 2022.

Connect with Tina Reale:

Mentioned in this episode:

Watch on Instagram:


Experience this episode in your favorite format

Let’s connect on social

Or, get a new social media trend emailed to you each week!


Megan: Hello and welcome to Megan's Social Media Marketing Show. Today, we are going to be talking with Tina Reale. Who is a delightful person on how she gained 10,000 followers in a year. And I just know this is going to be a powerful interview that you'll want to take notes and listen up. So get out that notebook.

And while you're doing that, let me invite. Tina on 

Hello? How are you doing? 

Tina: I'm great. How are you this week? 

Megan: Good. I am so glad you're here. Thank you so much for being here. 

Tina: Oh, of course. 

Megan: All right, Tina. So tell us a little bit about yourself first and why you're even on Instagram to begin with.

Tina: All right. So I am a mom to two kiddos, 13 and 11. I Live in the north Georgia mountains where we love to like hike to be on the lake, all that type of stuff.

I am a Christian, a follower of Jesus. And earlier in 2021, I've always loved writing. And I actually used to professionally write and like the health and fitness space years ago. And in 2021, I felt convicted to write some of the faith-based stuff that I had been writing personally, or to share with girls I'm into word, things like that, and to write it more publicly.

And so that's kind of. Motivated me to join Instagram. I made the decision to write a book which will be coming out in like two weeks, which is crazy. And yeah, so that's what led me to join Instagram. It was sort of like, okay, yeah, I guess like I write these things, maybe it'd be good to share them, hopefully encourage other people.

And that's what led me to get started. And when I started 11 ish, 12 ish months ago, No idea what I was doing, and that's why I reached out and joined with you Megan.

Megan: Yeah, Tina was a member of my 2021 Instagram challenge group. It was. 10 months to 10,000 followers was the goal of the group. And why?

I should say the goal of the group really was not to get everyone to 10,000 followers, but it was re because that's not realistic for everyone. Right. Yeah, give everybody the tools they needed to grow that community however quickly that happened. And for Tina, that happened very quickly. So that's why I invited her to come on today to talk about really what it's like on the other side.

I mean, we're on this side of the screen, right? We're on the receiving end and we see. What is obviously a curated picture, an image of what we want to put out in the world, but we don't always see what's behind the scenes, what it took to get there, what that person is dealing with, how, how much time they're actually spending what, you know, hurdles that they're, they're limping behind the scenes.

So. Thank you for coming here and telling us about really what it was like in your experience. And I also want to say. Everybody's experience is different. It is absolutely possible for you to grow as quickly as Tina grew. However, that's not everybody's case and not everybody's story. It's sometimes like winning the lottery.

I mean, the algorithm then just like loves you and you ride the wave to, uh, take it wherever it'll take you, but sometimes it's just slow and steady. Adding a few here and there and that's both are okay. And both it really depends on such a complicated set of factors that there's no way that you can even predict how quickly or how fast.

But I think Tina's success is absolutely warranted. Based upon, you know, what she's sharing and how much she is really serving and cultivating her community. So again, thank you for being here. And let's just start by talking about that. Like, I didn't even realize it was so soon that you had joined like very early on in 2021.

What did that look like? 

Tina: When I first started I knew I wanted to approach it well, cause I mean, I can be a little type A, so anything I do, I want to do well and give my very best effort. So I knew I wanted to go in to sharing things on Instagram, with intention and purpose. And so like my heart was always talking about the Bible and like scripture based, encouraging messages.

So I knew that that was my kind of where I would be geared towards. But I didn't really, like people talk about the niches, then niche down. It was kind of like, okay, I know, but it was this wide open thing to share. And and so as I think it helps to just, just start and start writing, start sharing, start putting out whatever content related to what you're doing.

And you'll find like what your passion is and what your like, direction is from there. And I, because like I said, type a, it can be easy to get so caught up in like, what is the ideal thing to do? And just get stuck rather than like, okay, like this, this isn't something that has to be. Formal, like, just have fun with it, engage with it and see where it goes from there.

And I think that helps that I still wanted to do things well, so I would take the time. And that's why I joined your group to learn how to do things well, but not get so caught up in it needing to be a specific way because we're always learning and growing. And that's part of how I think we show up in and serve the communities that we manage to define and create in this space.

It's not being so rigid, which I think can become a mentality, especially with like social media and things. Like I have to do it right. In order to grow. And like you said, there, I genuinely have no idea. Like what, like, I can't say this specific thing helped it's I think it's just like showing up and focusing on like serving community and just being there and being genuine that.

I think has added up to whatever it may be. And I always say like, so God, he brings to people for me to talk to. But but yeah, it's, there's no one way, one thing. 

Megan: Okay, well let's talk a little more brass tacks then. So when you first started, or let's say early in 2021, when we first started out, were you doing the same amounts of posts?

Like, was it the, was it three times a week or five times a week? Or did you have the same variety of stories versus this? Or what have you, like, what did you start out with and how did that evolve? 

Tina: When I started out, I was really deep into writing my book. So I actually posted much less than I do now because I was writing so much for my book.

And so I was posting, I think, three to five times a week. It wasn't like a set schedule, but it generally, generally felt somewhere in that range. I did always share a little devotional messages to my stories that were separate from what I posted on my feed. After a while I had so many people messaging me and my stories saying like, can you make these like regular posts so we can share them?

And I was like, I don't know, because then it'd be, I mean, I'm already writing them, but then it's a little bit more work to create like the canvas picture to put into the feed. But I had so many people asking for those that it was like, okay. And this was, I don't know great at keeping like check and remembering numbers.

But I think it was probably like one or 2000 ish people that were following along at that point. And this was only maybe four or five months ago. So it was a slow and steady growth for a long time. And then when people ask to do that, it's like, okay, people are asking this, I'm going to listen to what.

I'm here for them. And so I started doing that and then people started sharing that and I still wanted an outlet to share some of the other things that I had been sharing, just like random thoughts. And that's when I started doing more reels. And so now I do post twice a day, Monday through Friday.

One of them is the daily devotion that I used to stop sharing justice stories and then other it's reels . They are too fine, which I knew that you know that. 

Megan: Yes. I love your reels. I love it so much. Okay. So some great things I heard in there. One was that you listened to your audience. Simple as that you started just with what you knew how to do and what you were wanted to, right.

So you started with just like, I think this is what encouraged people. I don't do a daily story. And then the people responded to, you said, Hey, I really like these. More or more permanent version of them. So even, and I remember that, I don't remember. I think you either messaged me or you said it in one of our trainings.

You're like, they want this, what do I do? And I was like, well, you know, like listen to them and see what happens. And so I think that was just one. Like you said, not like, absolutely. Like, that was the thing that you can point to, but absolutely helped. And also I feel like helped give you, give you a cadence, right?

Like, you know, you had something to share on stories, but stories are gone after 24 hours and you were really faithful and able to keep that up. So you had to add just one more, like, like you said, it was a little more time, but then. Little more investment ended up exponentially helping you, and I'm sure you worked out whatever it was in the backend.

So you're A type a person. Me too. I was like, I would have to figure out, okay, what's my process going to be for grading these and how many, and what's it gonna look like and all of that. So, you worked through that and then you're reaping the dividends. And then you said you started sharing reels, like at what point did that happen and how, how did that evolve?

What did you see at first? How maybe did you come into that rhythm? 

Tina: With reels, it started off I don't even really remember how I started, but it was a lot harder when I first started coming up with ideas. I think I would try to come up with the idea first and then I would try to scroll and find an audio or something that would go with it.

And it would, it would be more stressful. And I know a lot of people are like, oh, I hate reels. They're stressful. But when I was like, okay, I like the creative outlet side of reels and the sense of humor you can show and things like that. And so I knew I wanted to share, I didn't want every single post. I had to be all just like a bunch of writing because I mean, I love to write, so writing is going to be a key focal point of what I share, but I liked the little anecdotes or just little thoughts that weren't full formed content, and I knew reels would fit with that.

And so finally it got to be where I would just scroll through for ideas and. Things would pop like, oh, I could use that audio here. I'm just going to say that. Or I would, while I was. How about like, oh, that's a little idea of something to share that I know wouldn't be full formed content. And so I would just put it in a note and then we'd come across an audio and it's not like I would spend hours doing this.

I'd say maybe 15 minutes a week. I'll scroll through reels and save audios that I like, and then kind of match them up with ideas I'd had that I'd put down. And so now it, it became more seamless over time where now I'll write on. Captions and record them all in like a couple of hours on Monday or Tuesday.

And so, and then I'd share them through the week. And so that helps. And,again, reels I recycled content. If you share things and you want to like streamline Instagram. Most people, I feel don't read all the captions on reels. And so I recycle so many.

Megan: Reuse the good stuff. Oh my gosh. Like, guess what guys? Literally, all of my December posts were reused posts. Like I did not create anything new. Well, besides I might have made it a new graphic or, you know, like refreshed it or like changed. Like it was a reel, but anyway, I didn't write anything. 

So, I mean, it's, again, listening to your people. Right? Like, that's a different way of listening to them is looking at your stats. FYI. If you don't have a business account, get a business count. Cause we'll have stats. If you don't have business account, but looking in those insights and that's the way they told you, like, they're literally telling you, this is what I like by the things that ranked the highest in both views and all those things, all the engagements.

And then you take that and you tell them again, spin it a different way. Or like you said, when you shared that thing, you had a different amount of followers than you do now. So. Like, like newsflash, not everybody sees all your stuff. So, you know, the chance that they saw it, the first time is slim. And even if they did every single time, they're like, thanks for the reminder.

I've never had someone mad at me for sharing the same message twice. So, have you had that same experience? 

Tina: Yes. I like, I love writing the daily devotionals that I share are probably my favorite content to make, because writing is my passion. And then of course like the scripture based messages. And so that is the main thing I share.

And it's part of just, I'd say my rhythm with Bible study and stuff is I journal out like from reflections of what I read and then just translated into something to a little more formalized to share as writing and the messages that people resonate from. Those there's usually a quote or something.

That'd be like, oh, I love that. And those will be things or like the overall idea of those are often what I pull from to share in like a shorter snippet or more humorous way or something with a reel. So it's the same content, but it's just okay. If you're not going to sit down and read my devotions that are like eight to 10 slides then you get the same material and the same insight, the same encouragement.

I hope from like, you know, an eight to 15 second clip instead. So yeah. 

Megan: Absolutely. So you're getting your message to them both ways. It's just maybe a little deeper in what format than it is in the other. One thing that you mentioned earlier when you were talking about reels is your creation process.

And I'm glad to hear that you've found a way that works really well for you and that you and you can batch create them. Like you can sit down and you have your list of, of audios that are trending or that you'd like, or that will work for you. And you have your list of ideas and you just match them up like awesome.

I'll record an audio and not even know what I'm going to use it for, but I just like, I'm like, eventually I will have an idea of how this fits in or you'll talk about something and you'll be like, oh, there it is. That's where I can use that audio. So it is very much, I love it for that too. Very much creative, but if you're not a creative person, even if you're not one that's.

You know, feel like you can do that. The message that you talked about is like you wrote something, you have things that you're talking about and then just taking a portion of that out and using it in another format, a shorter quote, graphic, for example, or a reel or something else, you know, is lovely.

I know we had a couple of questions on reusing content. How often would you say that you do?

Tina: Most of the stuff that I reuse. Well, when it's something that's like a small quote or idea that comes from the longer form division I'll reuse this sometimes even within the same week, I think last week I had a message that was about like, what to do while waiting and then had a reel, that was the same thing, but it was just like, here's the four things that you can do while you're waiting. And then the other one had the developed thought for each of them. So sometimes I'll do it even then the same week. A lot of times though, I'd say, I'd go back and look at some of the old things I shared and let it like inspire me with an idea.

And so a few months ago and then recycled in, but it. It varies. And it also sometimes varies on how busy I am in a week. And I'm like, oh, I need something that's already like, ready to share. So yeah. 

Megan: Yeah, absolutely. I would say the same thing is that I, if I have a hole, like, I don't know what to share now, it's time for her to reuse content.

That's absolutely. Uh, a great way to use that, or if you're going to have to take a break like I did, I just looked like, okay, what's performed really well, so I can continue to serve my audience well, and not just go dark on them 

thinking about it. 

So your emphasis on like servers. The people and the community and cause, cause to me like, and I shared this yesterday and the story, and I know that you reshared it as well. It's not about the numbers, the followers and all of that. And like, to me, if you focus on that, which I will admit at the beginning, when I first started doing things on Instagram, it was like, ah, like, how am I going to connect with people?

How am I going to find people? And so it became more of like trying to like focus on the numbers, but when I let that go and. At mindset shift. If it's not, it's not about me. Like, I am very committed, convicted that this space is not about me. It's about the community and people coming together around a common interest or need or whatever it may be.

So for me and the people in what I like to call the community that we have three, my space is it's people who want to connect over the word of God and things like that. And so that is. That is what drives it and looking at us community and genuinely engaging with the people, wanting to offer them what they're interested in seeing and taking part in that helps so much.

And it makes it so much more enjoyable instead of like, hi, I have to do these things because like, people are looking at me and it's like, no, like it's, it's about coming together. That's why it's like you say social media and just, yeah. The community aspect, I think is key for. That's great. 

So when would you say, like you saw, like, I mean, you so unsteady at first, like you were saying for probably first, what six months is that fair?

Tina: Probably at least the first six months. Yeah. 

Megan: Slow and steady. And then when would you say was the tipping point where you're like, oh, what's going on? 

Tina: In sometime like early mid-October I had one real go randomly by viral to like 400 or 500,000 views. Which interestingly enough, did not lead that direct reel, I don't think led to a ton of followers, but I don't know if maybe the Instagram algorithm picked it up and it was like, oh, she shares things that people interact with and like to see.

And so then reels after that, it started showing to more, not in here as many as that, but it started regularly showing and then those got more interactions, followers and things like that. And. And so I think just being consistent and kind of, I guess you could say, like riding the wave of like, okay, here's this random surge and just continuing to serve, to show up, to share like the content that you are given to share and staying genuine to who you are and not being like, oh, this thing got a ton of stuff.

So I need to do more exactly like that. It's still do. Like, hopefully it's all within something that you feel passionate to share, but but not getting caught up again in the specifics, but like, okay, like I'm going to keep showing up. I'm going to keep being genuine and sharing what I am passionate about sharing and then trust that it will like, that people will like what they see and what to stay around.

And so.

Yeah, it was October cause I was in Colorado when that reel went viral and I was like, what is happening to me? Cause I got so many comments, quite a few angry comments. So don't always think like a reel exploding or any post exploding is an exciting thing. Cause it's, there's a lot of overwhelm that comes with it to 

Megan: It can be stressful.

All this attention, all of a sudden. Yes, not all good. It's not always there will always be haters no matter what you do, but that just brings like a huge light on it. You know? There are whole yeah. Philosophies on what to do do after you go viral and how to handle the comments and all of that with, but I agree with exactly what you're saying.

Keep serving them what you were, you were there for. And you're meant to sort of, don't be like, oh, well now I'm changing everything because they're not serving anyone well, and it may not be the right for you. So, I commend you for that. We had one question. Let's see. So someone asked, what methods did you use to hone in on the pain points for your audience?

Tina: I don't exactly have this like clear answer for that. This will be a, probably a very, I don't know, esoteric type answer, but genuinely like, all I do is I read my Bible. I take whatever, like truth that I received from what I read that morning and then share it with others. And so. I think that's the truth.

That's in scripture, like it applies to people in so many different ways. And so that's what I share. And I think it always resonates with, with the people that are following along on my page. And so I know that the pain point thing is it is a really good thing, but I, I can't say that I would have a specific method of how I discovered that.

Share the things that I learned and went to offer back to other people.

Megan: No, that's good. 

And I think so here's the thing is that Tina was very fortunate and it was a very gifted Bible study or, and writer in that you translated what it meant to you and you started serving out, but. That like it could have, you could have started doing that and then nobody responded.

Right? So whatever you, whatever method you were doing, whatever you were sharing and in that case, then you might have had to do more work in pinpointing. What is it that I'm not, you know, and had to adjust it. But you hit the nail on the head initially. So great. You know, not just an to, I want to say, like, this is the Tina's first rodeo like this isn't the first time she's ever been on social.

This is the first time she's ever written anything. You know, all of that. So I, she said like she was in the process of writing a book which tell us about the book. Tell us, I don't want to, like before we get off here, I don't want to lose that opportunity. 

Tina: So it's a 90 day division, all that goes one chapter at a time through the four gospels of Matthew, mark, Luke, and John.

And it's like a lot of devotional books and things I found were kind of like, here's a random, inspirational thought, but didn't track along with reading the Bible and scripture. And so that's what I wanted to do. And so I wrote that and it will be officially out January 24th, so very soon. And. It was definitely like, as cliche as it is to say a labor of love.

It was a lot of work, but it I'm, I'm really thrilled to finally like see people that are part of the launch team, getting the book. And if any of you are listening, thank you so much. And just, yeah, I'm excited for it to be out there. And it's basically the same type of stuff that I share through Instagram, but in book format. And I haven't really shared any of the things that are in that book on Instagram. Like a few things here and there, but never before seen. 

Megan: Fantastic. That is fantastic. Now, are you for those of you like writers or book nerds are you, are you self publishing your book or publishing it? That's wonderful. So. Go to go follow Tina right now and go support her. And when it isn't, it's not available yet for 

Tina: yeah. It's it will be available on Amazon, January 24th.

Right now through Friday, I do have available. The link is in my bio to join the launch team for the book. And so you would have access to order the book early if you are part of the lunch scene, but otherwise January 20. Perfect. 

Megan: Okay. Well, Tina, I thank you for coming here and just sharing your experience.

I think it's endlessly fascinating to hear what goes on behind the scenes and how it actually worked for you. Like I said, not everybody's experience. I mean, I would say most people it's very slow and steady throughout. But sometimes, like you said, you, share the right thing at the right time that people need and want to hear, and your being awarded for that.

The algorithm rewards you for that and keeps rewarding you for that. So, Thank you again for coming and sharing. And if anybody who's watching this as interested in the Instagram challenge group, I will I haven't announced like dates or what have you. I will put a link for the waitlist page, if you are interested and you can sign up for this email or on the wait list so that you can be notified when I open it again. But I definitely want to do it again. Cause it was a great experience. And as you heard, kinda it helps a lot of people or helps you get.

Focused in on what was working and how to actually do this whole Instagram thing. Yeah, 

Tina: I can attest that you are extremely helpful as a, as a resource Megan with. I'd say the biggest takeaways for me were learning like how to just different tools for setting up rhythms, with sharing and doing it well.

And your emphasis on like serving your people and knowing what your, like, what your purpose is to share and things like that. And I like that you approach it in that fashion rather than here's all these random, like strategies and hacks and things to do. And it's like, no, like, what is. What is the mission behind what you're doing and let that be your focus.

And here's a way that you can do it without it overwhelming you. Oh 


Megan: We focused on the things you do for, to keep up your account is not necessarily the things you do for growth and every little, every little trend or growth hack that comes out isn't forever. Oh, I'm so glad you got so much out of it.

So, All right. Well, thank you so much. Go to go follow a checkout Tina's account and sign out for her launch team if you're interested. And I hope you have a great rest of your day. 

Tina: Thank you. You too.

Megan: Bye-bye.