The power of the influencer: Instagram content study

Throughout my professional career, I have content created and strategised in the digital social media space and am well versed in using ‘influencer’ engagement strategies to push business interests on a public level; with great success.

In saying that, I recently learned the power of the influencer on a personal level.

I am a huge fan of current UFC bantamweight champion, recent ESPY award winner and all-round bad ass MMA fighter Ronda ‘Rowdy’ Rousey. I asked a friend of mine holidaying in LA to visit her favoured training centre Glendale Fighting Club (GFC) to purchase some official club merchandise for me.


My friend obliged and whilst at the club, mentioned to staff members that she was there to pick up some clothing for a friend who was a Rousey fan. It so happened that Ronda was training that day and my friend was able to get a photo with her for the friend that would “die to be here right now” aka ME! Due to the LA/Sydney time difference I woke up pulsing with envy as I received an image through Whatsapp! Now, I’m sure my friend was convinced she was doing me a favour, but if there was ever a need to trade places, this was it! 😛

“OMG!” I said. “I knew you’d meet her! She’s training for an upcoming fight.”

She told Ronda that she was there for a friend who was a mega fan so RR gifted me with an official Reebok Rowdy Ronda beanie.

Ronda knows I exist!

I figured I’d ‘gram the photo to make sure that Ronda knew that I knew what I knew…okay…Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 11.49.22 pm

I posted the image up, used relevant hashtags and tagged @RondaRousey in it to gain maximum effect. Initially I received engagement from friends as normal until Rousey herself, liked the image! Woohoo! We have contact! This double tap set off a chain of Instagram algorithm events that I can only assume pushed the image straight to the ‘explore’ page; I say assume because IG no longer notifies users if they’ve reached the explore page.

The image eventually gathered such momentum that it received upwards of 700 likes and some page follows; unheard of for my little personal page.

Career experience with online communities allows me to conclude that if my profile added value to the Rousey/UFC/MMA community, the number of follows would have been greater. E.g. If I was a fighter myself, fans would be more inclined to follow my IG journey as it would provide common interest for the user.

The explore algorithm is set up in such a way that if your image makes it to the explore page, it projects to a community of people with similar interests. This increases the chance of interaction with the content.

Instagram’s actual explore page explanation:

We’re always working to update the types of photos and videos you see in Search & Explore to better tailor it to you. For example, we may show you photos liked by people whose posts you’ve liked or posts that are liked by a large number of people in the Instagram community.

The Ronda post received a high number of engagement because of a few simple factors:

  • Ronda liked the post
  • Relevant hashtags
  • Tagging Ronda
  • Engaging content
  • Timeliness – she has a fight coming up

IMG_6804 IMG_6834


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