How to Grow Your Instagram Presence Organically (By Peixian from A Grief Affair)

Instagram is saturated, with over a billion active users presently. If you’re starting an Instagram account in 2020, you will need a very keen social media strategy, or already have a strong influential clout, to be able to grow it successfully.

One of the biggest hurdles on Instagram today is cultivating an organic presence. It’s almost like you need to be able to pay your way through the system in order to get more attention and engagement. But I have learned recently that there is still a way to grow organically. It might be a little slower than the paid method, but it still works nonetheless. I say it is possible, thanks to my friend Peixian who runs A Grief Affair!


Peixian is one of the wittiest, most original and thoughtful content creators I know. Since the day I got to know her, I’d always admired her sense of humour and ability to dish out a great pun in any situation.

Just last year, she decided to create her own grief education account. This was after experiencing the loss of three loved ones within a span of four months – so hard. This tragic experience made her realise how so little people know how to talk about grief or provide the right kind of support for those who had lost a loved one. “Sometimes, intentions get misinterpreted by both parties, and relationships get tainted because of grief.” She wanted to find a way to bridge the gap.

Furthermore, coming from an Asian culture where most people keep mum about their feelings or simply “get busy” just to get through pain, she felt it was a more crucial time than ever to start talking about what is usually a taboo subject in our society.

Beyond just an authentic desire to start a great initiative, she was able to put in the work to grow the awareness of the account. Today, A Grief Affair has generated over 500 followers in its 7th month of existence! Objectively, this is doing far better than a lot of brand accounts that I know have been around for over 3 to 4 years.

I decided to get her to share her practices with managing this account. Read on and pick up a tip or two from her!

Begin with a Vision.

Most of AGA’s followers are presently from the West, but Peixian’s ultimate goal is to create educational content about grief for Singaporeans. “The wakes we attend are so much more different; the Asian culture also impacts the grieving process differently. Even our relationships with our parents are different – and this is a factor!” As such, this determines the direction that her content will ultimately take. Whenever creating content, she has a long-term vision that keeps her anchored. It also determines the hashtags that she sources and uses.

Finding New Ideas and Directions for Content.

1. Look up similar content.

This is where all that surfing on Instagram could be of value.

“There are quite a lot of grief accounts on Instagram. So I browse related hashtags, as well as the accounts I already follow (some favourites: @modernloss, @lifedeathwhat, @morganharpernichols).”

Be sure to use that bookmark button to save all your favourite inspiration!

Peixian does a lot of reading as well, so some of her material comes from the articles and books she reads. However, if reading is not your thing, explore a podast or video!

While we are at it, she shares some of her favourite reading material about the topic! Check them out if you know you need some education on this topic.

Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death and Surviving by Julia Samuel.
Modern Loss: Candid Conversations about Grief. Beginners Welcome. By Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner.

2. Tap into your personal experiences.

“It is fairly important (to relate to personal experiences) because people want to hear from someone who went through something that they can relate to. I don’t go with a ‘diary style’ narrative, but I still inject personal bits of my journey into my content.”

The secret to organic growth…

… Is really not rocket science. After hearing how Peixian does it, I concluded that it really boils down to two things – consistency and intentionality.

1. Consistency

“I aim to post at least two to three times per week. I plan ahead using a simple google sheet content calendar, and make sure to think of content at least one or two weeks in advance so I have some buffer time.”

Need a template content calendar? We’ve created one for you! Access it here.

2. Intentionality

“I think it’s about taking the effort to interact with other related accounts. Follow them, and like their content. I put myself in the shoes of another content creator – what do I want other people to do for my posts? I want them to read my stuff, like, comment, and share… so I do the same for them. I believe people notice when you put yourself out there and make an effort.”

I parallel this to a real life example. If you are showing up regularly, and allowing yourself to engage in conversations and activities, you are putting yourself in a position to grow relationships. People notice you, and they have a chance to relate to you. At the same time, people can tell when you are sincere. When you are out there relating to people with your common interests, and responding actively, you attract authentic relationships.

It’s cool how creating relationships on social media is not any much different from real life, hey?

How to get people to read the caption?

An age-old question for anyone who appreciates a good read! Peixian draws people in with a hook.

“I think people read if you have a really interesting first liner. So I try to do that when I have a super long caption. I write the first line, then create a paragraph break after. This causes Instagram to add a ‘more’ option. When other people see it, they are drawn in to click ‘more’ to read the rest of it. I use the app postme to create this paragraph break.”

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“I also tend to use the visual to lead the main point, thus making people curious about the caption – after all, we are on a primarily visual platform. For an additional directive, I sometimes start my caption by literally telling people to “read the caption!!””

Lastly, walk the talk.

It’s one thing to have strong “thought leadership” on a particular topic. However, it just isn’t cool when you aren’t authentic about the values you share online. Here is how Peixian chooses to walk the talk in her personal life.

“I try to live out what I create and also do the same for others. Like if I make a post that says it’s better to say something than nothing during a tough situation, then I better do it in real life.. Even if I am scared of sending someone a “sorry for your loss” text, I still do it because I know it matters and it’s what I am educating people to do!”

“I try to live out what I create and also do the same for others. Like if I make a post that says it’s better to say something than nothing during a tough situation, then I better do it in real life.. Even if I am scared of sending someone a “sorry for your loss” text, I still do it because I know it matters and it’s what I am educating people to do!”

Follow A Grief Affair to support a Singaporean content creator that advocates healthy and open conversations about grief!

If you found this helpful, get ongoing tips about content creation by following Culture127 on Instagram.

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