Secrets from an Instagram Marketing Swipe File

LESSON 02 – Master Instagram Marketing Series

Goal: Go from ZERO to 10,000 “real” engaged followers (average engagement between 7-10% per post) on Instagram in 2018.

This part is fun! ?

An Instagram swipe file helps you to not forget the good stuff. It’s your private “go-to” collection of Instagram posts that really work.

When you don't know what to post, swipe an idea from your file to:

  1. Remember caption headlines that got your followers or competitor's followers to engage
  2. Dare yourself to experiment with a new post type like giveaways, quotes, tips, behind the scenes etc
  3. Save yourself the headache of researching hashtags when top posters already did the work for you
  4. Repost someone else's content because it has great engagement, or you just need a break that day
  5. Promote Instagram ads that actually work. You know they do because you clicked them ?
  6. Optimize your profile's photo, name and bio to get more people to follow and find you through Instagram's search
  7. BONUS: Stick around for a couple pro hacks in section two and at the end

You already spend time scrolling Instagram. Why not have an organized way to save things?

To organize your swipe file, use Evernote, Pinterest, or simply use Instagram's Collections feature inside the app.

If you organize like this, you will crush it! Here are the basic Instagram collections I set up:

Organize Your Instagram Collections for Success

New to Instagram? Here's an animation showing you how to create a collection:

How to Save Posts to Your Collections


Now, on to the six collections…


When you are surfing a good Instagram account in your niche, switch from grid view to list view and scroll down a few months worth of posts. Look for the posts that outperform all of the other posts with likes. Save these posts so you know what content resonates most with their audience. It could also perform well with your followers.

Example: Go to a top account in your niche and…
Top Engaging Post Examples

As I scrolled through top accounts in my niche, it became obvious that many of them used a clear call-to-action in their headline to get more likes/comments. This is the text at the beginning of your caption. It’s the only part others see until they expand your caption.

For example…Instagram Post Caption Headline Examples

Other examples I saw in my niche:

  • Comment “Amen” if you claim it…
  • Type “Yes” if you trust God.
  • Type “Amen” if you believe.
  • Type “Amen if you agree.
  • Like if you agree.
  • ❤ Double tap if you agree
  • Like if you would answer his call (Note: referencing a phone in the image)
  • Like if you would take his hand. (Note: referencing a hand in the image)

How could you rework the examples above for your niche to get more comments/likes? Giving a clear action may be the difference between them commenting or not commenting on your post. Why not give it a try and see if it ups your engagement?


Post types are the different types of content that people are posting. I keep at least one example of each post type I come across.

Something new always seems to surface. If you have a spot to quickly save it, you'll remember it later.

It will come in handy as you tweak your content strategy.

Here are some common content types: quotes, humor, memes, giveaways, tips, testimonials, how to, promotions, events, stats/facts, news, videos, behind the scenes photos/vids etc…

PRO HACK: Here's a scary photo of me? behind the scenes. I was literally going nuts ? trying to visually plan my Instagram feed as a whole with apps like Preview App. I was sooo frustrated that I almost started printing my posts and cutting them out to plan my grid on the office floor. Am I crazy?

Then the light bulb went off ?… what if I flip my monitor sideways (even though it's not built that way) to see more of my Instagram feed. This gives me more vertical screen space to visually plan my feed. Then I just use Adobe Lightroom to drag-and-drop my post thumbnails! ? Problem solved. No extra apps needed.

Behind the Scenes Photo Instagram Visually Planning Feed


When you see a top post that’s relevant to your niche, look at the caption and first comment to see if they have a long list of hashtags. If so, they’ve probably done a lot of research to figure out the right hashtags to use. Save posts with good hashtags and try them out for yourself. We’ll also reference them in a later lesson.

Some common type of hashtags are:

  • General / Industry hashtags: These are very high-level hashtags with a lot of competition. They're a good starting point to discover top Instagramers in your industry and research how they do things. Example: #coffee #flowers #photographer #vibes #cozy #goodmorning
  • Niche hashtags: These are more laser-focused versions of general hashtags. This is where you really start to zoom in on your target market. #manmakecoffee #coffeegeek  #coffeeshopvibes #flowerart
  • Location hashtags: These are pretty straightforward. Example: #newyork #la #losangles #miami
  • Branded hashtags: These are typically companies related to your post content. Example: #starbucks #anthropologie #shotoniphone
  • Community hashtags:  These are groups of Instagrammers with similar interests. These can be great for networking, getting feedback and just being around people like you. You'll sometimes find that the community hashtags founder has information about it on their profile. Example: #createcommune by @createcommune, or #visualsoflife by @visualsoflife

Community Hashtag Example



This one is pretty simple. If it’s something you could see yourself posting to your account later, save it to your repost collection. You can use these to inspire your own unique content or repost them to your account. If you really want to get creative with your collection naming, you could create multiple repost folders organized by color, theme or content type. For example RP Black, RP White, RP Pink, RP Cats, RP Dogs, RP, RP Fashion, RP Tips, RP Quotes.

I love to keep a consistent look on my Instagram feed as a whole, so organizing by color is helpful to me. Here are some of my repost collections:

Example Instagram Collections Organized by Color


If you are scrolling your feed and a Sponsored post persuaded you to take action, you should save it. When it comes time for you to create Instagram ads, you'll have a collection of things that really work. You know because you clicked them ?

Here's an ad that totally got me to click. It was just around the turn of the new year and I saw this while scrolling my feed:

Instagram Ad that Got Me to Click



If you come across an Instagram profile that gets you to follow them, save the best ones and take note of a few things…

  1. Profile Photo: Why did this photo stand out to you? Was it really dark, white, colorful? Was it a logo, or personal photo? Was it zoomed-in close, or zoomed-out. Was there a unique pose in the photo? What can you learn and apply to your own profile?
  2. BIO: Was there something in their bio that connected with you? Was it something personal they said, was it clever, was it very clear, was it broken up nicely into separate lines? Did you like the way they used emojis? What can you learn and apply to your bio?
  3. Name: Was it a business name? Personal Name? Was the name optimized with keywords? What were the keywords?

PRO HACK: Your Instagram username and name are the only two searchable items on your profile. If you want more people to find you via Instagram's search, consider adding a popular/relevant keyword or two to your NAME. For example, my name is John Koch. I might consider switching it to Johns Fitness Tips.

Live example:Optimize Your Name on Instagram for Search Example

Now Over to You: What secrets are in your swipe file? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

With Soul from John Koch Black Text

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