Authentic Online Marketing

Get on the AOMS Waitlist & Get your Reels personality mini Course >>>

Authentic Online Marketing with Ruthie Gray
feature image

Episode 9: Why a large Instagram following doesn’t (necessarily) mean big engagement

Did you realize that a large Instagram following doesn’t necessarily mean big engagement?

*This episode contains either affiliate links or links to my products. Should you choose to purchase, the show will go on! Woo hoo!


Follow Ruthie on Instagram

Follow Melanie M Redd on Instagram

Learn about Instagram coaching

Listen to Ep. 61: Combining Instagram and email marketing in 5 smart ways

Listen to Ep. 88: How to know what your audience wants (and give it to them)

Listen to Ep. 89: Building Authentic Connections with Kim Stewart

Listen to Ep. 87: Mastering Platform Consistency: The Key to Growing a Super Engaged Following

Listen to this interview with Melanie Redd from @melaniemredd to find out what she learned by having a large Instagram following!

R: Melanie has worked hard to really build her following and she has a large Instagram following.  Before you discovered the magic of real authentic engagement on Instagram, what was your Instagram platform like and what were some of your frustrations?

M: What I was taught about Instagram was grow grow grow – it was all about numbers (I needed a large Instagram following). I spent money going to classes taking classes doing all kinds of crazy things to get the most followers. 

R: I mean that’s what I always thought – I was like “Man, Melanie’s got it together; she’s got all the followers, she’s got the swipe up, she’s got the 10,000…” and I think what took me aback was –  you and I were at a blogger retreat together and I mentioned this actually in my episode 1 podcast (name of podcast)  where you were leading the session and somebody said Instagram and you looked at me and said, “Ruthie, what is it you’re doing on Instagram because you’re killing it!”, and I thought to myself, “I don’t have near the followers she does, what is she talking about?!” so explain that to me. 

Experiencing the breakthrough – even with a large Instagram following

M:  I turned my personal account into a business account and tried to get as many followers as possible and I noticed that you were doing all these crazy stories and I was like “What is she doing over there? She’s not twenty!” And I knew my kids did it.  I just noticed that you were doing things differently than anyone else I’d seen (our age).

R:  I tell my people that’s really where I started to really love Instagram because stories hadn’t been around for very long and I started experimenting in stories of my family and funny things like that and people were really responding.

So yeah I remember you saying that to me and I was like “she’s the one with all the numbers why she asking me?!” so and and I think that proves a point; you don’t need to be afraid to go off the beaten path.

M:  You started doing “the weird” and I thought, “Wait a minute I think I’m missing something.” Everybody else was doing the same stuff but you were doing things that were creative and different and sort of “out there” and people our age and in our niche weren’t trying very many of those things.

So I thought, “Ok, I like to learn new things” and I thought Ruthie, you’re onto something.  You’re not afraid to do what the 20-year-olds are doing.” 

R: If you do the nice little neat things that’s great but no one ever really gets to know you behind the account. Share the pivot.

M:  In the same week, you and Jennifer Allwood (in her podcast) said, “Get out from behind your account, step out from behind your ministry and personal space. It was awkward at first especially if you weren’t born with a cell phone in your hand your whole life, but for those of us (our age) this is still a little awkward. It’s hard to put yourself out there but the beauty of just letting people see an authentic real person behind the ministry makes a difference.

R:  I know that was really hard for you and some of us are more private than others and some of us think we don’t even have anything interesting to share.  What was the breakthrough for you – how did you get past that sharing yourself?

M:  I realized it was the other side of a regular woman – people respond to that.

It’s like coming off the stage and getting out from behind the pulpit and going out among the people. There are people who’ve said “I’ve been following you for years but I feel like we finally met.”  Little moments just do more good then all of the quotes and verses and things we can post in our feed.

The beauty of authenticity even with a large Instagram 

How did you break down the barrier of sharing yourself with a large Instagram following?

 “I’ve been following you for years but it’s like we finally met”

People need “real”

Your actual real life do more good than any quote we can share

People like to be connected with what you’re connected with

People want to know that you’re more than a Bible verse, post, or quote, but that you’re genuine and you have a life and like chocolate and love to laugh.  The more genuine you are, the more your whole ministry is.

Keeping accountable with a large Instagram following

Last summer we walked together each morning and brainstorm on Voxer and chat about Instagram.  

Mel:  Everyone needs a friend that will keep you accountable and prod you to do the uncomfortable.  No 50 year old woman wants to go live because we have bags underneath our lives.

A few weeks ago I realized I have a message and people are desperate and I HAVE to speak.  One Sunday I decided to start going live.  And I’ve done it ever since.  I re-purpose the videos.  So thanks for pushing me.  It’s not easy to go live and I’m not a shy person.  When we’ve reached a certain point in life we need a push.  I wanted to share the message more than I was afraid to go live.  So thank you for pushing me.

Mel:  I saw Amy Grant live one Sunday morning during Covid 19 with no makeup and bags under her eyes and I thought if Amy Grant can do this then so can I.

Why a large Instagram following doesn’t (necessarily) mean big engagement; Instagram Insider Hacks podcast interview with Melanie Redd. #instagrampodcast

I’ve had such good response from doing lives on Facebook and IG and both platforms have really helped my engagement – those platforms reward you by showing more people your videos.

R: I love how you’ve chosen to pivot during Covid 19 and during this very tumultuous time our nation is experiencing.

We have to be willing to be used by God.  Thank you for sharing your story and that it’s not all about the numbers, it’s more about sharing your real self with others.

Mel:  Thanks for pushing me – it wasn’t always gentle but thank you for doing that.  


Alright I want to wrap up with four solid gold tips but first, be sure to connect with Melanie on Instagram @melaniemredd and let her know if you found this episode the kick in the pants you needed to get over yourself and get real with your audience! 

In summary:

#1.  Remember – It’s not all about the numbers, it’s more about engagement, connections, and sharing your real life. 

As Melanie shared, it’s not easy for women in middle age like us to share ourselves on Instagram, but People are looking for a real person who shares real hope, but has a real life .Be willing to share some of your life with the world and be real. 

#2. Incorporate community into your life – collaborate and be willing to accept constructive criticism and be pushed by your peers.  

And by the way for more encouragement, listen to my Episode 4 interview with coaching client Cathy Lawdanski on how clients are coming to her in the dm. 

#3. When you make authentic connections, that’s when you’re really influencing lives.  You become the organic influencer. 

This is how I’ve been able to run my business as an Instagram coach. First, I make connections and chat.  I don’t ask for the sale first, I develop relationships first.  And 90% of my coaching clients approach me wanting to hire me to strategize with them!  So I’ll just say this, if you want to grow your audience but you’re not seeing much fruit, head to for information on how we can strategize together to make your account shine and get your own message out to the world!  Together, we can grow your platform on Instagram!


I think if you’re young, videos are no big deal – you’ve had a cell phone in your hand your whole life, but for those of us in our 50’s, this is all a little awkward at times.

But I see the value in this – the beauty of letting people see an authentic real person behind the ministry.

It’s sort of like coming off the stage and getting out from behind the pulpit and going out among the people.”

“People said, ‘I’ve been following you for years but it’s like we finally met’”

There was something about the real connections during quarantine that made it feel like I was making friends, not just getting numbers.  

People are looking for a real person who shares real hope, but has a real life.

“People need real because people are real.  Your actual real life does more good than all the quotes and verses we can put in our feed.”

It does seem like the more genuine you are, the more effective your whole ministry is.

I realized I have a message and people are desperate and I HAVE to speak.  

It’s hard in our stage of life to try new things. But if you are going to do ministry in 2020 you have to be willing to get uncomfortable.  

Resources Cited

Voxer app for collaborations (free)

Insider Intensive: Turn your dream client into your dm BFF!

Ring light

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *