The Secret Behind Marie Forleo’s Instagram Stardom, Plus 7 Marketing Lessons You Can Learn from Her

Marie Forleo is a force of nature. Whether you love her or hate her, with over 275k Instagram followers and 493k Facebook fans you can’t deny she’s done well for herself online. 

Chances are, you already know who she is, but if not…

  • She is one of today’s most influential life coaches and online business personalities.
  • Her company was named one of Inc.’s 500 Fastest Growing Companies of 2014
  • Her books have sold millions of copies, and been translated into 16 different languages.
  • Oprah Winfrey called her “a thought leader for the next generation.”

Clearly, she’s doing something right.

And the center of all this is her Instagram, which she uses as a hub to promote everything she’s working on and connect with her fans.

Marie’s Instagram is not normal, even for a celebrity of her size. Check out these mind-boggling stats:

  • 576 posts
  • 4000 likes on average per post
  • Over 150 comments on average per post

Her profile is simple, her social media strategies are basic, and her branding is on point. She leads a group of overwhelmed women who lack self confidence, and she uses her Instagram to slowly and surely build their confidence. Her feed gives out super-positive vibes and with every post the underlying message is ‘you can do it’.

As she says:

‘Clarity comes from engagement not thought. You have to stop thinking yourself to death. You have to stop second guessing and wondering and just slide back and forth with all this indecision, you just have to do it.’ – Marie Forleo

So how does Marie Forleo actually do it?

In this post we’re going to dissect everything Marie does on Instagram, and teach you the exact tactics that she uses to keep her 275k Instagram followers coming back for more.

Let’s dive in…




  • [Tip #1] KISS – When it comes to your Instagram Bio, always “Keeps It Simple, Sweetie”
  • [Tip #2] The 80/20 Content Marketing Rule: Why Selling Selectively is the Key to Keeping Your Audience Engaged
  • [Tip #3] Foolproof Call-to-Actions: The Exact Words and Emotional Triggers that Marie uses to Get 100s of Comments on Her Posts
  • [Tip #4] Every Comment Counts: Why Marie Forleo Comments on her own Posts Hundreds of Times
  • [Tip #5] Why Videos Make for the Best Right Hooks
  • [Tip #6] How to go “Behind-the-Scenes” on Instagram Stories, take your Followers on an Adventure, and Cross-Promote Everything You Do
  • [Tip #7] Persistence & Consistency: How to Become an Overnight Success 17 Years in the Making




Bonus Material: 

Marie Forleo’s Call-to-Actions

Access the exact words and phrases Marie uses to get more Instagram comments.





Marie is a popular public figure. People coming to her Instagram profile are warm leads – people who know about her. And it seems as though this is exactly what Marie kept in mind while writing her bio.



Her bio is perfection. It is:

  • Short and succinct – she has condensed her entire professional life in 3 words. Speaker, Writer, Entrepreneur.
  • Linked to her blog – This again shows that Marie knows people who’re visiting her profile know about her at least a bit and so instead of linking to her Home page or her about page, she adds a link to her blog.
  • Uncluttered – It’s free from all unnecessary frills. No emojis, no emoticans, no punctuation marks or any marks for that matter, no multiple CTAs. There’s nothing in this bio to distract people.
  • Personal – she added a quirky, personal touch to her bio by mentioning her prowess as a fancy dancer. She mentions this bit in all her social media profile bios and also at times in her videos. So people who follow her and know her, are well aware of her fondness for fancy dance routines and her past as a fitness and dance instructor.



Every social media has different bio specification. Where Facebook allows you a couple of sentences and multiple description fields to express yourself, with Instagram less is always, always more.



A strong bio has 3 critical elements:

  • A couple of words about what you do and who you are. No long sentences. Summarize what you do in a word.
  • A quirky personality trait. Fancy dancer. Smurf lover. Junk Foodie. Human Sparkler. And so on. Limit yourself to just one or maximum two.
  • A CTA. A link to your website’s About page, if you’re still relatively new in the biz. You can also add a link to your latest blog, latest YouTube video or social media profiles. Again, limit yourself to just one CTA.



Marie’s Instagram feed is warm, inspiring and personal. It has gives out cheerful and positive vibes, which is everything Marie is.

I check in and reply from my iPhone when I’m on the road. For days when I’m working from home, I’ll build in 10 minutes here and there to dive into the social conversation. Of course, when I see something beautiful, inspiring, fun or worth sharing, I get it up and out. Marie Forleo

Her IG has a mix of everything – business posts to keep us updated with everything that’s going on in that front, heartwarming personal posts, and inspiring posts (they have the highest engagement rates).

She doesn’t upload promotion posts one after another. She usually uploads 3 to 5 personal and inspirational posts before uploading a promotion post, following the 80\20 content marketing rule to the T – which states that 80% posts should be non-promotional in your feed.



Gary Vaynerchuk (another online business personality and contemporary of Marie Forleo) coined the term “Jabs and Right Hooks” to describe two different kinds of social media posts.  The best boxers always lead with their jab and jab often, which sets them up for a powerful right hook.  Marie Forleo’s posting strategy is very similar.

Marie’s “jabs” are intended to engage her audience and trigger an emotional response. About 80% of her posts are “jabs.”

These “jabs” set up Marie’s “right hooks,” which represent approximately 20% of her posts. These posts aim to sell and self promote, and they do so shamelessly. Because Marie has conditioned her audience to respond to all of her posts, she is able to go for the hard sell without coming across as spammy or overly promotional.

Let’s discuss some of her most common post types – these will be both highly popular “jabs” and her highly effective “right hooks.”


Marie’s Most Popular Types of Instagram Posts


Sage advice right from the heart (JAB)

Marie is known for her quirky sense of humour and sage advice that warms the heart. It’s exactly what her target audience wants, as well. Just take a look at the comments section of her blog, social media posts, and videos.

She creates inspirational quote posts for her Instagram feed and keeps the graphics super simple. Usually you’ll see a block coloured background with a quote in some fancy font, her business logo, and her website URL in small letters at the very end.  No seen-a-100-times-already stock photos, or canva backgrounds. They’re simple, relatable, and share-worthy.

These posts are some of the most popular posts in her feed – with the highest amounts of likes and comments.

View this post on Instagram

On this 5th annual #DayoftheGirl we must take a stand because #equality is a right, not a privilege. Knowing the facts is important if we're committed to changing them. Please take a moment to read the following and think about what these numbers really mean. Not only in terms of the tragic loss to us as a global society [which is devastating!], but what these numbers mean to the reality of each girl's life. ??? ? There are 1.2 billion girls on the planet, and over 62 million of them have no access to education. ? Each year, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18 – that’s 1 every 2 seconds. (So in the 30 seconds it’s taken you to read this, 5 girls under 18 are now married.) ? Child marriage usually means the end to a girl’s education, vocation, and her right to make life choices. ? 120 million girls around the globe have experienced sexual violence. ? Suicide is the leading cause of death for girls ages 10-19 globally. These statistics anger me and sicken me. But I remain optimistic. I know with every fiber of my being that together, we can create a new reality. We can create a world where girls have equal rights and access to #education, #healthcare, and the #opportunity to live into her God-given potential. Make no mistake, girls are an undeniable asset to a more peaceful, prosperous world. If you want to help create that world, join me by supporting organizations like @girlupcampaign, @UNICEF, @planinternational, @girlsinc, and @lotusoutreachinternational. These are just a few of the wonderful organizations looking to make sure our girls have a bright future. ? ? ? #IDG2017 #equalityforall

A post shared by Marie Forleo (@marieforleo) on

You can create industry-specific inspirational quotes for your Instagram feed through the following tools. They’re easy to use and you can create stunning images through them. Don’t forget to add your logo and website URL at the end!


Vacation pictures and so much more (JAB)

She doesn’t shy away from uploading (lots of) personal content.

Stunning sun-kissed vacay pictures, mushy pictures with her beau, gorgeous selfies, funny behind-the-scenes shots of her shoot days, random day to day pictures, social causes she believes in, blurry on-the-go pictures (like the ones we all take), and just so much more.

You don’t feel like you’re following (or stalking) an unapproachable celebrity, but someone who you’d love to be friends with.


Promotion posts in a completely non-spammy way (RIGHT HOOK)

She does post quite a bit about her b-school, Marie Unplugged and other business bits, too. But in a completely non-spammy way. Some of her highly liked promotion posts include,


  1. Video Teasers

These teasers are incredible compelling since she stitches together parts of the footage that her audience can relate to the most. Like in this teaser:


Or, she intrigues and excites them by giving them a glimpse of what’s to come.



  1. Employee Showcases & Introductions


  1. Business wins


  1. Promotional Posts 


You can, and should, use Instagram to promote your business but in a non-spammy way. Don’t just ask and ask and ask, without giving your followers some sort of value in return.

If you’re posting 1 promotion post, follow it by 2 personal ones and 1 value-based post (like an quote, a short tutorial, etc.)



Each time I visit Marie’s Instagram feed, I always notice the high number of comments she has on each post. Over a 100 comments on average. People interact with her on her posts and there’s a reason why. She asks them to interact in a subtle (and sometimes direct) way.

She does these things really, really well:


Spends time on writing the perfect captions

Her captions are personalized. They’re not automated, robotic captions that are associated with scheduling apps and instantly turn you off. If she’s posting an inspirational post, she’ll post a long explanation (+ plus a couple of related hashtags) discussing the quote in the caption. It gives a very human touch to her account and compels followers to open up in the comments section.

Let’s take recent post, as an example…


Encourages discussion in the comments section by asking followers to tag friends

If you go through the comments section, you’ll see several people have opened up discussing their own life experiences where they were either harassed or celebrated for being sensitive.

Since most of her audience can relate to this quote, you’ll see them conduct discussions amongst themselves in the comments section, and tagging their own friends who went through it.


Personalizes her promo posts by adding personal life snippets

Similarly, she posts long explanations with most of her posts, especially ones that directly or indirectly promote her business. This works really well in making promotion posts a little less spam-icky.

She also adds personal life snippets in her promo post captions to make them more personal and less business-like. (For a good example of this see the Employee Showcases & Introductions post above.)

Uses CTA’s effectively at the end of her captions

At the end of her captions (especially n here promo posts), she asks her followers a pointed question related to the post. Since the questions are general and everyone can relate to them – especially her target audience – it results in a lot of engagement.



Sometimes she provides a prompt and asks them to participate. Like this post:



Access Marie Forleo’s Call-to-Actions

Learn the emotional trigger words and phrases Marie uses to inspire her followers to take action.



As she says about Instagram: “It can be a great place to connect with your customers and build relationships, but only if you actually enjoy using the platform.”

A lot of celebrities upload a great picture and then forget about it. Marie Forleo doesn’t. She makes sure to reply back to as many commenters as she can, which is why her tribe of loyal followers keeps growing. And remember, she gets over 100 comments on most of pictures, so it’s not an easy task, but she still manages to respond back by tagging the commenter and adding lots of emojis.



Even if you’re super active on Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook, or Twitter, but don’t reply back to your followers, they’ll stop commenting and engaging with your posts. Your views, likes and comments will start dwindling and you don’t want that.

PRO-TIP: Always tag the commenter when replying.



While she doesn’t overload her feed with videos, Marie’s fond of showing her Marie Unplugged and MarieTV video teasers on Instagram. She uses vides very smartly. When she wants people to really take an action, like view her latest video, she’ll put up a video teaser.

Pictures are much easier to create and post than videos, and Marie uses them often. More often than not these photos are “jabs’ (lifestyle pics, motivational quotes, etc.) — aimed at engaging her audience, triggering an emotional response, and NOT AIMED AT SELLING.

All these “jabs” set up Marie’s “right hook.”

But whenever Marie Forleo really wants you to take action – like when she’s promoting an influencer’s book or putting up a hiring post – she right hooks her audience with a video to get maximum conversions.

For example, look at this hiring post :


It could have been a simple “We’re hiring” image post, but instead Marie animates the text ever so slightly and turns it into a video.

That’s because videos get preferential treatment in Instagram’s algorithmic feed.  It’s WAY easier to “trend” on certain hashtags or show up on the explore page with a video than it is with a regular photo.

She also tags these videos with popular hashtags like #hiring #socialmedia #customerservice #designer to reach out to a wider audience and get this post in front of as many people as possible.

Since video content fares better on Instagram and has a better engagement (especially comments) rate than pictures, Maries strategy works perfectly.



She doesn’t just depend on her Instagram feed to cross promote her business activities and share her personal life, but also uses Instagram stories. Instagram Stories is a great way to build genuine relationships with your audience, plus you get to pop up on their main feed consistently, too.

She uses Instagram stories as an extension of her feed – she shares her day to day activities, inspirational quotes and her business activities through it.



But she does it all in classic Marie Forleo style – personal, un-annoying (let’s face it, how many stories have you forwarded because they were so meh), interesting and most of all, full of positive vibes. She keeps her branding constant on every platform.



She also follows all the  Instagram Stories best practices we’ve written about before. She:

  • Tags whomever she’s with

  • Adds appropriate hashtags
  • Doesn’t upload more than once a day
  • Doesn’t post lengthy stories
  • Only posts stories when she’s got something valuable to say
  • Adds links and CTAs when required in the post
  • Makes her personal posts interesting by using emojis, filters and draw tool



Sometimes the best advice comes straight from the horse’s mouth…

I’ve been doing this now for almost 17 years. I didn’t start to see any really type of real substantial growth until maybe my 5th or 6th or 7th year in business. Then it’s just continued to accelerate beyond there. But I run into people that are like, “God, I’ve been doing this for like 6 months and I don’t see any progress.” I’m like, ‘What?!” First what are you doing? Second of all are you really doing that much? Third of all, have some patience. Trust takes time to build. And in a business, any transactions that are going to come, are usually results of you having done enough of the hard work to build trust. So you have to have patience, you have to be in this for the long haul and you have really give yourself an opportunity to enjoy the ride because if you’re looking for a quick win, you need to get out of business and from my perspective there’s not that many of them. – Marie Forleo

If you’re trying to grow your business, side-hustle, or personal brand on Instagram, don’t get frustrated with the lack of results initially. Be patient, keep uploading. Keep true to yourself, don’t pretend to be someone else to get fame.

You’ll get to her level… eventually.


Triple your Instagram Engagement

Learn the exact emotional trigger words Marie uses to get her followers to do whatever she wants.


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