Meet Garrett

With Barr Media's roots starting in helping sports-people and influencers grow their Instagram and social presences, we were beyond excited when Garrett McNamara, world record-holding big wave surfer got in touch. He was looking for assistance in growing his Instagram audience as part of greater project to alter his brand message and push out a new one to raise awareness for climate change and keeping the oceans clean.

With already an established audience of over 140,000 people on Instagram, this was a fantastic opportunity to use his already large social presence to grow even faster as well as change the perspective of his current audience and make them more aware of the growing issue of stopping ocean pollution that Garrett was so passionate about.

Over the course of 3-months, across all of his accounts, we grew his following by almost 10,000 people and recovered his audience engagement rate from under 1% to over 3% after it dropped significantly with the change in branding and message his accounts underwent. Barr Media was only responsible for the growth side of the project and not the branding. This was carried out by another third-party agency that Garrett was working with.

Read the intricacies of the project below:

Growing Garrett's account as effectively as possible really came down to methodology, finding out what he was doing post Barr Media's involvement and then looking at his goals to see how we could combine both to work out a strategy and solution that worked well in achieving these.

The Strategy

Garrett gave insight that he had previously built his audience based on as he put it, 'gnarly surf videos'. This had worked well in the past, growing an audience just as excited and passionate as he was about the sport of big-wave surfing. However, with a shift in Garrett's awareness, he wanted to use his voice on social media to talk about the increasing issue of ocean pollution and global warming. Here in-lay the issue we initially faced.

With Garrett's existing audience accustomed to high-pace surf content, centric around adrenaline and the sheer scale of the sport, it can be assumed his existing audience mostly followed to see this type of post. So, when the rebrand occurred, changing his posts from his original style, to a more clean and modern look focused all around Garrett and his future vision of keeping the oceans clean, a large noticeable drop in engagement rate did occur taking his engagement from over 5% to under 1% - this was despite the beautiful new branding.

Getting on top of this drop was very important, as not only did it have negative effects on Garrett's image, but also potential consequences on his standing in the Instagram algorithm. Low engagement can cause a red flag on the Instagram systems and can cause posts to be seen by less people - something we definitely didn't want. However, if you can remedy this and provide positive growth, the occurrence of this is far less common. 

So, being the first hurdle we encountered it became clear to us as we worked with the third-party branding agency and Garrett directly, that issue lay in communicating his new message with his current audience as well as anyone new that followed. 

From this, we took an engagement-first approach to his account growth, expanding his audience by interacting with potential new followers, targeting people interested in surf but also importantly, the topics of awareness Garrett was looking to spread.

Month one was the slowest of the three, growing his account still by over 700 followers. This was mostly due to perfecting our targeting of new audiences and interacting with them. That, coupled with spreading our time with interacting with his current audience to help boost engagement made up the groundwork for the further 2-months of growth we gave to Garrett.

Once we had perfected our targeting, his account growth rocketed, raising his follower count by over 4,000 followers and recovering his audience engagement rate by almost 1%. The final month was a replication of month 2, growing Garrett's account again by over 4,000 followers and recovering his audience engagement rate by 1%.

Net Growth (month)Yearly Prediction
Engagement RateNet Change (month)

This emphasis on audience communication and growth worked very effectively during the rebrand, allowing Garrett to still grow his voice on social media while still integrating his amazing new direction. Without a suitable growth strategy in place, his social numbers would have drastically dropped and could have potentially affected his standing in the Instagram algorithm as a whole causing further drops in reach and influence.

It was a fantastic opportunity to show off our ability to work with short time windows and still turn around a social presence that was experiencing losses, all while being able to push an incredible message.

Check-in and see how Garrett is doing below!