Nowadays, the Instagram algorithm feels completely impossible to work out, let alone work with.
We can no longer rely on Instagram to show our posts to all our followers, or even most of them.
Having an engaged community on Instagram is a large part of growing your account and ensuring your followers search out your posts, even if the algorithm is hiding them.
Why build a community on Instagram?
Instagram isn’t only a great place to share photos, it’s also the perfect platform for finding customers.
Unlike many other social medias, Instagram is versatile in allowing you to both showcase photos, and share behind-the-scenes, deeper looks in stories or post captions.
Having an engaged community means having potential customers for your (eventual or current) small business or blog.
It also aids account growth, allowing you to retain current followers whilst you actively bring in new ones.
How to start engaging with the community
Before you even think about creating your own community on Instagram, you should be engaging with the current community within your niche.
This is a great way to get to know people with similar accounts, share experience and get inspiration!
Like and comment
As soon as your account is set up, you should be looking for accounts in your niche to follow. Over time, these will start coming up in your suggested followings, but to start with, search in hashtags in your niche to find accounts.
Try to be genuine when commenting on people’s posts. It’s easy to tell if someone is just commenting for a quick follow.
Instead, read the full caption and think of a question you can ask or input you could give that would be valuable.
Reply to stories
If you want to get beyond just commenting on posts and make some real connections, try replying to people’s stories.
Don’t just do it for the sake of it though. You could chat about tips within your niche or ask questions. Chances are, they’ll be more than happy to chat and will probably also check out your account.
Whilst your account is just getting started, it will be more difficult to run or get involved in collabs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything.
At the start of my account, I spent a lot of time sharing other people’s posts in my stories or shouting out bigger creators who inspired me.
Creators that you shout out will be notified that you have tagged them and will likely return the favour or at least strike up a conversation.
Growing your own community
Once you’ve got passed the basic stages, you’ll want to begin growing your own engaged community.
This is tricky if you don’t have some key strategies to ensure your audience remain engaged and interested in your account.
Write engaging captions
Followers don’t just want to see pretty pictures; they want to know who you are behind the screen!
Studies have shown that Instagram posts that show the creators face or show a behind the scenes look perform much better overall.
And the same applies to captions!
Some great ways to write engaging captions are:
- Ask a question that encourages followers to comment their opinion. Make sure the question is in your niche, and if you can, try to make it a more open one, to encourage real engagement.
- Talk about an experience. I know that the captions that grasp me the best are ones that reminisce on an interesting or shocking life experience. Even better if you can link it back to your niche!
- Talk about how your feeling (especially the bad parts). At the end of the day, everyone’s human, and the more you show that to your followers, the more connected they’ll feel to you. If you’re having a bad day, talk about it! It’s likely a lot of them are as well, and this way, you can chat about how your feeling together and craft real connections.
Share to your story often
You cannot underestimate the power of instagram stories for real engagement!
Whilst posts should really focus on your niche, in your stories, you can share behind-the-scenes looks, funny stories or inspirational quotes.
A much larger proportion of your followers will see your stories than your posts so this is a great way to remind them that you still exist!
I try to post to my stories at least a few times a day, and at least one of those times will be how I’m feeling that day (or asking my followers how they’re doing), behind the scenes of a photoshoot or running polls.
Encourage your followers to engage with your stories by using polls or question boxes.
Once your account is off the ground, organize shoutout sessions or collabs with accounts in your niche.
If you’re unsure of where to start, just get in touch with some of your favourite accounts (around the same size as you) and ask them if they’d like to do something with you. Chances are, they’ll be honoured and more than happy to.
Remember- a large part of growing your account is ensuring you keep your current followers. For this, there needs to be a certain level of trust. When running collabs, make sure the content is within your niche and it is something your followers will find valuable.
Giveaways are also a great way to give back to the community. they’re both incentive to your current followers to stick around, and a way to draw in new followers
The usual format for these kinds of giveaways is to ask participants to follow your account, and tag 2-3 other accounts in the comments. This will widen your reach and accounts that might not have seen the giveaway otherwise will be notified.
As with collabs, ensure your giveaway links back to your niche, i.e, don’t give away a TV if you’re a food blogger.
Answer messages/ comments regularly
This does get a lot more difficult as your account grows, but it’s one of the key ways to remain engaged and in touch with your following.
And don’t just answer messages with one word! For proper connection, start a conversation, chat about your niche or ask questions of your followers.
Create a hashtag
Having your own personal hashtag on Instagram is a key way to bring in new followers, and more importantly, allow current followers to collaborate directly with your brand.
Choose a hashtag that links to your niche and account- ideally, it’ll be recognizable to your followers.
Once you’ve chosen one, make sure it isn’t already being used by searching for it. Then, you can start using it on your posts.
Encourage your followers to start using the hashtag as well by sharing it in your stories or writing a post about it. You could even invite people to a group chat where you share posts using the hashtag or just chat about your niche.
Are you trying to grow your community on social media? Will you be trying any of these tips? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or you can connect with me directly on any of my social medias.