By now you’ve probably figured out that we are huge fans of Instagram here. For good reason of course. With over 300 million active monthly users, Instagram is one of the best apps to get your blog and business noticed. Instagram is both fun and beautiful, but what we love most about it is the sense of community it brings!
Creating an engaged community is crucial as bloggers and business owners. After all, our followers are who make our Internet lives possible — they become our biggest supporters, clients, and oftentimes, friends. Today I have a few key points to get your Instagram community engaged and excited over what YOU have to offer.
1. Study your followers
First things first, know who your audience is. Beautiful photos and witty captions will do you no good if your audience is not present to receive it. One of the best tools in knowing more official stats about your followers is Iconosquare. This awesome website links to your Instagram account and gives you information on when your audience is the most active, which photos are most liked, and what your audience comments on the most. Here’s an example of Iconosquare’s graph, showing when we post to my Instagram account and when my audience is most active:
Iconosquare’s statistics can be really useful because they help you see if there’s a disconnect between you and your followers about what or when you post. You may really enjoy posting photos of your dog, but your audience might actually love all those photos of your artwork even more. Iconosquare can help you create an Instagram plan that feels good to you and gives your followers what they want to see.
Bonus: Iconosquare also let’s you know which hashtags have brought the most success — a helpful statistic when planning your captions. You can find all of this information by creating an Iconosquare account via your Instagram and looking under “statistics” >> “optimization.”
2. Ask questions
People like to know that you value their thoughts and opinions. The best way to create an engaged community is to, you know, engage! Ask your followers how their day is going. Take a photo of what you’re working on and ask them for their opinions. Share about your upcoming summer trip and see if your followers are headed anywhere, too. Anything to get them talking. It may feel a little awkward at first, but just go for it, friend! You’ll be surprised at how many people will usually reply.
Additionally, if you’re traveling, ask your followers if they’ve ever been there and what recommendations they have for you. This one is a total win-win because you get to hear about fun places you can explore, and you get your Instagram pals chatting and engaging with you.
Remember, if your followers are going to take time to connect with you, the least you can do is connect with them, too. If people ask you a question about something on Instagram, answer it! Really get in there and chat with everyone. It shows you care about them and appreciate their enthusiasm and support. If someone asked you a question face-to-face, would you ignore them? The same rules apply for social media.
3. Find something that will set you apart
Just as there are millions of bloggers, there are millions of awesome Instagrammers. Set yourself apart from the rest and offer something of value to your audience. If you’re a food blogger, perhaps you can share a super quick dinner recipe that you wouldn’t normally share on your blog. Are you knowledgeable about a certain business? Why not share a quick business tip every day? Give your audience a reason to return to your account. Very much like blogging, being consistent and knowledgeable on Instagram can lead to great success and an interested audience.
Here’s an example of something I recently started doing on my Instagram. Every few days, we share a business or blogging tip with our followers. These have quickly become some of our most commented images, ever.
Having trouble finding something that makes you unique? Get more specific. It’s difficult to find something that will set you apart if you think in really broad terms. Think about ONE awesome thing you can do and go at it full force.
4. Be quick with your hashtags
Several Instagram updates ago, you were able to be super strategic about your hashtags. Your photos would post to the grid of that hashtag whenever you added the tag, making it possible to add the same hashtags to your photos again and again, which brought new eyes and new followers. Now, you really only have one chance to get your photo noticed in the grid before it quickly gets lost. Don’t waste any time! Use your favorite hashtags right away, so you can be seen live, by people currently tagging the same thing.
Pro Tip: keep a note in your phone with hashtags you use often so that you can easily copy and paste them in a comment without having to retype them each time you post an image. Remember that the first few seconds after you post your photo are the most important to bring in new eyes, otherwise the photo gets lost.
5. Create a challenge
Invite people to be a part of your Instagram world by creating a challenge. This will expose your account to a lot of new eyes, help you get to know your audience, and create a little buzz around you and what you’re doing! Be present with those who are taking the time to participate by liking and commenting on their photos whenever possible. This is not only polite, but it also creates a bigger sense of community and it shows you care.
If you’re nervous about people not participating, consider reaching out to a few of your currently engaged followers and personally inviting them to join in. Alternatively, you could pair up with another Instagrammer to host your challenge. That way, you have accountability and you get to share each other’s audiences for an even bigger chance to boost engagement.
6. Respond to all comments
Last but not least, be sure to respond to all of the comments you receive. If you follow the steps above, it’s likely that people will start commenting on your photos. If you ignore their comments or only respond to a couple here or there, it shows them that you’re not interested in building a community. Be sure to respond to each person who comments to show how much you value them and to build friendships with your followers. This will lead to an even stronger connection and more engagement. Woo!