These days all we seem to care about is growing our audience. More eyes on your account, more followers, more notoriety, more brand deals. We always need more. engaged instagram community
When I say we, I group myself in right there with ya, because from a business viewpoint, my growth is critical to the survival of my brand. engaged instagram community
Social media, Instagram in particular, has become one of the pillars of owning and operating a successful brand. We’re always looking to others wondering, What’s the secret? How is he/she bringing in 1k new followers per day and I am barely breaking even? Why has my engagement dropped? I wonder if anyone else’s IG story views have been cut in half.
We ask ourselves the same questions day in and day out. Every once in a while, we’ll read a news article or a blog post titled “Instagram’s Algorithm, Explained” and get that butterfly of hope that someone has it all figured out and is about to share a gold mine of life-changing information. From shadowbanning to hashtag strategies, loop giveaways and engagement groups, sometimes the answer is simpler than we think, and we just have to take it back to basics.
In today’s installment of Behind the Blog, I’m sharing my tips for creating an engaged community on Instagram; how to keep your followers invested in what you have to offer, and how to seek out new members of your community.
Get to Know Your Audience
Like the Back of Your Hand
Your followers are not just “followers”. They’re real people (potential clients, brands, fellow bloggers in the industry, friends). They’re from different places around the world, on different schedules, all looking to gain different things out of being a part of your Instagram community.
+ Know when your followers are most active and create your content around those key times. Just like cable networks aren’t going to air their most popular shows on weekdays at 3pm when no one is around, you should be conditioned to post only when the majority of your followers are around and checking Instagram.
On average, my posts perform 78.2% better when I post during times when my followers are most active.
+ Study which types of posts perform best. I recently discovered that flatlays (previously not typically a part of my Instagram content), perform 87.5% more than styled outfits. Needless to say flatlays are now becoming a part of my regular content.
If you are operating your brand organically (ie: no automated marketing services delivering you thousands of likes), your statistics are going to give you incredibly powerful insight into your brand and how to engage your followers.
Note: Only Instagram users who have the Business Profile feature enabled will have access to detailed insights.
Take Time to Genuinely Engage
+ Respond to comments on your posts. If someone gives you a compliment or asks you a question face-to-face, do you ignore them? But seriously...if you think of it that way, how silly does it seem to just leave your comments sitting there without a response?
Of course, sometimes comments can become overwhelming and it can be hard to respond to every single one. I try to plan to stay on Instagram for at least 10 minutes after I post, responding to all initial comments. Not only will the constant activity help boost your post, but it will help you to get a jump on your responses. You can also respond over a few days to break it up.
Tip: Keep an eye out for newer followers you may not recognize and make it a point to interact and get to know them. On the flip side, always engage with your most loyal followers. I look at many of mine who have been around since the beginning as friends!
+ Answer your DMs. It can be daunting to look at a full inbox and think about the task of responding to every DM - but here's the thing - the people who are DMing you are taking time out of their day to reach out. Whether it's for advice, to pay you a compliment, to provide feedback or to just have a laugh with you about something funny you posted on Stories...respond.
I can't tell you how many times I have chatted with my followers via DM where they have said, "Thank you so much for responding!" or "Wow I can't believe you replied to me!". This should be second nature to us guys! We blog because we want to connect with others, so practice what you preach.
Shift the Focus Off of You +
On to Your Followers
Here's a thought...ask your followers to engage!
Being a one-woman show can often feel very egocentric. We're talking about ourselves - our lives, our careers, our favorite things all.the.time. Of course, that's all part of being a blogger. We're opening the doors to our lives for everyone to see and our audience follows along because of that.
But part of building loyal readership is to get to know your readers, and a great way to do that is to turn the tables and let them have a chance to share with you.
+ Ask questions in your post captions. This is such a fool-proof way to build engagement and get to know your followers. News flash...there are a lot of people out there who like to share...so let them! I try to pose a question in my posts 1-2x a week and find that people are much more likely to respond organically to post captions with a question as opposed to captions with a statement.
+ Utilize Instagram Story polls. Polls are the perfect way for your followers to participate as a part of your community with the click of a button, and if there's one thing I've learned from my Instagram Story analytics, it's that people love polls.
Tip: Every once in a while, direct your polls at your audience to get to know them better. For example, instead of asking what pair of shoes you should wear, ask your followers if they prefer flats or heels.
Create Something Special Just for Your Community
Set yourself apart by giving your followers a reason to come back. Creating something of value that your followers know they can come to you and only you for is a great way to keep your community engaged.
Maybe it's a daily motivational quote or a weekly Q+A. Whatever it may be, create something special and implement it consistently so it becomes something your followers expect and look forward to.
For example, I started sharing quick "Behind the 'Gram" snippets on stories to give my followers a look into the behind the scenes reality of my posts. Another example is my Blogging Resource Library, where I've built a community of bloggers who all have a shared space to access free blogging tips and resources for building a brand.
Seek Out New Potential Followers
If you have a clear picture of your target audience and your ideal reader, you should be able to look at any given Instagram account, and know within seconds if they are a potential follower.
Think about how many billions of Instagram users are out there, and how many of the billions would find value in following along with your account, but simply don't know it exists.
There are plenty of ways you can seek out new potential followers, but the most foolproof way I have found is to pick out a few accounts that are similar to yours (style, aesthetic, voice - they can be any of these things) and to engage with their followers. You can do this by going down their follower list or by heading to their most recent post and going through their likes and/or comments. As I mentioned earlier, you should be able to determine if someone is a potential follower at first glance. Chances are though, if you're utilizing the audience of an account similar to yours, the majority of accounts you are engaging with will be a great fit as a potential reader!
When you seek out these accounts by liking or commenting on a post, most commonly (especially with smaller accounts), that person will see your notification and our of natural curiosity, head to your account to check it out. From there, it's out of your hands and up to them to decide if they want to follow along.
Remember, while it's important to cater to your existing community, it's just as important to continue to build it by getting new eyes on your account.