Building a community of followers or an #InstaFam on Instagram isn’t a walk in the park; it is time consuming and requires organic growth. But businesses and brands that get this right, reap the rewards in the future.
Inside the Gram’s platform, an intimate and visual environment is what draws your audience, and once you have a highly-engaged audience of people who love your content, you can use shoppable Instagram tools to guide customers to other platforms like your website, and Instagram’s new ads algorithm means you get to make sales directly on the platform.
Here’s a list of ways to build an engaged Instagram community; an online family of sorts for your brand.
But before we get into that here is a quick tip; a starting point if you will: determine the goals of your Instagram feed. Are you aiming to increase e-commerce sales, community engagement, or your follower count? Once you know the answer, create and style a feed based on that. Don’t forget to check out our post on how to style your Instagram.
Seek and You Shall Find
We can almost guarantee that Instagram contains a significant number of people who are creating content relevant to your brand, which means you already have an initial target audience. You just need to search them out.
You can locate these potential family members by searching for popular hashtags relevant to your industry. For example, if you are an artist who uses watercolours, do a hashtag search on Instagram for relevant words like #watercolours #handdrawn etc. People who are using these tags are either creating similar styled work or have an interest in this type of work. These are the people you want to connect with them as first.
How will you do that? Simple. Follow them, go through their feed, pick your favourites and comment on those posts. Of course, we shouldn't’ have to remind you to keep the comments friendly and encouraging, and try to stay away from generic comments like “this is amazing!”. Many people mistake these for being spam or auto-generated comments. Trust us. We have blocked or ignored many IG profiles that repeat the same comments on multiple posts. While we understand they are doing exactly what we are doing - to build a family of followers, but this isn’t the way to do it. Remember, just because someone is family, doesn’t mean you have to like them. and you can connect with them by commenting on their photos.
You can also widen your reach by publishing your own content with hashtags that are popular with these potential community members of your community. So as a watercolour artist when you make a post with the same hashtags you are searching for, there is a higher chance that someone with the same interest will notice your post, possibly like it, and potentially start following you. And for the love of all things Instagram, stay away from hashtags like #follow4follow #likeforlike. They will only get you so far. These generic hashtags are oversaturated and a waste of the limited IG tags you have available. Be relevant. Use and search for the hashtags that speak to your brand.
A Product Focused Feed
While many don’t like the fact that brands have become too self-promotional on other social networks, a recent study found that 65% of the most popular branded Instagram posts featured products. Meanwhile, 43% of them included lifestyle photography. Here is a quick look.
One of the top brands on Instagram is Victoria’s Secret with about 65 million fans, according to Social Blade. Of course, you have to wonder if the viewers are in it for the models or the clothes. But the top brand, in terms of followers, is currently Nike with approximately 85 million followers.
The rest of the list includes H&M (29 million), Nike Football (37 million), Adidas Originals (32 million), Louis Vuitton (30 million) and Chanel (33 million). There’s one thing that all of these feeds have in common: they are all about the product. Admittedly, this is pretty easy to achieve if you’re a brand with apparel, but it also means strong competition. What do you need? Photos of models wearing your apparel. What do you do if you sell, for instance, coffee? Starbucks has accrued a respectable 17 million Instagram followers with a feed of lifestyle photos with their product.
The lesson? You can win by posting content that shows off how your products are being used.
Show people how your product can be used, not just of the product itself. We go back to the watercolour artist. Rather than repeatedly showing just the art work, perhaps stage a framed piece on a home setting; or show how you package your art prints; or maybe even show how it can work as the perfect gift for someone.
Everyone Wants Their Fifteen Minutes
In a nutshell; share the spotlight. One of the best ways to grow your following is to share photos originally created by your new found family members. As the watercolour artist who sold a ton of original art work, reach out to your customers and ask them to take a photo of the artwork in their homes. Share that photo. Tag them. Give them their 15 minutes of fame. This excites people and in turn makes your brand appear more authentic and relatable. You may even end up creating an incentive for people to make the effort to take more pics of your products. Once you have people excited, you’ve either got a follower or a customer for life. Either way, they are now a part of your #GramFam.
Also don’t be afraid to try and make your own hashtag go viral. Invite people to participate by sharing photos with a unique hashtag. A popular artist driven one is #drawthisinyourstyle. If you see this hashtag today you will come across over 800k posts where different creatives pitch into a specific artist’s idea and draw their own version of that artist’s work. It is a great way to build a community of fellow creatives and it gets everyone engaged and excited. Alex Kunchevsky recently ran a fun contest where he asked fellow artists to draw one of his fun illustrations in their own style. Not only did he get multiple entries within a short span of time, but he also shared his top 10 on Instagram. What did this do? Get him more followers since he used the popular #drawthisinyourstyle. He then asked people to also use the unique hashtag #kunchevsky_challenge. And voila! He now used and created a viral tag for his brand. He must have definitely gained new followers (we know we started following him as soon as we saw the work), and in turn he began to grow his #GramFam. And don’t forget that someone out there had started the “drawthisinyourstyle” tag; and today it has become a fun and engaging trend for artists.
Watch and Learn
It is invaluable to create content that is inspired by the things your followers are already creating on Instagram. What better way to resonate with your customers than by showing them that you are paying attention to what they do and love?
Here is an example. Coach noticed Instagram’s footwear enthusiasts were taking photos of their shoes while they were going about their day. So what did they do? They decided to turn that research into its #CoachFromAbove Instagram ad campaign. There is a lot you can learn from content that exists out there. Track the trends, analyse them, and see how it can work for your brand. As the infamous watercolour artist that is the centre of attention of our post, perhaps consider an IGTV feed or even a short IG video where you show people how you paint. Why? Because it is a current and trending activity which generates a lot of leads and followers and will only help you grow your Instagram family.
By using your feed to curate moments and capture experiences, you give yourself an opportunity to connect with your audience in a way that you just wouldn’t be able to on any other platform. Remember that Instagram isn’t just a complementary platform to your Facebook feed, it is a platform where people can engage with artistic brands in a creative and inspirational context.
We hope you enjoyed these tips and they help you with your Instagram journey. Stay tuned for more tips over the next few weeks. Feel free to share these tips with your friends as well.