March 14, 2018 Last updated on September 10th, 2020
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On one level, Instagram is about showcasing what you have to offer, promoting your content or products, and driving traffic to your website. It’s about branding and positioning and being seen. But, if you’re searching for real success on Instagram (and let’s face it, who isn’t?), then building and maintaining a community is paramount.

Did you know that on average, your Instagram posts will only reach 10% of your audience? Seriously, 10%! It’s nothing 😬. As on Facebook, engagement is key to growing your reach, and creating a community around your brand is a sure fire way to get more engagement.

If you can get people feeling involved and invested in your Instagram community, they’ll be more likely to comment on your posts, like your photos, watch your Stories…this will naturally result in more engagement, which means your posts will start to appear higher up in the feed (so more reach and more engagement!). It’s a perfect cycle that keeps on giving!

But not only that: creating an engaged Instagram community will actually help with all those other things mentioned above. It should actually be your starting point. Rather than chasing likes off the bat, it makes more sense to spend your time attracting the right people to your Instagram account, and then cultivating a culture that people want to be a part of.

When done well, focusing on your community is going to result in a loyal following more likely to buy from you and recommend you to other people. But how do you get to that point? Here a few things to keep in mind when it comes to creating an engaged Instagram community around your brand.

Creating an Engaged Community Around Your Brand on Instagram

Be clear about who you are and what you have to offer

Lay out clearly what users can expect if they follow you on Instagram. Make sure your bio description summarizes what you do, but also gives a sense of your branding and/or personality. Your feed should also be on brand and express what you do or who you are from first glance. If you’re a fashion blogger, for example, it’s easy(ish) to position yourself and make it instantly clear what you do. Your feed will likely be full of stylized fashion shots displaying products and conveying a certain lifestyle.

If you’re a digital product with nothing ‘concrete’ to display in your feed, however, it’s going to be trickier. But, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible!

Brian Peters, Digital Marketing Manager at Buffer, shared some advice at SMMW18 about branding a digital product on Instagram. He recommends that if, like Buffer, you don’t have a product you can hold and present in a real-life context, just think about which part of your brand is the most visual. For example, Buffer employees work remotely, so their Instagram features employee travel pics, photos of coffee shops around the world and so on. You just have to think outside the box!

Creating an Engaged Community Around Your Brand on Instagram

Buffer’s Instagram Feed

Ask your audience questions

Everyone likes to be asked questions about their opinions and experiences, both on and off social media. Asking even simple questions to your Instagram community can really help your engagement and make them feel involved with and connected to your brand. Try asking a question in your captions and encourage people to leave a comment, or ask your viewers a question in your Story and include a poll sticker so that they can reply. To take it a step further, go Live! Hosting a Live Q&A on Instagram is a brilliant way to bring your audience into the fold and show them that you really value your community and are willing to give back. For ideas on how to use video to engage your community, check out this post on creating better Instagram video content.

Reply to comments (as much as possible)

Another easy way to give something back to your community is to reply to comments. It sounds simple, but it can be difficult keeping track of comments if you already have a pretty big account. Even if you don’t have much time to commit to this, setting aside 20 minutes a day to reply won’t go unnoticed. To organize comments and replies and save you time in the long run, sign up for a 14 day free trial of Iconosquare and check out the comment tracking feature.

And, on the topic of commenting…

Be human (no robotic responses that sound automated)

Standard responses save time, sure, but you don’t want to seem like a cold, lifeless bot when interacting with your community! Speak to your followers as you would a friend, and let your personality shine! If someone has taken the time to write a personalized comment, do the same in return. Obviously, if some comments are just an emoji or a single word, there’s not so much you can say back – just like it and move on to the next. And don’t worry if you can’t get through them all. It’s better to reply to as many comments as you can and miss a few than not to reply to any.

Creating an Engaged Community Around Your Brand on Instagram

Instagram Strategist & Iconosquare Ambassador Tyler J McCall (@tylerjmccall) takes the time to respond to his community personally

Feature UGC (without sacrificing the aesthetic of your feed)

UGC is the perfect way to showcase your communities’ creativity and appreciation of your brand, and to humanize your feed – especially helpful if you’re promoting a digital product. The only problem with UGC is that you can’t be too specific when asking Instagram users to contribute something (unless you have something exciting to offer in return). And unfortunately, this means that you can’t fully control the aesthetic of your feed. If you’re going for a polished, highly curated feed, regularly sharing UGC just isn’t going to work for you. The solution? Bring together the best of your UGC in a carousel post! You can shine a light on your community without interrupting the visual flow of your feed. Everybody wins!

Creating an Engaged Community Around Your Brand on Instagram

UGC featured on @thenorthface

Reward your community

Finally, show your community you value their contributions by offering them something they want. Maybe it’s a discount on a particular product, or maybe it’s a free trial of a service. Just bear in mind that this offer should be exclusive to your Instagram community, otherwise it loses its impact. You could tell people to watch you go Live to find out a special discount code, or you could share a time-bound promo code in an Instagram post (time-bound so it’s less likely to be widely used outside of your Instagram circle).

If you keep community at the forefront of your mind when planning your Instagram strategy, your going to see your account grow in the best possible way. It’s all about quality not quantity when it comes to interactions, and building a genuinely engaged community on Instagram will have a wider impact on the success of your brand overall. Hopefully you’ve found these points helpful and are ready to switch your focus to building a new community, or growing the community you already have. 🙂

What’s your experience of building a community on Instagram? Do you have any tips to help others get started? Share your advice in the comment section!

About the author
Caitlin Hughes

Caitlin Hughes

Caitlin is a Content Marketing expert at Iconosquare, based in Berlin. She’s passionate about creating ROI-driven content strategies and sharing her best tips on social media marketing. She’s also into true crime, loves ‘80’s music, and spends too much time online shopping.

More posts by Caitlin Hughes

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