This is a guest post from Aby Moore of You Baby Me Mummy.
Instagram can inspire us. Its visual impact transports us to far-flung places. We can escape the rain on the school run, to feel just for a moment, the warmth of the sun on our faces. It can help us remember special times in our lives and share them with the world.
It’s this ability to transport us which holds huge power for those who know how to use it properly and who are prepared to put the effort in to make it work.
Besides the visual nature of the platform, its pull for me, and many others, is community. As with most of the other social media platforms, friends are made, collaborations ignited, and communities are built.
This development of community is such a vital part of growing your blog and your business. Without community you might attract readers, but you won’t develop fans.
So how do you develop a killer community on Instagram?
Let’s break it down into the five main areas you need to nail in order to build a killer community on Instagram.
1. Design Your Feed
Most important of all, it has to be beautiful/attractive/striking (insert any positive adjective related to aesthetics!). While some accounts succeed with less-than-brilliant images, these are the exception – so do yourself a favor and concentrate on the look of your Instagram feed first.
Your feed should look cohesive. It should be consistent with your brand. Whether that means always using an accent colour, a style of photography, or even a feeling that all the images evoke; there has to be something to hold all of them together. The last thing you want is for it to look like 20 different people are posting to your feed.
When people first land on your Instagram profile they will only take a few seconds to decide whether to follow you or not. Remember you’re only as good as your last nine pictures!
Spend some time improving your photography. Don’t feel you need to spend a fortune on equipment, however. There are some incredible accounts featuring iPhone only photos! Pay attention to the lighting, finding interesting angles, getting the focus right, using the rule of thirds and you will be well on your way to an aesthetically pleasing, cohesive feed.
2. Share Yourself
Being real is becoming increasingly important on social media. People want to follow authentic people online, as this ‘realness’ allows them to feel connected. Your message is more likely to resonate with them and in turn, this will help you to develop the all important know, like, and trust factor.
Don’t be afraid to share emotion, both positive and negative in your captions. Shared emotion helps people connect with you. I always see a greater engagement rate when I share things that are from the heart. People want to feel less alone and sharing your experiences helps them feel just that. They want to be entertained, connected, feel better about themselves, and share their views, so tap into these emotional needs. Share your story, give value and community will follow.
3. Seek Out Your Community
Who do you want in your community? Hipsters, mamas, millennials? Where do they hang out on Instagram? Which hashtags do they use?
Understanding this means that you will be able to go where they are and make connections. Use hashtags to find ‘your’ people, comment on their photos, and use these hashtags to get your pictures alongside theirs. Use these pre-existing communities to make genuine connections and to help you start building your own community.
4. Proactively Create Engagement
It takes more than a few comments to create a thriving community which is invested in your brand. You need to drive the engagement yourself.
Asking people to double tap your picture if they agree with your statement is a very quick way for them to engage with you and feel connected. You may also ask them to tag someone who…X, Y or Z. This then gives them an opportunity to shout out to a friend (which we all love to do!) and introduces their friend to your brand too. Winner winner chicken dinner!
In addition, make sure you ask your audience questions and encourage the engagement they offer by responding to comments – all comments.
5. Share the Stage with Your Community
Lastly, a wonderful way of building an invested community is to share the stage with your audience. There are many ways to do this. You could use a unique hashtag for your community, to foster a sense of belonging in those joining in. To strengthen this you could then feature some members of the community on your feed. Or maybe give them some coverage via Instagram stories. A custom hashtag can bring more exposure to your account when other people use it in their captions – and it can also encourage your audience to use it to tag you.
Whether you have a digital or physical product will have some impact on how you use this tactic – but it can work for both! For example, frank bod the Australian skincare brand asks their customers to share their #TheFrankEffect moment when posting images of them using the Frank bod products.
This benefits both parties, the customers get greater exposure for their pictures when they appear in that hashtag feed and the brand gets more attention, exposure, and potentially a greater number of future customers as their customers do some of their marketing for them! Perfect!
The most important thing to remember about Instagram is that there is no magic bullet, no shortcut, and no quick fix. What works for one person might not for the next person. It’s about giving value, being genuine, and trying new things and the results (and community!) will follow. Now go have fun!
If you want to make sure your feed is as awesome as it could be why not grab my free Instagram Style Guide, which will help you to create a winning feed.
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Aby Moore is a full-time blogger and online course creator. Aby writes You Baby Me Mummy, an award-winning top UK Family lifestyle blog, which specializes in blogging advice, coaching, and courses. She aims to help mums create more freedom in their lives by turning their blogs into their businesses. Blogging changed her life and she is passionate about helping others use their blog to help change theirs.