5 Ways To Grow Your Brand’s Instagram Community in 2021

Marketers and business owners alike are both currently in a love/hate relationship with Instagram. While the potential is limitless, the competition is stiff, and the ability to grow a devoted, engaged community on the platform continues to be a struggle. From keeping up with algorithm changes, to learning how to use new features, and implementing every tip and trick in order to ‘hack’ the platform, focusing on growing your brand’s Instagram can feel like a full-time job.

There used to be a time where businesses were able to get by with a website and basic social media profiles, but now, in order to survive and thrive as an emerging brand you have to work harder than ever to reach, attract, and engage with prospects online. Users don’t just want to see your pictures and generic updates, they want to relate to the brand and engage in a deeper, more personal way. Because of this deep connection between brands and their online audiences, it’s important that you build a community and establish a transparent rapport with your existing and potential customers. By investing in an online community, your business can find long-term success, not just on Instagram, but in all areas of your digital touchpoints.  

A community is much more than being a one-time customer of just a content follower, its a sense of belonging that your audience shares, and a place where they feel engaged and valued. Community is about shared interests and meaningful connections, and creating an Instagram community for your business is one of the best ways to leverage the platform for growth in your business. Through an Instagram community you gain brand loyalty, boost engagement, generate consistent sales and leads, and stay connected to your customers. 

Having a thriving community at your fingertips also keeps your brand connected to what your prospects and customers need, what they want, who they are, and how to add value to their lives, which provides you with the opportunity to retain more of your customers, scale your business, and generate more revenue. If this past year has taught business owners but one thing, it’s to take your digital communities seriously. With social distancing measures in place, and people trying to navigate their “new normals”, there’s never been a more important time to create meaningful connections with your audience online. 

Although Instagram is an ever changing platform, it is still the prime location to establish and grow your brand’s community online. But, the million dollar question is; ‘how do you grow an audience when you struggle to attract and engage your followers?’

Below are five strategies to implement for your Instagram that work in 2021 to grow your brand’s community and help your business stand out and thrive on the competitive platform. 

Strategy #1 – Spark Interactions with Instagram Stories Stickers

The key to any community is setting the tone that your brand is authentic, responsive and inviting. That means being a place where people feel that their voices are not only being heard, but valued. Instagram Stories are the best way to humanize your brand, deliver transparency, and engage users, all while generating new leads and sales. That’s because Instagram Stories allows brands to show their personality in a way that’s engaging, interactive, and human. Since the content posted on stories is fleeting, brands don’t have to worry about making a fuss with beautifully crafted images and videos like on the static feeds. Brands can leverage Stories features like geographical location tagging to show up in more places their audience is posting on the platform. They can use gifs to show off their personality and catch attention from followers, and so on.

Instagram Stories and its features are all designed specifically to grow your following and increase engagement by allowing your followers to chat, ask questions, and share their opinions and experiences with you, which, in turn, will help create a community that feels connected to your brand. The best stickers to incorporate into your strategy include using; 
 – The Question Sticker – This sticker allows for direct questions, replies, engagement, and customer feedback from your followers. Using this sticker helps your followers get to know your brand and get information about your services and products, and it also allows you to get to know them on a deeper level. 
 – The Quiz Sticker – The quiz sticker lets you share trivia-style multiple-choice questions with your followers and track the results. When one of your followers “votes” on your quiz, they’ll be able to see whether they got it right — and you’ll be able to see how many votes each option received and how each person voted. This also works if you are trying to get a guesstimate from your audience about content they want to see, or products, launches, or releases they should expect. 
 – The Poll Sticker – Very similar to the quiz sticker, the poll sticker offers a customizable “yes or no”/ A or B option for your audience to give their opinion or feedback on a topic or product. Once a follower chooses an option, you can see how many voted for which option, and individuals that voted, and their choice. This is a great way to segway into a private conversation with potential customers by sending a DM based on their poll response. 
 – The Countdown Sticker – If you want to generate interest around a launch, promotion, announcement, sale or event, adding the countdown sticker allows you to set a date and time that your followers can track and subscribe to for a reminder when the time is up and your countdown is complete. This is a great strategy for engaging with your Instagram followers and getting your audience to opt-in to special events or promotions.

Strategy #2 – Prioritize Community Management 

Creating a strong community isn’t just about sharing your story. It’s about providing opportunities to listen to the voices of your audience. Remember, engagement is a two-way street. If you are only focused on talking to your audience, and not piquing their interests or initiating conversations, you will see your engagement dwindle to nothing. Unengaged followers won’t be converted into loyal customers. Open communication benefits your brand as much as it does your audience. It’s a tremendously valuable way to gain insight into what your followers care about the most, and what opportunities your brand should go after to generate more conversions.

The best way to facilitate a growing community is to maintain proper community management practices. Be vigilant in responding to comments on your posts, and messages in your DMs. When people feel like you care about them, they’ll return the favor. Your community is rooting for you and they want to help you build and grow your business by telling others about you, tagging you in pictures and continuing to order. You gain this level of loyalty by providing an exceptional and engaging experience for your audience. Don’t be afraid to reply. Question their criticism. Ask for their feedback. Be empathetic to their needs and wants. Your customers will appreciate your efforts, which results in more traffic and conversions for you.

Strategy #3 Build a relationship with Niche Influencers 

Building a small, but mighty network of Macro, people with 100,000+ followers, and Micro, people with 1,000 to 100,000 followers, Influencers is one of the best ways to quickly attract your target audience, increase brand awareness, and build a thriving Instagram community. Influencer marketing is successful because it uses a pre-made audience of people with similar interests, and leverages the relationships, trust, and credibility an influencer has with their followers. Influnencers are your best referral system when getting new and engaged people to join your audience. People who belong to their communities respect and trust influencers’ content and recommendations and are more likely to buy from or follow another brand based on the suggestions of the people they trust.

When looking for influencers you need to search based on your business type, your audience demographics, and your budget. The larger the audience the less engagement the page generates, so it’s a good rule of thumb to test your influencer campaigns with micro influencers. While their audiences may be a few thousands, they tend to get better engagement, and have a more active audience, which will help you to build a hyper focused audience. They are also cheaper to work with and can establish longer relationships for frequent exposure to their audience. 

#4 Post more User-Generated Content 

UGC is content that is created by your users or customers about your brand. Getting your customers to produce visual content helps build trust, credibility, and also encourages loyalty and new purchase conversions. It also helps you to strengthen your online community. User-generated content allows customers and community members to feel like valuable contributors, and prospective community members benefit from seeing real people using and enjoying your products or services. People are more likely to buy based on the recommendations of a friend or family and like to see the added benefits of how real people look and feel using your brand.

Sharing UGC that reflects your audience can help members of your community to feel represented, which can also be a powerful way to show you’re here for all of your followers regardless of shape, age, gender, race, orientation, and beyond. Because it’s not paid for by the brand, it’s perceived to be much more authentic and trustworthy than other kinds of paid advertising.

Strategy #5 – Use Reels to add value to your audience 

One of the positives about the Instagram platform unveiling native features, is that it gives brands a new opportunity to cut through the noise and get more of their content in front of more of the people that matters. Video content is a vital part of your 2021 content marketing strategy, and it is certainly on the rise on Instagram. Instagram Reels is an Instagram feature that lets you create short-form video content that you can share with your Instagram followers or anyone on the platform. Reels are a quick and fast way to share info, provide education, entertain and stand out to your audience.  

You can record and edit 15-30 second videos, adding audio and effects, and then share the videos with your followers and the entire Instagram community. With Reels, brands can create the Instagram content their audience craves in a way that is more personable and approachable. This goes a long way toward building and nurturing relationships and community on the platform. In addition, creating content that provides educational content like tips and tutorials or content that show off your products, services, are a great way to get followers to find value in your Instagram Reels content. Short-form video is a content format that can get your audience excited, pique their curiosity, and encourage engagement. 

If you are looking to seriously attract your audience and grow your own loyal community, then Instagram is the core social channel for your business. As a platform it can be a wonderful way to build trust and likability, as well as a helpful tool to find out what your customers want!  When building your Instagram strategy, it is important to put your community and their needs at the forefront. And although there’s no such thing as overnight success when it comes to building meaningful customer relationships, this is one long-term strategy that’s well worth the investment.

If this all seems a little overwhelming, the team at IdealGrowth will be more than happy to coach you along the way!