Building an Instagram Audience

Instagram audience

Social media is likely to be a significant part of your marketing strategy. But how do you make that work?

If you’ve been Googling (other search engines are available) how to build your Instagram audience, you have no doubt since been advertised to by every so-called “guru” and their dog.

I’m going to say something controversial:  getting Instagram followers isn’t rocket science. There are tricks you can apply – that applies to everything – but above all, it takes work and consistency. Every day.

Wait! Work? Every day? I don’t have time for that!

OK, unless you are a business with an unusual niche and you have more customers than you can deal with, you cannot afford not to dedicate some time every day to your marketing.

In this article, I’m going to give you actionable advice on how to build a meaningful Instagram audience.

Here are the cornerstones of a successful Instagram page:

  1. Appearance and emotion
  2. Correct ratio of post types
  3. Hashtags
  4. Engagement

So let’s look at each one.

  1. Appearance and emotion

Stop. Don’t do anything until you have got this right. There’s no point in going out there and trying to get followers until your page looks right. There are all sorts of theories on what makes a page look right. Should it all be the same colour? Should it follow a theme? I’m not so sure but it should have some kind of uniformity so it’s not all over the place when people look at your grid. But here’s the key thing: your brand’s imagery, whether it’s on your website, your social media or your printed material is there for a reason – it is meant to make people feel something.

Write down 5 things that you want to make your customers feel. For example, if you sell boho jewellery, you might choose unique, attractive, romantic, care-free and lively. Choose images that you associate with those emotions. Every image you post should attempt to encourage those emotions.

Now that you have done that, start planning. You have to plan. There is no way around it. Make a calendar and start putting all of your content in. You don’t have to stick to it 100% (and you probably won’t) but this will make your life so much easier. Think about how your posts will look next to each other. There is software, such as Later, that allows you to see posts in situ so you can see how it all looks. However, the functionality of the free versions tends to be quite limited.

Talking of software, Canva is a great place to start to get free content that’s already formatted to be in the right dimensions.

John Lewis Instagram Audience.

2. Correct ratio of post types

This is something you probably hear all the time, or you will begin to: “Facebook/Instagram has changed its algorithm”. This is often true and it’s hard to keep up. What you need to know now is that Instagram is now in competition with Tik Tok and it wants you to use its Reels. It will reward you with reach (how many people see your posts).

It’s not set in stone what you have to do but I’d recommend the following: Start with 2 or 3 posts every day.

Also, post a story every day to make sure you are always present amongst those little circles at the top of the screen. Make sure that the content is different to your post or people will get bored. It can be on the same topic or you can repurpose old posts – you don’t always have to start from scratch but try and keep it as something your followers haven’t already seen that day.

The bad news – you need to use Reels and post a reel at least once a week. That doesn’t mean that you have to use a bunny filter and do a little dance. You can make animated content. People love video anyway and videos always get the most engagement. You can learn how to do basic animations in Canva. If you have a Mac, you can make fairly simple little videos using iMovie.

Put all of this in your calendar and it will start coming together.

3. Hashtags

You can use up to 30 hashtags in each post. Of course, you don’t have to use 30 but it won’t harm you if you do. I usually use at least 10. Experiment and you will learn what works for you.

So, what hashtags should you use? This isn’t really that tricky. Make a list of about 30, which you use interchangeably.

They should be split into different levels of popularity.

Choose 5-7 highly popular hashtags that have between 100,000 to 500,000 posts. I don’t recommend using hashtags with more than 500,000 or so results because your posts will get lost in the noise.

Choose 5-7 hashtags that have 10,000 to 100,000 posts associated with them.

Choose 3-5 niche-specific hashtags with fewer than 10,000 posts associated with them. These should be targeted to your core business and the things your target audience is searching for.

Create 1-3 branded hashtags for your brand and/or your campaigns.

As well as popularity, these should be split into types:

Product or content hashtags should directly relate to the items in the post itself.

#pillowboxes #weddingfavourboxes

Industry hashtags are specific to the industry and customers you serve

#giftpackaging #weddingpackaging

Niche hashtags are specific to the target audience you’re trying to reach.

#weddingideas #weddinggifts

Branded hashtags

#tinyboxcompany #tinypackaging

Make sure you use 1 or some from each hashtag type and each level of popularity and rotate them. Don’t use the same hashtags all the time.

Instagram conversation - bluetits

4. Engagement

Yes, you’re right if you were thinking that this is the most time-consuming part of the whole equation. However, it is vital, especially while you are still relatively small.

Engagement is what Instagram is all about. It is a community of people sharing, supporting and engaging with others through content. So, get in that mindset. Engage with the people who come to you via your content and also go out there and engage with others. Use Insights to tell you when your followers are most likely to be online and post then. Stick around for 20 minutes or so to see who comments, so you can reply. Be engaging. This is vital to make your audience feel that you are having a two-way conversation. Don’t “post and ghost”.

In terms of “going out there” and drawing people in, I’m a fan of Gary Vaynerchuk’s $1.80 strategy.

In short, this is where you leave your .02 cents on the top 9 trending Instagram posts for 10 different hashtags that are relevant to your business. This has to be done every day. Definitely do this while you are building your audience. But remember your community mindset while you do it. Be relevant and sincere. Ask questions, so as to encourage people to engage with you.

Go do it!

So there you have it. Getting your Instagram right is about planning and consistency. There isn’t a magic formula but there is no reason why you shouldn’t get into your own rhythm of planning, creating, posting and making conversation. Just remember that nothing will happen if you don’t keep doing it.

Good luck!

If you’d like to chat to us about your social media marketing, or anything else, give us a call on 01342 457728 or drop us a line.

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