Everyone craves a lil’ bit of human connection – even your Insta followers! Building an engaged, supportive and loyal following is essential to becoming a successful ‘grammer. But, knowing how to connect with your community is perhaps even more important!
Your followers are your biggest fans – they’re the ones watching your Stories, engaging with your posts and hearting your content.
So, it’s super important to return the favour and let them know you ❤️ them!
Ready to build that special bond with your audience? Here are some of the best ways to cut through the Insta-noise and stay calm, collected and connected with your community…
Know your community
How do you connect with your community on Instagram?
“Know your audience, and know them well. Create human-centred content, and not just “content” for the sake of content. Instagram shouldn’t replace in-human connection.
As humans, we are wired for connection. So it’s important to see Instagram as a medium to compliment this, as opposed to it being a platform that replaces human to human interactions.
We have to move our online Instagram relationship off the platform too.
I guess that ties into my advice: remember that Instagram should be used to strengthen relationships and shouldn’t be used to replace human connection.”
– Anita Siek, @wordfetti
“Instagram should be used to strengthen relationships and shouldn’t be used to replace human connection.”
“Talk to your audience, get to know them and offer something different. People don’t have much time in a day, so when they see your content they want it to be captivating and interesting or they will continue scrolling.
I would 100% not have my business if it weren’t for Instagram. However in saying that, because of the strong community we have built, I am also confident that if this platform were to disappear or change one day, we would find ways to apply and adapt.”
– Sophia Athas, @hatrikkk
Listen to your community
How has your community helped grow your business?
“My Instagram audience have become not only my customers, but my inspiration! I’ve become really in tune with what they want and what they don’t want. And they’ve given me the ideas to grow my business off the back of that!
Meal prepping and healthy recipes is my niche, and from that, my audience gave me ideas and inspired me to create my own sustainable Tupperware range! After seeing what my Instagram community engaged with most on my page, it actually gave me the idea to create a brand new product.
Being in tune with your audience is key – the more your audience grows, the more you grow.”
– Katie Lolas, @lady.lolas
Create a safe space
How did you create such a supportive community on Instagram?
“Before we started our Instagram account, we were seeing all these stories that were inspiring us every day on various media platforms. But there was no place online that existed that was specifically just for Aboriginal women, which is where most of us get our news and now such a massive place for education.
Something people don’t realise, is that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are the highest users of social media in the country. There might not be a lot of computers or technology in some of our remote communities, but everyone has a mobile phone. And when you’re nine hours away from everything, the best way to connect with each other and keep up to date is with Facebook and Instagram.
Knowing that information, I just kind of woke up one day with an idea. I wanted to create that space that I didn’t have as an Aboriginal woman, to see my culture represented in my Instagram feed. I wanted to create a place that was going to be increasingly positive and celebrate the women I know, and any other indigenous women that we could connect with, for what they’re doing every day.
How did you start building your community?
Three days after the initial idea, I made our Instagram page. We had 1,000 followers within a week! Instantly, we had so many women that I’d never met reaching out and wanting to share their stories.
“I wanted to create that space that I didn’t have as an Aboriginal woman – to have my culture represented in my Instagram feed. A place that was going to be increasingly positive and celebrate the women I know, and any other indigenous women that we could connect with.”
Now, everyone is just so generous and vulnerable and fearless in the stories they tell us, and I think it’s because they have a sense of ownership of the platform. I’m really, really thankful for that. When you feel like you have responsibility for something as an active participant, you want to see it grow and you want to contribute to it. And we have now built a really nice culture and close community where everyone seems unafraid to tell their story.
Our community is built of not just Aboriginal women, but aboriginal men, non-indigenous people, and even non Australians supporting us from overseas. It’s really nice that once we set the community standard, everyone wanted to support it and tell their story.”
– Marlee Silva, @tiddas4tiddas
Show them behind the scenes
How does Instagram help your community get to know you?
“Instagram is an amazing platform for us to showcase what we do. We profile our members which gives people a good idea of who is working in the space what kind of community you can expect. Show elements of the decor and facilities in our space including event spaces, meeting rooms and co-working. We showcase our services and how we support our members. This is predominantly done through Instagram Stories where we capture our events, workshops, business support and community engagement activities, etc.
“We use Instagram to create a feeling, so that when our followers see or read our content, we make sure we provide value, connection, community and support.”
It allows us to show more behind the scenes, helping to create a real authentic connection with our followers. Those are key things consumers look for in a co-working space. So, if they can experience it on our Instagram, they automatically connect with our brand.”
– Sheree Rubinstein, @oneroofwomen
Create a sense of community
How do you create a sense of community on Instagram?
“Instagram has been absolutely pivotal to the growth of A Girl In Progress! I think today, the most important role Instagram plays in the ‘A Girl In Progress’ brand is showing our followers what we stand for. Creating a sense of community.
I use it as a hub for inspiring quotes on body confidence, mental health and self-love. Which hopefully provides a positive antidote to some of the unattainable perfection you see on Instagram.”
– Emma Norris, @_agirlinprogress
“My inspiration for starting the Creatively Squared Instagram account was to create a place that was inclusive and welcoming for all types of creators. I wanted to give people from all walks of life the inspiration and motivation they needed to create. We made sure we were global from day one. We began holding weekly creative competitions to challenge our community to create something new each week. Our entire account is featuring their ideas and artwork to celebrate our diverse community of creators.
“Instagram is an incredible channel to build community, create brand awareness and communicate with your audience.”
The Creatively Squared community are what inspired me to create a space for them to be celebrated and recognised. They were so talented, genuine and creative that I knew big brands would want to work with them, they just had no idea how to find each other.
The opportunity for companies to invite their customers to be part of their brand story and actively co-create their visual identity is just fantastic and I wish more brands would use the platform for this purpose.”
– Ruth Stephensen, @creativelysquared
Build a creative network
How has Instagram helped you connect with other creatives?
“Because I have bootstrapped Tsuno to get it started, I really relied on Instagram, and still do, to grow my community of customers.
I have also been able to connect with artists, menstrual equality advocates, health professionals, like minded business owners, charities, retailers, you name it. And all because of the way Instagram makes it so easy to connect, communicate and relate to people all around the world.”
– Roz Campbell, @_tsuno_
“Instagram makes it so easy to connect, communicate and relate to people all around the world.”
“I wanted to share with the creative community what I love. And I was lucky to find an amazing creative network – along with an audience – on Instagram.”
– May Leong, @hellomissmay
Reach far and wide
How has Instagram helped you grow your community?
“Without Instagram I’m really not sure how I would have reached so many thousands of women around the world. I would have only had the power to change the women in my close vicinity or city. Now my community isn’t just one city. Instagram allows my community to be the entire world!
My goal is to inspire and empower as many women around the world as I possibly can. If I can inspire one woman a day to move their body, which leads to them feeling empowered, strong and ready to take on the world, which leads them actually changing the world – imagine the world we would live in!
Instagram helps me reach more women every single day to do this.”
– Louisa Paterson, @trainlikeaballerina
Keep it real
How do you keep it real with your community?
“Instagram is an incredible platform that helped me foster JSHealth as a brand. A strong, loyal community naturally leads to organic growth for a brand, so we’ve been very lucky in that respect.
I started my Instagram as an extension of my blog. It was a way for me to document my struggles with body love, weight, and my complex relationship with food. Slowly, my social media following started to grow. It was all very organic and unplanned. This was long before the days of Instagram influencers. I soon realised that plenty of people were suffering with the same issues that I’d been battling. From the beginning, I opened up about my fears, my daily struggles and how I’ve found healing. In fact, I still do this today.
“A strong, loyal community naturally leads to organic growth for a brand.”
It’s so important to share who you really are on social media. Instagram has become a platform where we can share our experience with one another, and provide a sense of strength and community. I’m truly blessed to have this community. It means everything to me.”
– Jessica Sepel, @JShealth
“I only post things that I want to and when I want to. If I don’t want to share, I simply won’t. I am naturally a person who has no issues with sharing my personal life. There is so much chat now about how glossy Instagram can be. How it makes some people really depressed, that it causes so much envy and distress. I do agree that the space is a snapshot of joy and that pretty photos flood the feed.
We all become so numb to the unicorn filter that it is so refreshing and empowering when someone opens up and is real for a second. I often find that when I put myself out there, that’s when the most special bonds are formed. I like to keep it real, and real is being honest and showing more than a pretty outfit in a beautiful location.
When I suffer in things, I don’t do it in silence. I am a very open book and I talk a lot about my failings in hopes that people will learn from my mistakes. Or, that they simply know that they are not alone in their struggle to keep everything together. I think the best part about social media is that you are able to connect with people you would normally never meet and that advice is only ever one message away.”
– Shen-Tel Lee, @shentel