How to Build a Community on Instagram: Bring People Together

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Karen Lin

Instagram 101 | Mar 29, 2024

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When you think of building an online community, you might think of gaining fans or potential customers for a business. But in reality, community-building is about so much more than that. It’s about bringing like-minded people together and putting out content that will spark meaningful conversations with them. Today, we’re talking about how to build a community on Instagram that does exactly that.

Sure, creating engaging, viral content and gaining tons of followers are important parts of Instagram’s growth. But what will truly give your brand or business meaning is being able to foster a vibrant, engaged community.

By encouraging active participation and engagement from your target audience through your posts, you can build a terrific community. Keep reading to know the ins and outs of cultivating a strong community on IG from the ground up.

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The First Big Step: How to Find Your Target Audience on Instagram

The first step to creating a community online is to grow your fanbase. To do that, you need to craft content strategies that will help your brand reach your target audience.

But before you think about how to find your target audience on Instagram, you first need to define that market. Think about the demographics (age, sex, location) and psychographics (interests, shopping behaviors) of the people you want in your community. By having a deeper understanding of your target audience, it’s easier to craft relevant content to engage them.

From there, you can think of ways to reach your target market. This can be in the form of paid ad campaigns with specific targeted ads if you want instant results. Or maybe you’d rather consistently post high-quality, organic content for slower, more sustainable growth.

Regardless of which you go for, these strategies make it easy for your target market to discover your brand’s page. If your content resonates with them, you can be sure your audience will make a beeline to your page. And from there, your main focus is to engage them to strengthen your community.

How to Build a Community on Instagram: 6 Ways to Effectively Engage an Audience

Now that you have your target audience’s attention, it’s time to prove that you’re more than just a brand. You can also bring people together with awesome, relevant content. Plus, you can create a special community where users can speak their minds and talk freely. The goal is to make people feel like your page and content are safe spaces where they can be themselves.

That’s something you can do by strengthening your relationship with your audience. By incorporating clever audience engagement strategies into your Instagram plans, you can create spaces where your fans can express themselves.

When you create that sense of belonging for your fanbase, you become more than just a business or influencer. Your page becomes the sanctuary of a community of like-minded people who love your content, allowing them to enjoy their online experience. The fact that it boosts brand loyalty, engagement rates, and follower growth is just the cherry on top!

Are you feeling inspired to build an online tribe of your own? Here’s how to make a community on Instagram.

1. Center Your Content on an Instagram Niche You’re Passionate About

Social media users are often brought together by virtual spaces centered on shared interests. These people might not know each other but will interact on pages about hobbies they have in common. The Harvard Business Review calls these online groups “communities of interest.”

So, one way to lure in potential followers and form a solid community is by focusing on an Instagram niche. Focus on a specific hobby or passion of yours that you can make content about. It can be anything from novels to plants to video games to digital art to wedding planning.

Make Reels, educational carousels, and maybe even blog posts to share with your followers on this topic. While your content likely won’t be for everyone, the people involved in these niches will flock to your community.

When you post content about these shared passions, you people will share their two cents about it. This opens your comments and DMs to meaningful conversations about your niche, whether with you or others in the community.

When choosing your Instagram niche, make sure you go with something you’re actually passionate about. Don’t select a topic just because it’s trendy or viral. Fads die out, and you’ll run out of enthusiasm to post content about those niches. Instead, make content about things you love so you always have something great to post for your community.

Someone taking a photo of their plants to post on Instagram.

2. Create a Branded Hashtag for User-Generated Content

Aside from driving meaningful conversations on your content, encourage your fans to post their own. Create a specific branded hashtag they can use when they make user-generated content (UGC) featuring your brand’s products. This creates a sense of community among people who patronize your brand and are willing to post about it.

When you use a branded hashtag for community posts, you can essentially collate all UGC centered on your brand. Just scroll through that tag’s page to see all the posts your fans have posted about you and your business.

Don’t forget to share people’s posts on your Instagram Stories when they feature your brand in UGC. This will boost word-of-mouth marketing for your brand and give people in your community recognition for their efforts in supporting your business.

3. Engage Your Followers Through Q&A Sessions on Instagram Stories or Live

It’s easier for influencers to band fans together in a solid community if their followers love them. To create a strong, personal, emotional connection with your followers, do a question-and-answer session with them.

You can have fans send in questions through the Q&A sticker on Instagram Stories. Or, if you’re comfortable answering questions in real-time, allow them to ask questions on an Instagram Live sesh.

This tactic allows your audience to participate in something you do on the platform actively. It also lets them learn more about you, strengthening the bond you have with them.

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4. Create a Loyalty Program for Customers and Treat Them to Exclusive Sales

If you run a business that sells goods and services, create a community through a loyalty program for your customers. Anyone should be able to sign up for the program on your brand’s website. But the more they buy products from your brand, the more points they win to “level up.”

The higher up they go in the program, the more rewards you should offer them. Maybe you can give big discounts to people who meet a certain number of points in the system. Or, if you want to go even bigger, host sales exclusively for your brand’s most loyal advocates.

This creates a sense of exclusivity within your community. People who love your brand will want to be part of the “elite” levels in the program. This might urge them to purchase more from your brand and engage with your page on Instagram to get noticed. That means higher engagement rates and more conversions for your business!

Two women holding lots of colorful shopping bags looking at each other.

5. Start a Trendy Branded Instagram Challenge

Create a fun but easy Instagram challenge centered on your brand for people in your community to join. It can be as simple as a photo challenge or as complex and creative as a dance craze. The goal is to make it go viral so that more people join the challenge and discover your brand.

If you’re a fashion retailer, consider doing an OOTD challenge. If you’re an influencer who loves art, encourage your followers to do something like a 30-day doodle challenge. Anything goes when it comes to these online challenges. Just make sure the rules are aligned with your target audience’s interests.

Whatever the mechanics are, make sure you ask people to mention or tag your brand in their challenge posts. Encourage them to nominate friends and family to take on the challenge of spreading the word!

6. Respond to Your Followers’ Comments and DMs Whenever You Can

Our final tip is to engage your community by replying to their comments and direct messages when you can. It’s an easy and terrific way to maintain a personal connection with your fanbase.

We get it; running a brand on Instagram can make you super busy. But taking the time to read people’s thoughts and comments and engaging back is a great way to acknowledge them. It shows that you value them and care about what they have to say. This makes for a positive experience on your page, which, in turn, encourages users to keep interacting with your content.

Remember—Always Adhere to the Instagram Community Guidelines

In a strong community, users will feel comfortable enough to express themselves in comments and post reshares. And it’s your job to come out with engaging content and efforts for those free, open conversations to be born.

That said, it’s of the utmost importance to keep in mind the Instagram community guidelines when engaging with your fans. These guidelines are set to ensure that Instagram is a safe, positive space for everyone. Here are just some of the key rules laid out in these guidelines:

  • Respect everyone on the platform. Never use hate speech to hurt, harass, threaten, or shame anyone.
  • Make sure your page is an inclusive space. Never attack people based on their race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, or disabilities.
  • Always ensure everyone’s safety and well-being. Never post or promote anything that encourages self-harm and acts of harming others.
  • Focus on genuine interactions. Refrain from generating inauthentic activity by buying likes or followers.

By keeping these guidelines in mind, you can maintain a safe, positive community within your page. Not only will this strengthen your connection with fans, but it will also boost your credibility and trustworthiness.

If everyone is respectful of each other, Instagram becomes an amazing place to meet and converse with like-minded individuals. Always remind your fans to be considerate of each other to ensure everyone enjoys and engages with your content comfortably.

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Grow Your Instagram Community Even More With Path Social!

Getting likes and comments and shooting up your engagement rates are valid reasons for wanting to grow on Instagram. However, forming an online community that loves your brand and has meaningful conversations about your content is even more satisfying. It gives your content a higher purpose, making your job as a business owner or creator even more fulfilling.

Do you think it’s your calling to gather like-minded people and form an Instagram community? Path Social can help you build one from the ground up.

The first step in how to build a community on Instagram is getting enough followers. Our proprietary algorithm identifies your strongest niche target audience and pushes out your page to them.

This added visibility results in significant follower growth, giving you a leg up as you start to build your community. Then, it’s up to you to drive vibrant conversations and exciting interactions that will get people to stay. Get more followers and start building your online tribe today!