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How to Build a Community and Thrive on Instagram

Social Media

If you or your business are not on Instagram, what kind of rock have you been hiding under these past years? It’s time you consider getting on board (or start doing it right)!

Here are some compelling reasons why:

  • There are over two billion people around the world who use Instagram every month.
  • About 90% of users follow a business on Instagram, and 200 million users visit at least one business profile a day.
  • Brands post an average of 2.5 Instagram Stories weekly.
  • Around 62% of Instagram users say they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories.
  • The “like” button is being used 4.2 billion times each day.
  • 71% of U.S. businesses are using the platform to push their brand.
  • Over 80% of businesses consider engagement rate as the most important metric.

There’s something about Instagram that makes it the social network of choice for the younger generation, artist communities, and people who just love to connect with kindred spirits.

Also, branded content on Instagram doesn’t seem to come out as hard selling or distracting as compared to Facebook’s (at least for now). True enough, data proves that Instagram provides higher interaction rates for B2B brands, with 22.53 interaction per 1000 followers per post

And now that we have established that, let’s talk about how to reach your target market on Instagram effectively.

  1. Community First

Instagram has successfully built a strong platform for communities to thrive, which is precisely why it has seen remarkable growth in the past years. Whether for individual use or for business, one has to see Instagram as a place to build and cultivate community.

So, how do you create a community? Build something that your followers and other people want to be a part of. Identify your niche and target audience. Then keep the tone consistent to attract more like-minded people (AKA customers or clients). Below are some ideas on how you can build a strong, active Instagram community for your business. 

  • Search and follow community hashtags related to your niche. For instance, #b2bcontent, #growthmarketing, #SEO, etc.
  • Engage and display genuine interest with your followers as soon as possible. They may be looking at other similar businesses and you want to be the first to make a good impression.
  • Turn your audience into brand advocates or ambassadors. Did a follower tag you in their post where they’re viewing or using your product? Share it on your Instagram Stories or feed. User-generated content is today’s word-of-mouth marketing.
  • Show your community how much you appreciate them by answering Instagram comments, giving them a shout out, providing exclusive discounts, and more.

Read: 5 Traits That Make a Great Community Manager

  1. Use Hashtags Intentionally

Hashtags are intended for grouping similar content, allowing users to easily search for related themes, events, products, and ideas. They’re an amazing way to promote your content and make your brand become more visible, like how the marketing video creator Animoto does below. 


Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags in a post, but that doesn’t mean you want to hit that limit everytime. It’s best to keep it to a minimum at around three to five relevant hashtags per post. After all, #hashtagging #all #the #words #may #come #off #as #spammy and can turn your followers off, especially if they’re irrelevant and repetitive.

To get the most out of your hashtags, make sure that they’re relevant and specific to your needs. So, instead of misusing or stuffing hashtags, use them strategically and intentionally:

  • Brand-specific hashtags. These hashtags are unique to your business and can be as simple as your company name, tagline, product name, or campaign name. Branded hashtags make your brand more easily discoverable. 
  • Trending hashtags. To be clear, we don’t suggest you just jump in and use whatever’s trending, especially if it’s not related to your post. (You don’t want others misusing your branded hashtags too.) Depending on your niche, you’ll find trending hashtags that already have an existing community or following. For instance, you can accompany a screenshot of your latest marketing-related blog post with the hashtag #b2bcontent to promote it.
  1. Post Relatable Photos

Consider Instagram as an opportunity to practice creativity in promoting your brand. Instagram users love carefully curated feeds. Invest time and effort in assuring that you post photos your market can relate with, while promoting campaigns and staying true to your brand identity.

Take a look at Hubspot’s Instagram feed. They make sure to attract the right audience—particularly, marketers and business owners who are looking to improve their social media marketing, content management, web analytics, and search engine optimization.


You’ll see their brand DNA in all their posts. They post informative and engaging content that catches the audience’s attention and encourages them to engage in the comments section. For instance, they posted a photo asking their followers whether they’re a specialist or generalist. The post gathered 70 comments in a short period of time.

And then there’s Sprout Social, a social media management and optimization platform for brands and agencies. . These guys know how to market their service in a non-hard-sell way.


They share tips on Instagram TV, introduce their team members, and commemorate world celebrations and events. Company culture is front and center on their feed and it’s been helping them drive quality engagements.

  1. Connect with Influencers

Whether for content marketing, social media, or even SEO for that matter, try to incorporate influencer marketing into your strategy this year. “Influencer marketing” may sound like another marketing discipline entirely, but worry not. It’s basically just a fancy term that means getting to know your niche, finding relevant social circles, and building relationships with the leaders and influencers there.

For instance, Microsoft partnered with National Geographic’s photography influencers and women scientists and adventurers for a campaign called #MakeWhatsNext. It was intended to encourage women to get involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). The campaign rolled out in line with International Women’s Day 2017. 


The results? The campaign reached 91 million people and garnered 3.5 million likes on the same day.

  1. Be Creative with Sponsored Ads

Sponsored ads are here to stay, and no, it’s not a bad thing. The obvious truth is, Instagram has a billion users. While many of the early adopters have already positioned themselves and built a solid community of followers, more and more brands are just beginning to see the value of this platform.

Growing your Instagram following organically is a tough call. Sure, it can be done, but competition is stiff and progress is most likely going to be slow. However, with the right investment and a strategic sponsored ad campaign, you can expedite the growth of your community.

What’s good about Instagram is, sponsored ads easily blend into the feed without annoying pop-ups, sidebar ads, or distracting layouts. Then again, it’s also easy to dismiss ads in one scroll; therefore, you should keep in mind that you only have a very small window of opportunity to draw your market in and deliver your message. Captivating content is key!

Here are some recent (Philippine-based) examples of Instagram sponsored ads.


What makes this ad by KitKat effective is how they used an image that looks like normal “instagrammable” moments. They also used a simple and humanized caption (using emojis) to drive it home. 


Netflix, on the other hand, used video to capture users’ attention. Their ad also has a drive-to-site call to action. It’s all about creating content that matches your audience’s interests, and this was a home run.

In creating Sponsored Ads, take note of the following best practices:

  • Stay relevant to your target market
  • Make your photo AND caption clear and engaging
  • Use relevant hashtags, as mentioned above
  • Have a clear call to action
  1. Use Links Strategically

One of the known dilemmas about Instagram is how it has kept third-party links unclickable. Meaning, URLs placed on photo captions or comments do not automatically lead visitors to the page you’re linking to, unless you’re tagging another Instagram account. This is often frustrating for marketers, but in a sense, this has protected Instagram from the inevitable flood of link spam.

The only area on Instagram where you can place a link is on your profile. That said, you should make the most out of this space.


Link up your most recent posts there and include the phrase “link on profile” on the photo captions to direct traffic to your site. This works, sometimes. Still, it’s quite a challenge to direct Instagram traffic to your website, much more to track visits and behaviors from Instagram.

So, here are some suggestions:

  • How to incorporate URLs to your photo caption: Create a landing page on your website and then use a URL customizer to create an easy-to-remember URL that you can use on your captions. Even though others can’t click the link, they can easily remember the link and type it onto their browsers directly.
  • How to easily track traffic coming from Instagram: Create a unique Instagram landing page on your website, make sure to integrate Google Analytics, and place the unique URL on your profile. Don’t use this link anywhere else other than on Instagram. Here’s a quick guide on why and how to do this.

Making the Most of Instagram Marketing

Check out these account optimizations tips to help you win with Instagram marketing:

  • Optimize your profile. You only get 150 characters to make an impression in your bio, so make it short and snappy in conveying your brand and personality. Insert a clickable website URL (you can change as often as you like for promoting content, select an appropriate business category, and include your contact info to tell people where they can find you. 
  • Switch to a Business Account. Switching to a professional account allows your account to identify as a business profile. Instagram’s Business Tools also enables you to promote your content easies, view in-depth insights, and make it a breeze for users to contact you. You can do this by clicking Settings > Account > Switch to Professional Account. 
  • Allow message replies from you followers. This is especially important when you’re using Stories to increase brand engagement. From Story Settings, toggle on the Allow Message Replies from ‘Everyone.’
  • Create visually appealing content. Instagram is a visual medium, so make sure to share photos that get users excited and enticed. For instance, you can share behind-the-scenes photos, video, visual graphs, instructional posts, quotes and text-based images, and repost UGC, among others. 
  • Establish your brand’s look or aesthetic. People love a good-looking feed with consistency. Plus, it makes your brand identifiable. 
  • Write compelling captions. Instagram captions can run up to 2,200 characters long, but the best caption length for an organic post is around 138 to 150 characters and 125 characters for ads. 

There you have it! Are you on Instagram? If yes, how are you making the most of it this year?

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