Given the state of the world today, do we need another “look at me” Instagram post, or divisive call to action? In his book, Community: The Structure of Belonging, Peter Block writes:
“The media is a reflection of who we, as citizens, have become.”
As social media users, we are all creating that reflection. Just because social media tools have silly names and are easy to use doesn’t mean our individual and collective use doesn’t have a powerful effect on shaping who we are becoming. Let’s use it to reflect and create connection.
I’ve offered seven ideas for how to foster connection on Instagram (my favorite social media medium at the moment), and some links to related posts. Although a couple of the posts are about growing your followers, they include some connection/community-building tips as well.
#1 Use hashtags in your niche/field/interest area
Think of hashtags as a sign that says, “You’ll find x kind of images and ideas here.” If you don’t put up that sign, it can be difficult for people outside of your familiar circle to find you.
The easiest way to discover hashtags related to the image you’re posting is to start to add one to your photo. A list of related hashtags will automatically pop up. For example, let’s say you’re a writer. If you start to type #writer in the caption of your image, you will see suggestions for #writers #writerscommunity #writersofinstagram #writersofig. You want to pick a mix of hashtags that are frequently used (you can tell by the number next to the hashtag) and less well used.
Also notice which hashtags people in your niche/field/interest area are using. I’m a big proponent of finding and learning from social media “role models.”
#2 Follow and engage with people in your niche/field/interest area
Start by clicking on the hashtags you use the most. Scroll through the images till you see one you like. Click on it and check out who posted it. If their images and bio resonate with you, follow them, like the image, and/or comment on the image. Check out their followers and the people they follow. You might find some like-minded souls there.
You can also find people by searching for a word, or hashtag related to your work. Once you put in your search term, you can filter the results by top results, people, tags, or places.
In general, it’s best to follow people who you truly resonate with because: 1. You have to look at their images every time you scroll through your feed, and 2. If someone looks through who you follow, it tells them something about your interests and who you are.
#3 Reply to your comments
If a person takes the time to write a comment, take the time to reply. If you want to add some extra TLC, take a look at their most recent photos, and make your comment more personal (e.g. Your trip to Yosemite looks amazing!).
#4 Create a hashtag for your community
We’re living in a time when a hashtag can launch a movement. If you create a hashtag that captures the essence of your work and people’s imaginations, it can be a way for people who share your Big Vision to find each other.
That said, just because you’ve come up with an original hashtag it doesn’t mean people will use it. Test out a community hashtag by hosting a virtual event like we talked about in #4 of 5 Ways Your Instagram and Blog Can Play Together.
#5 Ask a question
Give your followers a way to interact with you and each other. For example, Libsyn (a podcast hosting company, recently posted, “Let’s get to know each other. What’s your podcast? And if you see someone in the comments that you think is cool, follow them!”
#6 Share other people’s content
Sharing other people’s Instagram posts can be a lovely way to foster connection. You could re-post some of your favorite submissions to your virtual event, or images by people in your field/niche/interest area that you think your followers would enjoy. The key is to do this legally.
Because it is so easy to create content, it can also be easy to forget that if someone takes a photo and posts it on Instagram, it’s their content. You need to ask permission to use it. If there are people in the photo, you probably need their permission as well.
You can ask permission by sending the original Instagrammer a private message, or by asking in the comments of the image. When you re-post their image, be sure to credit their username as the source of the photo in your description.
For more info, check out, How to Legally Repost User-Generated Content on Instagram.
#7 Collaborate with other Instagrammers
One of the fun things about social media is that it can create opportunities to collaborate with people in your field/interest area/niche. For example, you could agree to do a “shout out” for each other where you share one of each other’s photos, and if it feels appropriate, encourage your followers to check out each other’s feed.
Or you could organize a “takeover” of your posts, Stories, or Live feed by an Instagrammer who think your followers would enjoy. The person taking over the account could be someone you admire in your niche, someone on your team (if your account is for an organization), community members, or customers.
For more info, read:
- 5 Tips to Get a Shoutout on Instagram by Lifewire
- Instagram Takeover: How to Host a Takeover in 6 Easy Steps by Alfred Lua on the Buffer Blog
In the social media marketing world, the term influencer is used to describe a person with a large social media following who can potentially sway people’s behavior with their content. The reality is, even if you have just a handful of Facebook friends, YouTube viewers, blog readers, or Instagram followers, your content is probably influencing them in some way. Everything we share and consume on social media reflects and affects us consciously, or unconsciously. That’s the nature of communication. So, let’s use this relatively new power responsibly and to create connection.
- How to Grow a Vibrant and Engaged Community on Instagram by Georgie Morley on Bloggers Gonna Blog.
- 7 Authentic Strategies to Grow Your Instagram Community by Sheila Joy on Search of Sheila
- 11 Surefire Ways to Grow Your Instagram Followers by Melyssa Griffin
- How to Grow Your Instagram Followers in 2018 by Alisha Mishra on Going Big, the Crowdfire Blog
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