3 Ways to Grow an Instagram Community

social media toolsIs your business effectively using Instagram?

Are you making the most of your community on Instagram?

Forty percent of top brands have adopted Instagram as part of their marketing strategy.

Instagram helps give your business a personal touch through visuals, so it’s important to bolster your community as best you can for continued growth and interaction from your audience.

Here are three tips on how to strengthen your community management efforts on Instagram.

#1: Use Tools to Manage Your Account

Instagram’s interface, whether on mobile or web, doesn’t offer the best options for brands to effectively engage with their community. Before the launch of the web version of Instagram, many tools were developed to fill in the gaps left by the network.

There’s Statigram, Instagrid, Webstagram, Nitrogram, Simply Measured and many other helpful tools for making the most of your Instagram community.

Let’s focus on just two, Statigram for community and giveaway management, and Nitrogram for measurement.

Statigram

Statigram is most helpful to monitor your community and engage in a variety of ways. The tool allows you to view your Instagram photos and feed, track the metrics of your account, host contests and respond to comments from your audience.

statigram comment moderator

View and reply to all of your comments on your Instagram photos from Statigram. Each photo lists unread comments awaiting moderation.

It lets you quickly scroll through your photos to check which comments are unread, giving you the opportunity to read, respond to or remove them right from the Statigram platform.

Hosting contests is an important way to build your community on any platform, and doing so on Statigram can help quickly grow your relevant Instagram following.

When you host a contest or giveaway on Statigram, you’re able to have a landing page for your promotion, promote it on Statigram and monitor its success with extensive metrics. Statigram also allows a business to announce the winner of an Instagram contest hosted on their platform.

Having a landing page for your Instagram contest is important, mostly because it allows you to list the official rules of the promotion that your followers must adhere to.

martha stewart instagram contest

Martha Stewart hosted her Instagram contest on Statigram to ensure the rules were clear and to ensure the initiative got the most possible visibility.

Martha Stewart is hosting an Instagram contest on Statigram, calling for users to share their holiday decor with the hashtag #marthastwartholiday for a chance to win limited edition ornament sets. This brand promotion would have been difficult to measure and manage properly without Statigram.

Statigram is a turnkey solution for managing your Instagram account and improving its relevancy with your audience.

Nitrogram

Nitrogram‘s main purpose is to effectively measure Instagram accounts—mostly the use of hashtags surrounding your business. Many tools focus on the followers of the account, but it’s always more important to dive into how your audience is engaging with your content.

nitrogram graph

Nitrogram's graphs are simple visual representations of the data from your account, including photos taken, likes, comments and potential impressions. All of this data is exportable to Excel.

Measuring the hashtags related to your business is important because it allows you to see the number of people posting photos about your company from their own accounts and at what frequency.

Your community is an important indicator of customer satisfaction and brand appeal when it comes to the uploads of their own photos, which are a different data set from the content your company uploads to Instagram itself.

#2: Respond to Comments to Grow Your Community

The most important thing you can do for your Instagram community is to remain active, engaged and provide value by responding to comments.

There are 81 comments on Instagram posted every second (according to Digital Buzz), which is a lot of comments to keep up with. That’s where the tools discussed above can really come in handy to bolster your community outreach efforts.

modcloth instagram comments

ModCloth monitors their community on Instagram by responding to compliments and questions and chiming into conversations with valuable insights.

Monitor your hashtags and the photos shared from your account for feedback from your audience. Respond to comments in a timely fashion, and always aim to add value to the conversation so your follower walks away feeling connected with and respected by your brand.

When you answer questions and respond to comments, you will help build a loyal audience, and also help give your account more visibility on Instagram.

If your photos appear on the Explore page—dedicated to the most interesting photos on Instagram—they’ll be seen by users outside of your following and thus provide a new level of visibility to your account.

instagram explore page

Instagram's Explore page allows for the discovery of new images on the network, giving businesses the opportunity to grow their following dramatically once they get a photo featured on this page.

An Instagram photo makes it to the Explore page through a combination of two factors: the amount of engagement on that photo in likes and comments, and the amount of time it takes to get that engagement from when the photo was posted.

When you actively comment on your photos to incite engaging conversations, you help increase the amount of comments on your photo. This leads to a higher likelihood your photo will make it onto the Explore page and gain more followers for your account.

#3: Use Hashtags to Track Engagement Over Time

Hashtags are an often-overlooked way to monitor and measure the growth of your community over time. Similar to their use on Twitter and Google+, hashtags help aggregate photos of a particular subject based on the words used in the hashtag.

It’s important to look at the number of photos being uploaded about your brand to measure its growth over time, as well as your audience’s impression of your business.

instagram hashtags

Use the Explore tab to search and view all photos uploaded with a particular hashtag.

Visit the Explore tab on Instagram and search the name of your business. From here you can see how many photos the Instagram community has uploaded about your brand. View individual photos for opportunities to leave comments and feedback.

By occasionally liking and commenting on photos about your business, you can gain followers from users already sharing photos of your products, services and more.

Hashtags are also helpful when you host giveaways, sweepstakes and promotions on Instagram to organize your entries and calculate the success of your promotion.

Lastly, continue to use tools like Nitrogram to monitor the number of photos about your business on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis to help determine the growth of your community on Instagram over time.

What do you think? Are you actively managing your community on Instagram? If so, what strategies have worked best for your business? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author, Brian Honigman

Brian Honigman is a freelance writer, a marketing consultant and a social media enthusiast focused on stregthening relationships with brands, startups and their customers. Follow him on Twitter @BrianHonigman. Other posts by »




More Info
  • $44796859

    Thanks for a great post, Brian! Top points, and information that shows just how powerful Instagram can be as a marketing tool if the target audience is engaged. Have a great 2013 :)

  • Pingback: 3 Ways to Grow an Instagram Community

  • Kristiem04

    This is really good insight for any business to use instagram! Thanks for the information!

  • http://twitter.com/tvemarketing internetmarketing

    Thanks for the information!

  • tinahuaSI

    I’ve seen clothing retailers who have had several successes with attracting new customers to their business. I think you provided some great tips on how to sponsor contests and hashtags to improve engagement. Businesses should utilize Facebook to leverage their Instagram profiles, since I’ve noticed clients tend to garner more interactions with photos in posts. 

  • Dan

    Interesting points. I would also recommend using Instagram at events to show live feeds. Helps with brand interaction. Eventstagram is a good tool for this!

  • http://www.brianhonigman.com/ Brian Honigman

    You’re very welcome Andrew! Thanks for reading. :)

  • http://www.brianhonigman.com/ Brian Honigman

    You’re very welcome, thanks for reading!

  • http://www.brianhonigman.com/ Brian Honigman

    You’re welcome! Happy New Year!!!

  • http://www.brianhonigman.com/ Brian Honigman

    I agree b2c companies (specifically those in fashion) have a lot of opportunities to expand their audience using Instagram. It’s a great way to drive attention to stylized looks. Thanks for reading Tina!

  • http://www.brianhonigman.com/ Brian Honigman

    Hi Dan, good suggestion about using Instagram for events! I’ll definitely have to check out this tool. Happy New Year and thanks for reading.

  • http://twitter.com/CXthecloud CX

    Really great tips, Brian! You would think responding to users on social media would be a no-brainer, but it’s nice for brands to have a reminder to do so! 

  • Pingback: 3 Ways to Grow an Instagram Community « Social Media / SEO / Mobile / Digital Marketing News

  • Lucas2

    Great tips! Especially like the online tool suggestion!

  • http://www.windycityparrot.com WindyCityParrot

    I think Instagram is in a tail spin and we’re keeping it arms length – ever since the TOS fiasco and even though Instagram denies any significant subscriber loss, I think it’s helluva coincidence in that you can’t pin from Instagram but our Pinterest traffic more than tripled/quadrupled?? (Ilitterally cannot keep up with the fresh Pinterest activity) in the past 2 weeks. More brilliant Facebook management at work

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Great stuff  Brian! I have yet to create an Instagram account for my business but I can see that it is becoming a must for online marketers to explore. Just like with Pinterest I what to know the best way it will work for a Podcaster like me. Your thoughts?

    Keep rockin everyone!  

  • Sam@Valentine Day’s package

    This is good post to know those secrets from where you can find exactly where you are right now and what other things you will need to do.  

  • http://www.socialbakers.com/ Michal Smetana

    Thank you very much for this post. It contains some really useful and insightful information. As much as responding to your fans’/followers’ comments might seem a no-brainer still we can see how much people and brands don’t actually do it.

  • Pingback: 3 Ways to Grow an Instagram Community | digitalnews2000

  • http://szeliu.com/ Sze Liu

    Great article! Definitely use hash tags. There are some popular hash tags that the Instagram community use and search for on a daily basis such as instagood, instamood, etc. That would help people find your pics.

  • http://www.brianhonigman.com/ Brian Honigman

    Hi CX, a quick reminder never hurt! :) Thanks for reading.

  • http://www.brianhonigman.com/ Brian Honigman

    You’re welcome Lucas, I’m glad you found the tool useful!

  • http://www.brianhonigman.com/ Brian Honigman

    Hi Sze, yeah you’re right! Using hashtags with your photos is a helpful way of getting your content found, as long as the hashtags are relevant to your audience and content.

  • http://www.brianhonigman.com/ Brian Honigman

    No problem Peter, have a great end of the week!

  • Pingback: 3 Ways to Grow an Instagram Community « Instagram Tips and Tricks

  • http://www.facebook.com/joshua.buscay Joshua Buscay

    I have been having a problem where I use hashtags on my photos that I post through our company profile, the problem is the photo never shows up in the hash tagged gallery.  I googled this problem and it sounds like others are having the same issue.  Anyone have any insight into this? Thanks!

  • http://www.brianhonigman.com/ Brian Honigman

    Hi Joshua, I haven’t experienced that problem. I simply add hashtags to the description of the photo when I first post it and it works fine. I will look into this and report back I find any direction on how to fix this for you. Thanks again for reading!

  • http://www.brianhonigman.com/ Brian Honigman

    Hi John, I think there’s a place for most types of businesses on Instagram. The important thing to consider is how can Instagram relay the visual aspect of your company and in this case your podcast. I’d have to know more about your Podcast to help give specific ideas, but I think this is a good starting point. Email me for any more direction. Happy New Year!

  • Pingback: 3 Ways to Grow an Instagram Community « Myriad Marketing Intranet

  • http://4gforless.com/ Keithflaherty

    When you use a hashtag, do you own that or can anyone use it?

  • Pingback: Get More Results On Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in 2013

  • http://www.siedahmitchumdesigns.com/ Siedah Mitchum

    Statigram is definitely a tool that I will adopt in my near future. Being able to track all instagram activities and management campaigns so easily is nifty. Simply measured looks like a great platform to summarize all activity on all major social platforms. I love hashtags because everyone can view your post when you generalize your hashtags. You can also create you own hashtag. Such as, mine is #siedahmitchumdesigns so when on instagram and you view #siedahmitchumdesigns you will see my work tagged. To check to see if the hashtag you want to use is available go to explorer and search for hashtags. =) It is pretty cool! 

  • http://bloggingwithgypsy.com/ Kimberly Gypsy LoSavio

    I’m not using Instagram right now until they get their terms situation sorted. Right now the focus seems to be on the whole “class action” optout / optin issue. But I really wish people would start paying attention to the fact that the terms include a “we do not claim your contect, HOWEVER these terms grant us UNLIMITED ACCESS AND USE OF ALL YOUR CONTENT” wording. You can read it in the new updated terms version slated for Jan 19th. The particular item is under “rights” and is #1 — so … yeah .. not using Instagram again until this is fixed.

  • Pingback: Top Brands In Social Media

  • http://www.brianhonigman.com/ Brian Honigman

    Hi Keith, good question! When you use a hashtag you do not own it. Anyone can use it, which is great for getting as many participants as possible in your giveaways and other promotions with hashtags but it does also require you moderate any content that you stream on your properties from a hashtag because you never know what content will be tagged with that hashtag.

  • http://www.brianhonigman.com/ Brian Honigman

    Well Kimberly, I hope you find this article of use when you do go back to using Instagram! I appreciate the honesty. Have a great week!

  • http://www.urbanlifestylepeople.com/ Urban Lifestyle People

    Thanks for some new Instagram-services I’ll absolutely check out. Regarding hashtags on the “posts”, do you know if there’s an easy service so that I don’t have to start to write all the hashtags every time? If you always use two or more hashtags for every photo we post? /Linda

  • http://stephaniegraham.blogspot.com/ Stephanie Graham

    Brian! Thanks for turning me on to Statigram this was a great article!! 

  • Pingback: Friday Roundup Jan. 4th 2013 | unveilmusic.com

  • Pingback: Social Media Contests: 5 Steps to Running a Contest on Instagram

  • Shannon D.

    Brian – Thanks for this intuitive article and for highlighting the importance of engaging consumers. I really appreciated your introduction and description of the various tools that may be used to enhance and optimize the use of Instagram for various companies. Statigram is definitely something I’ll be looking into in the future. I’m also glad you noted the importance of hashtags and tracking company presence. After reading that, I was challenged to look back on my own Instagram posts and see how many different brands were represented throughout, often unintentionally. Thanks again for your insights! – Shannon D.

  • Shannon D.

    Brian – Thanks for this intuitive article and for highlighting the importance of engaging consumers. I really appreciated your introduction and description of the various tools that may be used to enhance and optimize the use of Instagram for various companies. Statigram is definitely something I’ll be looking into in the future. I’m also glad you noted the importance of hashtags and tracking company presence. After reading that, I was challenged to look back on my own Instagram posts and see how many different brands were represented throughout, often unintentionally. Thanks again for your insights! – Shannon D.

  • Pingback: January 2013 Newsletter | Synergy Restaurant Consultants, Food Service Consulting

  • Cody Welter

    I run Instagram for our company, Legendary Whitetails, and I’m experiencing this problem as well. 

  • Cody Welter

    Just wondering if you found any other info on this, because we are experiencing the same problem at Legendary Whitetails. Thanks.

  • http://www.brianhonigman.com/ Brian Honigman

    Hi Cody, I haven’t been able to find any info on this issue. I’m sorry I can’t be more help! I hope Instagram fixes this bug soon.

  • http://www.brianhonigman.com/ Brian Honigman

    Hi, I’m glad you like these services and tools for using Instagram! I don’t know of any tools don’t automate hashtags but I highly suggest you add hashtags on your own. By adding hashtags on your own, you’ll be able to add more valuable hashtags. I would recommend using no more than 5 hashtags per photo. I hope this helps!

  • http://www.brianhonigman.com/ Brian Honigman

    You’re very welcome Shannon! Thanks for reading, have a great end of the week.

  • http://www.urbanlifestylepeople.com/ Urban Lifestyle People

    Hi again Brian! Thanks for your reply and I’ll keep on adding my hashtags “by hand” and try not to use too many hashtags. Hopefully more ppl will find and want to follow our instagram-feed along with it getting better by adding more relevant, interesting and inspiring content. Have a nice Friday! In Barcelona the sun is shining from a chilly clear blue sky. :) /Linda

  • http://twitter.com/ThibautDavoult Thibaut Davoult

    Yes Cody, this is definitely not normal and I’d suggest you contact Instagram’s support, they might have the answer for you. 

  • Pingback: Are You Using the 4C's of Social Media?

  • Pingback: The A to Z guide to social media « Knowledge Enthusiast

  • Pingback: Social Media A to Z | Jeanette Reynolds Brown

  • NaturalHairMojo

    Hi there,

    I use a bunch of hashtags to get my pics noticed (I feature many members) and I keep them typed up in a note on my iphone. If you don’t use an iPhone or if you post from the web, maybe you can use a word doc, Google doc or email draft.

  • Pingback: Growing an Audience on Instagram When You're Focused on Written Content » The Scripted Blog

  • Pingback: Instagram Best Practices







Check out the Social Media Marketing Podcast!
Join our Social Media Marketing Networking Club
Download the free Social Media Marketing Industry Report

Get Your FREE Copy of the 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report

Wondering how your peers are using social media? Get this free report (50 pages, 80+ charts) and never miss another great article from Social Media Examiner.