How to Build an Engaged Following on Instagram

Isn’t the internet great?

You can build an Instagram community from the comfort of your own house. 

You can sit at home, post on social media, have skype calls, AND take selfies all while you still have your pajama pants on.

All you have to do is put on your staple “fancy” shirt, add a statement necklace or earrings, and you’re set! Or at least that’s what I do… Shhhhh……

After you get over the initial buzz of not having to make small talk with co-workers or show up on time to an actual job, it gets pretty lonely.

I’ve gone entire days where I’ve only talked to tell Alexa to play Spotify or yell at my dog to come in. It’s lonely when no one talks back.

Then you’ll start to find yourself asking if your ideas or the things you’re doing actually make sense. Sometimes I am not sure if my ideas are the smartest ever or just are plain bad ideas.

That’s when it’s time to call in reinforcements.

It’s part of human nature to be part of a tribe or community. We all need feel like we are a part of something, but the internet makes it really hard to connect and feel seen or heard.

We all want to increase our follower count on Instagram and wake up to dozens of comments on our photos. Who wouldn’t want that as an online business owner? This is just a start to real connection, but hey, at least you feel a little less lonely.

But how exactly do you make that happen?

It may seem like other entrepreneurs have the magic formula to overnight success, but the truth is a highly engaged Instagram community takes time to build.

Rather than compare yourself to other influencers in your industry, why not use that energy to create your own community?

Then you don’t have to ask yourself
“Is everyone hanging out without me?”
because we’ve all been there.

Side note:

I’m totally ready to hang out
with Mindy Kaling. She’s hilarious, and
we’d probably drink wine and braid
each other’s hair if we ever met.


3 starter tips for building an Instagram community

As with any project, getting started is the hardest part. There’s growing pains with everything you do as an online entrepreneur, but you’ll grow exponentially after taking those first few steps.

To start growing your momentum, let’s cover some basic tips of growing an Instagram community. With all of these tips, you can get started as soon as today.

How to Build an Engaged Following on Instagram 3

You have to engage to be engaging

Not doing this is one of the biggest mistakes I see new bloggers and entrepreneurs make. You know the saying “build it and they will come”? There’s no guarantee that will happen… unless you’re Kim Kardashian.

The online marketing world is so crowded already. You have to do something to stand out from the rest. The good news is how easy
it is to do just that!

One great way to build your community is by commenting on other Instagram photos. You may ask yourself how that will help your own community grow, but giving before you receive is the best mentality to have when building community.

If you wait until people find you, you may be waiting a while. If you try to find them first and pour value into their own community, they’ll be more likely to comment back and join your own.

I recommend setting aside 15-30 minutes every day to start connecting with other people on Instagram. This doesn’t mean just blindly liking photos. It’s best if you use that time to comment on other people’s photos and add value. Once you do that on a consistent basis, you’ll start to see your following increase.

Reply back to comments and DMs

Once you start to see comments rolling in (Hallelujah!), it’s a good idea to make room in your schedule to reply back to each one. When someone comments on your photo, they are starting a conversation.

If you were at a friend’s party and someone introduced themselves, you’d most likely take the time to introduce yourself too. Maybe you’d strike up a conversation about something you have in common, like the wedges you’re both wearing or something similar.

The same is true online. Use Instagram as a means of communication. When someone starts the conversation, it’s your turn to engage with them. Otherwise they’ll feel like they are talking to a wall.

This is one of the greatest benefits of having a personal brand. When people feel like the person behind a brand is accessible and personable, it helps them form a deeper connection with them. This often leads to more sales and clients.

It’s good to remember that not all comments are private. Sometimes you may receive private DMs from your followers. I recommend replying to those as well (as long as it isn’t a spammy message, of course).

Replying to private messages will still help you cultivate relationships even if it’s not directly affecting your growth in the Instagram algorithm. I’ve had brides and wedding vendor clients come from DM conversations. You never know what the conversations can lead to!

Show your personality through Instagram stories

If there is one thing I love, it’s a good Instagram story. I’m obsessed! If you haven’t experimented with Instagram stories before, now is your chance.

If you’re wondering why you have to create content for your Instagram feed AND story, I’ll give a sneak peek into why.

While feeds are a great way to curate an aesthetic-driven collection of photos, Instagram stories give your audience a chance to connect with the person behind the camera.

Through Instagram stories, you can show behind-the-scenes looks at what business projects you’re creating or announce new launches. It’s your opportunity to show off your unique personality and show videos that are interesting to watch without it cluttering up your pretty feed.

So how do you get started?
I’ve got a small activity to help you out.

First, think about the three words your friends and family would use to describe your personality. If you’re not sure, take a few minutes today to send a text to the people who know you best and collect their answers. They might surprise you!

When you have the words together, think about the different ways you can weave these qualities into your Instagram stories. Here’s an example below to help you start brainstorming:

  • Funny or Witty: Add sarcasm with well-timed emojis on your photos. Show candid stories of you walking around town or day-in-the-life videos.
  • Curious: Ask your followers a question related to your niche and ask them to privately DM their answer. Share your best book or podcast recommendations.
  • Creative: Share sneak peeks of your newest business project or a “for fun” passion project. Design cool graphic templates that you can reuse over time.

This week’s challenge:

Incorporate at least ONE of these tips into your Instagram marketing strategy. Each one should only take around 15-30 minutes a day, or maybe even less.

Track your progress by seeing how your comments and following increases over time. It’s the perfect place to start!

Who’s with me?
Tell me in the comment section below what tip you’ll be focusing on and how you’ll be measuring your progress.

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