An Instagram page with a high following is one thing, but building a network of thousands of active and engaged people is another. It all starts with building a great network, and doing so can give lead your business or personal account to the path of success.
Big brands have used the power of an engaged audience to boost marketing efforts, while some have created successful businesses because of it. There are now 800 million monthly Instagram users, and it's impossible to have a genuine connection with each one of them. To help you focus your social media efforts, here are 7 ways to build a great network on Instagram.
1. Create an Instagram Pod
Source: The Social Butterfly Gal
If you don't know what an Instagram Pod is, don't fret. It's a relatively new way users are hacking Instagram's algorithm to increase a post's engagement and give it more visibility. A Pod is essentially a group chat where up to 30 like-minded people post links to their content. Then, other members of the pod increase that post’s engagement by liking and commenting on it.
Instead of showing posts based on the time they were published, Instagram's new algorithm now shows post on your timeline based on the likelihood you will interact with them. Therefore, a post with high engagement will have a better chance of showing up on someone's feed and reaching a bigger audience.
To create an Instagram Pod, simply invite people who are in the same industry or niche as you, like photography, fashion, entrepreneurship, etc. Although Instagram allows up to 30 participants in a group message, it is widely recommended to limit your invites to 10 or 15 people since you don’t want to be scrambling to engage with every post.
2. Slide Into Those DMs
Grow your network the old-fashioned way by starting a conversation from your newsfeed or by replying to a Story on Instagram. The term "sliding into DMS" may not have the most positive connotation to it, but it’s one of the best ways to create a new relationship on social media.
Remember to do ample research and preparation before hitting that send button. Try to get a sense of person's style and the way they communicate and craft a personal, genuine introduction. To do this, review their writing style, how they use emojis, or what hashtags they use. For example, if you're reaching out to an entrepreneur, mention how you follow their Stories or how you appreciate the motivational posts they have on their feed. A popular influencer or entrepreneur may receive hundreds of direct messages every day, and it's best to steer clear of generic copy to increase your chances of getting a response.
Crafting a personal introduction will not only help jumpstart your new relationship, but it can start the foundation of a future partnership.
3. Utilize Hashtags 24/7
Instagram allows you to include 30 hashtags for each post, and it’s best to utilize it. Hashtags help your posts be seen beyond your circle of followers which allows can result in more followers for your account and more engagement for posts.
In addition, you can use a hashtag to look for people you can reach out to. To do this, simply look for the top and most recent posts with a particular hashtag using the search bar. If the hashtag is popular, you may find dozens or thousands of accounts. Skim the most popular posts and look for micro-influencers who have between 10,000 to 100,000 followers.
You can also search for branded hashtags – those that are associated specifically with a brand. Think #ShareACoke for Coca-Cola or #ThrowMeBack for Expedia. Find micro-influencers associated with a hashtag in your niche or industry and start connecting with them.
4. Get On the Explore Page
Source: Jumper Media
The Explore Page is an excellent way for accounts owned by like-minded individuals to find you, so you need to get on the Explore page. To do this, your posts and stories must have high-engagement and relevant hashtags. Use hashtag research and the Instagram Pod strategy to boost engagement. Instagram also shows stories based on location, so if you’re looking to build a network in your locale, make sure to tag your location.
Next, you also need to look at the explore page for potential opportunities to network. On the page, Instagram will show posts and stories from accounts that you will most likely interact with, so you already have a semi-vetted list of people that you can connect with. All you have to do is select the ones that you believe fit your networking goals best. Once you select accounts, engage with their content and start sliding into DMs.
5. Create Interesting, Original Content
To build a strong Instagram network, it’s not enough to discover and start conversations with other like-minded users. You must also stay relevant, valuable, and appealing to them. A way to do this is to create interesting, original content for your followers.
Start by sharing photos and videos that resonate with the network you’re building. You can also create inspirational photo quotes or an infographic with Adobe Spark Post or Canva. Keep your account interesting and relevant, so people constantly want to interact with your account.
6. Consistently Engage With Your Own Network's Content
Creating original content with high engagement isn’t the only way to create a strong network. In fact, you can build relationships by engaging with other people’s content.
Once you find like-minded individuals, make sure to like and comment on their posts. When you engage with someone's content, they will be notified with your name and profile photo, which may lead them to check your profile. Consequently, they can choose to follow your account and engage with your post.
This also works with people who already follow you on Instagram. Interacting with an account will keep you on that person’s radar and can help you build a relationship with them. Try to keep your interactions genuine and natural to avoid bombarding them with notifications, which can be detrimental to your networking goals.
7. Make Sure to Tag and Shout-out Whenever Possible
Once you have a built a foundation for your network, it is important to work on your relationship and build trust.
One way to do this is to tag a friend in the comments section of a post that you have a shared interest in like a motivational quote or a quick how-to video. Many business accounts use this strategy to gain followers and increase engagement. Use the same tactic to initiate conversations or simply to build on your relationship with people on your network.
Similarly, you can post a shout-out for an account that has had a positive on you. You can thank someone for giving your tips on your business or finding a great place to eat in their city. Giving a shout-out shows that you value their ideas and will most likely result in more productive conversations in the future.
As Instagram's user base continue to grow, it's even more important to build a great network of people who are relevant to your business or personal goals. Use these 7 techniques to connect and build a relationship with people who matter.