By Anuksha Dey with inputs from Supriya Srivastav(Founder-Purple Filter Consulting and HoopWithSupriya )
You’ve been creating Insta reels regularly, using trending audio, posting quality content. You’ve even invested in some expensive equipment and taken an online course on video editing. But the “post a reel every day” advice that seems to be going around has simply not been enough to grow on Instagram.
1.22 billion people use Instagram each month. If you want to grow your audience exponentially, Instagram is the place to be. But with the new algorithm, your success on Instagram depends as much on your ability to create a community around what you offer as it depends on the visual appeal and quality of your content.
Why You Need a Digital Community
Think of a digital community as a core group of people who are invested in who you are and what you do. They support you through your journey, interact with you and grow with you.
Founder of Hoop With Supriya and Purple Filter, Supriya Srivastav, relied completely on organic means to create a digital community of hoopers in India. The community has helped her grow ever since, “I have done corporate shows, worked with international platforms, and been approached by the media as well as fitness brands, all thanks to my digital community,” she says.
Seven Secrets to Insta Stardom
- Be Bold. Be Unapologetic. Be You.
You need a strong personal brand to create a community around it. What is a personal brand? To put it simply it’s how you come across to your audience.
Your brand is your differentiating factor. Be as unique and bold as you want to be. The Nude Yoga Girl on Instagram has created a brand for herself, showcasing her body’s artistic potential by posing naked while she attempts some of the most difficult and beautiful yoga stances around the world.
Supriya urges creators to be vulnerable, authentic, and unapologetic. “Society will always criticize you for what you do, but don’t let that stop you,” she says.
“But don’t try to be someone you aren’t just for eyeballs,” she warns. “Early in my career, I used to do exaggerated comedy on YouTube, putting on a persona to make my viewers happy even though deep down I wasn’t happy with what I was doing. It was the mind working, not the heart. Pretending to be someone I was not was only serving to make me sad.”
If you want to speak about body positivity, do it. If you want to create art with your body like the Nude Yoga Girl, go ahead and do it! Just be yourself.
- Believe in Your Vision
To build a community of active followers you must know what your vision is and believe in it. A shared vision is key to a strong digital community. Revival Disability Mag on Instagram was launched with an aim to change the mindset around disability. Revival posts about how Disabled people can be feminist, queer, rebellious, sexual, and fashionable. It has built a strong community of disabled tweens who connect with the vision and share their stories on the platform.
- Find your people
Let’s say you have a personal brand and a vision. You may post excellent content but as long as your content doesn’t reach the people it would actually help, the high reach on your reels is not going to get you more active followers.
Supriya suggests using hashtags to seek out people who are interested in what you do and optimizing your profile to attract your target audience. Hashtags help tell the world what your content is about, it also helps you find accounts similar to yours to grow with. You can then tap into their audience by collaborating with these accounts or interacting through story mentions, or comments. It is a long road towards building a community, and one has to start somewhere.
- Build Meaningful Connections
The number of followers you have doesnt reflect the size of your digital community. You’re community, is made up of the people who truly connect with your content and interact with it. Make your followers feel seen by posting content that is helpful to them. Being on social media is not just about showing off your lifestyle or your skills, but adding value for those who follow you. Supriya does this by posting tutorials and answering common questions about Hula Hooping on her platform.
She also creates hashtag challenges to keep her community of hoopers engaged and to bond better with them. Her challenges such as the drink water and mind my business challenge, push hoopers to step out of their comfort zone and try something new. However, creating challenges is not enough, ultimately it is her positive tone and encouragements that keep hoopers participating in her challenge.
- Make use of all features
Instagram has a host of features including Stories, Reels, Posts, Live, IGTV and guides. Reel and stories have the highest reach. However, each of these features has its unique benefit. For example, going Live on Instagram is the best way to bond with your audience as it provides a peep into your life with no cuts and no retakes. Make sure to use a mix of all these features to switch things up and amplify your voice.
- Keep your friends close, your community closer
The more you and your followers interact the more they get to see your new content, this leads to more likes, comments, shares and saves on your post from your followers.
Make sure you use a lot of interactive stickers in your stories to keep your followers interacting with your profile. Connecting with your community, reaching out to them, and answering their questions is as important as the content you post.
Finally, don’t shy away from DMs. There’s nothing like some one-to-one interaction to build trust.
The only way to grow organically on Instagram is by lifting others up. Having a community of people who support each other is the best way to grow on Instagram. Ultimately, Instagram is a Social Networking site, aesthetics are important but building connections is equally important.