For brands of all sizes, social media brings online communities together. With Instagram’s mobile-friendly platform paired with steady increasing usage among young adults, it is crucial to prioritize community engagement on the platform. Interacting with your own posts and followers is simply not enough. In this blog, we will dive into how brands can utilize community management outside of their feed to successfully expand their social audience.

Follow and Engage with Trending Hashtags Associated with your Brand:
Hashtags are a great way to identify competitors as well as find users that are interested in your topics or industry. Whether you search by location, product, brand message, etc., hashtags are a promising way to expand your audience and engage with relevant conversations that are already happening across social media. Instagram users can select hashtags to ‘follow’, allowing any recent post associated with the hashtag to populate on the normal feed. AT SM&C we always encourage brands that we work with to engage (like, comment, and reshare) on appropriate posts that already use the desired trending hashtags. This can help to gain recognition in the online community. Plus, using the hashtags on your own posts can attract new followers who are browsing the hashtag pages.

Engage with Content Before and After You Post:
If your post receives a high-level of engagement soon after posting, the Instagram algorithm often recognizes that and rewards you by featuring it to more users. To increase your profile views and post engagement, be sure to proactively interact with others’ content right before and immediately after you post. This can be done through liking, commenting, and resharing content that is applicable to your brand on infeed and in Stories. As a rule of thumb, make sure the timing of your posts (and engagement) is strategic and capitalizes on when users are most active on the platform. For more information on that, see here:

Ask Your Followers Questions:
The best way to understand and successfully interact with your audience is to try and get to know them. A great way to increase engagement and encourage conversation is to simply ask your followers questions on your posts. Whether it’s a light-hearted conversation topic like “What are your summer travel plans?”, or more action-forward questions like “What do you want to see from us?”, followers are often open to sharing and their opinions are a key tool in shaping your online presence and gaining added traction on your posts.

Utilize Your Current Followers to Gain Additional Followers:
While engaging with and maintaining your current following is critical, you can also use this same audience to expand and find new followers. Spend time looking through who your followers are following, tagging, and interacting with. It is likely that their online community has similarities to yours and can help you identify the best accounts to follow and interact with.

Interact with Local Brands Regardless of your Niche:
Despite the importance of engaging with and following similar niches to your brand, you should engage with your local community on social media. This might include promoting local businesses, tapping into community events, or highlighting and interacting with local organizations. This will get your name out there in a positive light and allow your brand to be a part of your local community’s existing conversations.

Community engagement is an easy and measurable tactic to gain additional followers, promote your brand message, and be an active part of the growing online community. The Instagram platform is a two-way street, providing ways for brands to project their voice and interact with consumers in a personalized way. It is crucial for companies to allocate time to community management, in order to participate in significant online conversations and elevate their brand.

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