Hard competition is out and collaboration is in. By now, we’re all familiar with the power of social media and the wonders that paid strategies can do. But let’s get more granular: when you’re planning your organic social media strategy, consider switching gears from overly promoting your business and focus on community instead. Now more than ever, we need to support each other, work together, and foster collaboration. It’s not enough to just post anymore.
Today, learn how to maximize the power of your local community on Instagram and discover the best practices for an authentic strategy that doesn’t feel cringey and doesn’t include selfie videos.
Build Your Local Community Through Instagram
1. Why Consistency Matters on Instagram
First, let’s get one thing straight – when you’re in charge of a professional brand on Instagram, you need to be posting consistently. Not just when something good happens (looking at you, Emily in Paris) but every week, multiple times a week. There’s no one time that’s best for posting, and it will vary based on your business. Generally speaking, the best practice is to post at least three times a week. A brand that executes this really well with a gorgeous feed is Glossier. Posting a mix of user-generated content and subtle promotions, their IG has an impressive 2.7M followers.
Consistency includes not only the time of posting but also the nature of your post, the voice of your copy, and even the imagery. The reason this matters is because consistency builds active engagement amongst your followers who expect your content to come at the same time every week. Instagram’s algorithm also favors those who “play by the rules” meaning actively engaging with the platform’s tools and always uploading content. It was found that when your post is saved or sent to others, this is the biggest signal to Instagram that people find your content interesting and valuable. So you need to consistently post save-worthy content. Sounds easy, right?
2. How to Get Started with Engagement
Now that you’re consistently posting interesting content, it’s time to bring more people to your page but also give back too. Simply posting doesn’t really work on Instagram. The key is engagement with others.
The following method originated from a magnetic marketing strategy used by Adam Ivy for the music industry to drive Spotify streams but it works for other purposes too. The magnetism is in bringing more people to your page through consistent engagement. In our case, we want to drive website visits. So the method works by establishing super clear actions that you can do to drive more people to your website of choice and to your page. To start, ensure you include your link in your profile and your bio is filled out so there’s no guessing in what you do. Big brands and companies that have thousands and millions of followers don’t do this as they already have a very active fan base. Influencers with a few thousand followers focus on interacting with their comments and DMs, so those that would engage in this strategy are young accounts with a few hundred followers that are focused on growing the following count. These would be micro-influencers in the 1K to 5K range.
3. How to Engage with Hashtags
Now we’re down to the nitty-gritty: Find 10 hashtags that are relevant to your brand and also relate to your location to make them more specific. For seoplus+, one of our favorite hashtags includes #myottawa (804k total posts) where people post their Ottawa moments. If you were an artist in Ottawa, you’d use #ottawaartist and #ottawaart. You can use big hashtags like #digitalmarketing but with 13.5 million posts, it’s not likely you will get noticed. So it needs to be more specific.
Once you’ve found your 10 or more hashtags, for each one, go and engage with at least five posts (50 posts total). You need to find posts you genuinely enjoy or ones that relate to your business. Don’t just choose the first five posts you see because it won’t be real and authentic. Like each post and leave a valuable comment. Don’t just copy-paste or leave emojis because we can all see right through that but genuinely interact with this person or brand. You want this to be genuine, authentic, and organic.
Brands love to use hashtags to promote a new product or an upcoming event, makeup influencers start makeup challenges with hashtags too. Their followers submit their own iterations or opinions on products using the hashtag and the brand can then see all the participants in one place. A few successful examples of hashtag campaigns include Lay’s #DoUsAFlavour campaign where people submitted chip flavors online, #WantAnR8 by Audi where they surprised followers by letting some drive the car for a day, and #ShareACoke by, you guessed it, Coca-Cola promoting personalized labels on bottles.
4. Interact with Similar Accounts
Once you have completed your 50 actions with the hashtags you selected, it’s time to repeat the process but with similar accounts to yours. This is where competition leaves the conversation. Find brands or people that you aspire to or find inspiration in. Engage with their content. Start comment threads with others on the posts. Follow the “competition” in your industry or city. You want to know what other people are doing and genuinely being interested in them is a great way to build rapport. Who knows, maybe they can give you referrals, or you can collaborate on a project. Ideally, every company still has its own competitive advantage and niche so not everyone in the industry is in direct competition. For example, if you run a restaurant, let other restaurants know that their drinks look cool or that their plates are beautiful. It doesn’t hurt you, but other people will see your comments and might actually discover your page this way. Sometimes by fostering relationships, you can actually get more out of it than avoiding your “competitors” out of fear of lost clients. Be strong in what you do!
5. Maintain Consistent Engagement
We already covered consistency, but guess what, it’s back. Because if you do the engagements above for one day, you might get a couple of new followers but you won’t get too far. It’s recommended that you engage with your local community based on hashtags and similar accounts every day. Ideally forever! It will give your account momentum, constantly bring new people to your page and the content you post will have way larger audiences. They will like your recent post when they visit so make sure you always have a good post up that is relevant to your brand. Another important note to make is that Instagram watches your actions and with its AI algorithm, builds out your feed and explore pages based on your interactions. So by showing a preference for real people’s posts and brand’s content instead of influencer or ad content, you can structure your own Instagram feed and beat the algorithm.
In conclusion, focus on building relationships within your city and community, make friends with the competition, and maintain consistent engagement. By showing interest in others and delivering value with your comments, you will organically boost your profile’s visibility and drive traffic to your profile and your website. Let’s work together and beat the Instagram algorithm.