Instagram is one of today's most popular social media sites, and there are many best practices for excelling on this photo platform. Top marketers realize that they can use this site to do more than just post beautiful photos. Once you build a community on Instagram, you can make this platform a place for your customers to make discoveries and share ideas.

The brands that are the most successful on Instagram are those that post content embodying a particular lifestyle or mindset. Your main focus on Instagram shouldn't be the products you sell. Instead, it's important to think about what your audience can do, think or feel when they experience what you're offering.

Here are five tips on how to build a community on Instagram:

1. Be Authentic

When using Instagram, you should try to avoid posting photos that have a stock photo-like vibe to them; they won't feel authentic to your audience.

2. Connect With Others

In an effort to build a larger community, you should try your best to connect with influencers, brand advocates and other brands that have similar audiences. If you build a strong connection, you can partner with these individuals and organizations to run promotions.

Of course, it's also important to connect with your audience on the social platform. Happy customers may share their experiences with your products on Instagram. If these photos are public, you can then share them on your branded account. In an effort to make your Instagram even more interactive, you can encourage your followers to tag their friends in the comments.

3. Get to Know Your Audience Inside and Out

If you want to build a community, you have to understand exactly what makes your audience tick. Ask yourself: What are their hopes, dreams and fears? How do they spend their free time?

The answers to these questions will help you determine the types of photos and messages that will truly resonate with your audience.

4. Use the Right Hashtags

Hashtags exist to help people find relevant content. For example, #whales will lead you to photographs of the ocean's largest mammals, while #bbq will showcase people chowing down on ribs. If you want to build an Instagram community, you should add a few hashtags to each post to help your desired audience find you.

5. Post Lifestyle Content

In an effort to avoid seeming promotional, you should do more than just post photos of your products. For example, if you're a beauty brand, your audience will likely be more engaged by an image of a few women getting ready for a girls' night out than a photo that depicts an array of lipstick canisters.

One of the best parts of any community is that it brings people together. By posting Instagram content that your desired audience would find relevant and engaging, you can help your business attract more valuable customers.

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Tags: social media customer loyalty Customer Relationships