How to Build an Engaging Instagram Community?

6 Important values that turn followers into a loyal community


Michiel Mulders

2 years ago | 6 min read

Most people can grow an Instagram account. Yet, having a lot of followers does not translate into an engaged community. You must understand that you have to keep your followers engaged. Therefore, your goal is to turn regular followers into a more loyal following or community of engaged users.

It’s not an easy task to keep engagement rates high. A study published by A. Guttman shows the following engagement rates for various account sizes among US-based influencers for 2019:

  • Account size of 1k — 5k: 4.6%
  • Account size of 5k — 20k: 2%
  • Account size of 20k — 100k: 1.66%
  • Account size of 100k — 1M: 1.46%
  • Account size of over 1M: 1.39%

As you can see, the engagement rate drops significantly once your account hits the mark of 5,000 followers. It’s not an easy task to convert followers into a loyal community or to maintain your dedicated community when you grow bigger.

Here’s a list of tips you can apply to build a more engaging Instagram community.

#1. Exclusiveness

Make your followers feel special. You can accomplish this feeling by launching products exclusively on Instagram to your followers.

If you can’t launch a product solely to Instagram, think about giving your followers early access or the ability to sign up for your product to guarantee a spot to buy it. Even a follower discount of 10 to 15% sounds like a lovely gift to your followers. Give them some value in return for following your account.

(Source: @tinkerbellethedog — Instagram photo of a paid partnership with Tinkerbell dog)

#2. Involve Your Followers

Your followers should feel they are part of your Instagram account or brand. Try to involve them when you are creating content. The best and most straightforward way to involve your followers is by asking them what they would like you to feature next. It’s a simple yet effective strategy to create content tailored to your audience’s needs.

This same strategy is often used by YouTube content creators, as Vice does here.

(Source: Vice on YouTube — Asking for subscriber input via the YouTube comment section)

However, involvement strategies are not limited to asking your audience for input, try one of the following methods.

a. Instagram story questions

Add industry-specific questions to your Instagram stories to see how your audience thinks about specific topics. This also lets you safely explore other related issues to the topics your account covers. It’s an excellent way to find exciting topics that resemble well with your audience.

For example, an Instagram account dedicated to a vegan lifestyle might host an audience that’s interested in living plastic-free.

b. Host an Instagram ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA)

You can host an AMA so followers can ask you personal questions about your Instagram account, your values, or your beliefs. It’s an excellent way for your audience to get to know you and gain more transparency about who you are, what you do, and what your motives are.

c. Instagram quiz

Recently, Instagram has added quiz functionality. Now, you can add little quizzes to your Instagram stories. We’ve seen people use it to ask their followers opinions about certain topics. In fact, a quiz is just a sticker you can add to your Instagram story.

(Source: @melyssa_griffin Instagram quiz)

#3. Feature User-Generated Content

A great way to give your users a feeling of involvement is by accepting user-generated content (UGC). First of all, it’s a great way for you to receive original content. In addition, it allows you to feature users and give them a moment to shine.

Just imagine how happy you would feel when your favorite sports player likes your picture. Well, we’re trying to recreate this exact feeling. It’s not only you that deserves the spotlight. Put your followers in the front row as well!

For example, Happy Socks, a trendy socks brand, occasionally features user-generated content. Here, we see @emiliamerila wearing a cute pair of cherry socks!

(Source: @emiliamerila via @happysocks — a baby wearing Happy Socks)

Don’t know how to encourage followers or customers to generate content that you can feature? Custom Ink had designed a sticker that asks you to share a picture and tag them. It’s yet a simple but effective strategy to encourage product users to generate some cool content!

You can even give your followers an extra discount when they generate content.

Interesting to know user-generated content works on other platforms as well, such as Twitter or Facebook. If your brand is running a multi-channel social media strategy, you can consider retweeting UGC on Twitter. Here you see Custom Ink again, who’s retweeting UGC. Note their small branded sticker!

(Source: Retro Ventures tweet including Custom Ink sticker)

#4. Give Back!

The critical element in building a community is giving value back to this community! Donations, loyalty programs, giveaways, behind the scenes insights, or even personal stories about how the Instagram account came to live.

Giving back to your followers is vital to turn followers into a loyal community. Therefore, you need to understand there’s more than just creating content. Here are other tasks that are often overlooked when it comes to building an engaging community:

  • Respond to comments on your content
  • Respond to DMs
  • Create content based on users’ requests
  • Shout out to engaged followers to stimulate other followers to do the same

A quick tip: Make sure to respond in a timely manner to DMs or comments. This gives your audience the feeling they can always reach you for advice whenever they need it.

#5. Go Live on Instagram

Users love it when they can directly engage with their Instagram stars!

Let’s take a look at Lando Norris. He’s a professional Formula 1 driver who also hosts a Twitch live stream. Fans can directly engage with Lando and even compete in virtual racing games together with their racing star. It’s a great way for their fans to get closely in touch with Lando but also to get to know him on a more personal level. Who is he? What does he like? What’s his personality like outside of the strict world of Formula 1?

Lando Norris Twitch account

The same applies to Instagram. You can use Instagram live videos to let your followers engage with you in real-time. Followers can ask you personal questions, and this allows you to build up a strong relationship of trust.

However, you can get even more creative with Instagram live videos. For example, @happysocks regularly hosts loyal followers on their Instagram videos and allows other followers to ask questions.

Here, you see Pip. Pip has been a Happy Socks hoarder with more than 152 pairs of funky socks. Other followers could ask Pip why she loves collecting Happy Socks and allow her to share her story.

(Source: @happysocks featuring user who holds socks record)

In the end, remember to have fun! Your followers will appreciate your honesty and the bond you form with them.

#6. Personalization

Personalization is a crucial ingredient for building trust, and so, a loyal following. Let’s take a look at Melyssa Griffin’s Instagram profile. Besides running an Instagram account, she also hosts a stunning website. The first thing I noticed when visiting her website is the very personal story and the ambitious missions she shares on her homepage.

(Source: Personal blog Melyssa Griffin)

Further, when you take a look at her Instagram account, you can find the same pattern. She loves sharing personal stories, insights, or life motto.

(Source: @melyssa_griffin showing personal Instagram quote)

Melyssa does a fantastic job of optimally using the Instagram caption to write a very personal story about success and failure. This level of personalization resembles well with her audience, looking at the high number of likes this post has received.

What’s the Best Tip?

The best tip I can give: “Listen to your followers and give them what they want.” Add in personalization and transparency in the mix, and you’ll find that you can turn Instagram followers into an engaging and loyal Instagram community.

Of course, you need to know what you’re talking about. If you can’t add value to your followers, it becomes a challenge to build trust and consistently create great content.

Let me add a fun personal story to conclude. Although I live in Berlin, I decided to go to the hairdresser in my local town in Belgium, which I only visit every three months.

Why? Because I love the fun conversations I have with my hairdresser Peter, talking about common friends. To tie this back to building an engaging community, Peter has a lot of clients because he has built a loyal customer base leveraging his communication skills!


Created by

Michiel Mulders

Backend developer and technical writer who also likes other stuff: marketing, endurance sports, UI/UX, and developer experience. Happy to talk about Developer Experience and Documentation Strategy!







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