You GUYS! Thank you so much for the amazing response to our first post in this #themomblogcollective series! We are so happy to hear from you and know what inspired or challenged you. Seriously – that’s the kind of thing that makes blogging so fun for me!
Last time we chatted about getting started with an Instagram account or blog, so now that you’ve done that, you’re going to want some awesome people to be there on the other side of all your posts – so this week we are diving into How To Build Your Online Community.
For me, the community part is hands down the most fun and rewarding side of social media. I like taking photos, I like editing and curating, I like being able to contribute financially BUT all of that is nothing if it wasn’t for the amazing friendships and community that I have built over the past 3+ years. Connecting and chatting, finding common ground and inspiration, sending and receiving random encouragement when it’s the most needed, all of that keeps me going.
Let’s get into it!
What are your top tips for building an online community and establishing your brand?
My first tip when trying to build an engaged and solid community is remember that IT TAKES TIME! A long long long time and it should! I hate to bring up the tortoise and the hare here, but seriously. Quick to rise, quick to fall – and while I know that isn’t ALWAYS the case, generally things that are worthwhile and long lasting take time and attention and patience to grow. So approach it with the understanding that it takes time and try not to take it personally when you’re in a slower season of growth. It happens to all of us.
The best thing to do in those slow seasons, is the EXACT same thing you do in the seasons of amazing growth. Stay true to yourself, genuinely engage with others, follow accounts you actually love and connect with. There are seriously endless ways to cut corners, and grow faster, and they appear to come without consequence, but, in my experience, that isn’t the case. It might not be right away, but taking a shortcut (on social media or otherwise) usually takes away from the reward of reaching the goal and the joy of the journey. Not to take it all too seriously here, but if you want to build an engaged and exciting community of likeminded clients/customers/friends – you need to ACTUALLY build it.
For growing your brand it’s a lot of the same thing. Stay true to yourself. Be honest. Connect with people you genuinely love following or feel like you have something in common. Know your audience, the questions/needs they have and how you can help them. Be consistent. All of this will slowly build a consistent and amazing brand that others will naturally gravitate to!
How did you grow your Instagram in an organic way?
I grew my following on Instagram in a couple of different ways.
First (and this goes back to the above), I’ve been at it for a while. I feel like that alone is a big reason. Time and consistency and
Second, I have always made an effort to follow accounts I love. I’ve never cared about how many people I’ve been following or anything like that – if I love your feed/captions/anything, regardless of how many followers you have or whether you plan on following me back, I am clicking that follow button.
Third, I interact big time and I (important part) MEAN IT! Have you ever gotten a comment on say a photo with a sad or heartfelt caption that says “so cool!” or “that’s awesome!” – so awkward! Don’t be that girl!
Comments are key on Instagram these days – and not just because it “bumps you up in the algorithm”, because who can crack that code anyway? It’s important because it connects you to people who will get to know, trust and like you and who you will then have as a longtime follower/friend, reading your posts, buying your product, messaging you just to say hi, etc. It also increases interactions for you because when you leave that genuine comment on a post, relating to a mom’s crazy day or sharing a funny story – other people who agree with you or think you’re on to something will click your profile and reach out or follow you too. I always am clicking through comments (for example on a homeschool post) and I almost always go follow a bunch of the mamas who commented that they were homeschooling because I’m into that and we have something in common!
Fourth, posting consistently! I’m not always the best for this but it is really up there as far as organically attracting engaged followers who love what you’re sharing.
And finally, giveaways. Giveaways are a great way to partner with brands and bring some value to your followers by offering them the chance to win something you love. It’s great because it benefits the brand, the influencer, the winner and the people who entered might just find some new feeds they love. While entrants are usually required to follow you, it’s still their choice and often it will connect them to brands or bloggers who they would enjoy following anyway (for example, a new mama giveaway connecting a expectant mama with mommy bloggers and some amazing small shops).I’ve recently done a few loop giveaways (something I wasn’t sure was a good way to grow or not) and to be honest, the jury is still out. They are fun to be a part of when you love the shops/bloggers involved and I love being able to offer a chance to win my fave things to my followers. They definitely get your feed seen by a bunch of new people who otherwise wouldn’t have found you, which is the goal, but whether they end up being engaged followers, or even sticking around at all, I’m not sure yet. I’ll let you know. 🙂
How do you engage with your followers? Why is this important to you?
I love this part. Seriously, I wouldn’t even be on Instagram if it was just to have this one way conversation with a bunch of people. I love engaging with my followers by responding to DMs and comments as much as I possibly can.
I think about it this way, if someone was to say something to you in person, would you just ignore it? No, that’s so awkward! So if someone asks a question via DM or comment I always try my best to get back to them. I’m not perfect at this and sometimes I get a lot of messages or I’m taking a social media break and some slip through the cracks but in my heart, I genuinely want to connect and message all of you back.
While I’m sure this helps with your Instagram “success”, I think it’s more important on a human level than anything else. As a stay at home mama for the last four years, being able to log in and connect with other moms from all over the world has been incredible. I’ve built lasting friendships and been inspired and encouraged almost daily on this app and that just doesn’t happen by me just posting, letting the comments roll in, saying nothing back and then repeating the next day. I would have quit looong ago if that was the case.
So there you have it! Much like last week, it’s not a matter of just throw it out there and they will come. You’ve gotta go out and “find” them. By engaging, following accounts you love, leaving a comment on something you relate to, liking photos that stand out to you, host a giveaway and see how it goes – and it can’t be just to get another number up at the top of your profile. In the end if you’re just collecting numbers, it just won’t pay off the way you had hoped. I don’t want this to sound like trying to gain followers is a bad thing, it’s not! Instagram to me, is still part business and a big part of that is growing your following. You just want the right followers, and for me, once I started to look at it that way, I could take some pressure off of growing super quick or even losing a ton of followers (something that used to totally stress me out).
I hope you liked part two of our series and learned something new about growing your online community!
Be sure to check out the other bloggers in the series..
Thanks so much for reading!