The Newbie’s Guide To Building An Instagram Community

Building an Instagram community

I wanted to talk about getting your fashion site known in the social media circuit. Once you have a fashion site and have some great content, you need readers and one of the best ways to attract visitors is social media.

You might sit there and get upset that nobody is coming to your site to read it, but it’s a lot like having a shop, if it’s new and down a side street somewhere, the chances are that not very many people know it exists. Google is flooded with sites and it takes a long time to build up any credibility and success, so heading down the social media route is one of the best and quickest things you can do.

I want to target Instagram specifically in this post. Fashion blogging is very visual and readers generally come to your site to look at the photos. Photos draw them in much more than text does. Using this knowledge over the years, I came to realize that one of the most powerful forms of social media promotion is Instagram. It is very visual as it is purely about sharing photos, not text.

Instagram is growing, has higher engagement than Facebook

Instagram is a very popular, mobile-first and visual platform. It’s actually larger than Twitter. More than 300 million monthly active users, 30 billion photos have been shared and 70 million photos are posted there on average every day.

Despite the growth, Instagram is still much smaller and less noisy than Facebook. According to Mike Krieger, the co-founder, people are seeing some 100 photos in their feeds per day.

On Facebook people could see more than 1,500 posts per day and the news feed algorithm determines the top 300 to display. On Instagram your followers see everything you post in theory as there is currently no algorithm so the percentage of people that see and engage with your content on Instagram is higher compared to Facebook.

A perfect place for you too to get a piece of the action. Let’s have a look at how you can start.

10 steps to build your Instagram community

I have gained almost 11,000 followers on Instagram and have found it to be a huge help for my brand. After doing research, some of the top fashion bloggers like The Blonde Salad, Song of Style, Style Scrapbook, Atlantic Pacific etc all have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of followers on Instagram and that in comparison to their amount of followers on Facebook or Twitter is huge. I would say they have about 80% more followers on Instagram.

You can only upload photos via your phone and not through the internet which makes Instagram more personal and more of an on the go type of app. You can really build up a community there with your own account and spread the word about your content by doing a few simple things. These are the steps you need to take:

  • Think of your Instagram profile as a portfolio of who you are. If the photos are attractive, it’s likely that people that come to your profile will follow you. If they are dull, blurry and uninteresting, it’s more than likely they won’t.
  • Make your profile description short and to the point. Pick a niche topic and describe what you are doing in order so people know what your profile is about and what they can expect from you.
  • Include your URL. Instagram doesn’t allow clickable links in the descriptions or comments section of the photos, you are only allowed one link on your profile. You can see when people come to your site via Instagram when you check your referral sources, usually it’s not a huge amount as there aren’t a large amount of links on Instagram,. In general the point of Instagram is more about building up your profile, your status and your community.
  • Post screenshots of your articles. One interesting way of bypassing the no links situation is to actually take screenshots of your content and post them directly into Instagram. This will still not be clickable but will raise the awareness of the new post on your site and should get more people to take a look.
  • Start by uploading colorful and attractive photos. Make sure that the photos are bright and clear. I use some photos of my personal outfits, some of food, shoes, bags, scenery etc. Since you can’t include clickable links in your photos, it does make it harder for followers to go to your site, but in general, they usually click the link in your profile if they are interested in checking you out. It’s why it’s important to have an attractive profile as people love the photos, so they will go on to click your link.
  • Add relevant hashtags to your photos so people can find them. Including popular hashtags in your photos is a great thing as when people search for photos they want to look at, yours will come up in that search system. Hashtags are very important in getting you discovered by a wider audience.
  • Start following people you are inspired by and who are in the same line of work as you. The best way to get known is by heading over to someone else in the same area of work as you, for example one of the popular fashion bloggers.
  • Click their followers and follow some of them who you think might be interested in your photos. By clicking their followers and following some of them who you think might also be interested in your account, you put yourself on the ladder. It’s a great way getting people to know about you. You can gain a lot of people who are interested in your photos and they will follow you back and like your photos. The more promotion you give yourself, the better.
  • If they follow back, interact with them and like some of their photos.
  • Keep doing this each day and you will build up a good follower amount. As everything it takes time to build a great following.
  • Not everyone will be interactive or follow back, so that’s up to you if you want to unfollow them.

Creative monetization

Brands and bloggers are actually getting very creative in order to circumvent the no-links rule on Instagram and figure out a way to monetize their profiles. Especially those in the fashion and food industries. Several “advertising” platforms such as Like2Buy and LiketoKnow have been launched with focus on figuring out how to get people from Instagram to partner sites in order for them to shop and buy product they see in their feeds.

LiketoKnow solution is for people to signup to their platform and then anytime they like a picture that is tagged with a specific tag they will get an email with details on the outfit that they liked and links to where they can buy it. Maybe not so convenient as a direct click like for example on Facebook or Twitter, but still a creative way of getting around the restrictions of the platform.

The more traditional and most common way of monetizing your Instagram activity is by getting sponsored. The concept of sponsorship is that a brand pays an Instagram influential to post an image or a video using the product of the brand. For example there are model agencies that now represent bloggers and get them in touch with big brands.

Single sponsored post such as an Instagram image could cost anywhere from $500 from bloggers with thousands of followers to $20,000 or even more for bloggers with millions of followers. It all depends on the size of the audience and the brand that is looking to promote their products.

I know social media can seem daunting at first, but when you get into it, it’s one of the best things you can ever do for your site. It’s best to use what works well for your field and I have definitely found that Instagram, alongside Pinterest, is the best for visual based sites. Twitter and Facebook are amazing too, but in terms of finding people who really love your site and fashion as a niche, Instagram is a gold mine.

Thanks to Lorna Burford of for contributing to this post.