How to get your brand out there & build a community with Instagram

The Social Media landscape is continuously changing and evolving.

As people working in the digital industry, we always need to be up to date and find out, which direction users are going, to help brands understand which channels fit best for their needs and reach their target audiences.

As the biggest social platform, Facebook, is more and more developing into an e-commerce and news-publishing platform, brands need to use other channels to build up a brand personality and a relationship with their audiences and visual and emotional content is more important than ever to a brand’s marketing strategy.

One of those channels is Instagram.
Instagram usage has doubled in the last two years.
For many of us, Instagram is the first social network we check when waking up and the last one we flick through before going to bed.

For many of its users, it’s not merely just another social platform, but a great way to explore the world differently. A kind of window to creativity, which one can travel and explore cities with that enhances motivation, photography and follow those with common ideas.

For brands, Instagram is a great place to connect with potential customers.

Instagram works different than other social platforms like Facebook or Twitter. Instagram is a platform that expresses a certain lifestyle. It’s the place to bring your brand’s personality to life.

It’s not about posting product shots or special offers, indeed it’s about sharing lifestyle content that represents your brand’s personality and lets users relate to you by tapping into their lifestyle.

On Instagram brands need to create an aspirational life for the consumer.


When you want to create a Social Brand Strategy, one of the first things to start with is defining the target audience and imagine them as individuals. Then, find out what channels they use, what topics and content they are interested in, what content they are sharing themselves and learn more about their lifestyle. These social insights are the powerful insights that can cause people to see a brand, product or category differently. They should be the foundation of your content strategy.

The goal for your content should be to add value to them.

As an example, have a look at FRIYA’s Instagram channel.
FRIYA is a superfood drink, with basil seeds, which are similar to the well known chia seeds. FRIYA’s customers are very health conscious, their goal is to live a “clean lifestyle”, which means eating healthy and sustainable, doing sports and doing something that fulfills their lives and makes them happy. These in fact were some of the topics that we decided to tap into with FRIYA’s content strategy, to touch those people’s lifestyle and create relevant content and experiences.
We created content that puts the product in context with the target audiences lifestyle and mixed it with lifestyle photos that FRIYA’s followers can relate to, from smoothie bowls, “nicecream” to yoga poses, sports motivation and inspirational quotes.

This has a simple psychological background: incidental similarity, which also plays a role in social situations and can increase liking, persuasion, and cooperative behavior between individuals. (e.g., Burger et al. 2004)

For brands, this means that when a buyer perceives she or he has something in common with a brand or seller, they are more likely to buy.

Even the smallest commonality is enough to create the connection that inspires customer confidence in an exchange. The more you share similar interests, the more people will find out what they have in common with you, relate to you and buy from you.

Branded Hashtags

Customer photos are the most compelling and interactive content.
One way of engaging your community on social media is a branded hashtag.

This should not be your company name as a hashtag, it should be a hashtag that shares the idea that other people are sharing themselves and align it with the overall brand instead of the product.

This hashtag should be used as a call to action that triggers brand engagement and create organic conversations related to your brand story.

You can encourage your community to tag their photos with this hashtag, whether the product is featured or not and reward them by sharing their hashtagged pictures. A great example for this is Herschel Supply Co. The brand tags their product posts with #HerschelSupply, but they have generated more posts with their #WellTravelled campaign, which encourages their followers to share photos of their journeys using the hashtag.

This brings a win-win situation for you and your community. Brands receive the benefit of increased exposure to new potential customers through an Instagrammers photo, plus get content from their community that they can use and Instagrammers love to be featured on a brand’s profile.

Influencer Marketing

The third way of using Instagram to generate awareness for your brand is via Influencer Marketing.

Influencers are people within our industry who have already established trust with an audience, tell stories and have a standing for certain topics.

Through social influencer, we have the chance to reach new communities.

The key to influencer marketing is finding the right influencers who’s audience matches to your brand story and the community you want to talk to.
It’s not about likes or followings.
When I work with an influencer, I have a look at their engagement, followers, past collaborations and if possible conversions.
From my experience it’s often better to focus on niche influencers, that are likely to reach your specific audience even better, rather than working with the big Instagrammers that every other brand already works with as they unfortunately often lose their authenticity and credibility.

While many large brands are paying a lot for partnering up with Instagrammers that have thousands of followers, with niche influencers, small and medium businesses are still able to increase exposure by exchanging product for a giveaway, a promotion, or a small fee.

If you have any thoughts or want to know more about how you could use Instagram for your brand, I’d love to hear from you.

Drop me a mail at

Curious optimist currently designing culture and community programs + tools at Dropbox. Writing about community, future of work and out of office culture.

Curious optimist currently designing culture and community programs + tools at Dropbox. Writing about community, future of work and out of office culture.