Finding and reaching your target audience on Instagram

When you plan on using Instagram as a way of growing your business, it is definitely important to fully optimize your Instagram strategy. People often mistakenly assume growing your followers is a way of growing your business. The opposite is true. Gaining followers who have no interest in your business, products, or services won’t help you grow it. That’s why finding and reaching your target audience on Instagram is essential to your Instagram strategy.

When you are selling a product or service, you want to find and reach the kind of people that will actually end up buying your products/services. I personally don’t really buy or sell my services through Instagram but I am looking for work connections. Of course, not everybody is a valid connection, I want to find the right people to connect to. Especially for freelancers, it is important to establish a network. Finding people to network with on Instagram is pretty equal to finding your target audience.

To quickly give a definition of ‘target audience’; your target audience is a specific group of people that are more likely to buy your products/services because of their interests and preferences.

When you use Instagram for business purposes you want to create a healthy following, meaning people who are interested in your account. In time your following could develop to be your clientele or network. That’s exactly why it’s so important to target the right people.

There are plenty of ways to find your target audience on Instagram or to let them find you! But I’m already going to put it out there, everything takes time!

In this post, I’ll be highlighting 6 different ways to find and reach your target audience on Instagram. Let’s get started!

1. Engage with your followers

If you want to find out why people are following you, then there’s only one way to do this; communicate! Engage with your followers in your comments, ask them certain questions in your posts, use the polls feature in stories, and have conversations through direct messages. Call-to-actions are very important here!

Before I mentioned the advantage of higher engagement rates. Well, this is THE way to do it! Not only will your engagement rate go up, but you will also get a better understanding of the types of people who are following you. The better you understand your followers, the better you will determine your target audience.

When you have determined your target audience it’s time to focus your Instagram strategy towards those types of people. 

2. Ads and promotions

For those who don’t want to spend too much time on Instagram searching for their target audience, Instagram Ads can be a very useful and quick tool. Let them find you!

I know, it’s not for free, but neither is a good marketing strategy. 

Instagram Ads, or promotions, allow you to create your own target audience within the promotion itself. You can decide the age, location, and interests of your targeted audience. Instagram will then show your ads to exactly those types of accounts. By going through the steps of making an ad, you will find out who your target audience is as well. 

For example, if you’re opening up a Yoga studio your target audience will be people who love Yoga. Within Instagram Ads you can easily select yoga as an interest, your Ad will primarily be shown to accounts who show interests in Yoga. If your studio is in Berlin, you might choose to run the promotion within a 5km range of your location. People most likely search for a studio that’s close, and not on the other side of town. Building your own Instagram Ad is super easy but at the same time super direct.

While making an Ad, Instagram will show you how many people your promotion will reach. The rule is, the fewer people you have the better. It’s better to run your ads by fewer people who are actually interested rather than thousands of people who can’t be bothered. 

Instagram Ads will allow you to find and get in front of your target audience pretty easily and for a low price. I think it’s one of my favorite ways! 

3. Learn from others

Yes, everything has been done before, and businesses with successful Instagram strategies have paved the way for us to learn. Don’t reinvent the wheel! Find similar businesses to yours on Instagram and try to learn who their target audience is. 

It’s simply easier to take a look at more successful accounts and quickly get a sense of understanding who their buyer personas are. When your products or services are similar to them, you can easily adopt their target audience to your Instagram strategy. 

Personally, I don’t only use those accounts as an example for my target audience, but also as an example for content. As a freelancer, I don’t always have much time to think about new content ideas. Next to Pinterest and other trend watchers’ sites, I also get inspiration from other Instagram accounts who are in my line of business. 

4. Collect Competitive Insights

Before I talked about learning from other accounts, but now we are going a step further. 

There are websites and tools that will allow you to collect data and insights into other accounts on Instagram. But I must warn you, this is not a free service.

I’m an analytics guy. Having insights into successful accounts within your niche does speed up your process of learning by a thousand times. The numbers will very clearly show you who their target audience is. Again, if you’re account is similar to theirs, meaning you sell the same type of products, services, or share similar content, you can easily make their target audience yours. 

There are a lot of different websites out there who will let you collect other user’s data and if you don’t mind spending a bit of money. I would suggest using Phlanx Influencers Auditor. Mainly meant for influencers research but very useful for all kinds of profiles as well. 

Or you could use Social Stats. On top of their research rapports, they also have an extremely useful weekly insight rapport of your own account. 

5. Hashtags

Yep, hashtags aren’t out of the world yet! While hashtags are an easy way to get your post in front of other accounts I use them in a slightly different way. Instagram gives the possibility to follow hashtags as well.

When you determine which hashtags portray your business, you should follow a bunch of them. Now I’m not going to go too deep into hashtags but you don’t want to follow the main hashtags with over millions of posts. Your timeline is going to be messy. Find specific hashtags that won’t blow up your feed and more importantly, the more specific you get the better you get an understanding of who your target audience will or should be.

In general, using the right hashtags for your business is essential. You don’t want to be all over the place and you want a set of hashtags you can use repeatedly.

I do have to say that reaching new accounts through hashtags isn’t as lucrative as it used to be. That’s why I use hashtags mainly to determine what my target audience is.

People who are following a hashtag related to my business could be potential connections or even costumers. By following them and engaging with them I could catch their attention. This relates back to my very first way of finding and reaching your audience. Engage with your followers, not only your current following but also outside your following. By following certain hashtags you can easily engage with accounts outside your following who are most likely interested in your business.

6. Suggested Posts

This is a feature that is brand new on Instagram. I think we are all aware of the explore page, it shows suggested stories, posts, reels and IGTV videos to us. But recently Instagram integrated ‘suggested posts’ into our feed. I know, I’m not loving it either. But, it’s a heaven for marketers. 

People scroll more down their feed than their explore page and if your posts are suggested onto other profiles feeds, it means a lot more exposure! Your posts are being suggested to other profiles when they match their interests, often those profiles follow similar accounts to yours. 

Having a post suggested by Instagram is not the easiest. But when you have a healthy following that engages a lot with your profile, and you also engage with other profiles with the same type of content. Being suggested to their followers isn’t as hard as you would think. 

I think this way of ‘reaching’ your target audience depends a lot on how connected and active you are on Instagram. But it’s also a great way to find your own target audience. Scroll down your own feed and find out what types of content and accounts are being suggested to you. 

Finding your target audience on Instagram can sometimes take a while and reaching them can be even harder. But when you are making a strategy for your Instagram, you should start with determining who it exactly is you want to sell your products or services to. When you find your target audience, it’ll also be clearer how often you should post. Some types of people want to consume more than others, depending on the type of niche you are in. 

Don’t forget, finding your target audience can be a trial and error kind of thing. Always keep learning from and engaging with your followers! Start looking at Instagram as a way of creating a community, rather than a free marketing platform!

Make sure to listen to The Freelancer Talk podcast on Spotify/Apple Podcasts every week for more trends, topics, discussion, strategies and success stories!

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