Your Instagram Guide To Finding and Communicating With Your Target Audience on Instagram | Hacker Noon


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Over one billion people worldwide use Instagram every month and finding your target audience on Instagram might seem a bit overwhelming. But, on the contrary, you just need to learn a couple of tactics to search your ideal market on the platform. And this is exactly what we’ll cover in this article. 

Instagram has the highest brand engagement rates, coming in at 4.21% compared to Facebooks’ 0.07% and Twitters’ 0.03%. This is one of the main reasons why over 25m businesses are on Instagram, with 80% of users following at least one brand.

But using Instagram for marketing can be effective only if you approach the right people with the right strategy!

You need to do your research and get actionable insights into their interests, preferences, and behavior. Knowing who they follow on Instagram, what hashtags they use, what content they find interesting. Also, crucial demographic information like their age, location, gender, etc. 

All this information will help you determine how to target your niche market on Instagram.

How to Find Your Target Market on Instagram

Before spilling out all the ways that can help you identify your niche on Instagram we need to make sure that you’ve got the right target audience in mind in the first place!

Don’t spend a ton of time creating a customer persona if you already know who are your most profitable customers. You just need to have a clear understanding of WHO your product is designed for. 

For example, Notion is an app that gives users the option to organize components such as notes, databases, calendars, and reminders.

So, their target audience is a) busy professionals that like to b) organize their notes and tasks and c) boost their productivity. 

Check your competitors’ followers 

Competitors’ followers are people that like the types of products you sell but (probably) haven’t heard of you yet. That’s why it’s the simplest way to find your target audience on social media.

Here are some of the things you can learn from researching your competitors’ audience:

What types of posts and content bring the most engagement. There are 11 different types of Instagram content that brands experiment with to see what works best with their fans. Here I’ll list a few but you can check all of them in this article: quotes, lifestyle posts, open-ended questions, behind the scenes, fun facts, promotional posts, video content, or giveaways. When you research your competitors’ posts and their engagement you’ll find what works best for your audience too. Check how often they post on Instagram and what hashtags bring the most likes Get insights into their followers’ demographics 

Since we already mentioned Notion we’ll continue with doing a brief analysis of their competitor on Instagram. One of their direct competitors is Evernote which is also an app for business professionals that like to get organized. If we check their Instagram account we see a lot of travel-themed image posts but if we check the engagement we notice something interesting. The content with the highest engagement rate (comments) is a video with a business-related theme. 

This can save you months of testing to see what resonates with your followers. And all you need to do is spend 30 minutes to go over your biggest competitors’ social media and their posts!

An awesome tool that I use for analyzing competitors on Instagram is the Preview App which gives you instant summaries of their top-performing posts, hashtags, best time and day to post, etc. Their basic plan is free so you can do a preliminary analysis of your competitors’ performance. 

Pro tip: target your competitors Instagram followers with ads

Here’s a strategy that a lot of brands use to reach a huge chunk of their market. While there isn’t a targeting option in Facebook Ads Manager that allows you to target followers of competitors, there’s an amazing workaround with the help of custom audiences

Custom audiences is a Facebook Ads option that enables you to run ads on people that are in your customer email list. You simply import your list in Facebook ads manager, Facebook finds Instagram users among your list and lets you target them. 

However, they don’t ask you to verify that the list you own is actually from your customers or subscribers.

Meaning, if you can get your hands on the email addresses of your competitors’ audience you can run ads only on those people!

Influencers Club is an Instagram email extracting service that can easily go over every Instagram follower of your biggest competitors and provide you with a list of their email addresses. Also, their use AI and machine learning to make sure that every email you get is from your targeted locations, gender, age, and interest. Additionally, they make sure that the list is cleaned from invalid email addresses (catchall, bots, fake accounts, etc.). 

Use these types of ads to directly communicate why you’re better than your competition. Offer discounts and then create lookalike audiences from people that interacted with your ads or converted into your customers.

Check out this article if you want to learn more about targeting competitors’ followers on Instagram and Facebook.

Other than targeting them with social media ads you can also do email marketing (duh) to reach them through the most effective channel available. 

Use the form below to share with us your competitors’ accounts and get contact data from their audience.

Follow your competitors’ followers on Instagram

Another social media growth hack that you can use to get in touch with the fans of your competition is simply by following them. 

However, I suggest doing this only if you’re a small business with a really niche audience. The reason for this is because there isn’t a clear way for your to scale using this approach.

Instagram is pretty strict when it comes to the number of follow requests made in a day. Generally, when you follow (or unfollow) more than 150-200 users in a day using a relatively new account they can instantly suspend your account (don’t ask how I know).

The best follower apps that can help you grow the number of followers with a real targeted audience on Instagram is:

  • Crowdbabble
  • MegaFollow 
  • Gramista 
  • FollowAdder

Use Instagram insights for followers demographic data 

Instagram insights is a native analytics tool that provides data on your followers’ demographics (age range, location, gender), their actions with your account, as well as the performance of your content. This is just the kind of data we need to better understand our followers and get the right audience on Instagram. However, only Instagram business accounts (not regular ones) have access to this feature that is available on the mobile app. 

So, if you have a business account here’s how to check out your followers’ demographic data:

  1. Go to your profile using your Instagram app.
  2. Tap the Insights action button.
  3. You can also go to Menu in the upper right corner, and tap Insights.
  4. Tap the metrics under the Overview section or specific content you’ve shared for a more detailed breakdown.

Within the Audience tab of Instagram Insights, you’ll find 4 key sets of information about your followers:

  1. Gender – The percentage split of your followers.
  2. Age Range – The age brackets of your followers.
  3. Top Locations – Where your followers are from on Instagram.
  4. Followers – The most active times of your followers, by an hour of the day and days of the week.

“Stalk” your most engaged followers

Stalking. Something that you should never do in real life, but is worth doing when you do Instagram target audience research.

These are the people that not only follow you but actually like what you share on your feed! 

Here’s how to start:

  1. Go to your last post
  2. Select users that commented or liked your post
  3. Once you’re on their profile, check what they like to post What hashtags they use
  4. Notice what kind of captions and language they use (also very important)
  5. Check who they follow

Knowing what your audience is doing on social media is the most valuable information we’re trying to get. You might discover that they follow your competitors or other relevant accounts you don’t even know. Or some interest that’s popular among the target audience that you haven’t considered before. 

For example, not only do they follow you but they also appear to be passionate sports fans. Or, fashion design lovers that follow the #designerclothes hashtag or some relevant influencer. 

How can we make use of this information? 

Say you get the impression that your fans apart from liking your content, also follow several motivational-quote accounts. To make sure your content resonates with your best followers you can also share a motivational post/video once in a while. 

The same goes if you notice that a lot of your followers like some fitness micro-influencer. Get in touch with that person and create a micro-influencer marketing campaign.

Instagram polls – if you don’t know, ask!

There’s a reason why political marketers spend so much time organizing voter focus groups. It’s a shortcut to getting data on what your target audience likes and dislikes. 

Instagram polls are a great way to avoid any “assumptions” and find out what would be the best content for the people that follow you. 

How to create Instagram polls?

  1. Take a photo or video for your story
  2. Select the “poll” sticker and place it anywhere you like
  3. Write a question Customize the poll choices

After you post your story your audience will immediately start voting and you can see real-time results. 

Here are some suggestions on what types of questions to ask with Instagram polls:

  • What kind of content do they prefer?
  • What’s their favorite Instagram page or influencer?
  • Why they follow your account in the first place?
  • What format they find more engaging (video, carousels, etc)?
  • Use post captions to ask your followers what they like?

If we take a look at the captions of this car influencer we can see that she did exactly this with0 her audience. The post has 1 358 likes and over 400 helpful comments from her fans. 

“What kind of content should I post on here? I’m curious to what you guys wanna see :)”

You can use pretty much this same line to ask your audience what would be most interesting for them. 

How to find your customers on Instagram

Enriching your current database with social media profiles and their number of followers, helps you find your most popular customers. These customers that are IG users can help you spread the word about your brand three times better than regular influencers! The reason for this is that collaborations with people that don’t really understand your brand and like your product doesn’t seem natural to an audience. 

On the other hand, when one of your own customers promotes your brand it looks like a genuine and friendly recommendation.

This is definitely the easiest way to find the best target audience that you should engage with on Instagram. 

A little DM never hurt anybody

No one is going to sue you for reaching out to a new follower via direct messaging to ask why they decided to follow you. The other thing you should ask is what kind of content do they expect from your Instagram page. 

But, carefully select who are the followers you DM. This should be someone that interacts with your page (like or comment) regularly.  

Here’s a simple DM template that you can use:

“Hi! We’ve noticed that you started following us and seem to like our posts, thanks so much for the love! Quick question: what kind of content would you like to see us post? We’re trying to deliver the best XYZ to our followers, and your feedback would be much appreciated!”

Use social media listening tools

Social media listening is the practice of tracking conversations on social media about and around your organization or brand name. You can also track keywords related to your niche or peer organizations. 

These tools can help you easily engage with people that have questions, issues, positive or negative comments. The goal is to identify your target audience and get in touch with them to draw their attention to your Instagram profile. 

Other benefits of using social media listening tools:

  • Create more relevant content for your supporters Plan more targeted social media campaigns
  • Improve your overall social media strategy 
  • Provide better customer service Improve your products
  • Launch new products that your audience is asking for 

Here are some social media listening tools that you can use:

  • Boardreader tracks forums, websites, blogs, and messaging boards. It’s a powerful free social media listening tool that not many have heard of or actively use, so use it to your advantage!
  • Union Metrics has a free Instagram account checkup from lets you see how you’re doing on Instagram using the last 30 days of activity on your account. The free tool also questions about your Instagram account like what’s the best time to post to Instagram, what hashtags should you use to get the most engagement, and what kind of content should you post more (or less).
  • Google News can be used to search for your brand name, as well as a set of keywords for your areas of interest, include competitors. To make it even easier, fund the RSS feed at the bottom of the search results page and add it to an RSS reader of your choice. If you’d like email alerts straight to your email inbox, you can also set up email alerts, choosing “As it happens” as the fastest way to be kept updated.

How to Reach Your Target Audience on Instagram

Knowing where your audience is on Instagram means very little if you’re not sure how to go about reaching, interacting, and engaging with them. 

To do that, continue reading some of our best tips.

Hashtags provide targeted exposure!

Regular users and brands use hashtags (#) before a relevant keyword or phrase in their Instagram post mainly to help them show more easily in Instagram search.

Here’s an example of how Etsy uses hashtags to show their posts in front of their target audience. 

When someone does an Instagram search of “handmade”, Etsy’s image will be part of the results. 

When used strategically, they provide you with a ton of benefits. They can be used to get your content in front of a larger social media audience, raise awareness about your brand, target a very specific group of people, boost your SEO, and use hot trends and topics to your advantage, among other things.

Pro tip: Use hashtags not only on regular feed posts but also your Instagram stories.

To find relevant hashtags on Instagram for your brand use:

  • Suggestions in Instagram search. Just like with Google search, when you start typing a certain query on the Instagram search you immediately get related suggestions. 
  • Hashtag Generator #HashMe.
  • Research your competitors.
  • Research your followers.

What if your targeted Instagram audience is local?

Again hashtags are a great way to get exposure for your event or local store. But instead of regular hashtags, here we need to tag our Instagram post with a location.

Or if your business is operating locally then you need to go a step further and search your industry + city name to narrow down your # search. This way you can get connected with people in your town!

Find influencers in your niche

Nowadays pretty much everyone is trying to find a way to become an influencer. The entry barriers on the market are very low and it has led to an oversaturated marketplace! But this is a great opportunity for brands. Let me tell you why:

Smaller (and cheaper) influencers are much better for spreading the word on social media. And many studies show those results again and again. The reasoning is pretty simple.

A couple of years ago Instagram realized that celebrities are used for an enormous reach and that’s negatively affected them as an ads platform. In explanation, macro-influencers were more becoming more attractive than Facebook and Instagram ads. 

So they changed their platform a bit.  

Now, as one account gets more followers their social media posts reach a fewer percentage of their followers. 

But, this means that brands can use multiple smaller influencers for more reach and engagement at a lower cost. 

What options do you have when it comes to finding micro/nano influencers in your niche?

1. Find influencers among customers

Have you ever wondered whether some of the people that bought from your store are influencers? Well, if you’re a Shopify store, there is a great app that lets you find influencers among customers

People that like your products probably have an audience that will too!

2. Find influencers among your (or competitors) followers

Scrape your Instagram followers and find who among them have more than 2k followers. Other than the number of followers of your audience you get verified email addresses that you can use to reach out and ask for a collaboration. 

This same strategy can be used to find influencers among your competitors’ followers. 

3. Use hashtags to find influencers

We previously mentioned how to use hashtags to reach your target audience on Instagram. But they are also a great way to find influencers in your niche. 

If you know what are the most relevant hashtags in your industry you can check the profiles and see whether someone might be a good fit for your brand.

For example, the #jewelry hashtag has over 93M posts. Not all of them are relevant to your brand but with a bit of research, you can definitely find the influencers you need. 

Create a list of the best profiles and DM them manually or with the help of DM automation tools.

4. Influencer discovery platforms or free resources

Influencer platforms are designed to help brands find, communicate, manage and see the ROI of every influencer collaboration. 

Here are some of the best ones that we recommend:

Once you identify the right influencers for your brand, you can approach them with several types of partnerships depending on your goals. You could:

  • Have them review your product or service
  • Get them to share your content with their followers
  • Partner with them to run a giveaway contest
  • Have them take over your social media account for a set time
  • Get them to ingeniously position your brand or product
  • Spread the love with @mentions

The most interesting way to reach your niche community on Instagram is by interacting with your peers and target audience by @mentions. Find popular Instagram users that your followers like and tag them in a story or a post in an authentic way. 

Chances are pretty good that the mentioned person will reshare your post to their audience! 

Boom! You’ve just got exposure to your target audience and deepen your community roots. 

Rinse and repeat. 

Use Instagram to build relationships with your audience

Understanding your audience, what they like and don’t like to see on Instagram, will empower you to strengthen your engagement strategy. 

Every one of the tips given above can help you find, research, and engage with your audience on Instagram. 

But, maybe even after reading this gigantic article, you’re not sure whether you’ll successfully target your best audience. 


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