Welcome back to another one of our Blog Takeovers at Rapid Marketing. Now we’re onto number 3 and this time it’s about building your Instagram community. It’s been a few weeks since our last blog, which was written by Laura from The Homely Haven (@thehomelyhaven). She gave us the low down on finding your own “blogging sweet spot” whilst navigating the world of bloggers. Why not give it a peek here?

This weeks exciting guest blogger is Steph from My Little Duke (@MyLittleDuke). Steph runs her Instagram account as all things sustainable, lifestyle and so much more! She’s written this blog to give a little insight into how exactly she built up her very own Instagram community over the years…

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The term ‘building a community’ really threw me when I began to prepare to write this piece. It suggests ‘intentionality’ and ‘organisation’, perhaps even ‘strategising’! Let me assure you now, I am very unorganised and I don’t think I’ve ever strategised anything in my life!  But, as I look back over my 4 year journey on the ‘gram, I do see lots of intentionality. I certainly write and capture moments with intention. It’s what I love most about this strange little space on the net.

Keeping it real

Firstly, I’m so proud to be able to say that the ‘My Little Duke’ community is 100% organic. I have never and will never buy followers or engage in ‘follow/unfollow’ tactics. One might assume that the number of followers is important on an app like Instagram, but this is only partly true. Certainly, the number at the top of your profile can unlock tools and opportunities, but I’m seeing more and more that it is the community that counts – size doesn’t matter.

In addition, I struggle with the labels. Terms like ‘follower’ and ‘influencer’ just don’t sit right with me. Too often it leads to subconsciously placing people on pedestals, or creating the mindset that someone is ‘better’ than someone else based on their ‘following.’ It can be easy to forget that there is always a human behind the screen and this is exactly why community is so important.

However I will be the first to admit that I can be sporadic with my interactions on Instagram. Too often, I let my messages pile up, to a point where I get overwhelmed and stressed out! I put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself; mostly because I’m conscious of the (albeit) small ‘influence’ that I have through my Instagram. It doesn’t matter whether you have one follower, or 1 million followers – we are all influencing someone. What we say and what we show matters.

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The connections you make…

Furthermore, building an authentic community is something I feel passionately about. In fact, my Instagram experience has been mostly positive because of the wonderful people I’ve connected with along the way. I’ve even made amazing new ‘real-life’ friendships – friends that I’d probably never have met without Instagram. I’m mindful to always consider the value of each individual ‘behind the square’. We need to invest time and energy in the ‘social’ aspect of the app – it’s called ‘social media’ for a reason!

Every comment, private message or share is so much appreciated and I always try to show my appreciation to anyone who takes the time to do so. Everyone can do with a little encouragement sometimes; going that extra mile can make a huge difference and kindness will always be welcomed. Creating and sharing content on Instagram takes more time and effort than I think some might realise – and something I found almost impossible when I was teaching full-time.

One of my main aims when sharing anything on the ‘gram is to ensure that I’m as honest and transparent as I can be, without over-sharing. I hope that anyone who follows me always knows that. My Instagram is a representation of my life and it is so lovely to have some really great people journeying alongside me, cheering me on. I’d like to think I do the same for them. Thankfully, my instagram community have stuck with me as I’ve journeyed through quitting my job, joining Neal’s Yard Remedies. Now, as I seek to create a more sustainable lifestyle for my family, they’re still with me. I’ve always been sure to invite people to share in my story and to *hopefully* make them feel welcome.

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What I’ve Learned

But building and maintaining a community online is absolutely not something I am an expert in, at all! Though, there are a few things I’ve learned along the way that have helped my wee account to grow:

Be social!

Don’t just sit on the sidelines or be a spectator. Engage with other accounts and join in with hashtags or challenges. Braving the odd ‘blogger event’ always helps too! Get out there and get networking.

Be yourself!

There is room for everyone at the table. Try to avoid comparison and embrace what makes you you … then own it! Be confident in who you are.

Be consistent!

Whatever you do, do it consistently. Instagram is an aesthetic platform – your grid doesn’t need to be all pretty pastels, but it will look good with a consistent theme/colour/filter etc. Same goes for stories.

Be brave!

Embrace new opportunities and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Instagram has opened up some incredible doors of opportunity for me … the possibilities are endless!

Be real!

Show up as you are, wherever you are at. People appreciate honesty and can spot authenticity. Have a go at talking on stories or do a live chat – get out of your comfort zone.

 

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Blogging does it best!

Alongside Instagram, I’ve found that my blog is a key tool for building my Instagram community. I absolutely love to write and yes, people do still take time to read blogs! Often it is the sharing of blog posts that can help to widen the reach of my Instagram page and increases overall engagement.

 

Finally, I want to take this opportunity to sincerely thank each and every person who is part of the My Little Duke community. No little encouragement ever goes unnoticed, no message unread. Doors have opened because of you and I still can’t believe that you choose to continually journey with me. I sure love having you along for the ride!

If you would like to be a guest blogger or have a topic you’re itching to discuss – get in touch with us! You can contact us on Instagram or on our website. We’d LOVE to hear from you!