Despite having over 800 million active users all around the globe, you might think that it’s impossible to find kindred spirits on Instagram. However, as I’ve grown my own account, I’ve discovered a group of similarly minded women, some of whom have given me boosts in my career and others have even become real-life friends. I’ve received influxes in new followers, invitations to gatherings and even recommendations to brands to contact me for work thanks to the friends I’ve made over Instagram. They are my online tribe, and this is how you can find your own.
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking to refine your existing feed, the most important thing you can do is to narrow down your niche.
There’s nothing wrong with sharing a variety of content but having an overriding theme that your followers can identify with is the first step in seeking out your tribe. Anyone who stumbles upon your feed should instantly know what you’re all about – and if they think that you have similar interests and values to themselves, they’re more likely to engage.
Don’t just declare yourself a travel influencer, for example. Dig a little deeper and think how you can narrow this down. What’s interesting about the way that you travel? What kind of travel photos do you take? You could choose to focus on slow travel, meaningful travel or solo travel – whatever you like, as long as you have a direction.
Once you’ve decided upon your niche and you’re sharing photographs and writing captions that you are satisfied display your personality, it’s time to start reaching out to similar feeds. Whenever you stumble upon someone whose feed shares a certain value with your own, comment on their posts and stories with meaningful words that spark conversation. Don’t be dismayed if you don’t get a response and don’t just concentrate on trying to befriend feeds with hundreds of thousands of followers; take your time to engage with the people that you’d really like to get to know.
Carolyn (aka @theslowtraveler) used this method to simultaneously grow her followers and discover her tribe.
“When I was starting out on Instagram, I found new people and communities through hashtags. I’d double-tap pictures I really liked and leave meaningful comments (not just emoji’s), also taking the time to click on people’s profiles and like a few more of their images. Doing this regularly, I started to notice circles of people who sort of virtually hang out with each other. If one person from that circle followed me, it was likely others would too, if I engaged with them.”
I met several members of my own tribe at Sisterhood Camp in Wales last summer. Organised by Lou Archell (aka @littlegreenshed), the retreat aimed to bring together a group of similarly minded women. Like a real-life version of Instagram engagement, we gushed over the photos that we liked on each other’s feeds and sparked inspiration from each other.
There’s no reason why you necessarily have to meet your tribe in person.
Everyone leads busy lives, but it’s easy to set aside 15 minutes to engage online while you linger over a cup of tea. Tell someone that they’re reading your favourite book and you’d love to hear their recommendations for future reads, offer suggestions for a city someone is currently exploring based on your own trip, or offer advice on how to resurrect someone’s plant. Chances are that when these people have replied to your comment, they’ll click on over to your feed to see if you’re the kind of person they’d like to continue engaging with. Ensure that you are by interacting with people with similar interests to the content that you post.
Engaging with your tribe can also increase your visibility to other users. The more you dally back and forth and share similarly themed content, the more likely you are to pop up as a suggested recommendation when others click that little arrow next to their name. Likewise, if someone starts to regularly like and comment on your posts, this will show to their followers on the notifications page for ‘following’. These are all ways that users look for new accounts to follow, so taking steps to increase your visibility in these areas of the app can really help your account to grow.
Ultimately, whether you’re looking to expand your following or simply want to make friends, connecting with your tribe is sure to get results.
Emma Lavelle is a freelance writer, travel blogger and content creator behind the Instagram account @FieldandNest. Find out more about her and read more of her work at FieldandNest.com.