How to Assemble a Loyal Tribe on Instagram - Carney
instagram photo Foster Huntington

How to Assemble a Loyal Tribe on Instagram

Remember people are not born with a natural desire to consume, but they are created with the need to connect.

1 Million Followers Club

How did they get a million followers on Instagram?

Clearly, something separates the “I post pics of my beer on the weekends” accounts from the pros. What’s the big difference? You could say it’s pure luck, but the truth lies in quality and consistency.

Take, for example, Foster Huntington and his 1M Followers: @fosterhunting

He took every skate kid’s dream, turned them into a reality, and then documented the entire process on Instagram with incredible photography.

The Cinder Cone project (aka: Tree House with a Hot Tub & Skate Park) was consistently shared on social media, but it ultimately gained its biggest fans on Instagram. Each post received 15k -25k likes with hundreds of comments from loyal followers. I, myself, was checking the feed daily for updates on the progress of the build.

Then, Foster packaged it all together in a beautiful hardback coffee table book on Kickstarter. The tribe rallied together and brought it to press!

So, how does one go about building a loyal tribe of followers that listen every time you get on the horn?

Image of the cinder cone book and the tribe
Photo by: Foster Huntington

 If you build it, they won’t always come.

The biggest shift in my thinking took place shortly after reading the book Tribes by Seth Godin. I had always been of the mindset that if you have a quality product, a beautiful website, and great branding, you would be an instant success.

This Field-of-Dreams-endorsed “if you build it, they will come,” mentality often results in frustration, because it leaves out a huge piece of the puzzle: the tribe itself.

Without the tribe, you don’t have a business.

In his book, Seth points out that only two things are needed to assemble a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.

[pull_quote author=”Seth Godin”] A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.[/pull_quote]

It just so happens that Instagram has become the strongest platform to both discover and communicate with those who share your interests.

In Foster Huntington’s case, he used Instagram to attract a tribe of like-minded vagabonds, dirtbags, and rubber tramps. Using simple hashtags like #vanlife, he quickly connected with those looking to ditch their predictable office life to pursue the unknown.

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Nature vs. Nurture

Remember: people are not born with a natural desire to consume. They are created with the need to connect. Appealing to this need is the most natural way to assemble a loyal tribe, even if the desire to buy will have to to be nurtured over time. Focus your attention on finding a small, but passionate group of people who share your interests.

Here are a few tips based on our experience building and managing the Instagram account for the popular outdoor media brand Seneca Creek.

  • Don’t be afraid to write longer copy in your posts, as long as the content is compelling and well-written. Inspiring quotes are a good choice if copywriting is not your strong suit.
  • Using free tools like Gramblr to schedule posts can be helpful, but don’t underestimate the power of spontaneity. People need to know a real human is behind the feed. We’re not talking about drunk posting, but simply reacting to live events as they inspire you. Instagram stories allow you to easily capture and document these moments in short video clips.
  • Liking, commenting, and following on similar accounts is important, but with the use of automation, these interactions have lost their value. You can combat this problem with well thought-out, intentional comments.
  • Lastly, it can take some time to build an engaging tribe on Instagram. Be patient, but don’t wait any longer to get in the game. The investment is well worth the effort, seeing that this platform doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon — 600 million users as of December 2016!

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