Having in-depth knowledge of your Instagram target audience is an essential part of a successful Instagram marketing strategy.

Unless you know what intrigues and motivates your followers, you’ll have a hard time producing the right content to engage them. And unless you know when they are active, you won’t have much success reaching them at the right time.

So it’s important that you learn how to find your target audience on Instagram and discover the best Instagram targeting tactics to reach them. This post is going to help you do exactly that.

Finding and researching your Instagram target audience

Let’s start with a few key methods to define your Instagram target audience. Additionally, you’ll also discover some audience research tips so you can learn how to target an audience on Instagram.

Resources for audience insights

In addition to the best practices below, explore these resource for more ways to pinpoint your audience:

1. Start with larger personas

You don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel. If your business already has defined buyer personas, it will often make sense to reuse the same information to define your Instagram target audience.

Have a clear idea of what the typical customer looks like for your business. Ask yourself what your product is and what it does. Who is your product designed for? And what is your audience looking for?

A product like Evernote, for instance, makes it easier for people to take notes and organize important information.

Evernote Instagram feed

So their target audience would typically be: a) busy professionals b) looking for solutions to organize their information and tasks c) and increase their productivity.

Manage your audience with Sprout Social

Sprout’s profile views allow you to review conversation history and add internal notes and contact details to individual profiles.

Highlight brand advocates and stay on top of customer care with detailed information your entire team can access.

Test out how Sprout can help you connect to your target audience with a free trial.

2. Collect competitive insight

You can learn a lot about your target audience by looking into your competitors’ Instagram audience. See what kind of followers they have and what kind of posts they are publishing. This can give you some idea of what your Instagram target audience should look like. You can figure out if there are gaps or missing audience segments you’ve left out as you’ve started putting together a picture of your own audience.

While the Phlanx Influencer Auditor tool is meant for influencer research, it’s also a great tool for analyzing your competitors. Just enter their social media handle and the tool will generate a comprehensive audit report of their account.

You can discover important audience insights such as their follower locations, demographics and brand mentions.

Phlanx Nike Instagram audit

3. Use existing demographics data

The existing demographic insights you can get from your Instagram analytics can tell you a lot about your Instagram target audience.

Under “Insights”, go to “Audience”. Here, you can see some vital statistics about your existing followers including their age range, gender and location.

Instagram's native analytics via Insights provide surface-level metrics on posts and Stories

Combine this data with your buyer personas and the information you collected from competitor research. This should help you paint a clear picture of what your Instagram target audience looks like.

4. Conduct social listening to understand relevant conversations

Audience research is one of the key steps to understand your audience and execute effective Instagram targeting.

One of the best ways to understand your Instagram target audience is through social listening. Unless you know what your audience is talking about and what they are interested in, you’ll have a hard time understanding how to engage them.

Use social media listening tools from Sprout Social to pinpoint conversations in your industry and around certain topics. This can give you a better idea of what your target audience is talking about, how they feel about a certain topic and who is driving those conversations.

Sprout Social has a Listening feature that allows you to build queries around parameters that would benefit your business.

With this, you can identify trending conversations you can participate in and influential thought leaders to help you amplify your brand message.

5. Make the most of Instagram polls

If you’re going to research your audience, why not ask them directly?

Make the most of Instagram Stories polls to ask relevant questions that will help you understand your audience better and improve your Instagram targeting.

You could ask them what type of content they prefer and what they expect from you. Or you could create polls to narrow down on the specifics of their likes and dislikes, their interests and hobbies, their shopping behavior, etc.

Reaching and engaging your Instagram target audience

It’s not enough to find your Instagram target audience if you don’t know what to do with the information.

Once you have a clear idea of who your target audience is and what they want, you can use the insights for effective Instagram targeting. Here are a few tips to help you reach and engage your audience on Instagram:

1. Leverage the right hashtags

The right hashtags can get you in front of the right audience.

Your target audience should have interests relevant to your brand and/or industry. This also means that they would use or follow hashtags relevant to the industry.

It’s your job to make sure that you use those hashtags so that the right people can discover your content.

This is exactly where you can make the most of Sprout’s social media monitoring tools. The Trends Report helps you discover the top hashtags that people are mentioning with your profiles, so you can narrow down on the most relevant and popular hashtags to use in your posts for better visibility.

Sprout Social Twitter Trends Report provides insight on trending hashtags that you're tracking

You can also look for the top hashtags in your industry using tools like RiteTag.

Besides your regular Instagram feed posts, don’t forget to tag your Stories with the right hashtags.

2. Use location tagging

For location-based Instagram targeting, you can make the most of the platform’s location tagging feature. As location-tagged posts and Stories show up in relevant searches, this feature can significantly enhance your post visibility with the right audience.

Instagram location search results Last Vegas

In other words, people interested in content or events captured at those locations will be able to see your posts in their search results. Since the content is relevant to them, there’s a good chance they will take the time to view it and even engage with it.

See how the official Spurs Instagram account tagged one of their posts at the AT&T Center.

3. Connect with the right influencers

Influencers have authority in specific niches as a direct result of their passion and expertise. They have amassed hundreds of thousands of followers whose interests align with their niche.

So partnering with the right influencers can be highly effective for reaching your Instagram target audience. This would involve a partnership with influencers that your target audience follows and looks up to.

There are a few ways to find relevant Instagram influencers for your brand.

  • Through a hashtag search – Conduct a hashtag search using industry- or brand-specific hashtags. Look for influencer content among the “Top Posts” in your search results. This should help you narrow down on influencers who create highly relevant content in your niche.For example, let’s say you are a home décor brand and you want to reach people who are interested in DIY home décor. Conduct a search for the hashtag #diyhomedecor and go through the top posts in your search results.
    hashtag search results page for #diyhomedecor
    For this example, let’s take a closer look at the following post, which comes up among the top posts for this hashtag.
    DIY home decor post by user @down_mulberry_lane
    Now we’re going to check out the account that created the post. In this case, it’s the user @down_mulberry_lane. As you can see in the screenshot below, the user has 34.8k followers and her content is very relevant to home décor. Having both reach and relevance, she could make an excellent influencer for a brand in this area.
    Instagram profile for user @down_mulberry_lane
  • Using influencer discovery platforms – You can also use influencer discovery platforms like BuzzSumo and Influence.co to conduct your search. All you need to do is enter an industry-specific keyword and the platforms will display the most relevant influencers for those keywords.Additionally, you can also use the social media marketing analytics suite from Sprout to identify influencers who are leading relevant conversations in your niche.

Once you identify the right influencers for your brand, you can approach them with several types of partnership 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 period
  • Get them to ingeniously position your brand or product

For example, Yes Style, a K-beauty retailer partnered with a beauty influencer @sophsmakeupp to promote their products. The influencer created a short tutorial video akin to the usual content that she regularly produces. In the video, she used products that people can buy on Yes Style and included a short review of each product in the caption.

This is an excellent example of partnering with the right influencers to reach your Instagram target audience.

4. Participate in relevant and trending conversations

Participating in the right conversations can help you get noticed by the right people.

Use social listening tools from Sprout to discover trending conversations in your industry and about your brand. This will help you understand some of the most active conversations that you can either participate on through existing active posts, or start new posts that have a high chance of sparking engagement.

You can also use these tools to track brand sentiment and understand how people feel about your brand and your competitors. This will give you some insight on how to differentiate your business and engage your target audience more effectively.

5. Get inspiration from analytics data

Further, you can collect performance insights from your published content to see what your audience likes.

Find out what types of content get the most engagement so you can understand what resonates with the audience. Use this information to strengthen your Instagram marketing strategy and develop more engaging content.

Sprout’s social performance reporting tools are perfect for collecting these insights. In the below example, the message tagging feature was used to group different campaigns and hashtags, allowing a more granular look at what posts are getting seen more frequently.

Sprout tag report

Start engaging on Instagram

Having a better understanding of who your Instagram target audience is and what they like will empower you to strengthen your engagement strategy.

Use the tips given above to find, research and engage your audience on Instagram. If you’re ready to take your strategy to the next level, get a 30-day free trial of Sprout Social to test out our tools for yourself.