You may already be producing some brilliant content for your Instagram marketing strategy. And you’re probably getting creative with all the cool features such as stickers and Reels. But are you connecting with your Instagram target audience?

While creativity is essential for marketing success, you won’t get too far with it if you’re not marketing to a specific target audience. Every aspect of your strategy has to resonate with the type of people you want to reach. This includes everything from the messages you put out to the visuals you create.

Similarly, for your Instagram strategy to work, you need to align it to the needs and values of your Instagram target audience. In this guide, we show you how to find a target audience on Instagram and drive more engagement.

Table of contents:

What is an Instagram target audience?

An Instagram target audience refers to a group of people that you want to reach with your Instagram marketing efforts. This group will have certain shared characteristics that tie them together and make them relevant to your brand. This could be anything from demographics to interests and values.

These are the people for whom you’ll be creating content and developing campaigns. And you’ll be adapting your brand voice, messaging and tone to resonate with them.

For example, Drunk Elephant targets an audience of skincare enthusiasts who value long-term skin health. So it creates Instagram content to promote healthy and beneficial ingredients. It even provides education about ingredients that contribute to skin issues.

Instagram post from Drunk Elephant showing a clear skincare gel being squeezed out onto a hand and a list of ingredients that people will never find in the brand's products

Finding a target audience for Instagram is crucial as it helps you streamline your marketing efforts for a specific group of people. When you’re trying to reach anyone and everyone, there’s a chance your strategy will be all over the place. But with a target audience, you can shape your strategy according to their shared characteristics. That way, your efforts can be more focused and more organized.

5 methods for finding your Instagram target audience

So how do you even begin with Instagram targeting? Check out these five methods on how to find your target audience on Instagram.

1. Build buyer personas

Don’t reinvent the wheel. You can rely on the info about your brand’s existing buyer personas to find your Instagram target audience. If you haven’t created them yet, check out our guide on how to build buyer personas.

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?

Keep in mind that not everyone may be looking for the same thing. There may be people with different needs and motivations based on their unique pain points. So don’t be surprised if you find more than one buyer persona that’s relevant to your brand. Each of these personas can be a separate target audience group for your Instagram marketing efforts.

Sprout Social’s Instagram target audience consists of social media managers and decision-makers. So we mix things up to appeal to these two different groups. We regularly create funny and relatable content for social media managers. We also throw in a heavy dose of stats and insightful content to inform decision-makers.

Sprout Social's Instagram post of a man taking a photo in a set and a text overlay saying "POV: You're a social media manager with access to a set"

2. Use competitive intelligence

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 type of competitive intelligence 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.

Sprout’s Competitive Analysis Report lets you monitor your competitors’ Instagram performance. It shows you how their posts are performing and how people engage with them. It even helps you track their audience growth and compare it against yours. So you can narrow down your biggest competitors and take a closer look at their audience makeup.

Instagram competitor analysis report Sprout

3. Use existing demographics data

Instagram analytics provides you with a breakdown of your existing audience demographics. This type of valuable social media demographics insights can inform your Instagram targeting.

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

Instagram follower insights showing location distribution of top followers and age range

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. Use social listening

Audience research helps you gain a better understanding of your audience. This makes it a key step to executing 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.

Sprout’s Listening tools let you pinpoint conversations in your industry and around certain topics. This can give you a better idea of what your target audience is talking about and how they feel about a certain topic.

Query builder on Sprout Social alongside a list of brand mentions from specific profiles

5. Leverage Instagram polls

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

Make the most of Instagram features such as Stories polls to ask questions and better understand your target audience. Get them to vote on 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, etc.

5 proven ways to engage with 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 toboost your Instagram engagement. Here are a few tips on how to target an audience on Instagram and engage them.

1. Leverage the right hashtags on Instagram

The right Instagram 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.

Make the most of Sprout’s Listening tools to discover topics and hashtags that your audience frequently mentions. You’ll be able to get a detailed breakdown of the conversation and engagement volume for each hashtag. So you can discover hashtags that are popular with your target audience and use them in your Instagram posts.

Sprout Social Listening dashboard showing a conversation overview of the top topics and hashtags along with respective stats

2. Leverage geotagging

For location-based Instagram targeting, you can make the most of the platform’s geotagging feature. Geotagged posts and Stories show up in searches related to the location. So this feature can significantly enhance your post visibility with the right audience.

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 Adidas Originals adds the Coachella geolocation tag in the following post. By adding this tag, the brand improves the chances of its post showing up in searches about Coachella.

Instagram post from Adidas Originals showing an artist performing on stage and a geolocation tag for Coachella

3. Connect with 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 Instagram influencer marketing is the perfect way to reach and engage your audience. This would involve a partnership with influencers that your Instagram target audience follows and looks up to.

There are several types of influencer partnerships to help you drive engagement:

  • 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

Sprout helps you identify the right influencers and thought leaders for your brand. Start by looking into trending conversations related to specific topics. The Listening Demographics dashboard then breaks down the top profiles leading those conversations. These are the profiles that will have an impact on your target audience and help you drive engagement.

Sprout Social Listening Demographics report showing a list of profiles leading the conversation around a given topic

4. Participate in the conversation

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

Use Sprout’s Listening tools to discover trending conversations in your industry and about your brand. This will help you identify some of the most active conversations that you can participate in. You can either join in on existing conversations or create a new post to spark engagement.

Sprout Social Listening Engagement report showing a comparison graph for different types of engagement

5. Create content that matters to your target audience

Engaging your Instagram target audience is all about creating content that resonates with them. And the best way to understand what they like is by looking at your analytics data.

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

Look beyond the native Instagram analytics and use Sprout’s Analytics tools for deeper insights. These tools will provide you with a post-level breakdown of your content performance. You’ll be able to filter the report to narrow down the metrics that matter to you. You can then use these insights to understand the types of content that matter to your target audience so you can create more of them.

Post-wise performance report on Sprout Social Analytics with a window showing an option to filter by different metrics

Let your Instagram target audience fuel your growth

Instagram marketing success starts with understanding and appealing to your target audience. And Sprout Social offers a suite of tools that you can use to discover and engage your target audience on Instagram. Try it free for 30 days to see how it can take your strategy to the next level.