Instagram is one of the most effective platforms a business can use to target its consumers. But in order to be successful building a strong community is essential. A dedication to social media engagement, integrating existing communities and using analytics tools are three ways that brands can ensure their Instagram presence remains robust.

Leading manufacturer of grooming products, Wahl Professional, applied these strategic tactics to grow its Instagram community by 56% and, in the process, averaged 847 interactions per post.

Read on to see how Wahl grew its followers by 84,788 and learn how you can apply the same strategies to expand your own Instagram community.

Leverage User-Generated Content

User-generated content on Instagram is significant for any brand’s social strategy because it’s authentic. A Bazaarvoice study on UGC and millennials found that 84% of the demographic are at least somewhat influenced by this type of content when making a purchasing decision.

Wahl’s engagement efforts appeal to an community of barbers and stylists, many of whom often trade grooming tips. Fans regularly share their own content using #Wahl and #WahlPro.

“We’re a manufacturing company; technically, we build tools,” Marketing Associate Aaron Flick said. “On Instagram, we wanted to visually showcase what these tools can do and, more importantly, how they’re used by our customers.”

Using Sprout’s Brand Keywords, Aaron monitored hashtags to track down UGC that meets brand style guidelines and resonates with the industry as a whole. To date, @wahlpro’s three top-performing posts consist of curated UGC.

Develop a Continual Dialogue

Instagram has the highest engagement rates between customers and brands among all major social media platforms, according to data from Forrester. Businesses should capitalize on this potential; for this reason, Instagram engagement is a must.

Instagram isn’t just a platform for companies to market themselves—brands have to rely on audience participation and interaction in order to strengthen their relationship with their customers. Don’t just monitor the conversation, develop a continual and multidimensional dialogue.

Across all of Wahl’s Instagram profiles, the brand maintains an open line of communication with its followers. When it comes to Instagram strategy, UCG drives Wahl’s brand awareness, and responding to comments serves to humanize the brand and keep a tight community of loyalists.

This success can be attributed to Sprout’s Smart Inbox, team collaboration tools and user settings, according to Global Vice President of Professional Products Lance Wahl.

Since implementing Sprout, @wahlpro has increased its monthly average of sent messages by more than 50%.

Benchmark Success

Analytics are key to showing what is working well and what needs improvement in your brand’s social media strategy. Sprout’s Instagram analytics tools allow businesses to track post performance, monitor Instagram trends, measure audience engagement, monitor comments and hashtag use, identify influencers and report across multiple profiles.

Wahl’s marketing team uses Sprout analytics tools such as the Instagram Profiles and Sent Messages Report to gauge its success and remain agile. The Instagram Profiles show the brand how well it is engaging with customers, as well as what it can to to enhance the overall customer experience.

Within 10 months, @wahlpro saw a 56% increase in followers, surpassing its average yearly audience growth by 74%. The hashtag #wahl was used 465 times and gained a net engagement rate of 243,177.

The Smart Inbox, which can reply to Instagram comments directly from the Sprout platform, allowed @wahlpro to increase engagement by 4,307 percent and average 847 interactions per post.

Maintaining a strong Instagram community means integrating user-generated content, engaging in a two-way conversation with customers and making good use of available analytics tools. If Wahl’s success is any indication, brands that apply these strategies are more likely to see success.

Please note: As of December 2018, Instagram Hashtags monitoring has moved to the Feeds tab in Sprout.