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Do You Know What Your Audience Wants to See on Instagram?

4 Ways to Make Social a Critical Part of Your Marketing Strategy

You’ve got a sizable and growing audience on Instagram, and most of your content performs “pretty well,” but are you really becoming part of the conversation your audience is interested in, or is it just a matter of time before they click Unfollow? Instagram’s algorithm change means you’ll have to understand your audience and the content that resonates with them even better than ever.

It’s time to start thinking about your social strategy differently, and that begins with meeting your audience where they are, instead of where you want them to be or where you wish they were.

Instagram is a particularly effective social network on which to do this kind of research, and it’s not as heavy a task as you might think.

Step 1: Know What They’re Talking About

It’s a lot like entering a party where you don’t know anyone: if you walk up to random people and start talking about topics you’re interested in without asking any questions, you’re not going to learn about the people you’re meeting, and you’re not going to make many friends.

Focus on one specific topic. This topic can be trending or an evergreen topic which you want your brand conversationally involved in and associated with.

Hashtag Report

Understand the magnitude of conversation around this topic. If there isn’t much conversation around the topic, you’re on the wrong track. Pick a new topic. If there is a ton of conversation about the topic you chose, drill deeper to understand the different subset of conversation around this topic.

For instance, say you are an e-commerce brand and you want to understand the conversation around #floralprints. This query might deliver you a lot of Instagram data. Before you choose to zero in on top posts around this topic (more on that right below), find posts which are actually relevant by searching for specific posts which mention other topics you know are relevant to your brand.


If your brand sells clothing, you wouldn’t be focused on this kind of post…

REALLY💜 where this one is going≫

A post shared by Liane (@lianesievers) on

You’d want to focus on this kind of post, which would require additional keywords coupled with your original topic:

Put some color in you're life 🌼

A post shared by Sara (@thesarakhalil) on


See the top posts around this topic. Once you’ve used multiple keywords to isolate the specific subset of the topic you’re interested in, look for the top posts around this topic for a good glimpse into what your target audience is interested in and organically talking about around this trend.

You can learn so much about your audience — and the type of content your brand should be posting to affect and attract them — using this technique.

Look at the comments on those top posts. Now it’s time to go one level further and check out the comments on the social content you’ve found. What can you learn about how Instagram users interact with different types of content around your target topic?

Step 2: Know Where and How They’d Welcome a Brand

Just because an influencer is getting a ton of positive feedback on a topic or content type doesn’t mean they’ll welcome this kind of post from your brand. Tread carefully here to avoid coming off as sales-y (as opposed to inspirational). That’s not what your target Instagram audience is here for. This is the perfect moment for competitive analysis.

Take your top competitors and/or brands you admire on Instagram who are capitalizing on the topic or trend you want to capitalize on. Run analysis to understand how their efforts around these topics and trends have contributed to engagement and more direct business goals, as well. Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 1.27.29 PM

Step 3: Know What Would Be Welcome From YOUR Brand

Just because your target demographic likes to talk about a topic doesn’t mean they turn to your brand for this insight — even if it is at the heart and soul of what your brand offers.

Look at your past performance on Instagram to discover the content and topics which have worked best for your brand. Then use the knowledge you’ve built — what your Instagram target audience organically talks about, what your competitors are doing right, and your own brand knowledge — to put together a campaign that works.

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Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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