In today’s digital age, social media platforms have become powerful tools for connecting with like-minded individuals who share your passions and interests. Instagram is a great platform for running enthusiasts to share their journeys, connect with other runners, and inspire others.

Running can often be a solo sport, and at times, you wish to find someone training for the same event or individuals with similar experiences in common. Social media provides a great way to do this.

However, growing your Instagram account organically and finding your community can be challenging, especially with the temptation of quick fixes like buying bots or followers. In this blog post, we’ll explore how to find your community and grow your running Instagram organically,  while staying true to the authentic spirit of the running community.


How to grow your instagram
Start with authentic content

The foundation of organic growth on Instagram begins with creating authentic and engaging content. Nobody wants to see a grid filled with pictures of watches or Strava maps! People are drawn to other people. Share your running experiences, training routines, race day triumphs, and even those running fails. People love a dose of reality! Make sure your posts reflect your passion and dedication to running. Genuine content will attract like-minded individuals who appreciate your honesty and authenticity.

Get creative with captions

In the ever-evolving landscape of Instagram, captions have gained newfound importance, especially for search (SEO) purposes. Crafting descriptive captions can significantly enhance the discoverability of your content. By incorporating context, insights and relevant keywords into your captions, you not only captivate your audience but also boost the searchability of your posts and help you grow your Instagram. So, when you’re captioning your Instagram posts, think beyond aesthetics and consider how your words can serve as a way for users to find your content within the expansive Instagram realm.

Utilise relevant hashtags

Hashtags are your best friend when it comes to expanding your post’s visibility to a broader audience. However, don’t just use any random hashtags; focus on those that are relevant to running and your specific niche within the running community. Thoroughly research popular running hashtags and strategically incorporate them into your posts to reach a wider, engaged audience. Instagram advises creators to use between 3-5 hashtags on their posts, despite allowing up to 30.

How to find relevant hashtags

To find the best hashtags for your Instagram post, start by understanding your target audience and the content of your post. Here’s a quick guide:

  1. Relevance is Key: Choose hashtags that are directly related to the content of your post. These should reflect the subject, theme, or message you’re conveying.
  2. Use a Mix: Use a combination of broad and niche hashtags. Broad ones like #run or #running can help you reach a larger audience, while niche ones like #Harrogateparkrun or #manchestermarathon cater to a more specific group.
  3. Check Popularity: While you want to include some popular hashtags, avoid going solely for the most trending ones, as your post may get buried quickly. Opt for a mix of hashtags with different levels of popularity.
  4. Size Matters: Pay attention to the size of the hashtag’s community. Smaller communities may yield more engaged followers as your post won’t get lost in a sea of content.
  5. Location-Based: If your content is location-specific, include relevant location-based hashtags, such as #londonrunning or #yorkshirerunning
  6. Research Competitors: Look at what hashtags your competitors or influencers in your niche are using. This can give you insights into what works in your industry.
  7. Use Hashtag Tools: There are many online tools and apps that can help you find relevant hashtags for your content, like Inflact or All-Hashtag.
  8. Create Custom Hashtags: Consider creating a branded or custom hashtag unique to your brand or campaign. Encourage your followers to use it, which can help you build a community around your content.
  9. Regularly Update: Instagram’s algorithm evolves, and trends change. Keep revisiting your hashtag strategy and adjust it accordingly to stay effective.

Remember, the ideal number of hashtags may vary, but Instagram allows up to 30 per post. However, it’s essential to prioritise quality over quantity and ensure that every hashtag you use adds value to your content and helps you reach the right audience.

Engage with your audience

Building a community on Instagram is a two-way street. Respond to comments, initiate conversations, and ask questions to connect with your followers. When someone shares their running achievements or challenges in your comments section, show your support and encouragement. Being active and responsive will help build a sense of community around your account.

Collaborate with fellow runners

Collaboration is a powerful way to grow your running Instagram organically. Reach out to fellow runners and ask if they’d be interested in doing a joint Instagram Live session, a takeover, or simply a shoutout exchange. These collaborations can introduce your account to a new audience while strengthening your connection within the running community.

Share user-generated content

Encourage your followers to share their running photos and stories using a branded hashtag specific to your account. Share some of these user-generated content posts on your profile (don’t forget to credit). This not only boosts engagement but also makes your followers feel valued and part of your community.

Consistency Is Key

Consistency in posting is essential for growing your Instagram organically. Create a content schedule and stick to it. Posting regularly keeps your audience engaged and informed about your running journey.

Tell Your Story

Don’t be afraid to share your personal running story. Explain why you started running, your goals, and the challenges you’ve overcome. Sharing your narrative can help others relate to you and your journey, ultimately drawing them into your community.

Use Instagram Stories and Reels

Instagram Stories and Reels are great tools to showcase your running adventures more dynamically. Share behind-the-scenes moments, quick training tips, or your favourite running spots. These features can help you connect with your audience on a deeper level. Look at using trending sounds on your reels which help grow your Instagram.

Be Patient

Growing your running Instagram organically takes time. Avoid the temptation to buy bots or followers; they’ll only lead to fake engagement and hinder genuine community growth. It also makes you look a bit of a wally – you may as well be having a conversation with a room full of cardboard cutouts! 🤖😄 Stay patient and committed to your authentic approach, and you’ll see your community grow over time.

Don’t follow/unfollow

This tactic may seem like a quick fix to boost your numbers, but it’s a double-edged sword that can ultimately harm your reputation. Instead of gaining genuine engagement and loyal followers, you risk appearing desperate and annoying to potential connections. Authentic growth on Instagram comes from meaningful interactions, valuable content, and building real relationships with your audience. So, rather than resorting to the follow/unfollow strategy, focus on creating compelling content and engaging with your followers genuinely; it’s a far more sustainable and respectable approach to expanding your Instagram presence.

Analyse and Adapt

Regularly review your Instagram insights to understand which posts and strategies are working best. Adapt your content and engagement techniques based on what resonates most with your audience. Continuous improvement is key to sustained growth.

Remember that the running community is all about support and camaraderie, it’s easy to spot the fakes! So stay true to those values as you build your Instagram presence. Happy running, and may your Instagram account reflect the passion and dedication you bring to your runs!

I hope you find these tips helpful – if you want to give me a follow you can find me here.