Tuesday, February 23

How instagram has helped me grow my business






Instagram has been around for quite a while and I was probably one of the last people jumping on the IG bandwagon sometime in mid 2014. At the time I was already overwhelmed keeping up with all my other social media outlets. So what made me change my mind? Two things.

  1. I decided to focus my time and energy on only the social media that performed well
  2. After researching instagram I decided to use it as a tool to gain potential customers
Now, I'm not a hard sell type of business person. I would feel uncomfortable bombarding my audience with pic after pic of breakfast bowls, photos of the sky or in my case bolts of fabric day after day. So I came up with a strategy that would get my wares eyeballed by my target audience without the boredom factor. Personally, I like variety. I like mixing things up with some colorful flower photos, DIY ideas, food, travel pics, my cats and yes, the occasional selfie :) However, I always keep in mind to post at least 2 - 3 business related photos within a week. Typically they would look like those in the collage above. You will notice they are all different yet carefully styled and most important - all feature my fabrics and / or craft. I was lucky in that a couple of my existing customers were on instagram already and happened to comment on said fabrics. That got the attention of other instagram users who are also interested in fabrics/sewing/craft, but had never even heard of me or my shop(s) before. Ultimately, some of these users became my customers, even repeat customers. This type of "word-of-mouth" advertising is exceptionally valuable and as a small business with limited advertising budget I am immensely grateful for shout-outs by any of my existing customers. Sometime at the beginning of this year I held a special, carefully planned instagram-only giveaway with almost 200 entries. Among the entrants were, you guessed it, potential customers!

Using instagram as a marketing tool has definitely been a learning curve. It requires ingenuity as to which #hashtag to add to which image in order to catch the attention of my target audience. While a huge number of followers might be impressive at first glance - for business purposes quality is more important than quantity. Being followed by say... fashion dolls or well-muscled men does absolutely nothing for my business! To gain the right type of follower also requires posting high-quality photos and posting consistently, that is at least once a day. Yes, it involves time and effort, but it is time well spent as I'm gaining more clients/customers each month. I usually style these photos a week in advance, but if I'm strapped for time and I really don't have anything to post I simply don't. Better to post nothing than what you had for dinner last night.

I'm always quick to respond to inquiries / comments / messages left on my instagram by users. Communication is a big part of customer service, both before, during and after the sale. I anticipate questions regarding my items and always provide as much information as possible to make the decision process easier for potential customers. This is way more efficient than back and forth convos. I check my instagram once every hour or so.

A word about the follow/unfollow phenomenon, which is also very much evident on Twitter and Facebook. Here's my take on it. Some follow you simply to be followed back. If you don't follow back within a couple of days these users will unfollow. Don't worry about it. Some also mistakenly follow. Also, I noticed I get unfollowed with each new photo that I post. Then, overnight, I gain a couple of followers. This is just weird! Then there are those who have been following, liking and leaving comments and suddenly unfollow. Frankly, that's just rude. Whatever their reason they aren't loyal customer material, so good riddance. Also, you will eventually be followed by spam accounts. At some point they might be deleted by instagram itself. Don't worry about it. Rather focus on and interact with real accounts that share your interests. Looking up the hashtags is a great way to find users with similar interests.

That being said, instagram definitely gets more fun once you gain more followers! Just like on any other online plattform it pays to be courteous. Reciprocate likes and leave a friendly comment on accounts you admire. Also, there is a myth going around that accounts that are set to "private" gain more followers. This is simply not true. If you're a small business wanting to attract potential customers than you will most certainly need to have a public account!

Are you a small business owner? What's your experience with instragram as a selling tool? I'd love to hear about it in the comments! #smallbusinesstips

18 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing all these great tips! I started using Ig just a few months back, you are right we must find out which type of social media works best, and I am finding it helpful!

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  2. Thank you for sharing helpful information Duni! It is so hard to measure where actual customers come from but I know I have received some business using IG. It is a fun site to use but Pinterest is still my favorite. :) I need to start doing giveaways to attract more potential customers. It just takes time which is tricky to juggle! I never understood why social media users get caught up on on the unfollowers. I never pay attention to that number since it really doesn't matter. I only want followers who do matter. :)

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  3. Hallo liebe Duni,
    mein Instagram Account besteht erst seit 2 Monaten und dadurch kann ich natürlich noch nicht allzu viel dazu sagen. Auf jeden Fall haben jetzt schon Anfragen in meinem DaWanda Shop extrem zugenommen und insofern profitiere ich auf jeden Fall davon.
    Viele Grüße, Synnöve

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  4. Thank you for this informative post, Duni. I'm considering opening my Etsy shop again and have been trying to decide what would be the best social media outlet to use. I truly appreciate this info!

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  5. As you know, I'm on IG. I didn't really start to put any effort into it until a few months ago, and I actually haven't tried to use it as a real business tool yet. I had one of those follow/unfollow people trying to get my attention for most of a week recently and I was so glad when they finally stopped trying to get my attention by constantly following and unfollowing!

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  6. Hallo liebe Duni, ich habe zwar Instagram, aber nicht als Verkäufertool, das mit den Glasperlen hat eh ziemlich abgenommen.... Das Follow/ Unfollow Phänomen habe ich auch schon bemerkt... so what Oftmals wird es aber auch so praktiziert, Instagrammer mit hoher Followerzahl folgt dir... dir gefällt der Account, also folgst du ihm auch... und schwups bist du wieder entfolgt. Das allerdings regt mich auf und ich kippe diese Leute laufend über Bord ;))
    Wunderschöne Collage!! ♥
    Ganz liebe Grüße
    Christel

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  7. Hi D. :)

    Happy Tuesday :)

    Thanks so much for sharing the info. Sounds like it is really a good thing to be a part of :)

    I am not on IG or Twitter, I decided I really do not have the time to add anything else to what I do right now; I have been thinking about hiring someone specifically to help with social media but right now I'm just continuing with adding work to my shops :)

    Have a lovely Day, Cheers, T. :)

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  8. I can see how instagram would be very helpful in getting your items noticed.

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  9. I don't have an IG account yet but maybe I'll start one this summer. Thanks for the tips!

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  10. I love Instagram! It is by far my favorite social media channel. I don't directly use it for my business (which is my blog), but I use it in conjunction with it. It's definitely most endangering place too. These days I get more comments on my IG pictures than the blog. It sounds like you have a great system going! And I love he photos you post.

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    1. I meant it's the most ENGAGING place. Not endangering. Ha! Can you tell I'm typing from my phone? ;)

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  11. Liebste Duni,guten MOrgen und danke für diesen für mich sehr interessanten Post! Ich denk auch über Instagram nach ....aber , mir fehlt grad die Zeit, mich ausführlich damit zu beschäftigen ...
    Ich wünsche Dir einen wunderschönen Mittwoch!
    ♥ Allerliebste Grüße ,Claudia ♥

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  12. sehr schöne, frische Farben, ich lese und gucke Deinen Blog sehr gern.
    Lieben Gruß
    Taty

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  13. I use Instagram as a mixture of personal and professional, but I know that needs to change. I also have it set up in conjunction with my blog and not my interior design business (which is my focus--oops!) so I'm debating whether I should start another one that's officially for work. These are great tips! Your feed is one of my favorites, it's so cohesive!

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  14. Duni, I have to agree with all your points here. In my country though, Instagram (IG) has another story. It has become a platform for online selling. Etsy is not quite popular here. Maybe because of the little fee.

    I read some articles that IG is one of social media platforms that tends to replace and kill blogging. It has been found in the category of micro blogging. Maybe true to some extent. I found users who post really great photos. In my thoughts however, I believe that we can always marry blogging and social media. Instead of becoming "enemies" they can actually complement each other. Blogging for the main content and social media to handle the promotion.

    Hope I didn't bore you.

    You btw have the nicest IG feed.

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    1. Thanks so much Diane.
      I agree. Blogging is still my favorite thing to do, while I use IG mainly for promoting :) I have a few followers from your country and it's true they do their business on there!

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  15. What an inspiring post! I'm hoping to get more proficient at Instagram this summer. I bought a zoom lens for my iPhone camera, and some lights to brighten up my photos (hopefully). Pinterest was good to my little shop last year. I get very little shop traffic through Facebook - even when I Boosted posts around the holidays.
    I like your idea of focusing on what works.

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  16. Vielen Dank, liebe Duni, für diese Info - wo sie doch im Moment so interessant für mich ist.
    Mal schauen - wann ich es schaffe .....! ;-)
    Alles Liebe
    ANi

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