Editor’s Note: We’re super happy to welcome Caitlin Bacher of Little Farm Media to Dear Handmade Life for her three part series on how creative entrepreneurs can use Instagram to grow their businesses. Caitlin is breaking it down into three categories: community, style and voice. This week we’re starting with Community. Stay tuned in the next two weeks for her posts on style and voice. I LOVE Instagram but when I’m posting on my business account I don’t allow myself the same freedom as I do when I’m posting on my personal account. It took me a bit of time to learn how to distinguish between posting as Nicole and posting as Dear Handmade Life. As much as I’d love to post a dozen photos a day of my dog in various states of napping (hey! it’s what she does best) I know that I need to reserve excessive dog posts for my personal account. Caitlin’s tips may feel a bit like tough love at times but remember she’s specifically talking about using Instagram to grow your business not to share your every waking moment with the world (ie: your customers likely don’t want to see 20 photos of your dog every single day). I love Caitlin’s Instagram tips for creative businesses and am taking them to heart since one of my 2015 goals is to genuinely engage our Instagram audience more often. -Nicole S.
Welcome to LITTLE FARM MEDIA’s three part series on using Instagram to successfully grow your creative business. In order to use Instagram to increase sales, there are three things that you must consider: Community, Style, and Voice.
Does your business have a large following on Instagram, but very low engagement? Or maybe you have a super engaged following that consists of your immediate family, your best friend, and that one weirdo who probably has a fake account?
You are in the right place.
Let’s be honest, the reason you opened an Instagram account for your business was to generate more sales. If you aren’t doing that, then you aren’t making the most of what Instagram has to offer. The truth is, it doesn’t matter how many followers you have if they aren’t the RIGHT kind of followers. That is, people who will buy your stuff and read your blog.
1. Follow the hashtag. :: Hashtags will be your number one resource for finding your community on Instagram. Which hashtags are used by your target customer? This will require a little investigation on your part. Grab a notebook and pencil to keep track of hashtags you discover along the way. For example, let’s say you make hip baby clothes using organic cotton. I bet that a large portion of your market uses #tulababycarriers. Search that hashtag and start engaging. Oh, look! There’s another good hashtag: #babywearing. And another: #carrythem. Write down whatever other hashtags you find that look promising. Seriously. Write them down. You will forget them later. Do a search on those. Engage. Repeat.
2. Leave a comment. :: For the love, don’t ever write, “Nice pic! Check out my shop on Etsy. I follow back.” Those kinds of comments will only get you an eye roll and maybe a “block user”. There is nothing worse than a biz on Instagram that is generic and salesy. One of the reasons I recommend using a personal photo in your Instagram profile is because people are more willing to interact with a real, live person. Make sure your comments are specific. Here are some examples: “That pattern on your Tula is adorable.” “Where did you find those amazing earrings?”
3. Post at optimal times. :: There is no “one size fits all”. Plenty of infographics will suggest otherwise, but optimal times to post are different for every single brand. Let me repeat: It is different for every brand. If your target audience is stay at home moms, then your best time to post might be during afternoon nap time. There are plenty of free Instagram analytics tools out there that can help you discover times when your audience is most active and primed for engagement. There is no point in posting if no one is listening. One of my personal favorites is Iconosquare.
4. Always respond. :: Always. Unless you have 350k followers like designlovefest, you need to respond to the comments people leave. The best kind of response is one that keeps the conversation going. Be sure to tag the person you are writing to, otherwise they won’t be notified that you replied. Take an interest in your followers because they are taking an interest in you. People are willing to pay a premium price for something handmade because of the personal connection they feel with the brand. You never know where a good conversation will lead.
About Caitlin Bacher and Little Farm Media:
Little Farm Media is a social media agency for makers, artists, and designers. Join our private Facebook group: Social Media for Creatives to get real about your social media strategy in private setting. Follow us on Instagram and Pinterest for more social media tips and inspiration.
This three part series is inspired by Susannah Brinkley’s series on building a personal Instagram following.