Four tips to create an authentic and engaged Instagram account

Editor’s Note: This is the first of two posts we’ll be sharing from Craftcation Conference Alum Angie Chua of bobo design studio. Over the past few years I’ve had my eyes on Angie. First off, her personality is magnetic and I was drawn to her and her upbeat yet genuine energy the past few years at Craftcation Conference and when she vended at our Patchwork Shows.

Second, I’ve watched her brand develop and evolve with a clear voice and defined aesthetic. I wanted to know more about how her brand and her impressively engaged Instagram account developed and was honored when she agreed to share her journey not just with me but with all of you!

Now, onto Angie. -Nicole S.

Four tips to create an authentic and engaged Instagram account from Dear Handmade Life 3
*photo courtesy of Angie Chua

I read somewhere that a brand is no longer what we tell people it is, but what people tell each other it is. I mean, hello? How true is this? I’m a firm believer that good storytelling is done through your branding, and how you communicate with your audience. For me, that’s primarily done via social media, specifically Instagram.

Hi Friends! I’m Angie Chua. I’m an artist, designer, serial maker, three-time Craftcation Conference Alum, and the founder/heart & soul of bobo design studio. At bobo, I create, and design wanderlust inspired lifestyle goods for bohemian rebels including handcrafted bags, original hand-lettered designs for apparel, enamel badges and more.

I’m here to talk about how I approach Instagram for my business. Before we can even dig into the thick of Instagram, we need to backpedal a bit. I know pedaling is hard because exercise is hard, but without laying the proper foundation for your brand, it’s hard to build meaningful and engaging content on social media. I’m going to share with you some of the things I implement when I create content for my Instagram feed.

In full disclosure, I work for Lela Barker and Lucky Break Consulting; however, I was a longtime stalker, turned client before I began working for her. For a while, my brand didn’t have a voice. I just made things and hoped people would buy them, and I posted on Instagram or FB and found myself overselling my product or talking about things that had no context for my business at all. It wasn’t until I worked with Lela that I was able to really hone in and understand what I wanted my brand to be, and how the content I create is an extension of that.

So let’s dive into some of the nitty-gritty of how I approach my Instagram.

1. For bobo, the primary role of social media is to engage, not to sell.

While social media should be used as a selling channel, I instead choose to use the role of social media as a platform for people to build a connection with me. It’s meant to be just as it’s called- social!

Lela told me something that I’ll never forget, and it forever changed how I thought about my external communications with my audience. “Don’t sell merchandise. Set a mood and create context.” This resonated with me deeply. People want to see themselves in the things they purchase, not be told to buy something because it’s cool.

For bobo, my brand is rooted in the desire for wanderlust and exploration. It has undertones of rebellion and independence and a carefree nature to it. I don’t want to sell people on why this should matter, and how they should buy a tote bag because it makes them rebellious. I build the context, and I use colors, imagery, and product to set the stage for adventure and exploration. I use a humorous tone in my copy to let them know that my brand is fun and to express that life is too short to color in the lines all the time. It’s these experiences that people identify with, and they slowly become die-hard fans and loyal followers.

2. Everything I post on my feed should be “on brand” for bobo design studio.

Knowing that my brand is about wanderlust and adventure, every post I create should be infused with this; from the imagery to the context, and the copy. I want people to thumb through an endless scroll of photos from the hundreds of people they follow and know in an instant that a picture is mine without having to read the caption or see my name above it.

Having a consistent theme for your posts is not just for aesthetics, but it becomes the anchor for which your following identifies you. If I used my social media feed to talk about my bags, then my dog, and the nachos I ate for lunch, and then my new shirt design, and then a video rant of how no one has ever seen a baby pigeon in their life…. Well, you can see, it would be hard for my people to find me in a sea of posts.

Stay on-brand and continue to tell your story consistently so your followers can always spot you.

3. Stay Authentic- and don’t be afraid to be you.

We talked about staying on-brand in your feed. When you post and leave captions, it’s important to be on brand, and remain authentic. But for some of us, we ARE our brand. And that’s where Instagram Stories comes into play. This is the place where you have some wiggle room and can talk about your dog, and the nachos you ate, and your theories about how baby pigeons are like butterflies and they start out as rats and seek shelter in the NYC subway system to build a cocoon and emerge as a full-fledged pigeon. I digress….

Instagram Stories is the safe place where you can be you, it does not interrupt your feed, and people get to see that the brand that they love has real people behind it.

Will you turn some people off? Sure! But you’ve done yourself a favor by filtering out the folks who are ultimately not “your people.” The people who stick around and follow in your journey, those are the people you want to continue to be present for. Those are your people, and they will invest in you and your brand.

4. The numbers do not define you, measure the success of your brand, or your worth as a person.

THIS THIS THIS! The social currency that is “Instagram likes and comments” is nothing but funny money. It doesn’t mean anything. Try going to Taco Bell and paying for your 4th meal with it. It won’t get you anything.

Instagram metrics don’t define who you are, how good your products are, how well liked you are, or if you are or are not successful. My dog has more followers than me, and she isn’t doing much with her life. She doesn’t even have a job.

Instagram shouldn’t be viewed as a competition with what others are doing, but as the direct line to your audience so you can have conversations with them. Share with them content that they care about, and is authentic and real, and they will always come back for more because that provides value to them.

Is what I do on Instagram the end all be all? No, it’s not. It just works for me and has helped me build trust, increase engagement, and grow a loyal following. Does it still give me anxiety and unwanted stress? Yes. It is no different than any other parts of my business. But we do our best and try to have fun with it. Be thoughtful, but don’t overthink it. Be consistent, but not inflexible. And most importantly stay on brand, while being authentic and real.

If you want to follow along on my journey, you can by going to @bobodesignstudio.



The Top Four Things You need to know to created a branded, authentic and engaged Instagram from Dear Handmade Life
How to hone your brand and tell your story on Instagram from Dear Handmade Life
How to create an engaged die-hard fanbase on Instagram from Dear Handmade Life
Four tips to create an authentic and engaged Instagram account from Dear Handmade Life


  1. Loved being able to sit down and sort of map out my approaches to social media. Instagram is simultaneously a lot of effort and also something that just sort of happens. It was fun to really sit down and dissect how I tackle this necessary part of the business.

    Thanks Nicole!

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