Handmade businesses that got Instagram right and 6 lessons for how yours can too

With 300 million daily users, many people will first discover your business through Instagram.

Obviously, it’s a great platform to build brand awareness for your product, but it also can do wonders for your sales—if used correctly.

To convert consumers into Instagram followers, and these Instagram followers into eventual customers, you’ll need a foolproof strategy.

At this point, you’re probably thinking well, what’s the difference between consumers and customers?

A consumer may buy a product once. A customer uses your product, and keeps coming back. A customer thinks about you before they think about your competition. But in order to think about you in a way that matters, there has to be something more than just your product to think about. That’s your brand, and where Instagram comes into play.

With this in mind, we’ve pulled together some tricks of the trade from those who know best: the creative minds behind handcrafted businesses who’ve nailed Instagram. For some insight to help you up your Instagram game, keep reading.

#1: Develop a strong identity (and stick to it)

At its core, your brand is what (potential) customers know about you. A successful brand identity communicates as much information as possible about who you are in less than a second. The imagery and content in your Instagram feed should be consistent with your identity. Stick to a uniform filter, voice and message to build trust and an emotional connection with your audience.

@akrdesignstudio

akrdesignstudio

Each photo is important, but overall balance is the key to make a beautiful feed. I use the app Later and see how it looks before posting. Even though I have a nice picture I want to post, if it doesn’t look good or something looks off means it doesn’t compliment the overall feed, I won’t post it and wait until it looks right. Treat your instagram feed as your portfolio because that’s where your potential customers/clients check first these days. – Akiko Ruiz, Founder of @akrdesignstudio

@pfcandleco

People decide to follow by looking at your feed at a glance, so it has to look cohesive. Use VSCO, iCloud, or an app like Planoly, to plan your feed out. This allows you to see how colors and image styles are working together. – Kristen Pumphrey, Founder & Creative Director of P.F. Candle Co.

#2: Keep it clean

Over 40 billion images have been published on Instagram. Users now expect a certain standard of professionalism and artfulness, especially from businesses. Keep your audience’s interest intact with high-quality images, and take advantage of natural lighting. This will not only prevent you from the temptation of going overboard with a myriad of clashing filters, but preserve a consistently aesthetically-pleasing feed. Remember, it’s all about quality.

@loomandfield

Remember that a little bit goes a long way! Natural light makes or breaks a photo, so if you already have a well-lit photo, you can keep the editing subtle and let your composition do all the work. Avoid using filters at 100% (10 - 20% is a good range for us), and resist the temptation to bump the clarity too much! - Christine and Pierre, Co-founders of LOOM + FIELD

#3 Know your audience

The success of your Instagram comes down to one thing: whether your feed speaks to your audience. It should communicate the meaning of your brand in a way that feels relevant to your community. Customers have expectations about who you should be and how your brand will fit into their lives. Your posts should be consistent with an authentic personality — one that resonates with a specific group of people. The easiest way to do this is to embrace and emphasize your natural appeal to a certain subculture.

@hadronepoch

Pay closely attention to your audience (not numbers), who they are and how they interact with specific content; what they react to / don't react to. Every page attracts a specific audience and it's important to jump in their shoes and get a taste of their perspective - build these relationships and engage with them on a personal level. – Jackie Ng, Marketing Coordinator of Hadron Epoch

#4: Engage, engage, engage

In 2017, consumers need much more than a product—they need to feel a connection with your brand. Users look for a sense of belonging, and Instagram provides an opportunity to engage directly with your community. Your business touches a lot of people, many of whom want to be part of the conversation. So ask questions, regram from your followers, provide exclusive promo codes, make announcements, and test other initiatives where you can strengthen relationships with your customers.

@carved

Offer up engaging questions to get your audience involved and be sure to reply to comments and mentions. This will make your account more personable. – Alex Gorsuch, Marketing Director of Carved

@pfcandleco

Follow and engage with other people, especially on posts that have nothing to do with you. It drives me nuts to see an account whose only following 1 person—and it's themselves. Engagement proves you're not just out to make a buck, but you want to build a community, too. - Kristen Pumphrey, Founder & Creative Director of P.F. Candle Co.

#5: There’s power in numbers

Tapping others for collaboration is a cost-effective way to get the word out about who you are, as well as to likely gain a few more followers in the process. Whoever you’re working with is effectively vouching for your brand to their community, and there’s nothing quite like social proof to get people on board. Whether you team up with a like-minded business for a giveaway or create a co-branded product, you’ll get your name out in front of a new crowd in a credible fashion.

@carved

Teaming up with cool, like-minded brands, for giveaways is great for exposure and provides your audience with quality content they'll likely respond to. - Alex Gorsuch, Marketing Director of Carved

#6: Stay fresh

It’s 2017, and content fatigue is at an all-time high. With so much noise, it’s critical that you are able to keep your followers on their toes, or face the consequence: the dreaded “Unfollow”. While it is imperative to stick true to who you are, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a healthy balance. Maybe it’s a week-long campaign featuring posts from your community, or maybe it’s switching up your steady stream of images by offering some words of wisdom as a post. Regardless, trying something new can increase your engagement and pay dividends in retaining your follower base.

@carved

It can be tricking, but try to stay as fresh as possible. Your followers won't be too enthused seeing the same type of photos, again and again, populating their feed. - Alex Gorsuch, Marketing Director of Carved

Bonus: Hashtags

On a final note, don’t forget hashtags. Hashtags are an easy and effective way to grow your account as it makes you discoverable. You’re allowed up to 30 hashtags on each post, and you should make use of them! Protip: Hide your hashtags. And here are some ideas to get your started:

  • #handmade (84m)
  • #handcrafted (5.9m)
  • #makersgonnamake (2.4m)
  • #calledtobecreative (1.5m)
  • #makersmovement (1.2m)
  • #shophandmade (1.2m)
  • #handmadeisbetter (990k)
  • #craftsposure (950k)
  • #handsandhustle (452k)
  • #smallbusinesslove (145k)

With these strategies, your Instagram is bound to prosper. Good luck!


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