I'm excited to welcome back Shannon Wendt of Chews Life to this month's installment of Small Business Strategies! She has been running her small business, formerly known as Organic Mama's Shop, for several years and has a wealth of knowledge to share - especially when it comes to selling on Instagram. Are you on Instagram? I am (@faithandfabric), and love how easy it is to connect, share, and meet others with similar interests. Using Instagram for business requires a bit of a different mindset than using it for exclusively personal reasons, and that's what we're here today to talk about.
Ahh… Social Media! The double edged sword we all love to hate! Or hate to love? We know it’s a powerful tool to grow our businesses and increase our reach, but we also know it can be a tremendous black hole in our day. And using it to it’s fullest potential in our businesses can also feel really daunting and getting started can feel overwhelming!
In business, we know that if you don’t exist on social media, you pretty much don’t exist at all! If you want to reach your customers you have to go to where they are! But how can you use the limited time you have to develop a social media following that strengthens your business? Where is the best place to start, or to invest more time into if you’re already active in social media? And how can you take a stagnant following and breathe new life into it? In my humble opinion, the answer to all the above is Instagram!
For the past year for so, I’ve made my home on Instagram. (Come hang out with me @ChewsLifeShop!) I started like everyone, with zero followers! And over the past year, I’ve slowly built up a loyal tribe of followers who’ve become friends and who love to see my products in their feeds!
The number one reason I love Instagram best of all is because it’s more personal! Even big name brands seems to lighten up and show their truer nature in the simple, friendly style of the Instagram community. It’s easy for businesses to give their customers small peeks into their real lives, and to really connect with people. This makes business more fun for the business owners, but more importantly, it builds TREMENDOUS brand loyalty when customers feel more like friends! They will keep you in mind when it’s time to shop and they’ll have a much easier time tossing out your name when someone else is looking for a recommendation! I don’t have to convince you that word of mouth is the kind of advertising money can’t buy! And that’s what Instagram provides!
[Tweet "Using @instagram to grow your business: tips from @OrganicMama3 and @faithandfabric"]
Now, there are right ways and wrong ways to engage on Instagram.
Let customers see your real life!
Make it all about YOU.
Show how you (or other customers) use your products in everyday life. Show action or lifestyle shots! Let them see you, and get to know you, but just remember to keep it relevant! Help customer to get to know you and why you’re passionate about your products! Remember, people don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it. Understanding your own “Why” will help you identify a path to guide your social media interactions!
Take beautiful pictures.
Get caught up with having beautiful shots every single time!
A decent camera phone and a few free apps (I’ll list the ones I use below) are all you really need! Some feeds you’ll find are beautifully curated! The pictures all look professional and every image fits into their brand perfectly and you know who it is before you even see the name. If imagery is what you sell, this might be an important thing to work towards, but for most of us, we need to not let perfection be the enemy of the good! Using simple things like natural lighting, clean backgrounds, and flat lay styles, can quickly elevate your images.
Schedule time for social media promotion.
Fall into the time vortex of social media!
We all know that you can get online to do one quick thing and it can turn into an afternoon wasted, mindlessly scrolling… When you aren’t intentional about your time, you’ll end up feeling like you’re spinning your wheels! You’ll feel like you’ve invested so much energy into growing your social media following with little to no results. Look at your stats on Instagram. The handy graph can show you when your audience is most active! Be intentional about using that time to share something useful. And be firm about other times during your day and set boundaries for yourself about the time you’ll spend.
Connect with businesses like yours.
Be afraid to reach out to a larger page and ask about collaborating!
Connection is the name of the game when you’re building your following! Think about who your ideal customer is! Who does she/he already love? Reach out to some of those pages and see if they might be up for a little cross-promo collaboration? Gather a few pages and form a loop giveaway! Find hashtags that are common in your niche and use them! Share the work (with permission!) of others! Regram their pictures (after you get the ok) and let your customers know why they should follow them too! Fostering an environment of sharing, will help everyone!
Learn to love Instagram Stories!
Put it off any longer!!
Video will be the next big wave! This is where social media is headed! Get ahead of the curve by getting comfortable with it now! Keep is simple and relevant! But again, don’t worry about being perfect! Let people see the real you!
And as a bonus on Instagram, you can easily link your Facebook business page to your IG account and then all your IG posts can go directly on your FB page! It’s just a simple way to extend your reach with practically zero extra time invested!
There are so many great reasons why Instagram is a great fit for small businesses and busy moms! It’s simple, clean style lends itself exceptionally well to niche businesses and handmade items! By doing a few simple things, you can jump start your small business and reach people who want what you offer!
A few of my favorite apps:
-LiveCollage+, a simple way to create collages
-PicLab Studio, add text, manipulate pics, make ads
-Camera+, a great cheap editing app!
-Hoot Suite- Schedule social media posts!
I’d love to connect with all of you! Come find me on Instagram @ChewsLifeShop
Copyright 2017 Jen Frost
About the Author
Jen Frost is a Catholic quilter and crafter who evangelizes through fabric and loves talking about small business strategies. She’s a pattern writter, quilt designer, and book author. When she’s not in front of her sewing machine, she can be found at the beach with her husband and son, toes happily buried in the sand. She loves Instagram, and writes and quilts each week at Faith and Fabric. Join in the fun the first Monday of the month at 12pm PST.