I have run my business Mama Designs for the last 10 years but it is only the last 3-4 years that I have focussed on Instagram. Before then Insta was not as big a deal as it is now (for consumers or brands) I have grown my Mama Designs Instagram following from less than 400 to over 51,000 followers during this time. This has been organic growth and I have found that it has had a positive effect on my business. I’ve been discovered by new retailers, collaborated with influencers and celebrities (who have discovered us on Instagram) , collaborated with other small brands and even done some influencer marketing myself. I have even been found by a long lost cousin I never knew I had!
So here are my top five tips for brands and small businesses on Instagram. I should say here that I love Instagram and I do spend quite a bit of time on there (I can’t imagine handing it over as I do enjoy being on there and I think it is nice for people to know that it is the face of the brand on here. I also totally think that it is worthwhile use of my time and it has paid off for me in the form of followers and also sales).
1. Collaboration!! Collaboration has perhaps been the biggest way I have achieved Instagram growth. You can collaborate with other brands with a similar target audience, so for me brands that sell their products or services to parents . Collaboration can be in the form of creating images, shout outs , follow Fridays or even sharing discount codes. I recently did this with the Positive Birth Company as we have a similar target audience. I am pregnant and have been using their digital pack, which I think is amazing, so I have shared about this a few times and she has shared a discount code for Mama Designs. A simple and effective collaboration! Siobhan who runs the Positive Birth Company is also my recently found cousin… and she found me on Instagram!!
Giveaways are a great way of collaborating on Instagram. Although the dreaded algorithm seems to be picking up on specific words in the copy and slowing these posts down , showing to less people as a result. Lately I have noticed that giveaways are less successful than they were previously. Still it is a good way to be discovered and followed by more brands.
Influencer gifting can be a really effective way to gain exposure. In terms of influencer size, bigger is not always better! I strongly recommend you research the influencer as some will certainly be more giving than others and you might get more from a smaller “micro” influencer. I would avoid paying for influencer marketing. Also it really depends on who their main audience is. For example I have been approached by a glamour model in the US, who had just announced her first pregnancy and she wanted to collaborate with me. Looking at her images they were not at all on brand for us and l could see that her audience was likely to be mostly young men. In spite of her big following, I politely declined!
2. Be fussy! Being fussy with what you post is really important especially if you are selling a product. I get tagged in lots of pictures that aren’t good enough to post. Could your picture go in a magazine? This is you curating your own mini magazine or look book advertising your products! I don’t post pictures if they are fuzzy, off brand or even if they have a mess in the background, or if the colours don’t work with the look and feel of my feed. If you want a curated feed that flows nicely together you do need to think about the overall look and feel and this means every post has to be good enough.
3. Plan your posts ahead! When I don’t do this I always regret it. Planning a week ahead is always a good idea and means you can take time to put together posts and copy (you can always add to the copy when you post if you like). It means you can think about your hashtags and what you say. I have used the Planoly app in the past for working out what works next to each other in terms of visually planning your posts. Although now I can work it out without the app. There is a downloadable Instagram planner in my online course material which is really useful for planning the week ahead and thinking about what content you want to include or products to focus on.
4. Create your own great content! Although you can share pictures from other people and other brands featuring your products, having brand new content that you have created is a good idea. You can easily create different types of content in so many ways. Whether you are creative or not! Flatlays (whether you sell a product or not, just even items in your colours), shelfies, selfies or set up a scene / shoot at home or at a friend’s house. Use friends for your pictures, borrow their homes, their children! I regularly do this and I have been creating nursery scenes at home for years in spite of not having a nursery. You will be surprised by how many items you already have at home that you could create great pictures from.
5. Be sociable! It is called social media after all. For me this means replying to every comment you receive (and not simply liking). It means liking and commenting on other peoples content too. Not only does this connect you with that person but it also means more people are likely to see your name and discover your account as a result. Ideally you should be commenting on other peoples pictures who share a similar target audience. Also going to events and getting out and about is a great way to network and be sociable in real life with the people you meet in these little squares. After meeting in person I find that people are much more likely to be more sociable on Instagram. Don’t be shy, get out there! It definitely pays to be sociable!
If you liked these tips and want to hear more about winning at Instagram as well as other business tips my online business course “Grow Your Business On a Budget” is a self taught course, packed with easily actionable tips and advice (including an Instagram section) You can find out more here… https://www.mamadesigns.co.uk/mama-designs-business-club/