One of the best ways to give your biz a boost is to create a community around it. There are so many ways to do this, and of course some will work better for your business than others. But the overall theme is this: if you build it, they will come. Make your business into the center of a community of like-minded customers and they will visit again and again.
Keeping this in mind, we’re going to explore ways to build a community in your business with a series of posts. Today we’re talking Instagram, a photo-sharing app near to my heart (and to the heart of my business).
Quick and Dirty Facts about Instagram:
– This app is free, but you will have to have some sort of device other than a laptop in order to use it (a smart phone or tablet).
– Instagram is very simple: take a photo, share it with your followers. You can take a photo with your device’s camera directly from the app or grab one from your gallery of saved photos any time.
– Similar to Twitter, on Instagram you will follow people (and then you’ll see everything they post) and people will follow you (and they will see anything you post).
– Also like Twitter, hashtags are a useful tool in Instagram, and they are searchable within the app.
Is Instagram for you? Let’s see:
– Do you make and sell a product that is visually appealing (if you have an Etsy shop, chances are the answer is “yes” to this one)?
– Would your customers be interested to see the design process behind your creations?
– Would your customers be interested to see behind-the-scenes into your work space?
– Would your customers be interested to know about what inspires you in your life and work?
– Would you like to share a little bit with your customers about the person behind the business (aka what you do when you’re NOT working)?
– Do you regularly post photos on your blog or web site that you would like to share with a larger audience?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, Instagram might be worth a try! Put it to work for your business and see how it helps you connect with your customers in a snappy fashion (snapshot pun totally intended).
Tips for using Instagram for Business:
– Post a photo of your product in the process of making it, to show the creative process and get your customers excited about buying that product once it hits your shelves.
– Post photos that provide a sort of “virtual tour” of your working space – this works equally well if you have an open brick-and-mortar business or if you work strictly by yourself out of your home. Show off your space and the creative touches you’ve added to it so that your customers feel like they’re visiting you in person.
– Snap a picture of your latest product (whether you made it yourself or you own a shop and a new product just came in) and share it along with a link or an address where people can come and find it.
– If you have employees, take photos of them (with their permission of course!) as they work in order to put a face with the business.
– If you sell supplies, ask customers to send you links to photos they have made with those supplies (dresses they’ve sewn from the fabric you sell or hats they’ve made with your yarn) and post those photos (again, with permission!) on Instagram.
– Use hashtags! You can search for popular hashtags on Instagram and use those in your posts to draw in new fans and friends. Come up with your own tags, too, and use them as a way to unite your community and make it easy for customers to find each others’ posts (like we do here at Patterned with #MakersWednesday and #ThinkCreateReflect). Even just encouraging your customers to tag the name of your business in their relevant posts will help to spread the word! (example: “I made this crochet hat for myself because I was inspired by #MakersWednesday from #PatternedApp!”)
– Post a photo of your products every time you update your shop or have a sale. Add text to the photos or use the caption space below to direct people to your shop to find the items.
– Post photos of your pets. This is pretty much an unstated requirement for using Instagram and plus your customers will likely enjoy seeing that you’re an animal lover.
– Use your business name as your Instagram name if you only own one business or want to use it primarily for business purposes, or set up an account that lets you display photos from all of your business and life activities for cross-promotional purposes.
So, have we convinced you to build an Instagram community for your business? Tell us all about it in the comments below, whether you have just started on Instagram or you’ve been using it for years!