August 12, 2014

Instagram for Retailpreneurs: Part 1


Unless you've been living in a social-media free world, you've undoubtedly heard of Instagram.

Today, I'm kicking off a 6-part blog series on how retailers can effectively use Instagram to grow your sales while communicating your brand to the world in an authentic way.

I first started using Instagram for my fashion line, Encircled in and around late 2011. 

Initially, I just saw it as a fun photo app. Another way to share, and grow an audience (which is definitely is), but to be honest I didn't take it that seriously. I was enamoured with Facebook and spent way more time creating content for that platform, than Instagram (herein referred to as "IG"). 

Sometime in 2013, I started to invest more time and effort into my IG strategy. Around this time, I also started noticing that often when I'd post a picture of one of my designs, I'd sometimes get a sale almost right away for that exact colour and style.


In 2014, I decided to focus immense effort on IG. And I've seen the results, in sales, followers, and reach.

I want to share with you what's worked for my brand, and what hasn't, so hopefully you can start to harness the social power of IG for your retail/e-tail business. So without further ado, Part 1: The Basics.

Part 1: The Basics

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a photo-sharing social application for mobile devices. First launched in 2010 by a couple of guys, it's original intent was to be a device to let users take photos on their mobile devices, add filters and share them across social networks like Facebook and Twitter who at the time lacked photo editing capabilities.

I'm not sure that the founders intended it to be THE social network that it's become. As now it's more common for people to take photos, and use a separate app and then post on IG (and still push to FB), but slowly it's starting to replace Facebook as millennials and digital natives cringe as their parents move onto that platform.

Not surprisingly, Facebook acquired IG for the paltry sum of $1 billion dollars. {Haha. Okay, definitely not paltry, but always wanted to say that.}

Today, IG has over 150 million active users. Think about that. 150 million!

It allows everyday people to have a glimpse into the behind the scenes lifestyle of celebrities, fashion designers, their favourite brands, and has created many Insta-stars!

From the guy who looks like Bieber, to the woman who  takes pictures of her butt at the gym. There are regular people like you and me, that have millions of followers.

I think that Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber are almost tied for the top IG followers at around 19 million each. Unreal.

Now how's that for earned reach?

How do you get started on IG?

You're going to need a mobile device (iPhone or Android) as IG isn't for Blackberries or Desktops.

Although you can view people's IG feeds on your desktop, the secret hook of IG is that you cannot upload photos from your desktop {although there are workarounds for this}.

Download the IG app from the app store.

Easy. It's Free.

Read the Terms & Conditions.

A while back IG tried to change their T&C when Facebook bought them to allow IG to sell users photos to advertisers. To me, the biggest risk with IG is that they can delete you at a moments notice. I once violated the terms and conditions without even knowing it, and it was a photo that I took that someone flagged. 

I fought it and got my account reinstated, but I've heard horror stories of IG-ers with hundreds of thousands of followers disappearing overnight.

Best action step is to make IG part of your overall strategy BUT not THE strategy.

Claim your profile 'name'.

This one is an important step. I'm often as how should you name your profiles. I WISH when I started my business I'd been a little more forward thinking in my naming conventions. Someone stole "Encircled" though and I couldn't get it back. I'm Encircled_ .

Ideally, you want to line up your Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter user names with Instagram, as when you post a photo on IG, you have the option to share on your other social networks.

This way, you are tagged to the post on those networks. This is especially important if other people are tagging you in their posts (I.e. a customer posing in one of your bracelets, or dresses). 

If you want to check me out on Instagram, click here. If you want me to follow you back, tag one of my posts with #retailbliss. See you on IG!

Over the 5 weeks, this 6-part Instagram series for retailers will cover:

  1. How to Create an Instagram Profile that Makes your Brand Shine
  2. Creating an Instagram "Content" Strategy that's authentically you
  3. Setting yourself up for success: The Must-have Instagram 'Apps'
  4. Building and Growing your Instagram following 
  5. How to Effectively "Sell" (without selling) through Instagram

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Wishing you blissful retail!

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