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Instagram & Your Business: Why Businesses Need To Use Instragram & How

11:31 AMUnknown

As a designer with soft spot in my heart for helping small businesses market themselves, I'm a HUGE believe in social media and its magical powers to the take your business from nada to mucho. As a small business owner, I'm desperate for any form of free advertising and exposure that I can get. Speaking from my recent personal experience I HAD to share what I've learned with you guys. I'm sure you all use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and your blog in some form or fashion to promote yourself, your product or your service. If you don't, well, please start.

As you probably know I just recently opening a retail store a little over a month ago. Being a small business owner most likely means that you handle everything in your business from answering calls and emails to cleaning your office toilet. Right? Well this probably also means you handle all of your own social media and marketing by yourself right? I'm here to help you!

Today I'm going to talk about Instagram and how it has brought in more business for me in the past month than ANY OTHER FORM of advertising or social media.  I knew that it would be great to put my vintage clothing pieces out there for people to find me, because I personally always admire other shop's items. But, I had no idea how quickly it could take off for me or the impact it would have on my business.

 1. Take decent photos.

If your photos are not pretty, fun or unique, no one will be interested. If you are selling a product, make sure you present the product in the most unique way possible. I want my customers to feel free and very "gypsy like" in my clothing. I try to capture that spirit by using a model (AKA friend) or including things like feathers and funky prints in my product photos. In my shop we have the cool old hexagon shaped tile floors and brick walls. I try to incorporate these into my pictures because it helps convey the vibe I'm going for.

I use a few different apps like Pic Lab, Path On , A Beautiful Mess and Retromatic to add text, make collages and get creative to help my photos stand out. These are particularly useful for when you are having sales, contests or just want to get creative.

You don't have to be a pro, just put some effort into it and think about it before hand. People like pretty things.

2. Get Followers & Likes That Actually Matter 

 It's great that your mom and all of her friends follow you on Instagram and all, but are they actually your potential customers? Getting the right followers is key.

The first thing I did was check out similar boutiques in my area and online shops carrying similar products on Instagram. I followed just about every single person that commented and liked their photos. I knew these people had an interest in these products already, therefore they may like mine too. I liked and commented on their photos and made connections with these people. I even went as far as to check out their followers too, because, well their friends probably share their tastes right? I was a real creeper. Yes, I was. lol

3. Use Them Hashtags!

Do searches for hashtags that you might think relate to your products and shop. I use as many as are relevant. If I'm posting a picture of a vintage dress then I use #vintagedress #vintagefashiom #vintageclothing etc.  See which hashtags are popular. Create a hashtag for your own shop! Before our grand opening I started tagging lots of pictures of items from our shop with our hashtag #gypsybeardstudio and now I use it for every photo I post and people share photos of things they bought using the same hashtag!

Another way hashtags are great is that many people tag their photos with their location. I began searching hashtags for all the cities around me #dallastexas #rockwalltx #sulphurspringstx etc etc. This allowed me to target people who either lived in these places or at least visited them.  I live about 20 minutes from a large university. The second that I started creeping around on the city and college related hashtags I was meeting really cool people who all shared my interests and liked what I sell.

One example, I came across a girl 2 weeks ago that took lots of neat artsy and funny photographs of architecture and cats. I immediately knew we could be friends. lol 2 days later she was in my shop with a couple of her friends and so excited to have found us. Since then, I've met about 15 of her friends who also became customers. And because she loved the shop so much she has been telling everyone about us. People who love you, will naturally share you!

4. Be Fun & Interactive

I've gained quite a few followers and friends the past few weeks. But that never would've happened if I had just followed them. You have to genuinely care about making a connection with them. Comment on their photos. Interact when someone comments on yours. One of my new favorite things to do is "Tag Tuesday".

On Tuesdays I encourage my followers to tag someone they know who loves vintage clothes or that has a unique style. Not only does this introduce me to that person it makes people feel good to know that their friends think they are stylish. And who doesn't like that? ;-)

It's also fun to simply post a question. I shared a photo of a vintage travel bag the other day with the question: "Where would you travel to with this bag?". It was really neat to see people's answers! It shows you care what they think and that you aren't just here to sell them things.

5. Give Back 

So you've got followers and fans. Give back to them for liking you! Give discounts to anyone that follows you. Allow your followers to win free items by commenting. A shop I follow recently gave away concert tickets to someone simply for sharing their photo on Instagram. Give and you shall receive.

So what I've learned about this Instagram adventure is to do whatever you can to target your demographic. Find businesses similar to you and target their followers, because they will most likely love you too. People like pretty things. People have come in my shop specifically to buy a certain dress or necklace that I've posted, but end up buying more. Love your followers and give back. Don't just promote yourself, promote others. Reward your followers and the will remain loyal to you.  It is time consuming to do and maintain but well worth it in the end.

I hope you learned a thing or two! I certainly have! Follow us on Instagram!

Shoot me your questions in the comments or via email howdy(at)

Much love,


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  1. This post is so informative and makes a very nice image on the topic in my mind. It is the first time I visit your blog, but I was extremely impressed. Keep posting as I am gonna come to read it everyday!
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  2. Instagram is terrific for people who sell goods but harder for businesses who sell services, though. If they're services that make people look great then sure, take pictures of the results (hairdressers, nails, beauty) but if you're an editor or a proofreader, trying to get pics is tricky!

    Jaime Holland @ New Leaf Web Media

    1. I agree it is definitely more difficult for people who sell services, but as a graphic designer / web designer / photographer there are many ways for you to go about promoting yourself. You can always share photos of the work process, your work space, behind the scenes, success stories, photos from events, etc.


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