The term social media has been synonymous with Facebook for the past decade. But for the first time in a while, one app seems to be making the first real challenge to Facebook’s global dominance. One of the fastest growing major social media apps, Instagram recently hit the major milestone of .
It joins a small club of social and messaging apps (Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Messenger and WeChat are the rest). It’s appeal among younger demographics has made it the app of the future as Generation Z increasingly shun Facebook. But Instagram is not just another fun youthful app. It’s become a powerful tool of business especially for people in the creative space such as fashion startups.
Here’s a few tips before launching a fashion business that sells everything from women’s clothing to , you’d be selling yourself short if you didn’t tap into the influence power of the “gram”. Still, you need to take well-thought-out action to realize your desired goal. We look at how you can grow your fashion startup with Instagram.
Stay True to Your Brand
The power of branding is hinged on the consistency of your brand’s voice. This applies to messages on all media and including Instagram. All images you share on Instagram should form an unambiguous coherent expression of your startup’s voice. Failure to do that and your posts will only cause confusion.
Consistency is not something you attain by accident. It takes careful pre-planning where you decide on what voice you want your brand to represent (wise, youthful, traditional, trendy, formal, informal, humorous, sarcastic etc.). Once you know what you want, develop a checklist against which you should review every new post to ensure you’re always on message.
You can use Instagram as a tool to grow your fashion startup. Yet, ultimately, Instagram is a social networking platform. The thing about social media is that people are drawn to profiles whose posts are, in a sense, a sequence of short, unique, interesting stories. You must seek to do the same for your fashion startup’s Instagram account.
Your storytelling power must be hinged on a unique selling proposition. What will followers and visitors find on your profile that isn’t available anywhere else? On Instagram, your stories will be heavily dependent on images so learn how to work with that. This is actually an advantage — a single photo can communicate far more than a paragraph of text can. Your images should not even require explanation beyond a simple caption.
Give Them a Peek Behind Scenes
Successful brands are those that make an emotional connection with their target market. Let’s face it — there usually isn’t much separating any two directly competing products in the market. 90% of the functions and features that Product A has are likely available from the competitor’s Product B.
While the remaining 10% that’s unique can be just the competitive advantage one product needs to open a significant lead, there’s often much more to gaining customer loyalty. Emotional connection is key and one of the ways to do that is provide a behind the scenes peek for your Instagram followers. Even if your audience are merely spectators of these photos or videos, it makes them feel part of the process and thus more likely to choose you over the competition.
Build a Community
Instagram has arguably the highest level of engagement of any social networking platform. Certainly higher than its main competitors in the social-media-for-business space, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The high engagement is due to multiple factors but it’s Instagram’s highly visual feed that trumps the over reliance on text by other social media sites.
People will ignore a paragraph of text because of the time it would take to read it but a photo requires a fraction of a second so most followers will be unlikely to miss it. This is why Instagram users find they can grow their follower base much faster than they would on Twitter or Facebook. But make no mistake — it isn’t automatic.
To build a large and loyal following, it all starts with knowing your customer base, their interests and needs. You can then post content that is relevant to and resonates with this audience. Employ hashtags so even people who don’t follow you can find your brand. Don’t overdo tagging though by creating tens of hashtags per post. Find those that specifically align with your brand and deploy them as needed.
Fan Contribution and User Generated Content
Building an Instagram community creates a forum where you can share information about your products with the public. However, unless you are already a widely known brand or celebrity that needs little introduction to the public, you cannot build a successful Instagram community if your interactions are largely monologues.
Monologues create a psychological barrier and can make your startup seem aloof. Leverage the power of user generated content by inviting and encouraging fan and follower contribution. Respond to questions, graciously accept compliments, initiate debate and . Fan contribution can create such a powerful momentum for your Instagram profile that it becomes the biggest driver of follower growth.
Instagram is a powerful platform for brands to communicate a compelling story. Like anything else though, success depends on your approach. The above tips will get you moving in the right direction.