Instagram is an effective social platform for reaching creative entrepreneurs for many reasons. It is a visual platform that allows brands to keep their customers up-to-date on new products, services or events, it is also as an insightful tool for showing the “behind the scenes’ of your company. In a previous post Small Businesses that Rock Instagram (and what you can learn from them) we shared how brands are using Instagram as a tool to share their product catalogue and as a way to nurture a connection with their customers. In this post we explain how brands use Instagram to help their customers feel part of their business story and also use it to infuse their unique and quirky personality into their brand communications.
Small Businesses that Rock Instagram
1. Johnny Doughnuts: Feel Part of the business story
Johnny Doughnuts is a Bay Area based doughnut shop that has hung their hat on creating handmade, quality doughnuts. But their vision extends far beyond doughnut making. Their story is a compelling story about fun, and family, making memories, and growing together. These messages invite their customers to come inside, to bring their families, to make memories of their own, and share those memories with their friends.
Their Instagram feed often features regrams and feedback from their customers. For example take this post, "Since we opened our doors last year, we've heard countless stories from our customers of found childhood memories at doughnut shops with their families. We are so happy to now be apart of those moments and memories!" This statement was paired with a picture of a "Clay the dog and Tobin the adorable baby." It is posts like this that shows Johnny Doughnuts is listening to their customers, and celebrating the privilege of being included in their personal lives.
A second tip to notice from Johnny Doughnuts is their invitation to grow along with the brand. Every so often they will post images with captions that read, "This time last year Johnny Doughnuts was..." with an update on their growth of employees and increased days on the road in their truck. Or, they will post introductions of new employees, such as, "Meet one of the newest members of the JD family..." along with their favorite doughnuts. Giving customers updates about interior growth sends the message that they are a part of the family too, and invites them to participate more deeply with the brand.
Key takeaways that you can implement on your Instagram:
1. Understand the product you're selling and the implications of that product. You may be selling doughnuts, but you're also selling family and community.
2. Deeply listen to your customers. Then use their words or feedback when talking about your products, or to celebrate the privilege of being invited into their personal lives.
3. Invite your customers behind the counter, and use Instagram as a place to tell them more about the people who make your business run, and showcase your progress.
BeGood Clothing: Have a Little (Or A Lot of) Personality
BeGood Clothing is a San Francisco based clothing line that offers premium, eco-friendly basics at wholesale prices. What we love about their Instagram is that they have a style and flavor that is all their own. They will often use amazing hand sketched images with a clever caption to give updates on new pop-up shops, shipping or product updates.
A particularly great post of theirs happened when their website unexpectedly went down. For some companies this would be disaster, resulting in a formal message to customers along the lines of "We're investigating the cause of this outage and apologize for any inconvenience." But BeGood used this as a chance to showcase their humor and personality. They posted a great hand drawing of a satellite with a graph and the caption, "In an attempt to explain yesterday's website outage...we're running out of leads..." The response to this was several engaged customers guessing causes, like gremlins or aliens.
Like many clothing brands, BeGood uses Instagram as a chance to showcase certain inventory. But they also use Instagram as a place to show off their "follies" in their photo shoots — less-than-formal shots of the models having fun in their clothing. This adds to their quirky and lighthearted personality, showing customers who they are on and off camera, and adding loads of confidence that they're the real deal.
Key takeaways that you can implement in your Instagram:
1. Take stock of unique practices, habits or interests your staff has. Hand sketches is one great example, but your company probably has it's own unique quirks that you can showcase.
2. Turn negative situations or delays in your product delivery into a positive customer experience by being honest about mistakes, but not formal in your approach. Poke fun at yourself if appropriate. Being lighthearted can go along way.
3. Don't be afraid to have a strong personality. Sometimes this is hard, because as businesses we think we are supposed to sound a certain way. But don't be afraid to talk to your customers with the same words you'd use with friends.
What companies do you love on Instagram? If you have suggestions, send them over and we'll feature them in our next installment of Small Businesses that Rock Instagram. And if you're in the Bay Area, come out and meet us at Sophie's Instagram 101 class on Thursday January 22nd.
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