Growing the right audience for your business on Instagram

Having bespoke products for sale and a stop-you-in-the-tracks Instagram feed is great. But you still need to find the watering holes of your audience. For sure, they are on Instagram (hello, there’s 1 billion users), but how do we find the right ones for you?

Simply growing your audience with a bunch of followers is not enough nor is it sustainable if it’s not yielding profits. There’s a massive difference between popularity versus profits. To illustrate this point further, let me introduce you to two makers.

Hannah knits merino blankets for the modern home. She has a following of 2,000 followers on Instagram. She makes an average of $1000/day.

Jane knits merino blankets for the modern home. She has a following of 34,000 followers on Instagram. She makes an average of $20/day.

If you had to pick, which of the maker would you rather be - Hannah or Jane? Now, of course these two makers live entirely in my imagination *insert laughing face emoji here *. But imagine for a second how many people exist who share these scenarios? Maybe you can relate…

Jane has a lot of followers, but they aren’t engaged and as targeted as Hannah’s following. Maybe Jane’s followers aren’t clicking when she shares a link to her latest sale or newest collection. Perhaps Jane’s followers don’t attend the market she mentioned she’ll be at, selling her products. Maybe each week only 1 person clicks on Jane’s online shop link.

Getting the right audience for your Instagram account is worth putting efforts into. But first, how do you know who’s the right audience for you? Let’s take a deeper look at this.

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What is the right audience for you?

The right audience is made up of people who will love not only your products and your brand, but what they represent, and the values you share. Chances are, they’ll share similar values. They will want to support you and your business because on some level, they share the same beliefs you do. E.g sustainable fashion for a sustainable planet OR plus-size models on your Instagram who aren’t photoshopped because they believe every person is beautiful just the way they are.

  1. The right audience will cheer you on when you hit a low (if you’re a solopreneur, you know what I’m referring to). They’ll understand that not everything will be absolutely perfect. They’ll overlook the technical glitch at check-out when they add to cart. They won’t judge that you used Canva to make your quotes for Instagram (shout out to my own followers here!). They will be patient as you slowly grow, slowly market, slowly produce.

  2. The right audience will be captivated by what you say on Stories. They’ll respond to your call-to-actions, your polls, your questions within your captions. They’ll go read your blog when you ask them to. They’ll check the samples you made and vote for which one they prefer. They’ll give you honest feedback and be glad to write a review after they’ve purchased your product.

  3. The right audience will be actively keeping a lookout for your posts (just like that, rise above the whole Instagram algorithm debacle). If you go MIA, they might message you and ask you what’s up (oh trust me! #beenthere).

  4. The right audience will not only be delighted and charmed by what you post, but they’ll be your brand ambassadors as well on social media. They’ll give you shout-outs, tag you, chat to you like they’re your friends - that’s how much they’ll develop trust in you (plus a little crush on your brand!).

If you haven’t experienced this for yourself yet, I know, it can seem a bit too good to be true. But I can share plenty of stories with you, from clients I worked for back in my social media manager days, and also in my own life. I have this kind of relationship with people I’ve bought courses from, used services from, or provided services to. You get what you put out there - if you want to live in a world where you celebrate creativity and genuine connections, then show up and build those relationships with your audience.

How to grow the right audience on Instagram?

  • Share your values. Ensure you inject your personal values or your brand’s values in your social media posts, and communicate these through everything you do on Instagram. It doesn’t always have to be right in your face, but subtlety works too. Your values can be communicated in the types of raw materials you use, how ethical your production is, how you treat your clients but also your colleagues.

  • Visual storytelling. Pictures can tell a thousand words and that’s SO true with Instagram! Within a few seconds of someone viewing your Instagram feed, they can make an impression of you and what they think your brand is about. Be clear and intentional about the types of stories you’re sharing when you post images on Instagram or on your Stories. From the choice of images, to the colours, and the overall look and filters you apply, all of this helps tell a story and also set the mood and scene.

  • Have a conversation. Friends have long, soulful conversations, but also silly ones. Engage in conversations with your audience. By letting people get to know you a bit better, you’re going to attract those that love how you speak/write. Obviously the ones who don’t resonate with your message might not follow back, or will stop following (that’s OK!).

  • Connect with the right people. When you follow accounts or engage in commenting with other accounts on Instagram, ensure that there’s some kind of synergy going on. For example, it makes sense that if you’re a calligraphist for weddings, you’ll be engaging more with bridal companies, or providers to bride and grooms, as well as newly engaged people about to tie the knot.

I hope this post has given you more clarity on what the right audience can mean for you and your business, and also that you need to be actively growing this. If you’re unsure if you’re communicating your values and growing the right audience, you might want to have a social media audit of your Instagram. That’s something I can help you with.

Curate social proof & create more sales opportunities for your handmade business

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You have an amazing brand you’re proud of with beautiful products. Heck, you even have a great social media strategy and a cohesive Instagram feed! We would all love it if people would buy our product the moment we announce what we’re selling. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that (it’s not magic). Most of the time, you’ll need a little bit more than that.

That’s where social proof comes in.

You see, you know you have a great brand, and a fantastic product. But beyond telling people how great what you sell is, they might need to get an extra push. Perhaps they’d be sold (and your products too!) if they hear that it won an award, or that it’s the most acclaimed product in this category. Maybe they’d be more inclined to buy your product after they hear that their friends or that influencer they love bought or used it too.

Social proof in social media marketing comes in various forms. This can be comments from other people saying how much they loved your product. It can also be by the amount of followers you have or who actually follows you. Let’s say you’re selling chef knives and among your followers are people like Gordon Ramsay, Giorgio Locatelli, Jamie Oliver, Nigella - this definitely increases the value and trustability of your knives. Other times though, you might need to ‘blow your own trumpet’, and share all that social proof on social media.

Curate the social proof you have about your brand or product.

Shout-outs and mentions

Whenever someone mentions you positively on social media, after having purchased or used your product, keep that. Save it in a collection on Instagram, save the post on Facebook, or screenshot it and save it in a folder. If you’ve added these to your Instagram Stories (when someone tags you), include them also in your Highlights so people can view past the 24h mark.

Testimonials and products reviews

Any reviews that people have left on your Facebook business page or sent in an email to you, screenshot these to share. Ensure you don’t let out private details (like the email address of your client!) or other personal or sensitive information. You can also create a graphic with the happy reviews from past clients using Canva and share that instead.

Influencer marketing and collabs

Have you worked with influencers, or partnered with other great brands? Share these too. This helps to reinforce the trust and sense of belonging in people’s minds. For instance if Jake is your ideal client and is doing his best to live waste free, he’d be more convinced to buy your product if he knows you’ve partnered with Bea Johnson, the ‘queen’ of the zero-waste home movement. Likewise if you sell beauty products, and your ideal client follows makeup tutorials from a popular YouTuber with whom you’ve collaborated, the authority and influence of that YouTuber rubs off on your brand too, and the way it’s perceived. People also buy because the majority of people are buying - if their friends, peers, and ‘tribe’ are all using that product, the’ll want a piece of that too! It is human nature. It helps us feel like we belong, and are part of the same community. #FeelTheLove

Press features or articles

Been mentioned in the press or featured in a gift guide on a blog? Do keep clippings or snippets of these and share them regularly to your audience. It is a big deal to have your product mentioned, or talked about in the press. Whether it’s in a magazine (print or digital), blog, newspaper, keep these and highlight the parts you love about the article. You could include their logos on your website, or share these as Stories on Instagram/Facebook, in social media posts, or even include it in one of your blogposts (with a link back to the feature/article).

Other ideas that build trust

If your product is brand new on the market or you don’t have any of the above, you might want to collect other happy notes from people who interact with you.

  • Happy notes - it can be someone simply commenting “Thank you so much for all the information you’ve shared - this has been helpful” when you explained about your online store/ product. Maybe it’s a happy customer who says “wow, that delivery was fast! Super efficient” - this helps demonstrate what an efficient business you run.

  • You can also share things or small convos that give people a taste of what it’s like ordering from you, buying from you, or simply by the experience they have when they interact with you or your brand.

  • Workshops and other appearances you make on the market or in your industry. Being a guest at an event which would be appreciated by your ideal client or simply hanging out where your ideal client goes too helps build trust.

I hope you have found the above tips to be helpful in curating your social proof. At the end of the day, it comes down to how much you know your target audience and ideal clients. Getting extreme clarity on this will be invaluable to you because it can help in your decisions of who to partner with, which magazine to be featured in, and have your strategy be aligned to reach these goals.

What is a social media strategy and why do you need one?

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Having a social media presence is great for your brand and business, but without a good strategy, your efforts can seem fruitless. If you’re passionate about your brand and what you do, I am sure you want to see some form of results. This can be an enquiry from a visitor to your Facebook page or a ‘like’ to what you just posted on Instagram about your offer.

What is a social media strategy?

Let’s begin by unpacking what it is. A social media strategy is essentially a plan that guides you in how you’ll be using social media to reach your desired goals.These goals could be driving traffic to your online shop or blog, raising awareness about your product, or boosting the sales of your product. It’s about building a genuine connection between your brand and your customers.

What it isn’t - some kind of 'military action plan to kill’ or ‘win the game’. It is not a game. It is a not a battle field. I’m talking pure, simple strategy that doesn’t make you feel like you’ve sold your soul. It has to be aligned with your values, be authentic, and be easily actionable even if you’re not a social media marketer.

It’s how my clients discover me and hire my services. It’s how you too can make sales without having to scream out your offers.

The five elements of a successful social media strategy:

  • Getting clear on your brand, your products, and what you’re offering to others.

  • Knowing who you want as customers, and how you can help them.

  • Knowing how you’ll present your brand & offers to the people you wish to have as customers.

  • Building genuine connections so that you captivate your audience so they take the action you want (without having to force or manipulate).

  • Creating a workflow that allows you to do the above in a way that feels comfortable to you, and with confidence.

My signature framework

I have designed an easy-to-follow framework that helps you build a successful social media strategy that’s tailored to who you are, your values, your brand, and your customers. My personal framework does that in three simple stages: Season, Strengthen, and Sustain. I go deep with this in my private 1:1 coaching package and work collaboratively with you to create a social media strategy that not only feels good but also provides results.

If you too want to create a successful social media strategy, be attentive to what your customers want, and what their struggles and/or dreams are. Make sure you know exactly how to infuse your personality and brand values in the way you present yourself on social media so that your brand tone resonates with your audience, ultimately captivating them. Finally -and I cannot stress this one enough - have a social media content plan. Let’s not forget that you have other things to do within your business, not just social media. A good plan means you’ll know when best to roll out certain offers as well as seize opportunities of important days or capitalise on social media days. You’ll certainly won’t be getting sucked into the endless scrolling rabbit hole nor will you stare blankly not knowing what to post next on Instagram.

Ultimately, it’s about getting a grip on social media and leveraging it in a powerful (yet soulful) way. If you’re ready to start using social media with heart as well as implementing a solid strategy, click here to read how we can work together. Let’s make the next quarter your best yet!

How to increase engagement on Instagram and who to engage with?

A lot of people often ask me about engagement. What they mean by that is they want more people to comment or have more likes. They’d like to have more conversations form their audience. Do you want to have more engagement on your Instagram account?

When it comes to social media, I’m a firm believer that what you give out, you will receive.

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Engagement: give to get

Let me ask you this, are you commenting on other people’s accounts on Instagram? It’s easy to post something on Instagram and wait for everyone to comment or like. No wonder you might get disappointed when you don’t see much happening. Maybe you get a handful of likes, or comments. Bottom line - it’s not what you expected. Frankly, you’re a little hurt and sad even.

Before you throw your arms in despair, give out what you want more of.

Give out comments to increase engagement

This is one of my most used tips and I have seen it worked brilliantly for a lot of the people I coach social media to. Set aside 10-20 mins per day. Use that time to comment on a maximum number of Instagram accounts you possibly can. Comment on accounts using hashtags you follow and regularly use.

When you comment on other’s posts, make sure it’s a good mix of popular accounts (over 20k followers), medium-sized accounts (10k followers or so), and smaller ones (less than 10k). Not only do comments increase your visibility, they also help the algorithm know you’re a social one. It works well in your favour - the more you engage, and are active, the more Instagram will show your posts.

Do comment on people who leave you comments. Check your previous posts and go leave them comments too on a lot of their posts. It helps them come back to you to comment too - thus encouraging conversations.

Like other people’s posts

In the same way as for comments, give out likes generously. Like posts you genuinely enjoy and find appealing.

Which accounts to engage with?

As I love preaching about using social media in an authentic way, engage with accounts you like. There are real people with beautiful accounts on Instagram, just like you, who are also trying to find their community.

Follow accounts you genuinely love. Engage with them on a regular basis as much as possible. You could turn on the notifications for their posts so you never miss when they post.

Engage with accounts using similar hashtags you use, follow, or like.

Live by your values and show your authentic self. You might want to check out these non-negotiable qualities to have on social media as an artisan brand.

Three types of audience to engage with:

1. Accounts who support you

E.g Are you an artisan? Follow and engage with accounts who support artisans. I support modern artisans and you’re welcome to use the hashtag #BrandsaltSocial to be part of our community of creatives and artisans.

2. Your ideal clients and followers - these are the ones you hope will like your products

3. Similar accounts to you - sometimes it’s great to share with others in your niche or industry (#communityovercompetition after all!). Also great if these are accounts with a similar amount of followers as you. You could then support one another as you grow even more.

Over time, you will see that there are those who will come back regularly to chat with you. Nurture the relationships you build over social media just like you would in real life. Keep in mind that people do business with people they know, like, and trust. The more you socialise, the more people can get to know you, like you, and trust you.

If you learn best by audio and visual, go watch the 4-min video I made here on this topic.

Artisan Markets - Using Social Media Channels To Network Before The Event

As a modern artisan, you’ll most likely be participating at markets, fairs, or exhibitions whereby you can sell your products. This is another way to sell - besides our online shop, or joining an online marketplace. It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase what you offer, and your handmade goods. Beyond that though, do you know how to capitalize on this opportunity on social media?

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Using your social media channels to network well before the market day can work wonders for your artisan brand.

Here are some of my tips to use your social media channels to network before an artisan market:

Networking on Instagram

  • A couple of weeks before the event, announce to your audience that you will be at this market. You can do that in a post with a beautiful visual, tagging other participants and organizers on the picture or mentioning them in your caption.

  • Use the event hashtag of the market or exhibition. Interact with others using the hashtag too.

  • Give shout outs in Stories to other participants, use up to 11 hashtags in your post (these can be hidden to be less intrusive). The idea here is the other artisans may reciprocate and give you shout-outs on their accounts too. Their audience (who like handmade items) will see your brand and this could result in follower growth.

  • You can make use of the Nametag feature in Instagram. Share your nametag in a Whatsapp or text message so others can add you. (e.g in an email with other artisans or chatting to the organizer, exchange Instagram handles that way).

  • Use the location tag in your posts.

  • Follow and interact with participants you want to engage with.

  • Do Follow Fridays or Feature Fridays where you put the spotlight on one of the participants at a time.

Networking on Twitter

  • Use the event hashtag in your tweets and engage with others using it too.

  • Follow other participants and organizer if they have a Twitter account.

  • Give shout outs or tag other artisans participating

  • Make a mental note of who you want to engage with IRL, and then at the event, find them and chat to them in person after you’ve been engaging for a bit on social

  • Participate in chats or forums surrounding the event and like posts pertaining to the event. (Often there’s a countdown until D-Day).

  • Retweet other posts that apply to the market and feel free to add your own comment.

Networking on Facebook

  • When announcing to your fans that you’ll be at the artisan market, give a discreet shout out to other artisans participating by tagging/ mentioning them at the bottom of your posts or within your post.

  • Use the event hashtag in your Facebook posts and do a search on Facebook to find others.

  • Check-in at the event using the hashtag

  • If there’s an event created for the artisan market, feel free to post or check out the discussion posts happening inside. Chances are high that your ideal clients might be in there!

The point here is to maximise the fact that you’ll be at an event with other artisans. Use this to your benefit to build community. By using the event hashtag, tagging the location, giving shout-outs to other people, it shows that you’re genuinely wanting to connect. It demonstrates that you’re approachable, friendly, and that you value #communityovercompetition.

Remember that you have viewers. People are watching you - you could attract more of your ideal clients or you could find other artisans to collaborate with. There might even be journalists covering the event who might interview you, or you can approach them and let them know about you and your brand.

Business is all about the relationships we build, the common threads that bring us together, the stories of various artisans and makers that intertwine with ours somehow. And the online world simply allows us to reach all these people in a split of a second, in one post, one tweet, one caption.

Why would we not make use of this in our efforts to create community?

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