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How Instagram Can Grow Your Business

I finally got on Instagram earlier this year and I’ve been blown away by it for a number of reasons. It’s done a number of things to help my little startup business grow a little. Here I will share some of my experiences with it.

Interaction Is High On Instagram

The interaction I get from Instagram is way, way more than any other social media platform I’ve tried, and I’ve tried a lot of them. I get a small amount of interaction from using hashtags. For me, the best one seems to be #3dprinting. There is a growing community of 3D printing hobbyists and a lot of them are searching Instagram for people also doing things with 3D printing.

However, I get much more interaction from searching hashtags relevant to my business and interacting with people. Anything related to the various Celtic symbols, or Irish topics work really well for me. Ocasionally I will find people with pictures of tattoos of the same symbols that I’ve used in my designs. Once, bizarrely, I found someone had made a tattoo out of my Leaf Pendant design. This is a totally original design I made from scratch. It was really surreal finding it on Instagram. They told me they found it through Google Image Search, and liked it so much they got a tattoo of it.

I will interact with the people I find through hashtags by liking and commenting on some of their pictures. They will usually return the favor and do the same to some of my pictures as well. I don’t get this kind of interaction with Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest as much. Sometimes I will follow them or they will follow me, or both. Mainly through this kind of interaction I now have over 1,900 followers.

I also try to interact with the people I am already following. Since I am following over 1,000 people, it can be difficult to stay on top of it. But I try. I think this is also pretty important, but hard. What I’ve found works is checking my feed, and when I see a picture I like I will check out the rest of the person’s feed. I’ll look at their other recent pictures and like some of those as well, and maybe leave a comment or two. This way I can keep some level of interaction with the many people I’m following. If I waited until I saw each of their pictures individually in my feed, I might never see all of them. And again, if I go and like 3 or 4 pictures from someone I’m following, often they will will return the favor and check out my recent pictures and like a few in return. Again, this kind of back-and-forth or interaction just seems to be part of the culture on Instagram.

I’ve Gotten Product Ideas From Instagram

Heart Celtic Knot Necklace
The idea for this Heart Celtic Knot Necklace came from someone I met on Instagram

There have been a few people who found my things on Instagram who loved my designs. I have made a few sales from people who fell in love with one of my pieces and had to have it and bought it on the spot. This is rare, but it has happened a couple times. I can’t say I’ve had this happen at all though on other social media sites. I have found people that like my designs but I can’t recall a time when someone went and bought something right then after seeing it on Facebook or Twitter for example.

Another few people have discovered my designs, and requested custom designs. They looked over my things and I didn’t have quite the one they were looking for. They reached out to me and asked if I could make one for them. Some of the requests were Celtic-related and others were not. Most of my new designs this year were from people who asked for custom designs on Instagram. So instead of trying to figure out what designs I should make that customers might like, my customers actually told me exactly what they wanted. No guessing involved. It’s also likely that others will like these designs if one person already does.

One that came about this way was the Celtic Heart Knot pendant. One Instagram user requested that as this custom design. I made it for them and they really liked it. It’s still a fairly new design but it the popularity of it is promising.

I Marketed Those Same Product Ideas With Instagram

Mouse Suicide
Instagram photo of @mousesuicide wearing the Celtic Heart Knot Necklace. This picture got over 1,800 likes

Not only did Instagram give me product ideas, but I also used Instagram to market these products after I made them. So Instagram actually completed a product cycle for me, from idea, to creating, to marketing and selling. In a case or two, the person who had it custom-made bought the item posted a picture of it. That got it exposure to their followers, which is really nice, even if the audience might be relatively small.

I started looking for opportunities to collaborate with people on Instagram that might have a bigger audience. Because of the community and interactive nature of Instagram, there are many, many users with 10,000, 20,000 and even 100,000 followers. Some call these people “influencers”. I started looking for people that had shown interest in Celtic or Irish-related things, that had a lot of followers, and that had a good level of interaction on their posts. I even found some that had posted pictures of themselves wearing Celtic jewelry, or something very similar already.

When looking for an Influencer, I put more importance on how many comments their pictures get. It really speaks to the level of engagement when a picture has 100+ comments. There are some people that can get 500 likes on a picture but zero comments. I’d go with the one with more comments almost every time. It means their followers are interacting a lot more. Clicking the button to like a picture is good, but more passive than participating in a conversation.

In any case, I highly recommend trying out Instagram if you are selling products like this.