Use Instagram to market your shop

Petra Gardefjord, the creator of Mini Mocks, tells us the story of her brand and how she's grown to use Instagram as her main marketing channel: 

My small business started two years when I was home on maternity leave with my daughter. 

My daughter was super chubby and I had a really hard time finding shoes for her little feet, so it came naturally to me to start making soft leather moccasins. I had been given a sewing machine a year earlier but just didn’t have the time before my maternity leave. At first they turned out really ugly, but after lots more practice on the machine they looked OK. I started to get compliments from strangers and I saw something… a product yet to be discovered in Sweden. I made a shop on Tictail. Just like that. I was convinced that this would work; I would be able to sell this. But not without marketing.

I had an Instagram account for private use; I don’t think I had any followers that I didn’t know in person. But I found new friends quickly just by searching around for inspiration and like-minded people. Liking and commenting on others photos, I gained new followers and supporters. It was a slow start for me. Instagram still felt like a platform made for people taking pictures of food, babies and pets – not so much marketing of products. I decided I needed a goal. So I told myself that I would have 10,000 followers by the end of the year (this was in April 2014, I had 1,000 at that time) and I had a small goal to follow. Nine months later, I had 30,000. Not many people know about my little goals, because they are quite embarrassing but they help me move forward. So there, I just shared a little secret!

I like to call my followers "supporters." By genuinely sharing everything about yourself and your company, you create a group of supporters. Keep in mind that you need to take care of them and give them the love and respect they deserve. When you manage that, you will create a successful Instagram business. There are downsides, too. Another goal of mine is to turn followers into customers. It’s a constant and ongoing relationship and I can never relax and stay off Instagram. But I see it as part of my work with Mini Mocks.

A few months ago I held workshops with Tictail on this subject: How to market your small business, or yourself for that matter, with the help of Instagram. One of the biggest questions was "How active do I have to be?" It's a really good question. I post 3-5 photos everyday. Yes you heard me, e-v-e-r-y day. I mix photos of our products, happy customers, my kids and my home. But the first advice I always give is to be active on other people’s accounts. Follow people that inspire you, whether you love their colors, photos, decor, kids, clothes, or travel destinations. Do it, and tell them how much you appreciate them. I do that daily. They are my friends now. And we give and we give. It’s so refreshing! In the workshops we called Instagram a fluffy white cloud. That’s what it is and we like it. 

Good luck with your marketing. Don’t be afraid of putting yourself out there. The people who like what you do will find you and they will support you! 

So now that you know the whole story, here's a handy checklist for you to review:

- Follow accounts that inspire you!

- Like and comment on photos from like-minded people (Be genuine!)

- Post 3 - 5 times every day

- Create a mix of photos on your account – they can be your products, customers wearing your goods, your home/office, or inspiration in your life

Stay tuned over at @minimockspetra for more information on online workshops coming soon!

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