Business Sense

Business Sense: How to be seen (and heard!) on Instagram

Instagram has fast become one of the most popular mediums for sharing images, videos (stories), and slideshows of our day to day lives. Through the app, businesses can connect with customers, and customers can share their creations, used and loved tools, and in-progress projects.

We talk a lot here at KW Headquarters (and via text at home at night…and on the weekends…) about social media, our marketing approach, and issues that have come up in our outreach, or efforts that were particularly successful. So much has changed on social media in the last ten years. When we first began the distribution in 2008, both Instagram and Pinterest were 2 years away from being established, Ravelry had only 59,000 users, and Twitter was still a social media darling. How we approach marketing has evolved and changed, and our presence on Instagram is no exception. With over 600 million users, and a controversial feed algorithm, though, it can sometimes be difficult to find your place on Instagram, or reach the market you’re looking for. 

1 / Use Hashtags Efficiently and Effectively

I noticed a huge shift in what was showing up in the Kelbourne Woolens feed once the algorithm was switched last summer. We make an effort to follow as many active knitters and shop owners as possible, but it became apparent very quickly that despite who we were following, we were missing key posts featuring Kelbourne Woolens products and patterns and the Fibre Co. yarns. As a result, I now mainly search posts by hashtag in lieu of relying on our feed for interesting content.

If you missed the blog post yesterday, I featured 8 images that were posted on IG using the hashtag #kelbournewoolens. By searching for specific hashtags, I can see as many images as possible that use that tag, whether we follow the person or not. Each day, I search various tags related to the company, many of which we initiated and use in our personal and KW instagram activity – #madewiththefibreco, #lumacollection, #yearofmittens, just to name a few – and I know many companies do the same for their specifically branded tags.

Before posting a photo, take a moment to search for tags you think you want to use, or check out the feed of the company, designer, or shop you’re posting about and see what tags they are using. 

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Using the proper tag is by far the easiest way to have your images seen and voice heard.

2 / Make Sure You’re Tagging the Correct People
We love it when people post images of us on Instagram – sometimes it is actually “us”, but the majority of the time it is one of our patterns, notions, or a project featuring The Fibre Co. yarns. Sometimes, though, it is totally unclear why we’re in the image at all! Effective hashtag use (see above) of a pattern name or yarn can usually solve the mystery, but sometimes we really just have no idea. If you’re tagging someone in an image make sure you’re tagging the correct person and that there is a good reason why they’re being tagged.

No one likes spam, and tagging others willy-nilly for no reason is a surefire way to be ignored, or even blocked, on Instagram. 

3 / Please Don’t Message Companies on Instagram
As I was planning this post a few weeks ago, I reached out to a few friends in the industry, both wholesalers and retailers, with admirably large and comparatively small (but no less worthwhile!) followings.

While everyone had their own ideas on how to best use social media, they all unanimously agreed that sending customer support messages on Instagram is the number one way to (unintentionally) be ignored.

Very few companies in our industry have full time staff members devoted exclusively to social media, and very few have social media accounts exclusively curated by one employee. Add that to the fact that Instagram will not show you direct messages if you’re receiving it from someone you don’t follow, (and instead sends them as message requests), messages get lost. All the time. It is embarrassing and frustrating when we receive an email eluding to the fact that the sender tried to contact us via IG Message and felt ignored due to our lack of response  – it is no way to build a relationship with someone! Since IG is mainly a mobile based app, it is also difficult to give proper customer support via message as we don’t have the same tools at our fingertips as we do when working at our desktop or laptops. If you’re trying to communicate with someone on IG, use the “contact” button at the top of their home screen to send them an email rather than send them a direct message.

Hopefully you will find these tips helpful as you navigate through the wonderful world of IG!

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