Ria from @Craftsposure started her Instagram account in 2014 with this question in mind: "How do I help makers and crafters get more exposure on Instagram." Today she has over 260 thousand Instagram followers. I thought it might be worth listening to her webinar titled 'How I grew my Instagram to 250k followers.'
Here are five things I took away from what she shared.
1. Build a community, not a following
Ria talked about the difference between a community and a following. A following, she said, is a one-to-many relationship and the type of communication that takes place is one way, from you to your followers. A community, however, is a bunch of people with similar interests who begin to build relationship among themselves. Your job, then, is focused less on yourself and more on facilitating connection between like-minded members of this community.
I thought this was a really great tip. How many of us are so focused on what we are saying to our followers, rather than connecting our followers with one another?
2. Ask, ask, ask
Ria shares transparently how her focus at the beginning was never to make money, but was to to solve the problems her community were facing. She could only really solve those problems if she asked questions like:
- what does my community need?
- how can I help?
- what solutions can I provide?
- what are the pain points in my community and what am I going to do about them?
Ria also encourages people to ask for help. In the early days she resisted asking her followers to share what she was doing with their spheres of influence but has since learned that, as she has shown her commitment to helping her followers, they are happy to share the content she creates. It is through this ongoing process of sharing that the growth of Craftsposure has been exponential.
A third thing Ria encourages Instagram users to do is to ask for feedback on their creative process and thinking. She noted that something as simple as turning your caption into a question can increase the amount of engagement on your posts.
Food for thought: how are you doing at asking on Instagram?
3. Create content that tells a story
Ria strongly encourages makers and creaters not to see Instagram as their 'shop front.' This is not the place where you shout, 'Buy my stuff!' she says. Rather it is a platform where you share the process behind your work, the story of who you are and details about your creative journey. As such, she encourages people to do things like:
- share images of their studio
- show their workshop, and
- post pictures of their work in progress
A question: do you use Instagram as a shopfront, or are you committed to sharing the creative process?
4. Use hashtags actively
Most of us use hashtags in a very passive kind of way. We pop a few tags on our posts or in the comments section, and hope that they do the work of bringing people to us. Ria insists that we need to get onto the front foot with our use hashtags as part of an active growth strategy. What does this mean?
Let's take the example of the popular tag #etsy. Most people who use this tag would be posting something relevant to handmade, creative, or craft-related content. Instead of just posting #etsy as a hashtag, Ria suggests going into the explore feed (or search tab) on Instagram to actively engage with the content you find on that tag. Like, comment on, and compliment the work you see there. When you engage, you'll find that people naturally want to reciprocate. You may even find yourself gaining new followers
5. Post valuable content
Ria spoke about creating good content that adds value to your community. Once the Craftsposure account began to grow, she asked herself, 'What content can I create that would help my followers?' One thing she realised that most crafters, makers and Etsy shop owners struggle with is exposure - getting the beautiful things they have made out there into the public eye. That is when she decided to cash in on an existing popular hashtag - #followfriday - to make it something her community could connect around.
Each Friday she creates an original #followfriday graphic and posts it along with these guidelines:
- First introduce yourself and tag at least one person who inspires you, and
- Find at least two people in the comment thread to follow
With these simple steps, @craftsposure followers find and gain new followers for themselves, and their products are constantly put in front of a new audience.