It's no secret that Instagram is my absolute favorite social media platform because it's a quick place to go for inspiration + information. With that being said, I do have a love/hate relationship with all social media. At times, it's easy for me to get frustrated with how "perfect" everything looks. I begin to compare where my business is, what my home looks like, or my day-to-day schedule with others. But on the other hand, as a creative, I love looking at interesting and beautiful compositions that challenge me. Life doesn't always fit into a beautiful square (or vertical/horizontal - thanks, Instagram!), but it's an amazing tool for business.
Over the last year, The School of Styling account has grown from 1K followers to 35K followers. This hasn't happened overnight, and it has been an experiment at times, to say the least. But, Instagram is the most useful tool I have at my disposal that allows me to reach my target audience - creatives, like me, looking for inspiration and information! No matter what you're opinion of Instagram is, it's free marketing, so why wouldn't you take some time to learn how to leverage it for your business?!
One of my favorite things to do, and something I have built The School of Styling on, is lifting up and supporting others. I love reading the stories of where our attendees have come from and where they dream of going. In my own creative business circle, I love chatting with friends to find out what's going on in their life and business and cheering them on! A fun way to do that publicly is through collaborations. I never want my "Instagram life/business" to look differently than my personal. TSOS supports people publicly because we cheer them on privately. It's just a wonderful extension of our mission! Here are some ideas on how you can collaborate:
Collaborate on a real life project + share about it! Maybe that's a styled shoot, a joint passion project, or something else. If it's happening in the life of your business, share about it with your audience. They want to see what's going on behind the scenes!
Feature a guest post or interview! If you love and respect a certain creative, let them know. A wonderful way to build them up as the expert you think they are is to ask them to share with your audience. This could be Instagram-specific, or it could take place on your blog/website. Either way, share them with your followers!
Host a giveaway! You know those companies you run across that you immediately fall in love with? Well, a great way to share their products or services with your audience is to collaborate on a giveaway. With their permission of course, create giveaway guidelines that are mutually beneficial.
Promoting others can truly be a beautiful thing. I adore my audience and I want to put people and businesses in front of them that they will adore. That's the beauty of collaborating!
Engage with your online community! These people love you and are following you for a reason. You'll have to determine specifically what they come to you for so you know how to best serve them. Ask them questions, respond to comments, and/or reach out about future collaborations. Many wonderful friendships of mine have been made through this little app! There's a lot of bad out there, so build a community centered around good, whatever that may look like for you.
This is also a chance to show a more personal or behind-the-scenes look into your business! Your website is a professional look into what you do, but you get to decide the tone of your Instagram. Give people a reason to follow you! What's new about this platform as opposed to others? What do you show them or tell them that excites them or encourages engagement? There's no right or wrong answer to these questions, and it will differ for each community. Take time developing your voice and figure out what your audience responds well to.
Instagram is an amazing way to show off your most current work + projects! There's no way your website will be as fresh and up-to-date as your social media, which is why it gives clients, potential clients, and your audience a look into what is happening at this very moment. You can show your current creative projects and work on things like your compositions and styling without having to use a professional photographer or setting.
Show off your diversity and use this platform to hone your aesthetic and skill set! Look for trends amongst your work - colors, patterns, textures - things you naturally gravitate toward. Sometimes you have to look at a bulk of images before you begin to see that emerge. Continue to hone and perfect your style as you post thinking about how that image influences the whole!
What are your favorite ways to use Instagram? Have you had amazing opportunities or friendships come from this app? Share your story with us!