We’re big fans of heymama around here (even those of us who are nowhere near having kids can appreciate their coverage of awesome #WomenWhoWork). The community of talented, entrepreneurial moms is beyond inspiring, as are the site’s co-founders, Katya Libin and Amri Kibbler. We were lucky enough to get the chance to pick their creative, social-savvy brains about launching their business effectively and inexpensively—on Instagram.
“One of the best pieces of advice we’ve ever received was from two other women co-founders when we were bright-eyed, a little lost and really excited,” remembers Katya. “They said, “Just start. Don’t wait another day or minute.” So we did. We didn’t have it all figured out, nor did we know if anyone would like what we were looking to create, but we decided the very next day to just get started.”
Katya and Amri debated which path would best help them prove their concept without requiring significant financial risk. “Most of the paths seemed to include high levels of risk and, without knowing if our ideas had legs, the whole thing—building a platform, spending money and seeking funding—seemed daunting,” Amri said. “We quickly realized that the best and least expensive way to build community was to use existing social platforms where community is already taking place.” The pair initially targeted Facebook, but after considering their demographic, realized that Instagram would be the most effective channel, as most of the women they wanted to reach were already engaged there.
So how exactly does one launch a business on an existing platform? We wanted to know, too.
Set up the basics
Create a logo you love and a description that clearly, powerfully and simply explains what you’re going to do. Include an email for people to contact. Then, create a landing site that briefly explains what is “coming soon” and a place to capture emails. We used Launchrock, which took under 10 minutes to set up.
Plan your content
You’re going to need lots of quality content that reflects your brand. It’s important to create a look that people will recognize as your own. Keeping this in mind in the beginning will also make it a lot simpler to decide what to post. We wanted to feature moms with their kids and share their stories. Now this is what people expect when they come to our feed. Be mindful of the fact that Instagram is a photography driven platform and images need to be clear, beautiful and interesting.
Remember that timing matters
To ensure you are posting at the best time of day for your market and reaching as many people as you can, use Iconosquare to see when your followers are active. You can use Latergramme to schedule your posts in advance (so if you’re exhausted and in bed by the time your users are active, your technology can do the work for you).
Keep your captions and photos consistent
Make sure your images and captions feel aligned with your brand—be especially aware of this if you have multiple people posting on your account. Visual consistency is really important, because people come to your feed and decide if they want to follow in a second without even reading most of your content. Stick with similar colors or filters to tie things together.
Engage with like-minded people
Find the bloggers and content creators in your space that you dig, and whose followings are bigger than yours. Like their photos, introduce yourself and follow some of those key accounts—these are the people who could potentially help you grow.
Authentically engage with your followers
Any person that takes the time to comment on your photo deserves a comment back. Get to know these people, because the more loyal you are to your followers, the more they will grow with your brand. Above all else, take the time to engage on their feeds, read their captions and be real. With platforms like Instagram, things can look perfect and pretty but behind them are people telling their stories. Be the brand that values authentic connection and you will see it pay off tenfold.
Learn from the community
In the beginning, when your brand is just focused on Instagram, really take the time to be part of this community and listen to what’s out there. Instagram is a place where people go to share, so by asking the right questions you can actually do your own market research. Listen to what the community is telling you and don’t be afraid to pivot if you find the community is directing you to make a change.
Find new customers and partners
One of the best ways to introduce your company is by contacting brands you want to work with, and people who you want to introduce to your product. Leverage Direct Messages to say hello and communicate. Instagram is really great in that everyone is reachable right through the platform, so take advantage. You can facilitate partnerships with other brands through the platform, engage in giveaways and support each other through posts to drive traffic.
Track your growth every day and keep at it
If people are responding positively, and you can see your Instagram is growing steadily, you may be on your way to building a business without having to invest heavily in initial marketing costs. If you find that the numbers are growing too slowly or at a snail-like pace, you might need to try to change something up. It won’t happen overnight, but over time you’ll build a community of people who are interested in what you do and you’ll have some data to support you in pursuing the business in full force.
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