If you haven't integrated Instagram into your social media marketing strategy, you're missing out on one of the most engaging platforms - that is actually enjoyable.  For me, that is the key! I love using Instagram and it's clear based upon engagement statistics that 500 million other users do too.  According to Brandwatch, in 2016, engagement with product brands on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest, and 84 times higher than Twitter. 

I started using Instagram as an outlet for my personal interests - antiquing, upcycling, DIY projects, rural life, health and wellness.  At the same time, however, I do have a master plan to gather followers of like mind so that when I re-launched my novels as e-books, I have an appreciative following to share the news with...and from there, expand the marketing effort.  

Now if you're reading this and are not familiar with Instagram, the visual platform involves posting pictures with comments, use of hashtags to categorize your posts and following those users you like and those you hope will follow you back.  While it sounds simple, and it is, should you decide to delve in and treat it as a serious marketing tool, there are a number of applications to support you in transacting business as well as monitoring traffic, managing posts and more.  

Five reasons I love Instagram

  1. The opportunity to create a target community rapidly.  I've created my own community of engaged followers who share the same aesthetic and interests.  You can easily research your competitors from around the world to determine the best strategy for your brand.
  2. "Go big or go home" does not apply.  You decide how to use your community - whether to engage a smaller, focused group with great sincerity or throw your net out to a wide audience and use tools to 'auto-like' hashtags and immediately 'like' follower posts,  to manage your engagement.   You choose whether to grow organically or with tools and tricks. 
  3. Stress-free marketing.  You know your brand, so visually reflect its value and aspects of your business that will attract your profile buyer, with an authentic, unique page.  You don't have to stress about content creation, pithy tweets, or relevant articles you should share.  You share what you want your followers to see.  When they like what they see, they'll take a look at your profile and click the link you've provided, directing them to your business.  Best of all, your marketing tool is in your hand - your phone goes everywhere you do, so you can consistently gathering  visual content.
  4. Create great visual images.  On Instagram, 'organic' photos are more effective than stock photos, and with the filters available to improve your pics, you'll quickly learn to represent your business visually through your own eyes.  See #3, your camera is on you always.
  5. Gain insights and enhanced appreciation.  When you begin to think visually about your business, you adopt a new awareness of your brand, product(s), even work environment and how you wish to represent all of that visually to attract your customers.  For me, it's forced a philosophy of slowing down, taking time out to capture the moment throughout the day.  Whether walking into a field of sunflowers, conducting an impromptu sing along with cows, or capturing a rusting Cadillac in front of a broken down bungalow, these images resonate with my community and I'm grateful for the memories that accompany them.  You will adopt a strategy to capture and share the value of your brand and it will enhance the way you view your business.  

Encapsulating the above, unlike other social platforms, I truly believe the 'enjoyable' factor of Instagram is extremely high and for that reason, your commitment to this platform will be greater than the others you've tried.

My recommendation?  If your strategy doesn't include Instagram, google the latest statistics and see if your customer profile is active on the platform.  Interested in getting started and need a hand?  EXTRA DAY is at your service! 

P.S.  One final benefit...reach out to your community for support, advice and their photos! When creating my design, I looked to my community to represent me. Here I give credit to Anne Otten-Noe, whose photos grace my pages.  Click any of her pictures on my Service and Overview pages and you'll be transported to the Netherlands where she collects and sells beautiful antiques.  The picture of the tools?  That came from an amazing collector and photographer of old tools.  Click his picture and you'll head to his account, enjoy!

The business owners of Main Street in Stafford Springs are living their American Dreams.  The entrepreneurial energy will make you want to give up your day job and set up shop.  At the helm is Jacob Harrison Long, who two years ago re-opened the Warren textile mill, bringing the brand of American Woolen to the market place.  American Woolen Company is now producing the highest quality worsted and woolen fabrics...and if I'm not mistaken, it's the only one producing at this caliber in the US, right here in Stafford Springs.  Not only is Jacob fulfilling a mission, but brought a dream back to a town that, like many, had lost a piece of history.

What brought me to Stafford Springs?  My daughter, meticulously planning her American Dream, was interning at American Woolen and with a secret passion for the history of mills, I decided to venture out to take a look around. 

I started my day at Middle Ground Cafe, where the wifi and coffee were strong.  Sitting just inside that far right window, I found myself staring across the street at Rustology and after a great bowl of soup at lunch time, headed out onto Main Street. For both picker and serious collector, Rustology is a two story collection of organized chaos.  Items are creatively displayed so that at every glance there is wimsy with a whiff of nostalgia. 

Further up the street I met two bright and energetic women operating adjacent vintage boutiques.  The first, Windowbox Boutique, contained a tasteful collection of  new and vintage home, garden and personal items.  The second, Three Graces Vintage, contained clothing from your favorite era with accessories abounding.  I found shop owner, Lisa Zelonka, engrossed in conversation with a patron when I entered, which quickly included me.  Loving what she does everyday, she could only recommend "follow your passion!" 

I saved the best for last...Sabor44  With a love for olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, I ventured into Luis Valentin's olive oil tap room.  I received an impressive tour and tasting of the offerings, and after much deliberation chose chocolate raspberry balsamic vinaigrette.  During my time at Sabor44, I learned that Luis's passion for olive oil started in childhood and while working in quality control for years elsewhere, he planned and saved to pursue his goal to open Sabor44.  Take one look at Luis, and you know he is living his American Dream.  
A day in Stafford Springs is revitalizing and reminds us to do what we love and we will definitely end up loving what we do!  I've taken this advice to heart with the launch of EXTRA DAY.