An Instagram business forum has seen four SMEs open up about how they use the social media platform to drive business growth and lessons they have learned through simple trial and error.
Among the panel of business owners sharing their own personal experiences on the platform was Hazem Sedda, owner of Redfern Convenience Store, who recently opened up to My Business about how he turned his city corner store into a global internet sensation through Instagram.
“I still don’t believe Instagram works for convenience stores,” Mr Sedda joked, despite his own success, adding that it is often not the product that builds social followers but something fun – such as his “Customer of the Day” competition that he said has become highly competitive among his loyal customer base.
Lisa Messenger, founder of publishing company Collective Hub, agreed that product, generally speaking, takes second place to demonstrating the brand behind it.
She said that “people just fall in love” with the behind-the-scenes stories of a business that makes it raw and real and personable – such as who worked on developing a product, how a new innovation was inspired, the amount of funding that went into developing a product, the journey in getting a product to market and so forth.
Ms Messenger said that technologies such as Instagram allow businesses to create communities, and by letting those communities see more of the business than just the latest promotional offer, “it’s amazing how people embrace it and amplify it”.
Such messaging provides an authentic voice for businesses, allowing them to build trust and loyalty with their customer base.
Meanwhile, Scott Hawkes of watch retailer The Horse and Mark Baarste of fashion company Showpo revealed some first-hand lessons associated with engaging social media influencers to help promote a product or brand.
“It’s a lot of trial and error,” Mr Hawkes said.
He said it is important to focus not so much on the influencer themselves but on their followers and how well they align with the brand.
Mr Baarste revealed that even larger companies have a trial and error approach, and that a major food company explored using both foodie influencers as well as those in the fitness and wellbeing space, which it thought was a natural progression. Yet the latter produced very little traction for the business.
He added that there is a fine balancing act between content aimed at brand awareness and engagement and what he called “transactional content”.
Fast facts from Instagram on usage of its platform:
- 25 million businesses globally use Instagram, with 200 million actively engaging with them each day.
- 80 per cent of Instagram users follow businesses.
- 67 per cent of millennial Australians have found and bought from businesses through the platform.
- One in three Instagram stories elicits a direct message.
- Instagram launched a shoppable feature earlier this year, allowing users one-touch access to product and pricing information within business posts.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.