A while back a professor at the University of Washington asked if I could talk to his Communications class on being a social media influencer. While things didn't work out for me to speak with his students, I was surprised he even reached out to me to give a talk. When I first saw the email titled "Are you available to speak about being an influencer at UW?"I thought it was spam. I didn't really think of myself as an influencer. I'm just a woman who is really passionate about fiber arts and runs a small business making things I love. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized, maybe I am an influencer. (Don't worry, I'm not letting this go to my head)
Looking back at my work and how I've grown my following on Instagram, I realized that I have inspired other makers to try pattern fabrics and play with colors in different ways. I've partnered with big and small brands for giveaways and product promotions, and I've collaborate with companies on stitch kits and wholesale products. Those are some pretty big things! All of which I'm really proud of and have in part, happened because of my social media presence.
As I continue to grow my small side business, I thought about the 4 ways I've grown my following on Instagram, how I've gotten where I am today, and what things have been successful in making this happen.
Find Your Niche
Share what you love, but keep it niche. Followers tune in for a specific reason—if you're posts are all over the place, they might not know what to expect. I consistently share videos, single images, and carousel posts of projects that I'm working on, supplies I use, finished pieces, and events. I use my captions to share more about my work and my life. When looking at my Instagram feed you can tell I'm a fiber artist.
Be true to yourself. Just like when people can identify a fake laugh, followers can tell when you're not real online, so find your voice and be you. People want to follow people they can relate to, which is why I've slowly started sharing more than just my artwork on my account. While I'm not sharing everything about my life, don't worry no TMI here, I do share what's comfortable for me to put online and what makes me, me. When you're real, people can practically feel it come across in your posts.
Share Quality Content
It's so easy to take quality photos these days. Believe it or not, I take all of my social media photos and images on my iPhone! Unfortunately, Instagram has a rep for only wanting to see all the pretty and good things, and has trained it's audience to want and like well lit, nicely composed, easily identifiable content. Because of this, it's so important to have good content.
Whether you're posting once a week to 3 times a day, your audience wants to know when and where to find your content. I post at least once a day on Instagram and a few times a day in my Stories. This consistent content, keeps me top of mind, because my content regularly shows up more in my followers and hashtag feeds. Don't force posts though- people can tell when you're not being true to yourself. So find what works for you and stick with it.
Connecting with and growing your community is, to me, what social media is all about. I love talking with other makers, sharing small business advice or stitching tips, and connecting with others who love what I make. All of these interactions, whether they're commenting on photos, liking posts, messaging other makers, or sharing the content of others, helps build my authenticity to show that I'm a real person anyone can talk to.
I used to post #FollowFriday in my Instagram Stories, where every Friday, I would feature an embroidery artist. I can't take the credit for coming up with this idea, Hope of @Hopebroidery inspired me to start sharing other makers work. As I've transitioned from solely being an embroidery artist, to a fiber arts studio, I decided I wanted to learn more about makers and started the blog series For the Love of Craft, where every few weeks I feature an artist who makes amazing things, learn more about their creative process, and how they've connected with their community.