How Focusing on Creating Valuable Content Helped @Shoepify Grow on Instagram
Tips for growing your business on social media from @Shoepify
Starting a new business can be very challenging. Where do you start? How often do you need to post? What should you be posting? How do you get customers?
This series attempts to answer some of those questions. We talk to Nigerian entrepreneurs and learn from them how they grew their business on Instagram.
In each episode, we will talk to the mind behind an Instagram store with upwards of 10,000 followers. We will find out directly from them how they started and what they did to grow their followership.
This is our second episode.
For our first episode -> Start here
@Shoepify (18.4k followers)
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Omowunmi Kolawole and I am the Founder of Shoepify. Shoepify is a fashion retail store with a focus on curating amazing fashion pieces from all over the world and delivering them to the doorsteps of customers.
When did you set up your vendor page on Instagram and how long did it take you to grow to 18,000 followers?
I started in September 2016.
I've never really focused on growing followership on Instagram as I realized early enough that a large following does not necessarily translate to the same amount of interaction or sales. Instead, we focused on speaking the language the market we target understands.
That’s an interesting point. What is that language?
We have done our tests (we still continue to do them) and we know the kind of content our followers/market want to see and we give as much as we can. We place a focus on creating videos, reels and Instagram stories.
With reels, we make short and interesting videos and usually jump on trends. On our stories, we run polls and questionnaires to interact with our customers.
There's definitely an off-peak period but we tweak a few things and we are back on track.
What is the ratio of post engagements to followers?
I'm not going to lie, this is very tricky and sometimes, discouraging. There are times when the percentage of engagement is below 1% and there there are times when it's up to 10%. We measure success by the increase in the monthly sales and not necessarily the number of likes or following on Instagram though they are sometimes, inseparable.
So what I am hearing is that because the relationship between followers and sales isn’t always directly proportional, you focus more on providing value for your target market.
Yes. We definitely don't mind more followers but we focus on brand reach instead of chasing after followers that do not necessarily translate to sales later.
That makes sense. But with over 18,000 followers, I’m still curious about what you did to get there.
We mostly focus on products and offering quality content that our audience wants to see; We had to test a few kinds of content before we settled for our current calendar. How customers react to the different contents tells us exactly what we should be focusing on.
Okay? What would you say is the most effective type of content?
Definitely videos*; Video contents reach a far larger audience than pictures as a lot of people would rather not read. Video content can be just products, DIYs, or informative.
Reels reach a far bigger audience than posting videos on your feed only.
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Okay. Because we are talking about growing on Instagram, I have to ask: Did you ever use paid ads?
The way the Instagram algorithm is currently set-up, paid Ads (if done properly) is one of the ways you can reach your target audience. It is quite expensive but you have to be willing to give it a shot. One interesting thing, however, is that you have to create content to lock those followers in after acquiring them so they don't lose interest. Sometimes, it's an endless circle.
What other tricks and strategies have helped you grow?
Personal branding, Putting a face to the brand definitely made people more comfortable making purchases and relate with the brand better.
Over time, has your followership had any direct relationship with your sales?
I can say the increase in sales has to do with the followership but the greatest tool has been Word of Mouth Marketing. Instagram has played its part in our sales but there was no 100% increase in sales simply because our followers went from 10,000 - 18,000
What challenges did you encounter on the road to where you currently are?
We have had times when we couldn't access our Instagram for a few days or weeks at a time or could not perform one function or another. Building on someone else's platform means they have control of how their platforms should work regardless of what your actual business goals and needs are. We've had periods when we did everything right in terms of content creation and got next to nothing in return which means we have to constantly go back to the drawing table to reinvent the wheel. Some of the challenges came in form of our profile not being accessible to us or our visibility dropping really fast.
What tips would you give someone just starting out and looking to create valuable content and grow like you have?
Instagram has a lot of tools and it rewards businesses/people for using them; IGTV, Reels, Stories are tools you can use in giving your business the visibility it needs.
A content calendar* is quite important because it allows you to plan your content based on the tools provided by Instagram.
With Reels, keep it short and interesting. Reels make it easy for you to jump on trends that work for your brand. So play around with reels, add music and join trends.
Insta Story is my favourite IG tool because a lot of people do not check their feeds. They just check stories. For me, stories yield result faster than any other tool on Instagram. You can create pools or ask them questions to hear what your customers are thinking and generally just interact with them.
One final and very important tip is to be original. Don’t use stock images. Customers want to see exactly what your products look like so make your own videos/photos. It is authentic and honest and customers love that.
Take clear photos and videos of your product, invest in props and make your business page pleasing to the eyes.
Okay, My final question. What’s been the biggest lesson about running a business page you’ve learned so far?
To be honest, building a business on someone else's platform is a risky business and as much as you can, you should build your own platform that cannot be taken away from you because of a policy or two. We have a website that our customers now consistently use which has taken off the pressure from us trying to build on Instagram by all means.
While on average, photos have more likes than videos, videos tend to have more comments. Videos are more efficient at getting conversations going.
A content calendar is a designed schedule of when where and type of content you plan to publish. Content calendars can include:
Date and time you plan to publish a post
The social network or account
The type of post
The post copy and other creative assets
Links and tags
You can create content calendars on a spreadsheet or you can use one of these apps that have been optimised for the task:
The next episode in our series drops next week.
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