Lessons on Growth from Online Business Owners
Tips for growing your business on social media.
Starting a new business can be a scary thing for entrepreneurs.
The period just after you start a new business is filled with questions. What are you supposed to do next? How do you grow your business? What is the most effective way to build an audience for your page?
In this series, we have been interviewing business owners about their growth journey using Instagram as a medium for their business. They have spoken about their challenges and the strategies that helped them grow. This article collates some of the biggest lessons from our business owners so far.
This is our fourth episode.
For other episodes Start here -> Episode 1
Growth takes time
It took our first business (Allthings_Savvy) two years to grow their audience to 30,000. Amakas_Hairfordays only this year crossed the 10,000 thresholds although she’s been dedicated to growth on Instagram since 2018. It takes time to grow your audience on Instagram. It will not happen overnight.
What resources can help you get started?
All the entrepreneurs we have interviewed so far had different resources that helped them along the way.
Amaka said being part of a small business group provided support for her business. The group consisted of a tight-knit group of friends who studied strategies on Instagram together.
“We used to study the Instagram algorithm together and support each other. For example, we noticed that if a picture got a lot of likes and engagement in the first hour of being posted, Instagram would show it to more people. So every time someone posted, we would all engage with that person’s post.” - Amakas_Hairfordays
Another great resource we’ve learnt so far in this series is Growth Expert.
Accounts like @naijabranchick
Focus on making content for business owners about how they can grow their digital businesses. Both accounts have 200,000 followers and post on a daily basis. This brings us to our next lesson.
This point has been emphasised by every business owner we have interviewed so far. It is important to create and publish content frequently to stay relevant on Instagram. Here are some of the benefits of posting frequently and consistently.
Building trust. People are more likely to engage with an account that posts frequently and consistently. Customers use your post consistency as a shortcut to judge if you are an active business
Play the Instagram Algorithm. The game on Instagram is playing the algorithm. Posting frequently is an essential part of this. According to a report by Louis Myers, the optimal frequency for posting on Instagram is once daily.
“To keep my followers engaged, I post regularly. Usually twice a day. The last time I checked, my engagement rate was about 4% which is pretty good for me.” - Amakas_Hairfordays
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Our vendors had different things to say about creating content
“We post relevant content on our stories and feed. On our feed, you will find a post advertising our product, one educating on how to use or style our products and random posts that members of our community relate to or something funny.
On our stories: We post quizzes, games, hair posts etc” - Allthings_Savvy
“ 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.
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.” - Shoepify
Using Paid Ads
Naturally, all our interviewees have used paid ads on Instagram one time or the other. Here’s what they had to say about it.
Ads help you reach a bigger audience but you have to create content to lock them down as followers.
“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.” - Shoepify
“I’d say my most effective strategy so far has been content. Even if you don’t boost your content with ads or you don’t share it in groups, once your post good content, it will do well. Content is my main strategy. Posting content and staying alive.” - Amakas_Hairfordays
While ads are one marketing strategy for businesses, you can also invest in influencer marketing
“We started spending money on Instagram ads which made more people discover us and even converted more sales. We also started investing in influencer marketing.” - Allthings_Savvy
Ads are always effective at converting purchasing decisions.
“I think paid ads work if you are looking for reach or impressions. I don’t think they are very effective at converting to direct sales. Especially with luxury goods like mine. People don’t see an ad for something that cost almost two hundred thousand naira and just buy it. It happens from time to time but not usually.
For me, ads helped me reach a bigger audience and a small part of that audience would be converted to followers.
A lot of people run ads because they are trying to convert buying decisions but for me, I don’t think it’s effective for that except for really small purchases.”- Amakas_Hairfordays
To Round up this episode, we leave you with advice from our entrepreneurs
“Take deep breaths. A lot of things can and will go wrong. Just remember things can break and you can fix them.” - Amakas_Hairfordays
“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.” - Shoepify
“Be consistent, keep trying to improve whatever you put out. Be patient as well, still learning tho. " - Allthings_Savvy
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