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How to Expand Your Business Using Instagram

(April/May 2018) posted on Mon May 14, 2018

Is your shop missing out on a free opportunity to showcase work, keep clients coming back for more, and reach new customers?

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By Dylan Gilligan

Sometimes posting about the work that we do daily may seem boring, but not all of your followers know the ins and outs of the print world like we do. It’s new and interesting to them. That’s why they follow you, so keep at it.

Customers love it when you showcase their order. Tag them and show it off. They will end up reposting your photo and you will gain followers from that.

Use the analytic features in Instagram. Check the statistics and figure out what type of posts get you the most engagement. That doesn’t mean all of your posts need to be exactly like the ones that connected, but it’s nice to know so you can work in that direction. Take this information and use it to your advantage by getting more engagement on your posts. Such posts can potentially be seen by more people via things like shares and the explore page.

Don’t be afraid to show not only your best work, but also your mistakes and how you learned from them. This builds trust with the customer and shows them that you will be honest with their project. (Don’t overdo it, but showing a mistake every now and then is good.) 

Incorporate staged photos of your work into your feed.

Also resist the temptation to over-promote. The accounts that have a growing following are the ones that are invested in their followers as much as the product they are trying to push. Don’t be afraid to show some of your personal life. It’s nice to see that you are an actual person and not just a corporate robot.

Make posts that have cliffhangers or contests related to your work. Nobody likes to follow a page that just posts items for sale, or a photo of today’s standard print. Try not to fall into the rut of posting photos of one print after another, all taken from the same angle; it’s not interesting. Followers are looking for inspiration and stuff that gets them motivated to work with you. (And I don’t mean a page of nothing but inspirational quotes, which is annoying.)

How I Personally Benefit
I love the community dynamic of Instagram. I follow 80 percent print shops and 20 percent current customers or companies I would love to work with. I am constantly commenting on others’ work, or talking to other shops through direct messages about print techniques and the like. When I have a problem, I know I can depend on the print community to step up and help me out.

Have fun hyping up your recent clients and showcasing your prints.

I always dig deeper into screen printing posts to learn other ways of doing things. You never know what will lead to those eureka moments. I like to take screenshots of things that inspire me. I add them to a “to-do” folder on my computer and work on them when I get free time.

The argument I always hear is, “Why would I want to share my print process with others? Why show my secrets to my competitors?” First of all, you are not giving away all of your secrets. Anybody can go on YouTube and learn everything they need to know about the print industry if they spend enough time. Sharing tips and tricks with others on social media makes me a better print shop owner, hands down. Seeing others’ work and how they do things fills me with the desire to be better, constantly motivating me to improve.

Instagram, for me, is a way to showcase my craft and what I am passionate about. It’s not always about gaining the most followers; it’s about Upstate Merch being the rad company that it is. Hopefully people recognize that and follow us for that reason. 

Get more Instagram tips from Dylan Gilligan, read more from Screen Printing's April/May 2018 issue or follow Screen Printing on Instagram.


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