Published on October 7, 2021, at 6:25 p.m.
by Evvy Lusco.
Since the launch of Instagram in 2010, users have shared photos, videos and stories to their accounts on the platform. Similarly, large corporations have utilized Instagram as a public relations tactic to promote products and engage with customers. However, in recent years, smaller businesses have also found the social media site to be a beneficial tool.
Instagram has become much more than a photo-sharing site. In fact, by scheduling posts and utilizing the new Instagram shopping feature, businesses can better engage with consumers and create brand loyalty.
Market House Boutique and Triple Threads Boutique, two small businesses, serve as examples of how businesses can utilize Instagram as a tool to curate a unique brand image.
Market House Boutique
Payton Walters, store manager and social media manager for Market House Boutique in Hoover, Alabama, said that each of the three store locations has realized its unique brand identity as the company grows. “It’s very wholesome, unique and very antique,” she stated. “The whole brand of Market House used to be solely unique furniture.” Walters uses Instagram to demonstrate this brand image for the Hoover location. She added that the owner, Tammy Holt, is “very big on quality and being loyal” to customers and brands with which the boutique works.
Each of the three Market House Boutique locations has its own Instagram account, and Walters said that when she stepped in, she rebranded the Hoover location. “Our target audience is from the ages of high school up to grandmothers who are coming in and shopping as well,” she said. She expressed that she wanted the Instagram account to have an antique color scheme and remain wholesome. “What you see is what you’re going to get in the store. You can feel that environment when you see the Instagram,” she explained.
Walters manages the Instagram for the Hoover location by figuring out what people want to see and showcasing it. She noted that the engagement and following for the Market House Boutique Hoover account has “definitely increased” and that orders come in daily thanks to the Instagram shopping element. The shopping option on Instagram has positioned the social platform as a tool for businesses, making engagement and brand-consumer relationships vital for companies that utilize the feature.
Walters stressed the importance of consistent posting on Instagram. She said the women who work at the store showcase the items it has. “I think that’s important because who works here is who you see on Instagram,” Walters noted.
In order to have optimal engagement, scheduling Instagram posts is also suggested as a tip for brand building. When asked if Market House Boutique had a schedule for posting, Walters said she used to post every hour on the hour, but it was more content being pushed out and little engagement. She now posts at noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to increase the timing between posts and get more interactions. She also said she has “content days” on Thursdays where she prepares content to be ready for the upcoming week. “I set them up and they are ready to go throughout the week,” she explained.
Triple Threads Boutique
For the online-only small business Triple Threads Boutique, Instagram is one of its main ways to engage with customers and create its brand image. The mother and daughter trio of owners and social media managers — Emma Ray, Betsy Ray and Melissa Ray — operate the Triple Threads Boutique Instagram account. Their goal is to position the brand as “funky and fun.”
Melissa Ray said that Instagram is “critical when it comes to running a business, especially an online business. This is our way to connect with customers and build relationships with them.” Betsy Ray also stated that Triple Threads Boutique sets itself apart by keeping its feed “fun and edgy” by alternating content of “flat lays and model shots” to keep an aesthetically pleasing Instagram account.
Another way Triple Threads Boutique maintains customer relationships and loyalty is by holding giveaway opportunities. “We have given away everything from a Louis Vuitton bag to a pair of Golden Goose,” Emma Ray shared. She added, “We love to be able to give back to our followers and be able to show them how thankful we are to have their support.”
Melissa Ray said that the goal of Triple Threads Boutique’s Instagram account in a PR context is to have consumers and other users “instantly be able to recognize it’s our brand.”
Instagram gives a smaller business the unique opportunity to showcase its brand identity by sharing photos, videos or stories that match its website’s aesthetic. A brand can differentiate its feed from competitors by creating content that aligns with its brand image. Creating brand-customer relationships through Instagram is an objective that both Market House Boutique and Triple Threads Boutique share.