Jade Emery, founder of Label Eleven – a clothing and accessories label – spoke to us about how she uses Instagram to connect with customers and create important relationships.  (Check out the @Label_Eleven on Instagram)

As a fashion graduate, I knew I wanted to be in the industry but was unsure of which route to take. I’ve always had a passion for designing and in my spare time often found myself drawing in my sketchpad.

As a keen traveller, I was drawn to swimwear. It’s a key statement piece in my suitcase and I generally struggled to find outfits that I loved. I decided to bring my drawings to life and found an independent pattern cutter and seamstress who I teamed up with to make my first set of samples. All were made in my size as I was unsure what I was going to do with them or where the whole thing was going.

Once my designs turned into reality, I began to realise I liked the idea of having my own swimwear line. On holidays, I noticed they started to get a lot of attention. Girls were constantly asking where I got them from, so I decided to design my first collection and turn it into a business.

The first collection has launched online this month – with swimwear, accessories and beach cover-ups. Inspired by bold and iconic ‘80s silhouettes, my collection incorporates unapologetically high-cut swimwear. Label Eleven is all about making a statement.

Growing brand awareness

As an online business, I looked into different ways of growing brand awareness but was always drawn back to social media. It’s such a massive part of our everyday lives and I’ve found a significant link between social media and online shopping. Although there is a range of social media platforms, I chose to primarily focus on Instagram for a number of reasons…

First of all, it’s free! The amount of users is also growing all the time – you can reach anyone in any part of the world at any time! As a visual platform with an engaged audience, it’s a great tool to help brands speak directly to their audience and do a bit of storytelling.

Gaining followers isn’t particularly easy at first, as it requires good content. To start with, I began to post fashion ‘inspo’ – i.e. celebrities and other images I felt represented what the brand was about. Posting pictures of relevant news also helped to create a buzz on my page. These varied from the latest Kardashian post to some pictures from big events, such as the Met Gala.

Hashtags are a massive part of Instagram and using relevant ones help to drive traffic back to your page. There are thousands of pictures under the same hashtag, so making one that is personalised and unique to your brand gives your page a more exclusive feel. I currently use #LABELELEVENLOVE or #LABELELEVEN.

It’s also helpful to tag locations in your posts. In my case, that could mean tagging popular holiday destinations where my potential customers would choose to go, such as Ibiza, Dubai or Marbella. This also drives traffic back to your page, as people are constantly searching for and tagging those places.

Customer connection

Most importantly, Instagram is a great way to connect with your customers. I’m always getting direct messages asking for advice on things like sizing and shipping, and I love that I can reply to customers personally and directly.

Showing appreciation to your followers is key, whether it’s by replying to their comments or reposting their pictures. This makes them feel like a valued part of your brand and builds genuine trust. To reward existing followers and gain new ones, I recently hosted a competition on my page for a swimsuit giveaway. The rules for entering were:

  • Follow the page
  • Tag two friends

This instantly got attention and was one of the most popular posts on my profile, helping me to gain lots of new followers!

Running regular polls on your story also increases customer interaction and you can instantly track the results. For example, what style or colour of a particular product do they prefer?

Forging relationships

I have made great relationships with creatives in the industry through Instagram. In fact, my first professional photo shoot was arranged through Instagram.

Professionals now use Instagram as a way to showcase their portfolios. I found browsing through some of these to be invaluable when it came to deciding on the kind of style that I was looking for.

As I was searching for someone local, I stumbled across the photographer Stephan Small when browsing through #manchesterphotographers. After seeing his profile and instantly falling in love with his work, I messaged him and we immediately hit it off. We started to throw some shoot ideas around and took it from there. The models for the shoot were also found through Instagram. He has a large following so working with him definitely gained the brand some interest.

If it wasn’t for Instagram, I highly doubt this collaboration would have happened! A live, behind-the-scenes video was also posted on Instagram during our photo shoot, which provided my followers with a bit of exclusive insight.

A few pictures from our photo shoot can be seen on the website:

https://labeleleven.com/pages/lookbook

Business tools

Instagram allows you to turn your profile into a business account for free, meaning you can track your audience’s location, age and gender. This is a great way of seeing if your posts are actually reaching your target market. You can also see the number of profile visits and website clicks you have had direct from your account. Most of the referrals on my website come from Instagram! As seen below:

Influencers

A massive part of the Instagram community are influencers. They have the power to affect purchase decisions because of their authority, knowledge, position or relationship with their audience. Choosing the right ones is key, as you want them to represent you and have a genuine interest in your brand and target market.

Instagram has allowed me to connect with bloggers, influencers and even celebrities from all over the world. I’ve noticed a significant increase in likes, follows and interaction on my posts after bloggers have posted a picture and tagged the page, which has also led to increased sales. 

The more followers and influencers you have, the more people will see your posts and be drawn to your profile. This is definitely a good way to get the word out and target different followers.

Overall, Instagram is a great tool that businesses should utilise to help strengthen their brand and relationship with their customers. Content can be shared directly from Instagram to your other social media profiles, giving you a consistent feed from the convenience of your phone. Perfect for both businesses and customers. 

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