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Dotty Bridal Series: Instagram growth and engagement

Next up in our monthly series with Dotty Bridal, co-owner Shannon Martin talks social media after growing Dotty’s Instagram following and engagement during lockdown. Shannon gives us her top tips on Instagram growth. 

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Social media in the current age is so important and even more so at this present time. I remember a few years back when it was all about Facebook and all your posts were seen. I have a lot to thank Facebook for, as at the beginning it really helped me to build my business. Now though, it is all about Instagram. Instagram is amazing, not only is it all about the images, it’s also the most amazing tool to promote your business to exactly the right people - the brides!!

Our Instagram following has grown steadily over the last few years but during lockdown we saw a huge rise in followers and engagement. We started lockdown with around 5k followers, hit 7k in less than a month, which then rose to 8k the next month and 9k by the time we had opened back up for business.

Three key reasons I believe my following and engagement grew during the last 4 months:

1. Content. It is so important to give your followers what they want. Put yourself in the shoes of a bride and ask yourself what would you like to see? Also change it up, don’t put out the same content all the time, brides become disengaged and this isn’t good for anyone as trying to regain their engagement is hard enough! Big tip – People buy from people, so keep it fairly personal, show your personality.

2. Consistency. This is key, there’s no point putting out loads of content for a week and then going silent the next week. Brides want to see a consistent flow of content. If you don’t have time to post 3 times a day every day, that’s fine. Just post once but make sure you do this daily as if you don’t, you will drop off that bride’s radar never to be seen again!
3. Planning. This is super important, plan your content weekly. Decide what you want to put out that week and stick to it. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.


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Diversifying your feedDiversifying your feed

If you are looking to grow your audience, I would advise applying the below principles to your social media marketing strategy.

Frequency

To grow your following you need to be on Instagram a lot. Growing your following will not come overnight, it’s not easy. Honestly these social media influencers work tirelessly day in day out letting their followers into their lives and their day to day goings on, but if their content is good they reap the rewards. I personally feel you need to be posting on your grid 2/3 times per day, morning, lunchtime, and evening. Then stories should be consistent through the day. I’ve found the easiest way to do this is just to think, I’m going to document my day. This way it’s simple, just show your followers what goes on in the day to day life of a bridal shop owner or consultant/stylist.

Brand consistency

Your message must remain clear and concise. At the forefront of all of this should be your brand message. To grow your following, you need to know who you are, who your target customer is and what your offering is. If you’re not sure of this, go back to basics and work on this prior to attempting to grow your following. If you’re struggling, please do get in touch. I can help you with this, sometimes an outsider’s opinion can be valuable to your business.

The narrative you use in your posts and stories needs to be on brand and true to who you are as a person. There’s no point putting on a front just for your posts or not being yourself as brides will see through this. I am one for transparency in everything I do, what you see is what you get. Yes I may use a filter every now and again (let’s face it people don’t want to see the bags under my eyes).

Interaction

It’s so important to interact with your followers, if people comment make sure you reply to them. Share other suppliers’ posts and tag them as well as sharing your brides’ posts too. The Instagram algorithm loves interaction, so the more you interact, then more you are seen.

Aesthetics

We now live in an Instagramable world, where everything has to be gram worthy. Make sure your store is enticing and visually appealing. Try to be original and think outside the box. Find a way to make your boutique unique to you so that when people are scrolling Instagram, they will see your posts and know they are you right away. Translate this onto your grid, make sure it is pleasing to the eye so that brides are intrigued and want to see more.

We don’t schedule any of our posts, I know lots of businesses do but it’s just not for me. I just feel that Instagram is an impulsive platform to show off your business in the now, so I try and keep it as real time as possible. However, this may work for some people. If you are scheduling any content, make sure it fits in with your brand tone of voice and feels organic.

Competitions

We ran a comp during lockdown for all NHS key workers to enter to ’win a wedding dress!’ This was insane and worked so well plus it was amazing to be able to award the loveliest bride with her wedding dress free of charge. Competitions help generate brand awareness. Running competitions where your audience have to share and tag friends, means that your business is being seen by new eyes. If they like what they see, you will end up with more followers and increased engagement.

Thanks Shannon. Finally, a couple of questions from us.

Are interactive stories useful?

Yes yes yes they are amazing! We did a series of stories on the day that Madi Lane launched their new collection and asked our followers to tell us which dresses were their favourites? Then guess what we did?! Ordered their favourites. Winner! Easiest buying exercise I’ve ever done.

How important is video content?

Good video content is the most important part of social media. Videos of any kind are amazing. We did a quick 60 second TikTok video showing our Covid measures and demonstrated what the brides could expect coming into store after lockdown. The video went viral and the interaction and new followers we gained was insane!

Are you used to being in front of the camera now?

Yeah definitely. I would say I’m more confident in front of the camera than I am face to face now. If you’re uncomfortable filming yourself, my top tip is don’t watch yourself back! If you do you will never share the video! I certainly wouldn’t anyway, as I would pick holes in how I look and what I’ve said as well as hating my broad Yorkshire accent! Your brides will be interested in what you’ve got to say. You’re the expert after all.

Shannon is now offering coaching to bridal boutiques on branding, marketing, visual merchandising and social media. Make sure you follow Shannon’s new Instagram account @brandingbydotty for more top tips on or get in touch at shannon@dottybridal.co.uk to see how Shannon can help your business.

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