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How to Roll with the Instagram Changes when You Depend on It For Your Small Business

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Jayde Leeder is the creative force behind Little Paper Lane, a stationery boutique on the Northern Beaches in Sydney that also has a thriving online arm. She also oversees a full graphic design studio specializing in wedding stationery and hand drawn signs, alongside teaching and managing social media.

Recently becoming an online influencer herself, Jayde has seen how much social media (and Instagram in particular) has become a foundational aspect of business online – or really any business these days who rely on customers to survive.

Jayde is also one of the business owners who recently saw a shift in the ability to reach her audience thanks to myriad changes to the Instagram platform: timeline shuffles, bio pages, Stories, and links to Facebook accounts included. But she’s also one of the business owners who has met the challenge head on, and worked creatively and thoughtfully to work with the changes and not get left behind.

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How important is Instagram and social media in general to your business?

Its crucial. Our success has been directly from social media and our growth is reliant on it.

How has the changes to Instagram and its timeline structure impacted you and your business?

Massive. Its been almost instant as well. We have had a decrease in online sales, and drive to the blog and website has dropped substantially. My online profile is growing a lot slower. Followings would usually range between 300-1000 new followers every 2-4 weeks. Now it takes almost a month to get even 100 organic followers on my main account. Growth on my shop account has been steady, but no where near as quick or strong as it was before.

What steps have you taken to ensure the impact isn’t too negative?

Just trying to be really open and honest with our followers and online community about the impact that social media has on small (and large) business. Ive been trying to promote small and local business support more heavily since the changes as well, because I know I’m not the only business suffering from it. So we are really making sure we are very active on all platforms but mainly on Instagram. You have to remind people you are a business and need them so you can actually stay in business.

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What lessons have you learned from the changes to Instagram when it comes to business in general?

Be honest, be creative, and try to do new things and shake things up a bit. Give the people what they want, but make sure you stay true to who you are.

What things work on Instagram for your audience – what do they really respond to?

They love behind the scenes and the ‘real life’ stuff. Everyone loves the pretty shop photos and window displays and what we sell and do, but they love the stories the most. Even if there is a pretty photo, they want to hear the story behind the pretty. And the stories about the reality of life when you have kids and dogs and a business. Instagram followers love to see a gorgeous photo, and you can hold onto them with a gorgeous photo. But you will build a community with a story. They trust us, and want to work with us because Ive been so transparent with our life online.

You often have a blend of shop stuff and personal family stuff – how do you combine the two? How do your followers react?

I think because my mind is always all over the place (like most parents) and I have a bit of a creative brain, plus I’m quite high functioning anxiety disorder girl, I cant just stick to one theme and run with it. Our business is SO much more than just the shop and our services.

The reason I’ve worked with so many amazing people and a given so many awesome opportunities, is because from day one I was very strict with showing the world the realities of what its like to run a shop when you have a family and to be honest. It has happened organically though, and I’ve watched and listened to what my followers and community love. Once you get an idea of what your followers love, you translate that into your posts. And its been the only ‘theme’ Ive used for my online life…to listen to what they want.

I’ve never wanted social media to be ‘hard’, and so the best way for me to achieve that was to share it all. And because Im Jayde, and I don’t like the world to look dull and ugly, I just managed to gel it all together with a lot of pretty and a lot of real. I try to share 1-2 things on Instagram a day about business, one personal, whether its family, dogs losing their shit, or what I’m doing that day, and I try to make sure I’m open about everything I do. Most people stick around.

Out of the 39.5K followers on my Instagram, 1500 have unfollowed. Some of them will be spambots of course and some people just do not give a crap about what my daughter’s outfit is. Some people really do just want the shop stuff. So this year as the Instagram changes were happening, I started the Littlepaperlaneshop account. And its strictly shop, business and all things that inspire us.

There is a lot of risk in the way I am online with my business. Luckily for me, most people relate and they appreciate humour and honesty and stick by us. I just felt like businesses were always (they still are) very ‘businessy’ and felt very cold, and very firm on ‘being a business’ and I don’t run my business that way. So I’m not running my online platforms that way either. And luckily for us it works.

But I have the shop account, because not all people are ‘giant dog’ people. Most follow for Little Paper Lane, but every day people tell us they stay for the stories and the ‘life’.

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Do you do different things for your Instagram audience and your Facebook audience?

A little bit. Facebook requires a lot of effort and attention. I find I have to share my ‘interests’ and topics of conversation a lot more on facebook just so anyone can ever see a post. I try to share a ‘late night creatives’ post often. You need the traffic coming to facebook with fun posts and posts they can chat on and engage in conversation on.

Instagram is very visual based. Facebook is almost a search engine in itself, so I have to be a bit more ‘chatting’ on Facebook, which I’m happy to be, but I do find it a lot more work than Instagram.

Have you used Instagram or Facebook ads? How do you find they work?

I’ve used both. Not so much with Instagram, I have done a test ad with Instagram and it was great to get followers, but I wanted people to shop, so it was interesting to see no one really clicking to buy things on the website.

I’m going to try it again on my other account as an experiment to see, but I’m not overly impressed. Facebook ads have sometimes been awesome with new people seeing your page, but I don’t find them all that amazing. Unless you pay a big amount, you don’t see huge changes.

I also really like organic growth. Its so hard now on Facebook and Instagram, after all the changes, getting that organic growth, but I like people to find their way to us and want to stay on their own. I try to be engaging on my platforms and support others and usually you find other people will see your name pop up and follow you along that way, and word of mouth is always a big way for us to find new followers. People will tag friends in fun posts or inspiring posts and they find their way that way. We try and collaborate, and support our community as much as we can and we find they do too.

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How do you deal with trolls?

Head on. Most people tell me to ignore them, they always tell everyone to ignore them, but sometimes they aren’t actually trolls. Sometimes a person is a real life asshole who may be super ignorant. Occasionally when someone has written a ridiculous comment, I address it and they will apologise or they will understand my point of view more and share theirs too. It’s important that the online world knows that when they make a comment, they are usually making it about an actual human who is reading it. So I like to remind the haters of that.

So for me, with how anxious my brain is, if I don’t address negativity or trolls, then I will stew in my brain too long with the ‘what ifs’ and if you have anxiety, the ‘what ifs’ are a killer. There really isn’t huge amounts of horrid people all the time though, most people are lovely, but if I do cop the brunt of someones douchey comment at me, I wont let it slide, and I will share it with the world.

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What would be your top three tips for people who want to use social media to promote their business?

Engagement in your community. Be a part of your online community. The amount of people I see with 297,876 followers and they NEVER comment or engage with their followers is terrible.

These people that follow you are supporting you, and buying things from you or using your services or just being there to read your long anxiety-filled rants and just being there for you. I can’t reply to 200 comments five times a day – I’ll try, but its not always possible – but I can answer the questions and say thank you to a few and interact with them. It’s not a community if you are on top of the mountain looking down on everyone at the base of it.

Unless you wanna be the Donald Trump of Instagram, you need to get amongst the crowd. hang with your people. How will you ever know what they want if you don’t know them?!

Evolve and learn. People love to follow you for a reason and you don’t want to sway too far from what they are there for, but you don’t want to bore them either. So keep creating and keep moving forward, while staying true to you and what you believe.

I try to learn more about social media always. Its always changing and so we need to make sure we are learning about what we are using. I think thats so relevant to any business.

Trend alert. I know it sounds like you have to be ‘cool’, but you don’t have to be. Your social media has to be.

If you want to succeed on any social media, you have to make sure it looks the part. The most influential instagrammers and businesses doing amazingly well on social media, and Instagram especiallym all have the same thing in common: they have stunning feeds. Their content looks amazing.

Whenever I teach social media, I always tell them they need to keep up with trends. Yes we all want to be hipsters that are way ahead of trends, but even being a hipster is a sort of trend. You need to know what is going on in the world and what works on social media.

Instagram especially is always image first, content and conversation second. Draw your audience in with your photo, and keep them there with your conversation and information.

So many times I will have a client in for a lesson and they have a great business but they cant get anywhere on social media. You look at their feed and its dark and blurry and doesn’t tell any sort of story. Make an effort to make it look amazing. It doesn’t require you being a stylist. But learn how to use good editing programs – Snapseed on your phone should be your bestie.

And don’t give up. Sometimes in the beginning you feel like you are talking to yourself. But then one day someone will answer back. Sorry that was kinda like 405 tips ;)

405 tips is better than three! We’ll take ’em! Jayde and I would love to hear your questions if you have any, so ask away! Have you noticed a huge difference to your blog or business with the changes to Instagram?

About Stacey Roberts
Stacey Roberts is the Managing Editor of ProBlogger.net: a writer, blogger, and full-time word nerd balancing it all with being a stay-at-home mum. She writes about all this and more at Veggie Mama. Chat with her on Twitter @veggie_mama, follow on Pinterest for fun and useful tips, peek behind the curtain on Instagramand Snapchat, listen to her 90s pop culture podcast, or be entertained on Facebook.
  1. Hello Stacey, Nice and Informative post on Instagram

  2. This just goes to show how business owners and marketers can’t rely on channels. We need to stay on top of new updates and ahead of new trends without getting overwhelmed. Jayde is a really good example of how, above all, we should stick to the basic principles of giving value to our customers and engaging with them. Loved reading her tips.

  3. Hi Stacey

    I am still suffering with insta feed. Could you please tell me how to approach people to get paid campaigns through Instagram??


  4. Joie Mojica says: 01/30/2018 at 11:19 pm

    I personally use hashtags when marketing products or services on Instagram. One of my favorite tools would be Hashatory. This hashtag suggesting tool helps me target a specific market by providing a group of related hashtags for my keyword on a search volume or tier that I preset. I find it very easy to use for both big and small campaigns.

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