Nurturing Virtual Friendships With Customers

I started out only selling kids t-shirts and I ended up meeting my business partner in Las Vegas while our husbands were in school.

We started hanging out and quickly it made sense to combine our operations into our current brand Finn & Vince.

Using Instagram I had already built up a strong following from my t-shirt business but when we launched Finn & Vince our target market had totally changed.

A lot of my established audience would no longer be our customer so although we had the vanity metric of followers it wasn’t an accurate reflection of our size within the market.

I probably wouldn’t recommend revamping an old account but sometimes that’s the direction life presents you.

Some customers definitely have stayed with us through the rebrand so it’s a bit of gamble.

Brand engagement has been key for our company’s growth.

At the end of the day, if you want to survive in business you need repeat customers. That means relationships are everything.

We launch new lines in the spring and fall so ideally, we want our customers coming back to us at least twice a year for new pieces.

Being responsive to their questions and comments makes a universe of difference.

We don’t just do this as a passive strategy but it’s an integral part of how we operate the brand.

We consider ourselves to be virtual friends with so many of our customers and their support of our brand means so much.

One strategy we’ve used to engage our audience with our brand is throwing giveaways.

Now, giveaways have become super popular lately and a lot of brands are jumping on the hype giving away Apple products or cash.

I would see these giveaways running and I wondered if their new followers really liked that product or were they just it in for a quick payoff?

That’s what usually happened as I noticed massive swings in their followings during and after the contest.

I don’t want my giveaways to feel like that, I want them to support the community we are building around our brand.

Our giveaways were much smaller, but our audience loved them because they were so dialed into the styles we were producing.

We also reached out to influencers who share our style and aesthetic, and run the giveaways through them.

We make it super easy for the customer, they don’t have to repost it, all they have to do to enter is, follow us, like the post and tag friends in the comments.

Each friend they tag counts as an entry. We’ve found that this boosts post engagement significantly and makes it more likely to hit the Explore page.

Another style of the giveaway we do is partnering with brands that have similar target markets and aesthetics as we do.

They send us their product and we take a photograph of our products together in a crafted style.

We’ve had great response with these.

Usually, we’ll either time our posts with the partner to hit at the same time or stagger them so the audience will see it in the morning and evening. Everyone has their own style.

We also tag each other’s accounts to emphasize the collaboration.

For our business, Instagram giveaways has been an awesome way to engage customers, grow followers, and convert paying customers.


Action Steps

  1. Plan a giveaway for your brand, pick something that will delight your followers but won’t attract people who just want something for free.
  2. Post about your giveaway and make it easy to enter.
  3. Make your giveaway shareable in some manner.
  4. Partner with larger influencers (brands & bloggers) to cross-pollinate audiences.


Result You Will Achieve

Growth in followers and brand engagement that will lead to future customers.

Mentor: Makel Gardner

Co-owner at Fin & Vince. Both Sara and Makel Gardner have been marketing on Instagram for a few years. They have learned the do and don’ts about growing your following. Yes this means they’ve made mistakes, but there’s no better and faster way to learn!

This article is based on an EHQ interview with the mentor.