• The Disruptive Designer

Instagram - In Conversation with Sarah Tasker - Social Media Influencer

13.06.2019 - Queensgate Marketplace - Huddersfield - WOVEN in KIRKLESS

I had the honour of attending an intimate conversation with Sarah Tasker event as part of the Woven in Kirkless event. Sarah is a young (25-35) social media influencer with over 200k followers on Instagram, over 1 million podcast downloads, a best selling book and runs private online classes on expert use of Instagram.

Sarah spoke in detail about how she got into blogging, balancing working for the NHS, being on maternity leave, having a chronic illness that affects her physically and coping with post natal depression. Instagram became her form of therapy and social interaction with others in a similar situation to hers. Sarah knew about Instagram but didn't engage with it at this point or realise its potential for more. Sarah decided to post one image a day for 100 days, focusing on something that makes her happy. 6 months later Sarahs following increased to 35,000 and she realised that there maybe something more valuable if developed. Sarah juggled work, family and social media (Instagram and blogging) and sent vast amounts of emails out to influencers and other social media users with the aim of collaborating and increasing her following. Eventually Sarah started being approached by companies asking her to promote their products, sometimes in exchange for a product or sometimes at a cost. The first two years were the hardest according to Sarah, but eventually opportunities came in and she was earning the same wage as she was from the NHS. Sarah took the decision to focus full time as a social media influencer and invest her extra time in running classes, podcasts, giving talks and writing a book. Last year Sarahs turnover was just over £250K!!!

Through conversation and audience Q&A Sarah parted with valuable tips and advice for those keen to build their Instagram presence. The following are typed up notes I made from the event.

Q: Which social media platforms do you use?

A: I have a blog which has a mailing list option (this is vital to grow) and I use Twitter and Instagram only. I do create Podcasts. I don't use Pinterest or Facebook.

Q: When you take a picture do you post it straight away?

A: No... I have a schedule to when I post, usually either early morning or in the evening. I always take pictures where ever I go using my Iphone. I use an APP called VSCO to edit the picture using 1 of 6 selected filters to create my style. I also use Mosaico to plan the following months posts and captions. This I do when I have free time to save time and allows me to take up any opportunities that come up, this this talk. I try to be online for the next 30 minutes after I post to engage with my followers, through the comments feature. During this time I also check out others posts and like and comment on them. The trick to Instagram is to create your own community and engage with them.

Q:What are the best 4 tips you would give someone starting out with Instagram?

A: 1 - USP - What is your unique selling point - what makes you different to everyone else? This could be anything really, but try not pigeon hole yourself early on as diversifying later could be problematic. I try to have 5 or 6 different categories of photo topics and rotate daily to engage a wider audience - these could include: Product shot, process shot, staged, adhoc, instructional, detailed... me original and authentic and yourself, don't try to copy someone else.

2 - VALUE: what value are you giving others? it could be teaching new skills, making them laugh, feel good, inspired, loved etc...

3 - Consistency - in posts times, regularity, style etc....

4 - Interact - You are not Beyonze!! You cannot post and run, you need to interact with followers and build those relationships. You will end up spending most of your time liking and commenting on others posts while relying to those who comment on yours. Give and take.

Q: How important are hashtags and do you just create them from thin air?

A: They used to be very important but with Instagram having over 70 million uses these days it has become more diluted. I still recommend people use hashtags as I believe it does increase the chances of people finding you. In terms of creating them, I don't as its too hit and miss. The easiest method is to look at other accounts similar to yours and look at the bottom of a post and hashtags used. Copy and Paste into a word document or Mosaic and save under categories eg. product, manufacturing etc... change and update then weekly to make sure you hitting the latest trending feeds.

Q:How Important are captions?

A: Really important as they project your style and persona. The longer you can keep someone looking at your post the better your analytics and ranking. Make it genuine and in your style, be authentic.

Q: Do you read comments?

A: Yes, the good and bad, but I don't get upset these days by negative comments, you are always going to get them. Listen to your audience but don't let them lead you. Be yourself, you are the driver. If your followers lead, you could head down a road you are not happy with.

Q: How do you know what to post?

A: I mix the shot types to create variety and my captions always try to encourage feedback, comments, basically conversation starters. Posting something like "Have a good Friday" is not a good comment as it is very difficult for followers to reply to it. Using Mosico and scrolling through my feed, I can balance the daily posts. I mix product shots, adhoc, time lapses, video, b&W etc... At the beginning you could draft a plan and follow it. Eventually it becomes part of your subconscious. If you are posting images of products you want to sell, I would recommend you post process shots as well as finished shots, this not only sets the content, but shows the hard work and skill invested. Instagram is used for people to discover you, it isnt the final stage in the buyers process, probably 3 from the end. Your aim with Instagram is to get people to click the link to your blog/website and shop. Encourage them to sign up to a mailing list, and send out offers etc...At this point they have probably seen several of your posts and just need that extra reassurance before they part with their cash.

Where from here?

The event got me thinking about my Instagram account and the fact I started one years ago but abandoned it due to inactivity. I am now thinking given my MA and business/lecturing career that it would be beneficial from a networking, marketing and collaborative perspective. I have decided to start a new account for Kingflytailoring and see if how far I can develop it over the remainder of my MA and beyond.

I have installed VSCO and Mosaico and will try to use these to best affect.

I am planning to post using the following structure, assessing the impact at the end of the week:

Monday: Heritage making and skill

Tuesday: My work detail

Wednesday: Process of design & manufacture

Thursday: Product shot

Friday: Graphic design Shot

Sat: Studio Shot

Sun: Inspiration

Evaluation, will initially be based on likes, followers and comments quantities. Post types with little or no response will be relocated until a response is generated.

Aim: By the end of my masters I would like to grow my following to over 1000 people.