For independent retailers, the vital first step for building a thriving business is creating a community of engaged customers. Over the years, Instagram has become a valuable network for brands looking to connect with shoppers and drive ongoing loyalty. In fact, the social network’s overall share of engagement has increased from only 16% in Q1 2013 to 28% in Q1 2014, according to L2 research.
That is why Moorea Seal, founder of an e-Commerce site and store that offers a curated selection of accessories and objects, has focused on not only building her company’s following on Instagram, but also amplifying social’s overall influence on digital sales. Using Curalate’s Like2Buy, Seal has bridged the gap between her social account and namesake e-Commerce site by making her Instagram gallery shoppable.
After graduating from college as an illustration major in 2009, Seal entered an economy with no jobs. She started her blog and Etsy store as a way to create and sell her artwork and jewelry.
“I used social media from the get-go as a way to survive and find my own career path,” Seal said in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “My blog gained a lot of traction and then my Twitter and Etsy storefront exploded.”
Eventually, Seal expanded into graphic design services, and used Pinterest as a way to curate inspiration and ideas for clients — gaining nearly one million followers. Due to her success on social, she and a business partner decided to craft an e-Commerce site that represented a curated marketplace of products from artists across the U.S.
To generate awareness and drive traffic, “I tried to focus on the community I already built online,” Seal explained. “I was both a designer and a blogger, and I also was a consumer and a retailer. I focused on Pinterest as the main place to target traffic and within the first month, we were turning a product. We opened a storefront last year and this past winter we doubled in storefront space and moved to a new office.”
Within that time, Seal, like a lot of executives, realized the value of Instagram in that it helps “create a visual landscape of who we are as a lifestyle brand,” she said. “We started to focus more on Instagram to utilize that brand image and develop a following.”
Create A Lifestyle Behind The Brand
Seal previously used Curalate to schedule pins for her Pinterest account, so when the company announced Like2Buy as a way for consumers to shop the e-Commerce site, she took action.
“Like2Buy addresses a great solution to an issue we had with Instagram,” Seal said. “Instagram doesn’t encourage users to escape the site; they want to keep them there. Like2Buy gives consumers the opportunity to be engaged with photos in the moment, but then get to that product to make a purchase.”
Seal and her team also have access to a wealth of data through Like2Buy. The system provides extensive insight into which content is impactful, and which images drive clicks and sales. Over a 90-day period, Like2Buy became the fifth highest traffic referral source to the brand’s e-Commerce site. The solution also was the third highest revenue driver from a referral source.
“It’s been interesting to watch it all grow and see how our content has evolved,” Seal said. “The more lifestyle-focused an image is, the more successful it is, and the more comments and purchases we garner. You can have an e-Commerce site and post a lot of Instagram images of products, but that doesn’t encourage people to engage or make an emotional connection with you.”