What's Your Instagram Strategy? | Katie Hunt - Founder of Tradeshow Bootcamp


1. Who are you, what do you do, and how did it all begin?

Hi all!  I’m Katie Hunt.  I’m an entrepreneur that owns two small businesses, mom to three little ones, wife to a ridiculously patient man and a chai tea latte & Instagram addict.

 I started Kelp Designs, a stationery studio, in 2008 and launched our wholesale program in 2009 at the National Stationery Show.   After exhibiting at NSS I started receiving questions from a lot of people who were considering whether wholesale and trade shows were the best next step for their business.  I found myself spending a lot of time thoughtfully answering the same types of questions over and over via email, so in the spring of 2011 I launched Tradeshow Bootcamp to help small companies (like me!) create a wholesale program and exhibit at tradeshows.   

My background is in business — I have an MBA in marketing & finance and spent 14 years coaching in the corporate world while I was growing Kelp & Tradeshow Bootcamp.  In retrospect, Tradeshow Bootcamp is the perfect mix of my knowledge and experience — but working with an industry I love.

Tradeshow Bootcamp is where I spend most of my time these days, offering online and in-person business classes on selling wholesale, exhibiting at trade shows and a wide variety of general business courses (HR, Legal, Marketing, etc).  In less than 4 years, we’ve done over 100 webinars, hosted 5 Paper Camp conferences and coached more than 375 companies in the stationery and gift industry through TSBC.  I’m incredibly proud of the TSBC community we’ve built and all the amazing things our alums are doing.  

 2. Where can we find you on social media?

@tradeshowcamp everywhere (Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.)

3. What is your favorite hashtag?

#TSBCalum because I like to see what all of our alumni are working on, their accomplishments and their process.

4. Why do you use social media?

I love social media.  So much of my work is done virtually and social media allows me to connect with others in my industry, customers, and potential collaborators.  Social media lets me share what I’m working on and allows me a fun glimpse into what my friends and colleagues are doing.

Fun fact:  The core of TSBC speakers are people that I met through Twitter in 2008 and they’ve become some of my closest friends.

 5. Which tools do you use for creating or posting content?

  • Repost App to regram images from our TSBC community
  • Iconosquare for checking stats and seeing the most active days / times that my users are on instagram  (http://iconosquare.com/
  • I’m starting a MeetEdgar trial soon and am curious to dive into it more.

6. What effect does social media have on your business?

So many positive effects!  I’ve reached a wide range of customers and collaborators through social media because it has allowed me to build meaningful relationships with others in my industry. And, really business is all about relationships!

Social media has been a huge driver of new business for TSBC.  The top referrals for TSBC sales are 1. our alumni  2.  my social media 3.  our alumni’s social media feeds ;)

7. How do you measure success on social media?

 Good question.  Everyone’s definition of social media success is different but for me it is about overall engagement.  I want to help small businesses, so my goal is to publish content that will help motivate or provide actionable information to move their business forward.   While I don’t set specific goals about number of followers, likes or comments, I do want to see an increase in these numbers over time.   

Like everyone, my time is limited, so I want to be as strategic as possible about what I’m posting and when I’m posting.   I use Iconosquare to help determine what type of content is resonating with my followers and the best time to reach them.  This website is like a rabbit hole of Instagram stats, it is incredible.  Check it out.

8. What aspect of social media do you find most challenging?

Balancing time on social media is tough for me. It is too easy to spend time socializing online.  However, it is such an important part of my business strategy and I need to be online creating conversation and answering questions.  I do my best to use my time wisely, but it is still hard.

A number of people I coach struggle with social media comparisons.  Specifically, they get caught up in looking at what other people are doing - products and photos of competitors vs where they are in their business.  This is dangerous but a very common problem. One of my favorite quotes that applies to this is by Jon Acuff “Don’t compare someone else’s middle to your beginning”.  We’re each on our own business path and in different places in our journey, so I always encourage my clients to turn off social media when they are developing products or getting ready to launch something big.   Continue to post, but don’t look at what others are doing.

 9. What makes you follow another brand back?

I mostly follow our TSBC speakers, students and partners.   If someone has an interesting and unique feed, I will follow them back.

 10. Which brands have social media you admire?

TSBC speaker, Crow & Canary (@crowandcanary) curates such a wonderful collection of handmade and hard to find items.  I love seeing the products and brands she features.  

TSBC speakers, Fig 2. Design (@fig2design) and Sugar Paper (@sugarpaperla) do a superb job of using social media to reinforce their brand.  Both social media feeds (instagram in particular) reflect their individual styles and brands very well, while showcasing their work in a beautiful way.

TSBC Alums, Ladyfingers Letterpress (@ladyfingersletterpress) and Laura Hooper Calligraphy (@LHcalligraphy) do a great job of showing in-process work, including calligraphy and hand-lettering video clips.  I love how their promotional posts on social media look like art.  

11. Any advice for other brands just getting started on social media?

  • Engage in conversation and use social media to connect with others in your industry.  People want to work with others that they know, like and trust; and it is possible to build these types of trusted relationships online. 
  • Remember that your social media presence is oftentimes someone’s first impression of you and your business.  Put your best foot forward, keep things positive and professional.  You never know who is listening or the opportunities that will arise due to social media.
  • Keep your business social media feeds all business. Start a separate instagram account for your personal  / family photos.  Start a business facebook page - friends that want to follow your business will.
  • Have fun with social media and don’t get caught up in the ‘comparison game’