When I first started this #Famous interview series with makers and creative biz owners, my intention was to inspire others (and myself) to think outside the box. Oftentimes we feel confounded about what we should be posting on Instagram. Too many product photos? Not enough? Logo? Personal photo? It is enough to make your head spin. The truth is there are standard 'rules' that you can use on Instagram and beyond that will give you really good results. I write blog posts on these sorts of rules all the time. They are an excellent starting point.
What makes someone REALLY stand out on social media is when they are aware of the rules, but choose to interpret them in their own way. Christine Trac, of Abacus Row, is an absolute genius at product photography. While she consistently posts product photos, her feed doesn't look like an Etsy shop. My hope is that her interview will start inspiring you to think differently about your own product photography.
1. Who are you, what do you do, and how did it all begin?
Christine Trac, designer and crafter behind Abacus Row. How it all began is a rather long story so let's sum it up with two life events - love and unemployment, a need to be productive, and a drive to just do it.
2. Where can we find you on social media?
You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest @abacusrow. You'll find I'm most active on Instagram where I regularly share shots of my brand and business life. While this is a business account, you'll still know it's me behind the account - it's always my voice and my photographs, unless otherwise noted, and I even integrate images of myself in there so you can put a face (and set of hands) to the work and brand.
3. What is your favorite hashtag?
Oh, hashtags...I'm just not that into them.
4. Why do you use social media?
I use social media for both marketing and networking purposes. I've found that active engagement on most social media platforms can be incredibly effective at helping me connect with a potential customer or collaborator. These are spaces for me to create digital communities that translate into support of what I actually do in real life. I spend most of my social media life on Instagram, and this in part because it's been the most valuable for reaching out to new and existing customers, and for making or maintaining relationships with other small and independent designers or business owners. The other reason I mainly use Instagram is because its simply the most visually effective way of communicating my style, my aesthetic, and ultimately my brand.
5. Which tools do you use for creating or posting content?
I use Afterlight for editing all of the photos I post to Instagram. If I want to overlay images with any text then I open up Over. If I need to correct for distorted lines, I go to SKRWT. (Let's be clear, I don't think any photo is worth posting if you have to use all three of these apps). I haven't started yet but I should be using latergram.me to schedule out my IG posts ahead of time so that it doesn't interrupt my work throughout the day.
6. What effect does social media have on your business?
It's the only method I currently use for continually keeping people informed on what I do. It is also directly targeted at people who have expressed explicit interest in what Abacus Row has to offer so its the most effective form of marketing. I think participating in social media is how you gently remind your followers that you're there, working away every day, and when they need x, y, or z, they'll find you if you've communicated x, y, or z well.
7. How do you measure success on social media?
Successful engagement on social media is when I meet a stranger in real life and they've heard of Abacus Row (or they at least think they have).
8. What aspect of social media do you find most challenging?
I find it challenging and essentially impossible to actively engage on multiple social media platforms, while attempting to run your own business. It often feels like a distraction from getting real work done, and I generally end up spending more time posting an image or looking through my feed than I actually intend. Social media requires a lot of attention and the reality is that while I think they all provide powerful ways to communicate, it's not something I always personally enjoy. Social media keep me tied up to my phone and I'm actually that person who loves being off the grid, that person who tried to go without a smart phone as long as possible. (I made it just about to 2013).
9. What makes you follow another brand back?
It'll be one of two things: I like the person behind the account (I either know this person or have heard nice things about this person) or else I think they're doing something that is really interesting, strikingly beautiful and different than anything else I've come across. At this point, I follow more than 500 accounts, which means I often miss posts from the accounts I'm most interested in hearing from. I need to see or feel something special to add an account to my feed.
10. Which brands have social media you admire?
I admire the brands that put out beautiful and relevant product and behind-the-scenes content. These are the folks that continually make me fall in love with what they do and how they do it: @elizsuzann, @hillerysproatt, @sarahswelljewelry, @travelingmilesstudio.
11. Any advice for other brands just getting started on social media?
Think about the kind of content you want to create, and see what social media platform is best suited for that. Start with just one or even two platforms. Then think about how you can contribute something that is different than what already exists. I think it's all about how you can convey your brand distinctly and consistently.
If you are feeling stumped for what to post on Instagram, then schedule a One On One Brainstorming Session with me. You will walk away with a content calendar and a clear understanding of how to grow a relevant following quickly.