One of the most frequently asked questions I get about Instagram is how to grow an engaged, targeted following. I found Natasha, of Violet Tinder Studios, on Instagram a while back and was sucked into her gorgeous feed. I can't remember how many followers she had at the time, but it seemed to me like she should have WAY more. She scheduled a consultation with me and we covered a TON of stuff. Now she has tons of followers, but even more importantly- she is getting more sales and has a few exciting collabs in the works.
1. Who are you, what do you do, and how did it all begin?
I’m Natasha of Violet Tinder Studios. I love to paint and create “paper fun”- stationery, stickers, etc! It all started right after I had my daughter Lucie, in 2014. I had always love to paint and create as an outlet, but had never really done much more with it. Home with a newborn, I’d find myself with little pockets of time in the day (while she napped or ate) and decided to start using that time creatively. From there, it grew as I found myself more and more inspired, and loving every minute of it. In late summer 2014, I officially launched Violet Tinder Studios, and I haven’t stopped running since. Ha.
2. Where can we find you on social media?
I’m mainly on IG, and I’m @violettinder- I just love the visual aspect of IG and the fun community of creatives. I’m on Pinterest and Twitter as Violet Tinder, and Facebook as Natasha Martin, but honestly, I spend much less of my social media time on those outlets. Well, actually, I do like to pin at night, while I watch Netflix.
3. What is your favorite hashtag?
#thecandyrainbow!! It was a fun collaborative project started by my friend Rachel of @linesacross and myself- we both love candy and taking fun, colorful photos so we turned it into a weekly challenge and it has been SO. MUCH. FUN. It’s also crazy how much it’s grown- not only do other people jump in with their own candy pics, but we’re starting to find new avenues to take it, like working with some candy companies and doing more styled candy photos.
4. Why do you use social media?
Ok, if I’m honest, two reasons- 1) I honestly love the creative aspect… finding new and fun ways to photograph something, and the challenge of trying to make my work stand out in a little square photo- I really truly find it fun! But also, 2) it’s been INCREDIBLE for my business. I mean, really. Violet Tinder Studios has been in action less than a year, but in just that year it’s grown into it’s own profitable business (small, but growing) and I attribute 90% of that to my use of social media. If you’re smart about it, you can find new customers, promote and market your work for FREE, and learn sooooo much from other more experienced people. What else on earth gives you all of that, for free, and makes it fun?? I sound like an IG ad, I know, but I’m continually amazed at the opportunities I get from social media, especially as I become a little savvier in using it.
5. Which tools do you use for creating or posting content?
I don’t use a ton- mainly just VSCO to slightly tweak the lighting in some photos. I don’t use any posting apps, because I’m a spontaneous-control freak (who knew those things could go together?) so I like to be able to change my mind at any time about what and when I post. So yeah, I pretty much just take photos as they come to me, tweak them a little with VSCO, and save them up so I have options when it’s time to post.
6. What effect does social media have on your business?
Well, I sort of already answered this, but a HUGE one. I find a large percentage of customers and even wholesale opportunities, through Instagram. I also love how it challenges me to take better, more appealing product photos (that you get instant feedback on) so I can hone my styling skills. Basically, if social media didn’t exist, I’d be sitting at my kitchen table, 10 months after starting Violet Tinder Studios, with maybe 10 sales. And I’d probably feel pretty defeated. But instead, I feel like there’s this huge ocean of opportunities that I have access to, and all I have to do is suit up and make sure I dive in everyday. Business is out there. You just have to find it. (Do I sound like a motivational speaker? haha)
7. How do you measure success on social media?
Hmmm good question… well, the obvious answer is followers, but I really think that can be misleading. Personally, for me it’s engagement. Do people like my photos? Are they commenting? Do they seem interested/excited by what I’m sharing? Sometimes people get so hung up on followers, but then their photos aren’t that great, and it shows because their followers aren’t engaged,and they don’t seem to be encouraging it anyway! Caitlin, you’ve always said this yourself, but if you have 25k followers, but no one is engaged in what you’re promoting and they don’t buy from you, who cares? I’d rather grow my following in a slow & steady way (or, ok fast & steady would be cool too), and gain people that really like my vibe! That’s what counts.
8. What aspect of social media do you find most challenging?
I think just continually coming up with great new content that’s photo ready! Some days, I’m so crazy and hectic with projects (and juggling my toddler), and I think “man, there’s a gold mine of fun photos here, all over my floor/table/counter/studio… but who’s gonna clean it all up and stage it (in perfect lighting, no less) for me?!!” haha. I really do try to keep a backlog/library of photos, but sometimes that’s hard! I’m trying to get better about planning out my posts for the week ahead, to alleviate some of that stress. Especially as my business grows, I want that to be more streamlined.
9. What makes you follow another brand back?
Mostly fun + colorful photos, and a consistent theme. I want to look at their page and clearly know what they’re all about. Sometimes, I’ll look at a page and see some cool photos, but then there’s a lot of other randomness, and I just think hmmm, I’m not sure here… I know it’s hard, because my style was WAYYY all over the place when I first started too. It’s like, you have to edit down your real life, and the real you, into a tighter package of what you are all about. Really, I think it’s a great exercise in branding! Oh, and I love witty captions. (Caitlin, yours have made me spit out my coffee more times than I can count. :))
10. Which brands have social media you admire?
Oh, there are so many good ones!! I DIE over @mattcrump and his #candyminimal photo series… he’s an amazing photographer, with such a fun spin. I love love love @shopbando- not only are their products super fun, but their social media is so on point! (@christinawinkelmann, I’m looking at you!)… and @sugarfina does such a great job with making candy seem so glamorous and fun and party-ready!
I think accounts that really master presenting a strong, branded image are my favorite- it’s so attractive!
11. Any advice for other brands just getting started on social media?
Ok, don’t get discouraged!!! You have to play around and experiment to find a style that feels right to you, and showcases your business in the best way for it. That will take time, so just keep going.
With that said, be consistent! Challenge yourself to post almost every day, and make sure you are interactive with people that interact with you.
Also- hashtags are your best friend, use them!! When I first started, I didn’t get the purpose- true story, I thought they like “declared” what your picture was or something ("#food? or course my ham sandwich is food!!”) BUT now I see- it’s like holding up a candle in the dark- it helps people to find you, in the crazy sea of Instagram!!! Thankfully, I had Caitlin to knock some sense into me. :)
See what some of my other clients are up to on Instagram.