9 Tips on Building Your Instagram Brand from Bonafide #Influencers

9 Tips on Building Your Instagram Brand from Bonafide #Influencers
Photo: Michael Stewart/Getty Images. Jun Sato/GC Images. Bauer-Griffin/GC Images. Design: Allison Kahler/STYLECASTER.

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Instagram can both feel like–and constitute–a full-time job. And for six of the speakers at WWD‘s 2019 Influencer Summit, it actually is a full-time job. Whether they parlayed Instagram followings into thriving businesses or leveraged a combination of savvy career and social media moves, each of these women counts the platform as a major part of their business strategy. Read on for a sprinkling of the wisdom they shared atop the WWD stage, then prepare to elevate your own virtual (…for now) empire.

Carole Radziwill

Consider your audience

“I do things that really feel organic to me. When I do something that other [Real] Housewives do, my audience doesn’t like it. They want me to do something different. I also think about my audience wants to see from me. They’re women that range from 25 to 44 years old, so they skew a little younger than me. My audience sees me a certain way and I think about that.”

Shiona Turini

Edit yourself

“My first fashion job was in public relations for Yves Saint Laurent. I did all the jobs that no one else wanted to do. Eventually, I became a magazine editor, and I loved being an editor. My job was like a treasure hunt, you’re always on the hunt for the next big thing, designer, item. Being at a fashion show and seeing something, then seeing it on the cover of WWD the next day was so exciting. Being an editor taught me to always edit myself. And that’s what I do for myself, now.”

Relax—even pros get photo anxiety

“I hate getting my photo taken. It creates a level of anxiety that I wish I didn’t have to experience. But I love clothes, so that eases the pain for me. So for me, I’m like I love this dress, it deserves a great shot.”

Katie Sturino

Mind the market gap

“I started MegaBabe because there was no solution for thigh chafe. I didn’t know if anyone else had this problem, or if it would forever be a couple thousand units in my parent’s basement. And then, our first natural deodorant, Rosy Pits, ($18; megababebeauty.com) ended up with a 10,000 person waiting list. So think, what are you doing that’s different? What are you bringing to the market that doesn’t exist? What do you bring that’s special?”

Conversation  > curation

“What you can do when you replace the negative chatter in your head is amazing. Don’t worry about what you had for lunch. Also, don’t worry too much about your grid. I’m hearing from inside the Instagram world that feed curation is becoming less and less important, and that’s good for me because I’m here to talk. It’s about what you have to say.”

Katie Brennan, Director of North America Integrated Communications at Fresh Beauty

Pitch yourself

“I work with influencers on campaigns for Fresh Beauty. Influencers will reach out and say, ‘I got Sugar Lip ($24; sephora.com) as a birthday gift in high school, and I’d like to try this product.’ Or, ‘seasonal skin care routines are performing right now, and I want to test this.’ Take a couple of minutes to pitch a brand you actually love. The reason you have an audience is because you have your own point of view.”

Kristie Dash

Expect follower count fluctuation

“We [Instagram] just hit a billion users. Fake followers are a huge issue and we have engineers working on removing them around the clock.  Know there will be ups and downs in your growth, but it’s a good thing.”

Don’t fear the #ad

“We don’t hide any posts. The issue is one of the biggest behavioral changes: People follow so many accounts now, there’s no physical way you could see all that content. Even if you check Instagram multiple times per day, people will  miss 70 percent of their feed, so we want you to see what is most personalized to you. Also, using the #ad or #paid tag doesn’t affect post engagement.”

Anine Bing

Prioritize your brand

“We check analytics all the time, but we try to listen to our gut and instinct. I dream in colors and my husband (the CEO) dreams in numbers. You have to have that creative flow. Above all, the brand is more important than revenue.”