How I Built My Brand on Instagram and You Can Too

How I Built My Brand on Instagram and You Can Too

I’m someone who after a night out with friends is likely to fall asleep with my makeup on. And I know I’m not alone. That’s why I wanted to create makeup that acted like skincare and would improve my skin over time. After working to develop samples (and testing them myself by having me and my husband sleep in them!) I was ready to bring my business, Youthforia, to the world.

I soon realized, however, that in an industry as saturated as the beauty and skincare space, it can be hard to stand out and reach new customers, especially as a new business. For me, social media was the perfect antidote: I could use the free tools at my disposal that I’ve already been using for years to find and engage with new customers, educate my audience about clean beauty, and build a genuine community.

Instagram was the right platform for my business, and recently Reels has become our secret weapon — allowing me to create rich content that attracts new customers and entertains or informs existing ones. Fast-forward to 2022 and we’ve seen over a 300 percent increase in year-over-year sales — much of which I attribute to our incredible online following and the fun content we put out there.

How can your business do the same? Here are my three pieces of advice to harness the power of Instagram to blow up your brand.

Inspire Engagement Through Authenticity

An amazing thing about social media is that it enables brands to showcase a more personal side of their business, which is essential to creating a community that feels connected to and invested in your success.

Remember that Instagram isn’t a monolog, it’s a dialog. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and think of how you can engage with them, not speak at them. Foster communication and conversation by inviting your followers to interact with you. Whether you’re challenging them to remix your latest Reel or chatting with people in the comments, genuine connection and engagement is what will keep people coming back.

I’ve found that relatable and authentic content performs best. For example, behind-the-scenes videos can often feel more accessible. You’re bringing your community into these special moments, making them feel included in the brand’s journey. Our community loves any Reel featuring my mom! If you want to build a real community, show the real people behind your business. You’ll be amazed at the support and engagement you see.

Provide Value to Your Audience and Listen to Their Feedback

Good content draws and holds the audience’s attention because not only does it provide content that’s of interest, entertaining and useful to your customers, it also rewards them with payoff in the form of advice, resources or even discounts.

Some of our most successful videos have been when we’re answering customer questions about how to use our products or what’s in them. For example, we have videos that show how products like foundation or primer show up on a variety of skin tones and types and on people of all ages.

Again, Instagram is a two-way street. Don’t just post and create — watch content and listen too! Look at what your most active followers are engaging with to better understand what might resonate with them and tap into trends early for optimal performance. One of the great things about social media in general and short-form videos like Reels in particular is it allows brands to  get an inside look at what their customers are interested in. Through trend monitoring and engagement with our followers, Youthforia has created some of our most successful offerings — and that’s because we’re paying attention to what people want!

Make Your Social Media Shoppable to Move From Discovery to Purchase

In addition to creating content to build a community, social media can also drive sales. You should use these tools to your advantage. Now, social platforms allow you to tag your products, making it easy for consumers to learn more about things that interest them or go ahead and add to cart. This is especially important if you want to partner with creators. Encourage them to tag your products when they post. This feature makes it easier for people to make a purchase at the moment of inspiration or discovery from their favorite creators.

It can be hard to break through as a new small business. However, if you create engaging content, tap into trends, learn what your community is interested in, and make it easy for customers to not only find but shop with you, your odds of succeeding at building a loyal following and generating sales increases significantly. In my experience, a flourishing online community has translated directly into flourishing sales.

Fiona Chan is the founder of Youthforia, a clean and sustainable makeup brand that makes makeup that’s good for your skin and safe to sleep in.