Growing Your Brand on Instagram to Half a Million Followers: Advice from Freshly Picked
(Reading time: approximately 6 minutes)
Starting Freshly Picked from the ground up
The idea for Freshly Picked started in 2009, when founder Susan Petersen was frustrated at the lack of well-designed baby shoes for her son. Working on a shoestring budget, Susan got resourceful and approached her brother who owned a window installation business. She convinced him to let her keep the old windows he was removing. She spent a summer banging out the glass of the windows and turned in the old aluminum window frames to a scrap yard. Susan made a couple hundred bucks to get the leather materials she needed to start making moccasins.
Fast forward a few years and six moccasin designs later, the brand now has a manufacturer, started working with retailers like Nordstroms, been on Shark Tank and Ellen, and has grown their Instagram following to nearly half a million followers.
Since the beginning, Freshly Picked has grown quite organically and gained a ton of steam (and awesome press) along the way. We were extremely lucky to chat with Susan, CEO and founder of Freshly Picked, about how she grew her brand to where it is today and her advice for how other brands can capitalize on the growing popularity of Instagram.
Using Instagram authentically to help your brand blossom
Instagram can be an enormous value-add for your business, especially with a target market of mommy bloggers. Susan said Instagram has helped her business grow ten-fold. It could have a lot to do with the Freshly Picked consumer being mainly mothers. Mothers love being connected to their peers and friends and Instagram is such a natural and authentic way to connect. “Instagram is where our customers live. We put a lot of thought and work into developing this platform”, said Ashley on behalf of Freshly Picked.
Freshly Picked has been trucking away at building their Instagram presence for a few years and it has definitely paid off. They take extra care in crafting every single post and even have picked out unique hashtags for their brand like #foreverystep.
Start building small: Getting to your first 10,000 Instagram followers
Goals are so much more attainable when they’re small. Getting half a million followers can seem daunting to anyone, but getting to your first 1000 or 10,000 can be easier to visualize. I asked Susan how she began building her following and she said getting to 10k was her very first goal. It took her about a year and it was a struggle. Susan mentioned that it was tough coming up with new ideas every single day, trying to figure out ways to leverage the platform was a big learning curve. For Freshly Picked, their growing popularity comes down to the content they produce and the community interaction. The Freshly Picked team is constantly engaging on their Instagram account, answering questions and commenting back to their customers. It has been a huge source of their success.
.@FreshlyPicked wants their customers to feel like Instagram is the place they can be heard and have a voice.
Developing a solid team behind your social initiatives
It can take a village to run a high-performing Instagram account. I asked Susan how many puppeteers are behind Freshly Picked and she said in the beginning it was just her of course and then she brought on a photographer. Now, the company has a stylist, two social media managers and a graphic designer. It also helps take a load off your team when a ton of your brand’s Instagram content can be user-generated. Freshly Picked has a team that writes compelling copy and sifts through user generated content to hand select the best imagery that fits with their aesthetic.
Write compelling copy and find user generated content to pull imagery that fits with your Instagram aesthetic.
A photo posted by Moccasins | Baby Moccasins (@freshlypicked) on
We love how the Freshly Picked team gives shoutouts to their mamas like in the image above. If you make your customers and evangelists feel special, it won’t go unnoticed. Take the extra few moments to include curated, user-generated content in with your original product photos.
Be picky with your content and know when to toss it
Freshly Picked may make their Instagram look effortless, but Susan told me that for every one image they post they have about 20-30 they could have posted, and 20-30 that don’t make the cut. Susan mentioned, “We have a lot of content. We don’t want a lot of overlap. Everything has to be fresh and new.”
For example, they recently had a pop up shop in Brooklyn, she told her team not to post an image they had planned on posting because what was happening in real-time at the pop up was so much more important than the post they had planned to post a week ago. “From a visual standpoint, we want it to feel very accessible. For us, the image isn’t always the one thats the most perfect”, notes Susan.
Don’t try to capture perfection and know your audience
“It’s about the person, not the product” is what Susan tells her social team every week. Even if the moccasins are blurry or out of focus, the look on the child’s face that they’re having the best time of their life is what matters the most. You don’t need your product to be the center of attention in every image.
It’s really important to know your Instagram audience inside and out. “Moms are emotional, and want to make memories with their babies and they want to have those experiences that we are posting on our feed”, says Susan. Some of Freshly Picked followers come to their Instagram feed for ideas on baby outfits or activities, so knowing who their followers are and knowing who you want to reach is really important to your success. Susan adds, “It doesn’t have to be about the product its more about the story. For new mothers its such a transitional time and you don’t want to feel alone, you want to read about what other moms are doing and feel like they’re a part of a community.”
Tap into trending hashtags and local events
Freshly Picked makes sure to have their social team on top of trending hashtags and events that their target market would be attending. Susan’s team noticed there was this big game happing in Utah and saw there were two top trendy hashtags for the game. So, they used those to capitalize on the opportunity. They let their customers be a part of it. Susan said that her social team ran this contest and it was so fun for their customers. “This worked for us because you see these moms who are maybe just out of college feeling like they’re a part of the big game. Sometime I run my social by the seat of my pants a little bit. When you plan your posts weeks in advance it can be no longer relevant. You have to be really, really flexible.”
*GIVEAWAY CLOSED* GO UTES!! 🏈🏈Hey babes! Who’s watching college football tonight? We’ve got a crazy game here in Utah – and you get to tell us who you think the winner will be – #goutes or #goblue?! We will be selecting a giveaway winner from the comments of tonight’s winning team’s post. You and a friend will win a pair of moccs! 🙌 To enter this Game Day Giveaway, LIKE the post and TAG your friend in the comments section OF THE TEAM YOU THINK WILL WIN!! You should both be following us and you can enter as many times as you like, but only tag one friend per comment! This giveaway is open to everyone and will run for the duration of the football game. Winner will be announced tonight, 9/3, here on Instagram as soon as the game is over! 🎉 🎉 Good luck! ****This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram. GIVEAWAY CLOSED
A photo posted by Moccasins | Baby Moccasins (@freshlypicked) on
You can use this strategy for your brand too, and tie in a contest or product giveaway to a local event or perhaps a college football game. 😉
Using brand collaborations to increase your exposure
I asked Susan how she manages collaborations with other brands, and how she chooses who she collaborates with. Freshly Picked recently launched a collaboration with Beloved. Collaborating can positively (or sometimes negatively) impact your social following. When I asked Susan about collaborating with Beloved she mentioned, “We were trying to do something really fun for halloween. were looking for brands that we can expose our customer base to and that they can grow from, it has to fit with our style it has to be fresh, new and fun.”
Susan noted that her company gets approached all the time for potential collaborations, so much so that their collaborations are totally filled out for next year. “Were trying to do more quality and less quantity, but we love collaborations. But it is so much work.”
Susan said that Freshly Picked is super flexile on a lot of things, but brand equity is something she’s doesn’t budge on. “Brand equity is so difficult to build. You find out what other brands are flexible and not flexible and it’s so important to lay out what you want from the collaboration from the very beginning.” Susan drew a parallel between collaborations with other brands and pop up shops saying, “it’s kind of like doing a pop up together. You’re able to leverage a lot for social. We find that we get a whole new customer base and were able to offer our customers something new and exciting.”
We’re looking forward to seeing what kind of collaborations Freshly Picked debuts in the future. We will be keeping our eyes on their social accounts to watch this brand continue to skyrocket into success.
Looking to connect with and check out Freshly Picked on Hubba?
connect me to Freshly Picked!
Latest posts by Emma Nemtin (see all)
- Product Spotlight: How Snappy Towels Stands Out In the Industry with the Ultimate Microfiber Towel - January 18, 2016
- Hubba’s Sports and Outdoors Week Was a Huge Success - December 18, 2015
- 8 Must Have Sporting Goods Items - December 18, 2015