A few months ago I published my very first free guide - How to grow your Instagram - and was completely overwhelmed by the positive response it got from all of you! I thought it might be interesting to follow it up with a few interviews with amazing makers and business owners who share how they use Instagram for their business adventures.
Not only that - Verena is also amazing at interacting with everyone, regularly comments on other people's posts and builds up this knitting community of ours.
Today, Verena shares her story - I loved reading her answers to my questions, and I hope you do too!
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hello there! My name is Verena, I’m a knitwear designer & avid knitter living in Berlin, Germany, with my husband and two cats. As a maker, I am fascinated by the idea of sustainable crafting & living and natural materials: yarn of all kinds, wood, fabric, ceramics - it’s a never ending love story.
When and why did you start your Instagram feed?
I joined Instagram almost exactly one year ago, in October 2015. Looking back I really can’t put my finger on why I didn’t start earlier - I loved it from the very first minute. What still amazes me most about it today is also what I loved back when I joined: becoming and being a part of this wonderful, loving, understanding and just all around amazing community of creatives and makers of all kinds.
You’re extremely good at interacting with your audience. What are the main things you do to engage with your followers?
Thank you, first of all! To me it’s something I wish I could spend more time on since it really makes me happy and gives me a lot of energy. It may sound obvious, but I’d say that’s the one main thing: I really love to engage and get in touch with others in the community.
What I do more specifically: I try to reply to every comment, question or DM, and heart and comment on other’s posts.
With all the changes IG made I feel like posts that I would want to see don’t show up in my timeline anymore, so I try and check in with friends and those I’m missing in my timeline on a regular basis.
To interact with followers I don’t follow back, I go through their posts and comment on them every once in a while. If I see something inspiring, if I want to share a friend’s work or if new #thewoolclubknits projects come up, I'll repost photos while of course giving credit.
And everyone loves prizes, so every now and again or for special events and milestones, I’ll host giveaways or offer a discount on my patterns. I always love learning more about friends and followers, so for giveaway prompts or just regular posts, I try to come up with questions that allow me to get to know everyone a bit better - and I’m super grateful for each and everyone who joins me on my adventure and share a bit about themselves!
It always seems to be you are super timely with replying to comments and commenting on other feeds. How do you keep up with it all?
Rather than one or two larger chunks of time per day reserved for IG, I have smaller time slots of about 5-10 minutes spread throughout my day. Usually I try to start my day phone-free and check in for the first time on my commute to work or after breakfast if I work from home. Throughout the day, I check in again during smaller breaks or lunch break, then again on my commute back home or at the end of the work day if I work from home, and usually about once or twice in the evening.
Replying to comments and messages more frequently instead of waiting until the end of the day or the next day helps me stay organized - it’s just what works best for me. In busy times I take screenshots whenever a comment or question pops up. Just recently I also started taking screenshots when someone tagged me for #widn or another tag since I felt I became super slow with responding, mainly because I didn’t remember being tagged. Now I just check the IG screenshots folder on my phone at the end of the day to make sure I got back to everyone or will do so in the next couple of days!
What do you think is the one tactic that’s helped you grow your Instagram so amazingly?
That’s a tough one! While of course making sure that I don’t overshare a specific project or design, my approach to Instagram is basically pretty intuitive. I love consistency and try to stick to a certain kind of photography I like, but I also don’t restrict myself too much. In the end I feel like sharing what I love brings everything together visually while also showing authenticity and I just hope that’s what the people who follow my adventures want to see on my feed.
How much time do you spend per day on Instagram, especially on interactions with your audience?
All in all it probably sums up to approximately one hour per day with at least 40 minutes spent on interactions and the rest spent on posting, researching etc. That’s just a rough estimate though! So far I never timed it - now I’m curious to see how accurate my guess was :)
Are there any tools you’re using?
Every now and again, I do take a look at stats, but more out of curiosity. What I do find useful is finding out about the times of the day that the people I interact with are most active on IG, especially with different time zones etc. Other than that I don’t use any tools.
And last, but not least - what are your top three tips when it comes to engaging with your Instagram tribe?
1) With everything that’s going on in the world, we’ re all in need of kindness, love and positivity. Try to remember that the people you interact with come from very different backgrounds, be respectful, be kind and be positive. If you feel like someone stepped on your toes, try to take the leap of faith and consider that it might have been unintended, don’t snap easily and be forgiving.
2) Cheer on others you love and who do amazing work! Share if you see something you like and give credit when due! Bonus tip: with quite a few people I know, myself included, notifications for comments don’t always work as they’re supposed to - if you want to make sure the person you mentioned is notified about your post, tag them directly on the photo.
3) Be authentic! Being honest (while not being rude of course) goes a long way and helps you find your tribe ultimately.
Bonus question: What are your current three favorite IG accounts?
Besides yarn and knitting, obviously, I’m crushing hard on anything pottery, cooking and interior related these days, so if I get to pick one extra favorite it would be @kraut_kopf for delicious vegetarian soulfood.