An influential platform

If you hadn’t noticed already, Instagram is a crucial platform for discovering the latest fashion trends. Its audience is highly attuned to style, and with millions of people scrolling their timelines at any given moment, it’s the perfect environment for selling t-shirts, clothing and fashion accessories.

Instagram is the second most popular type of social media behind Facebook, with over 800 million users active every month. Not only that, but users engage (that’s clicking through on advertisements) more than any social media. Instagram users are the most likely users to buy online or through their phone. So the conditions are ripe for selling.

T-shirts are by far the easiest and most accessible bit of clothing to make yourself; its cheap to print, low risk and a buzzy slogan alone can be enough to create an overnight fashion trend. This is the concept underpinning many indie streetwear labels and fashion brands which do a roaring trade promoting themselves through the social network.

But whether you’re selling t-shirts, clothing or anything at all, the rules for Instagram are the same. Here’s our guide to setting up shop on Instagram.

Getting started

Come up with a concept

When it comes to fashion – having a clear concept is always important. Instagram in particular rewards brands and individuals with a distinct and consistent aesthetic. Know your brand and make sure that’s represented in the name, logo, profile pic and the images you choose to curate through the platform.

Set up your Instagram account

So you’ve got your great idea for a collection of t-shirts (and got them printed). Now what? 

Well you need to get your Instagram looking as sharp as possible way, and that means getting the right username. Obviously something as close as possible to your brand name would be ideal. Bear in mind that it needs to be easily searchable for customers who may have seen it briefly in an ad, or are looking for it via Google.

Likewise with the profile pic. It’s only going to be seen as a small image on most people’s screens but usually your logo or branding will suffice – otherwise, opt for close ups rather than wide view images where the detail will be lost. 

Lastly your bio. This is the blurb underneath your pic and username, so something simple that explains who you are (brand name), what you do (clothes label) and a nice quip to give off the brand personality, with a link to your website in your bio too. You don’t have many words to use so choose them wisely – keep it snappy and memorable and try to encapsulate the attitude of your brand. 

how best streetwear brands generate hype

Build your community

Next step is getting followers. There are tons of guides on line that dive into the constantly changing algorithms on Instagram but the basic approach is easy for anyone to crack.

Start by inviting your friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances to follow you. Then start posting – the usual guidance is to kick off with about a dozen posts showing what you’re about and its important to have these photos there before you start working on building up more followers. Noone will want to follow an account with no photos, nor one that appears inactive. Pinpoint hashtags that might lead people to your products – try and find the more niche hashtags relating to specific communities and scenes – these are the ones where your posts will stand out the most in.

From there start building up connections with those involved in the scenes that might be interested in buying into your t-shirt brand. Follow people you think could be a potential customer and engage with their posts – like and comment under their photos. Do the same with other brands that you admire and relate to. Being an active Instagram user is the best way to build up community quickly – it’s hard work but it can pay off.

Get promoted

What are promoted ads?

Instagram ads are the driving force behind its revenue streams as an app, but also are where the main bulk of start up fashion brands do their online advertising, as it’s cheap, easy and can target specific audiences. 

The thing is they look just like any other post (except have a tiny banner saying ‘promoted’ on it) so can be ‘liked’ just like any other post, and will have click throughs to websites included in them, so are very useful to get the interest of those aimless Instagram scrollers. 

By heading to the ‘promote’ section on your Instagram profile, you can choose which post you’d like to turn into an ad, where you want the post to direct the customer clicking through to, your target audience (by followers or local area) and budget and length of advert. 

Are they worth it?

Obviously the more you spend the more reach it will have, but there are budget ranges for every size of company.

Take the right photos

Obviously with it being Instagram, how your page looks aesthetically is incredibly important, so getting the right shots for your t-shirts can make or break your brand. Heavily stylised photos can work well if you’re taking yourself more seriously, but often, especially in the UK, adding a touch of humour to your posts gets people far more engaged. 

Once you’ve found the right models, or an influencer (which we’ll cover in the next section), it’s probably worth getting a decent quality camera and sorting out a good backdrop too, a city street or plain white wall always work well. Choose models that reflect your brand and have the right following – models who genuinely love what you’re doing are the best – ideally you want them to be excited about sharing photos of the t-shirts on their own feed.

UK streetwear influencer Gully Guy Leo

Use influencers

What are influencers?

With social media now being the go to place for young people to entertain themselves, places like Instagram have spawned a whole new type of celebrity. Called influencers, they are essentially models or people of interest that use Instagram as a platform to share their daily lives (some of them even make their own influencer merch)

Why are they important?

Usually with tens if not hundreds of thousands of followers, influencers have considerable organic reach for their users and for that reason can be approached by brands to advertise their clothes, make up or, for some reason, herbal weight loss tea. But they don’t have to be the stereotypical west coast, Coachella type character – some of the best influencers are simply people that represent scenes well, sharing an insight into the latest action, fashion and happenings. 

Is it worth it?

It may seem facile, but approaching an influencer that speaks to your target market and approaching them to offer free clothes or a few posts in return for a fee can do wonders for getting a higher level of engagement from their fans eager to copy their instagram idols. 

Other tips and advice

If you want to learn more about how to create a successful brand online we’ve got tons of resources for you across our blog. Here are a few guides that go into more detail on some of the areas discussed above:

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