Jason Miles Paints Instagram’s Big Picture for Small Businesses

by Kristine Hansen on January 9, 2014
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As a huge social media fan, Jason Miles eagerly hopped onto Pinterest shortly after its launch in 2010. Nuggets of how he used the site to catapult Liberty Jane Clothing, the “doll couture” company he co-founded with his wife, to success appear in the 2012 book Pinterest Power: Market Your Business, Sell Your Product, and Build Your Brand on the World’s Hottest Social Network.

His follow-up, Instagram Power: Build Your Brand and Reach More Customers With the Power of Pictures, which was released in September, further coaches small-business owners on using social media to their advantage. The Intuit Small Business Blog recently caught up with Miles (pictured) to chat about his latest book and how other entrepreneurs can use Instagram to grow their enterprises.

ISBB: What inspired you to write a book about Instagram?

Miles: In 2012, I was building our Pinterest profile for Liberty Jane Clothing and had written Pinterest Power. I told my friend about our work in Pinterest and he said, “Instagram works better for me.” That caught my attention.

So, I started to explore Instagram with one question in mind: Can you do direct marketing on Instagram? The answer turned out to be “yes” and that led to me writing Instagram Power.

In what ways do you use Instagram in your job as vice president of advancement at Northwest University?

I focused on exploring Instagram with my home-based business first, then I began to ask our social media team at the university to put together a plan for using Instagram. We use it in a variety of ways, including sharing inspirational images and quotes, real-time sharing of fun events, and, of course, promoting upcoming events.

Is the saying “a picture is worth 1,000 words” applicable to Instagram, in that a photo can be just as powerful as a blog post?

I think so. But it’s not either-or. People can use Instagram to support their online marketing in a variety of ways. The world is shifting toward visual social media platforms, such as Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest, and shifting away from conversation-based social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. That massive shift in user taste will continue.

As founder of Liberty Jane Clothing, how important is Instagram to promoting the brand and maintaining a following?

It has become very important. We’ve discovered 10 methods for monetizing on Instagram, which I write about in the book. For example, conducting visual product launches. They are easy to do and lots of marketers are using them.

What is a common mistake among small-business owners who use Instagram?

Instagram works well for marketers who have access to a lot of visual content related to their niche or industry. But it’s harder for marketers who don’t. For example, it’s easy [for me] to use Instagram to sell doll clothes, but harder to use Instagram as an author.

The biggest mistake I see is people trying to use Instagram without being clear about their “editorial mission.” I see marketers who aren’t clear on their purpose or goals on Instagram. Deciding how to use it is your first step. At Liberty Jane Clothing, we decided to use it as a way to give our fans a “behind the scenes look” at my wife’s work.

Kristine Hansen is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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