Byron Bay label Spell Designs has enchanted style-lovers well beyond the borders of this northern New South Wales town. Over the past five years, they have captured a global audience of gypsy-spirited women, thanks in part to a potent social media presence.
We’re excited to welcome Lizzy Abegg, one half of the sister duo behind the brand, as a guest blogger this week as she shares some of their secrets, strategies and digital marketing successes.
How did you go about building Spell’s online community?
It was so easy because we just fell in love social media! First with blogging and then with Instagram. The platforms that come most naturally to us are the ones that really flourished. We are so visual and always have been – we’ve been keeping visual diaries since grade school, so Instagram was like an extension of ourselves. We commented, shared and reposted openly and generously within our social media community and I guess in doing so we shared our story, so our customers really felt like they knew us. Twitter wasn’t so natural for me (I’m so not witty!) and Pinterest, though a huge driver of traffic back to our website, is something I use more for personal [reasons] than actual deliberate community-building… I guess my advice would be not to push a platform that doesn’t feel authentic to you, or rather find the platform that does feel authentic and really rock it!
What was the moment you noticed your following really take off?
There were moments upon moments. The lovely @Coconutandlime nominated us as a preferred Instagram user and in one week our following went from 10k to 40k, and then I guess momentum just took over. When a big Instagram account with 1M+ followers tags us of course it has a huge effect – but in the end it’s always just been this slow and steady growth. Certainly being stocked by retail giants like Free People in the States has opened our label to a whole other market and that has played out on social too.
How essential is it to business?
Social is everything to Spell. It’s our direct line with our customers – they don’t find out about us from magazines (we’ve never actually spent a cent on advertising or any external PR). We always whisper, “Oh my God, what happens after Instagram?!” But I do think that diversifying is important and I don’t want to rely solely on social, which is why we work on other marketing avenues, like blogging relationships, events and growing categories and wholesale accounts.
You speak directly to your audience with your own voices – why do you think this works as opposed to speaking as the brand?
It’s the only way that feels authentic to us. No one has our Instagram login except for Spelly (the founder/my sister) and I. And we’ve never (and won’t ever!) take money for posts. Sure, people send us gifts and if we feel it’s a good fit for our readers we’ll shout out, but it’s always 100 per cent from the heart. I think back to looking up to sass & bide, OneTeaspoon or Zimmerman and I’d always be so much more intrigued by something if it came from their designers/owners and not just their marketing team, so it’s something we love to do.
Have you had to deal with any negativity along the way?
We’re super lucky that the people who follow us are super kind and generous and for the most part inspire us every single day! Occasionally someone calls us on something. For instance, we once posted fur and learned pretty quick that it’s not acceptable to our followers. The same goes for posting images of models that are unhealthily slim. We never post a pic of someone unless they look healthy. But I’ll also stand up for ourselves too – someone once commented on a re-post of Elle Ferguson’s pins that she was anorexic or “needed a hamburger” and I was quick to tell that person to lay off and that Elle was one of the most healthy-looking girls I’ve met! But it’s very rare. I read a lot of bickering in other accounts and feel thankful there’s such a tolerant, caring and encouraging community on our social.
What do you think makes a successful photograph?
Oh goodness! There are so many aspects that can lead to a big response. People love things that are personal and real most. But sometimes we’re surprised and it’s like, “Oh my gosh, that pic of the furry dog got like 11k likes?!” People do love animals though!
6 TIPS ON BEING RE-POSTED
We often get asked about getting reposted via our social media accounts – for bloggers, brands and models it can really help raise your profile. Spell to date has 458,000 lovely followers who love seeing our community of girls wearing our pieces! So here are my top tips of getting re-grammed:
1. Use the latest technology! If you can, try to use the latest phone (or take your pics on an SLR). We’re on our phones 24/7 and can tell the difference between a photo taken on an iPhone 5S and 6+. There are lots of statistics that say the highest ‘liked’ photos on Instagram are ones with #nofilter, but I’d say that’s probably because the ones getting all the likes are filtered in Photoshop from an SLR and then posted with #nofilter…sneaky but clever, and so much more pleasing to the eye.
2. Quality, quality quality! Most people running a label’s Insta account will be sticklers for a quality high-res photo, so make sure your photos aren’t pixelated. Don’t zoom in to crop, just take a closer picture!
3. Keep your background uncluttered (no bathrooms or bedroom mirrors!) and when in doubt use a white wall, brick wall, or empty landscape.
4. Movement. If you’re wearing a dress or skirt, don’t be afraid to get some movement in the garment. This is most easily achieved by ‘the strut’! Channel those celebs, pop a coffee (or coconut) in one hand, take a walk and snap!
5. Laugh to your shoulder. Apparently (or so the statistic goes) photos where you can’t see the person’s face get pinned on Pinterest 25 per cent more than those that do, so occasionally post ambiguous shots with your hair flowing in front of your face, walking away, or when in doubt laugh to your shoulder.
6. Be generous! As well as tagging your buddy in the comment go that extra mile and HARD-TAG and/or #tag the café you’re eating at and a few labels you’re wearing. Hard tagging and #tagging ensures that the account sees you’ve tagged them. The more generous your tags and comments are the more you’re abundant the fruits of your labour will be. It’s a community after all, participate in it!