Susan Petersen, founder and CEO of Freshly Picked, loves Instagram. In fact, she might even love it more than her husband.
She spoke about her astounding Instagram success at Inbound Marketing SLC on Oct. 2. She said that at one point, she was spending so much time on Instagram that her husband jokingly said that he wished she loved him as much as she loved Instagram.
“I do too,” she responded.
It’s not hard to see why she loves the image-sharing network so much. She’s closing in on 275,000 followers on the social network (as of this writing) and says the average value of each follower is $0.31. She delights her followers by posting beautiful images of children wearing Freshly Picked moccasins, and she also uses the platform to announce new products, promote user generated content, stage giveaway promotions, or to let people see what she’s up to.
She realized that her “community” was on Instagram a few years after starting her company. She had 600 followers at the time and immediately set a goal to get to 10,000 by the end of 2012; she hit that mark on December 28.
Winning with Instagram requires more than just posting cool images. Her company is very active in the comments, and she ensures that each question gets an answer. And whenever someone posts a picture and uses a Freshly Picked hashtag, they will like and/or comment on it to let their customers know that they see them, love them, and are going to reward them.
Susan raised the money she needed to to start her business by hammering windows out of old window frames and recycling the aluminum. She was paid $200 and used it to by the leather she needed to make moccasins. She told this story when she appeared on Shark Tank earlier in the year, and Mark Cuban said it was “the best story to start a company” that he’s ever heard.
She said that she has begrudgingly accepted the fact that her story is a key selling point of her business. And so she lets people get to know her a little bit on Instagram by posting to the account as herself and not as a business entity. So, for example, she uses “I” and “me” and will occasionally post pictures of herself to give followers glimpses of her life.
According to Global Web Index data, Instagram experienced the biggest rise among social networking sites in active user numbers between quarters 2 and 4 of 2013. People will always be leery of brands using the network as a money-making platform, but Susan has proved that a compelling story and beautiful images can delight customers and turn them into raving fans.