How to Grow Your Instagram Like a Pro. Advice From Bloglovin's Casey Watson

Bloglovin' launched in 2007 with the purpose of creating a space were people could read all their favorite blogs in one place. Since then over 25,000,000 people (including us) visit Bloglovin' per month to discover new content from bloggers around the world. The Bloglovin' platform has helped thousands of bloggers grow their brand and attract new readers daily by sharing their content via the Bloglovin' website and social media platforms like Instagram. 

With 6 Instagram accounts and a combined millions of followers, we chatted with Bloglovin's Community + Social Media Director, Casey Watson to get her advice to designers and fashion brands on how to build an authentic Instagram strategy, create community and encourage engagement. 


LAPTOPS & SMALLTALK: TALK TO US ABOUT YOUR CAREER PATH. HOW DID YOU END UP AT BLOGLOVIN'? WHAT LED YOU TO WHERE YOU ARE NOW?
CASEY WATSON: 
My career path has been all over the place! From restaurants + internships, to pursuing a second degree at Parsons, to taking a leap of faith and working at eBay on a new (at the time) curatorial team, each job taught me something new, opened doors I didn't know existed and eventually landed me my dream job, here, at Bloglovin’.

I actually met the Bloglovin’ team while i was working at eBay. A coworker of mine had a friend here and we went to their offices for a happy hour. I remember walking in and immediately being like, omg these are my people…whatever it takes, I will work at Bloglovin’. It was, and still is, the perfect blend of a tech startup + fashion for me. Everyone was young and ambitious. I actually remember calling my mum immediately after to tell her I just found my dream company. I was working there a few months later. Honestly, I lucked out with timing. Also, my boss and I hit it off immediately in the interview — I owe it all to her, she took a leap of faith in hiring me + I am beyond grateful to this day. It’s been almost 2 years and i couldn't be more excited for the future of the company.


L&S: YOU WORKED FOR SAINT LAURENT FOR A BIT. HOW WAS THAT EXPERIENCE WORKING FOR A LARGE FASHION HOUSE AND HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM WORKING AT BLOGLOVIN'?
CASEY: There are many parallels that can be drawn between Bloglovin’ + Saint Laurent. For starters, both companies are European at their core — something that 100% unites the two. Aesthetic has always been made a major priority at both companies. At Bloglovin’ our Scandinavian roots demand a clean, crisp, minimal look - something that can be seen throughout our social accounts. When I first came on board, it was very important for me to sit down with one of our founders to review specific social accounts to get an idea of what he valued. From that meeting it was obvious how important it was to the company that a certain vibe be upheld + further curated. Since i’m a decisive person, I loved that the company’s vision was so clear + strong — especially when getting started. It gave me a launching point, one which we have obviously grown from, but to begin, it put me on the pulse of what they were hoping to achieve + portray.

Interning at Saint Laurent was definitely me fulfilling a childhood dream of working for a major fashion house. It was a short summer internship, but nevertheless it was eye-opening, and I’ve never felt cooler than when I told people I worked for Saint Laurent (total bragging rights haha)! Beyond the bragging rights, it was a super interesting time to be working there as they had just changed their name from YSL to Saint Laurent the previous year, and they were still handling confusion within the market, as well as, amongst longtime fans of the YSL label. What I absolutely respected + marveled over was that they made an effort to hear everyone in the company’s opinion on how to handle the transition. Bloglovin’ operates the same way. There is a certain transparency and openness on how situations are handled. Knowing that your voice will be heard in a corporation is major for employees — it facilitates a healthy working environment along with creating trust + loyalty.
 


L&S: SO WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU? WHAT DO YOU SPEND YOUR TIME DOING?
CASEY: 
No day is the same which I love! Mondays are probably my most consistent because they are spent doing housekeeping — catching up on emails, planning-out the week ahead for Facebook + Twitter and sourcing images for Instagram. I never schedule meetings for Mondays, because to be honest I am not a Monday person … I usually leave them for later in the week, when i’ve freed up more time and am more charming ;). The rest of the week includes maintaining social share partnerships, meetings with influencers, attending any relevant events in our industry, helping with recruitment for Activate by Bloglovin’ (which if you haven’t signed up — you should ;) ), finding candidates for Instagram takeovers and coding our weekly Community Newsletters. Of course a majority of my time is spent on Instagram — I live in our 6 feeds and am constantly scrollin’.


L&S: WOW, 6 INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS?! DO YOU MANAGE THEM ALL PLUS YOUR OTHER SOCIAL PLATFORMS? IF SO, DO YOU HAVE A SET NUMBER OF TIMES YOU POST PER DAY/PER WEEK TO EACH ACCOUNT? HOW DO YOU MANAGE IT ALL?!
CASEY: 
This job has challenged my time management skills - something I needed to work on (to say the least)! The number of times we post to Facebook + Twitter has changed several times and I am sure we will continue to alter. But, we always test things for at least 2 months so that we can have a case study for why we are changing course.

We launched our additional 5 IG accounts (@bloglovin_fashion, @bloglovin_home, @bloglovin_travel, @bloglovin_beauty + @bloglovin_food) at the beginning of last summer, and perfecting how many times we are posting to those accounts has been trying! It’s definitely something we are still working on, but I think we have finally found our sweet spot ... fingers crossed!


L&S: WHAT'S ONE APP OR TOOL YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT FOR MANAGING SOCIAL?
CASEY: 
I cannot live without Buffer! It is my biggest friend in this industry. I use it predominantly for Facebook, Twitter and occasionally for LinkedIn. I love that I can schedule everything a week out. I don’t use it for Instagram — I like to have a bit more control over our IG.


L&S: HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT CREATING THE SOCIAL STRATEGY FOR BLOGLOVIN'? WHAT WERE SOME OF THE FIRST STEPS YOU TOOK?
CASEY: 
When I first started there was no social media strategy in place. So we really started with the aesthetic and went from there. I will never forget posting my first IG for the account — I must have refreshed the feed 100 times to make sure we were stacking up to the amount of likes we normally received. I still get excited every time I post because as much as you plan, certain images just take off more than others — it always interests me to see what people react to — whether it be within comments or likes or in certain cases, lower engagement than you think.

On our Facebook + Twitter I usually post industry related articles, and content being written on our INFLUENCE blog. I also like to mix in “fun” articles - everything from the latest in cocktails, to “how to” fashion guides, and …... Pinterest was where we saw the most growth then + still to this day. We’ve grown from 29K to 1.3M since I started, which has been epic to be apart of! People ask me what the secret sauce is to having success on different platforms — it’s equal part luck, timing, engagement + consistency. The luck part was very true for us on Pinterest, and consistency is something I have been very focused on across all of our channels. Whether it be the time of day we post and/or messaging we use, even down to the minute details of where we tag our images I want it ALL to be cohesive. When you first start I think it’s important to remember that social media is meant to be fun!! And that sometimes what you set-out to do may change — and that’s okay. Failure is the best way to learn. So fail fast and move on even faster!


L&S: FOR DESIGNERS WHO MAY NOT HAVE THE BUDGET TO HIRE A SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER, WHAT ARE SOME TIPS TO HELP THEM BE SUCCESSFUL ON SOCIAL?
CASEY: 
To start I would focus on having at least one full month of content. This way when things get busy, (because we all know you are going to get busy) you still have a library of images to chose from! As important as your imagery is, consistency is QUEEN! It will not only help you with engagement, but it will give you structure + help you plan out how much content you really need.

Also, be yourself! People dig it when you are authentic (and they can tell), so if you are sassy — be sassy! If you are preppy — pull out all the monogram you can! As much you are selling your designs, you are also selling yourself because you are a huge part of that — so let people see that. Now, with that being said — you don’t need to share everything :) But let people in with stories, let them see where you design or where you source materials. Trust me, your followers + future patrons will thank you in the form of sales!

 

L&S: IF A DESIGNER ONLY HAD TIME TO FOCUS ON ONE OR TWO THINGS WHEN IT COMES TO INSTAGRAM, WHAT SHOULD THEY BE?
CASEY: Engagement is major! We all know how excited we get when we reach out to an influencer about where they got their skirt, and they take the time to respond. Same thing goes for a designer — make sure you answer all DM’s. It may seem time consuming, but it’s worth it.

Consistency would be my other focus — this encompasses brand image, story, posting schedule + aesthetic. The more consistent your story is, the more engaged your followers will be. It will also persuade them to purchase. I love when I know the story behind the brand — I am WAY more inclined to shop their product. Give your followers every excuse to pull out their credit card :)



L&S: WHAT'S ONE OF THE CRAZIEST, COOLEST EXPERIENCES YOU'VE HAD WORKING IN MARKETING AND SOCIAL MEDIA SO FAR?
CASEY: 
Not to sound cliché, but the coolest part is that I love my job! I truly enjoy coming to the office everyday, I don’t get the 'Sunday Scaries' anymore and I am genuinely good friends with my coworkers. We laugh a lot, we have fun together and we always remember that we are all working towards a common goal. I’ve had what feels like a million jobs in NYC — and while they have all been a stepping stone to the next chapter, I finally feel like I am at the right place at the right time with the best people!

Stay connected with Casey on Instagram