When Nana Agyemang launched her business, EveryStylishGirl, she did it on Instagram. She knew the platform had the potential to help her build a community around her media company, which she founded to focus on the career advancement of Black and Brown women in finance, fashion and beauty. “I started EveryStylishGirl to let other women of color know you can rise to the top and you can be your own entrepreneur,” says Agyemang. Instagram, she realized, would be the perfect place to deliver that message to the audience she was hoping to connect with.
Three years after the launch, she’s grown her follower base to nearly 60,000. “Our continuous community engagement is the reason for that growth. We speak to our followers like we do to our best friends. We allow them to feel empowered and safe on our platforms,” she says.
Along the way, Agyemang has become an evangelist for Instagram, which has more than 1 billion accounts, 90 percent of which follow a business on the platform. Prior to starting her business, Agyemang didn't really use Instagram—in those days, she was applying to graduate school and feared that the social media platform was yet another addicting app that would distract her from her priorities. But when she was accepted to Columbia University and began pursuing her master’s degree in journalism, she knew she wanted to focus her education and career on showcasing diversity in media, leading her to found the company and ultimately, its presence on Instagram.
Today, Agyemang shares what she’s learned through her experience with the platform with small-business owners looking to find similar success. She believes the platform can best be used to help small-business owners build their brands and connect with audiences by delivering engaging messages at a consistent cadence.
Building a Brand
Agyemang tells business owners that the first step in building their brand on Instagram is to know their audience, including their desires, goals and ambitions. That way, they can tailor content accordingly. “It’s important to give your community the service and content they are looking for, because at the end of the day, your Instagram is your business,” says Agyemang. “If your business isn’t providing its clients with what they want, they will leave and support someone else’s business.”
Next, she says that small-business owners should embrace the “social” aspect of social media. That means they need to post and engage on other people’s Instagram pages and be active on both sides of the conversation. She suggests leaving a comment on at least five to eight accounts a day, and posting an Instagram Story at least three to four times a week, adding polls to encourage interaction (Instagram Stories are photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours). She also encourages business owners to try out new Instagram tools, such as Reels, which allow users to record short videos and add their favorite songs, sounds and fun effects.
Agyemang recently started using Reels for her own business, and she says the response has been encouraging. “Last week, we posted a video about our upcoming digital conference, Secrets of Black Success, and we noticed the algorithm really pushed it on the platform. Our engagement on our event post doubled from using video,” she says. “Reels is an element that I don’t see businesses utilizing enough of to reach new audiences.”
It’s important to give your community the service and content they are looking for, because at the end of the day, your Instagram is your business,. [...] If your business isn’t providing its clients with what they want, they will leave and support someone else’s business.
—Nana Agyemang, founder, EveryStylishGirl
Consistency Is Key
If you’re trying to build your business’s following on Instagram, Agyemang says it’s important to be as consistent as possible. Don’t start an account and then fail to post regularly. And don’t post daily for weeks and then suddenly stop. “Once you stop using the app you will lose a lot of traffic,” she says. “I realize some owners will create their Instagram page and not be active, and that is only going to hurt them.” Instead, she suggests setting a schedule for yourself and keeping at it. Once a week, she creates a content calendar and fills it with everything she wants to post on Instagram, as well as other social media platforms, such as Twitter and YouTube, to stay organized. With regular posts, she says, a business will stay top-of-mind for current followers while also drawing in a new audience.
Most of all, Agyemang says, business owners should have fun with their Instagram posts and Stories. By engaging with their audiences and being authentic, she says, they’re showing them that they matter, and that the business cares and wants to stay connected.
“Instagram is like your best friend,” she says. “The more you check in on them and show them love, the more they will reciprocate that love in follower growth and reach.”