Posted: Tue 20th Jan 2015
Alan Wardle launched his clothing business, AnyForty in March 2008 as a creative outlet on the side of a full time design job. Run from his flat for 6 years, the company now has dedicated offices in Gateshead and calls Instagram its most important marketing tool. We ask Alan how Instagram helps and his top tips for success.
I'd been working in editorial design since 2000, and no matter how high up the ladder I climbed, there was always someone above me with the final say on design, so I set up AnyForty just so I had complete creative control. I ran it out of my flat for 6 years and then was lucky enough to move into an office in Gateshead where my Dad now handles dispatch and distribution for me.
Social media has gone in waves of impact since I launched. In the early days I did pretty much all my business through Twitter and to a lesser extent Facebook. That's how the business went from selling stuff to friends, then friends of friends, to then complete strangers finding out about it.
However, as soon as instagram came along, everything changed. AnyForty is a creative business and our core customers are creative people so why explain that you've just taken delivery of your biggest range - like we used to do on Twitter in 140 characters - when you can show the customers a picture of piled high boxes, really letting them into the day to day running of the brand, and that's when everything started to happen for us.
Before a new collection releases, we'll put out teaser images, shots of lookbook shoots etc. On the day we'll also announce the range is releasing and the time. Then when the range goes live online, we'll instagram a picture saying it's out - and watch the orders come in.
We run two sales a year. When we do, within seconds of announcing it on instagram, we'll have orders. We have over 7,000 followers and of course, not all of them are buying! There's a lot of people who like an image who don't ever go on to make a purchase, perhaps they are other artists looking for inspiration, or just browsers but fortunately for us, we've a solid core of customers who follow the brand and support it with hard earned cash!
Followers are from all over the world which has carried us into new countries and we ship product to Australia, America and Europe.
My top tip for building a successful instagram presence is communication. I'm always scouring hashtags and make sure anyone who @'s AnyForty gets a comment or reply to their image. Couple that with having a feed that's always posting fresh content and you're onto a winner.
I follow some brands who just post the same pictures week in week out for months and I don't know why people still follow them. You've gotta give your followers new stuff they've not seen before!