I love this case study because it shows how valuable Instagram can be for small businesses, even beyond gaining new customers and making sales. Read on to learn how Lisa Sullivan has used Instagram to get remarkable results for her online jewelry shop after learning about the platform from her teenage daughter.
Suzy’s Timeless Treasures specializes in unique vintage and antique jewelry. Lisa named the business after her sister Suzy, who passed from Muscular Dystrophy when they were just children. Lisa’s love for jewelry started when she and her sister played with their grandmother’s jewelry, and Lisa wanted Suzy’s memory to live on through this venture. Lisa has been an ecommerce entrepreneur for about 13 years, and got her start selling on ebay. She feels her work has made her happier, a better wife, and a better mother to her 3 children.
Although Lisa started an Instagram account about two years ago, she only started focusing on using it for her business this year. During that time she has more than doubled her followers, but that’s just the beginning as you’ll discover in this case study.
Despite being new to Instagram, something about it really clicked for Lisa, and she started seeing better results for her business more quickly than she had on the other social platforms she had tried, like Pinterest (which she loved but found took up a LOT of her time), Facebook, and Twitter. She had a lot more interaction and engagement (likes and comments) on her Instagram posts than on these other platforms. And she saw results more quickly and with less effort.
I seem to be getting attention from both potential customers and dealers faster than on any other social media I’ve used. The return on my time investment has definitely been better on Instagram.
– Lisa Sullivan
Lisa quickly came to love the welcoming community of antique and vintage jewelry fans on Instagram, and as she became a part of that community she found it to be very supportive of her, for example by commenting on and sharing her posts.
Since focusing on Instagram, she has seen some great benefits including new customers (including one very loyal repeat customer). Although her typical customer demographic is in the 45-65 year old range, she has still found Instagram to be a good source of customers despite the fact that the average Instagrammer is younger. It’s clear that the audience on Instagram is expanding rapidly as more people discover this beautiful and easy to use platform.
In addition to more sales, Lisa has discovered new sources and suppliers of unique jewelry for her shop (including some younger dealers in their 20s and 30s she likely wouldn’t have found elsewhere). Lisa’s Instagram posts were directly responsible for a new partnership she established with a local vintage clothing business that is now carrying her jewelry.
Beyond those material rewards, she has become part of a very special community with a shared love of vintage and antique pieces.
Lisa has also learned a lot from being on Instagram. She discovered beautiful pieces that she didn’t know existed, and learned more about the history and symbolism of jewelry. In particular she expanded her knowledge of antique jewelry. She learned from observing how other dealers and retailers connect with their audiences on the platform.
Although July is typically her slowest month for online sales, Suzy’s Timeless Treasures is having its best July ever, on track for increasing sales by 25% compared to last year.
Lisa followed her daughter’s example when she started focusing on Instagram for her business. She posts consistently, but not too often, saving her best images for Instagram. She averages about 4-5 posts per week.
Hashtags have been one of the keys to getting her posts discovered, and she uses hashtags that her community uses, for example #jewelryaddiction and #showmeyourrings. Lisa discovers new hashtags by following other accounts in the industry. She always uses hashtags that are relevant for the content that she is posting, which helps her reach a very targeted audience.
Lisa participates in jewelry related hashtag challenges, and has picked up some new followers that way. One example was a challenge about #silverscreengems, about memorable jewelry from the cinema.
Her customers appreciate the listings for Lisa’s jewelry because she includes a lot of detailed information including the history and story of each unique item, and people can really connect with the pieces when they hear the story behind them. On Instagram she tends to keep her descriptions shorter, but will often include one fun fact about a piece that will entice the reader to check out the listing in her online shop to learn more. This is a great way to drive traffic back to her website.
Sometimes people will see photos of pieces that she posted weeks ago on Instagram and ask if they are still available, proving that the lifespan of Instagram content can be quite a bit longer than other social media platforms.
Lisa’s advice to others
Stay positive on Instagram, and have fun with it. First and foremost, think about making new social connections, not about the hard sell. It’s important to respond when people comment on your posts, as well as making genuine comments on other feeds that you like and are related to your industry. Don’t use popular hashtags just to get attention, because it won’t attract the kind of people who are interested in your products. In the beginning, it’s good to follow other accounts in your industry, but over time you may need to pare down the accounts you follow so that your news feed is filled with relevant content that you enjoy. If you enjoyed this article, please share it, and do check out Lisa’s unique vintage and antique jewelry connection at Suzy’s Timeless Treasures as well as her Instagram account.