How One Retailer Uses Instagram to Connect With Customers

by : 

Megy Karydes

January 18, 2016
Marketing Mondays - How One Retailer Uses Instagram to Connect With Customers

For the last two weeks, we've explored why independent retailers should be using Instagram as part of a winning social media marketing strategy and looked at how to get started on Instagram. This week, we're going to get some insider insight from an Instagram pro!

Nicole Bandklayder, co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Minneapolis-based Bijouxx Jewels, a fine jewelry and leather goods boutique, started her business online two years ago and recently opened her first location in a mall.

“We design and manufacture affordable luxury,” Bandklayder says. “We carry gorgeous genuine gemstone jewelry in sterling silver, leather handbags, and men's accessories. All of Bijouxx’s exclusive pieces are created with genuine gemstones and sterling silver.”

Bandklayder’s experience with marketing and public relations has helped her get her company noticed and covered by Good Morning America, Inc. Magazine,, People Stylewatch, Bella NYC, and several other publications. While those media hits help new customers learn about her business, it’s her engagement on Instagram that helps her really connect with customers and increase sales.

I asked Bandklayder to share with us some of the reasons she finds Instagram an important part of her marketing arsenal and how she uses it successfully as an independent retailer.

Megy Karydes: Why do you use Instagram specifically? How does this platform help you engage with your customers in a way that other platforms don't?

Nicole Bandklayder: Using Instagram really helps us reach customers, and keeps us honest! With the Instagram platform, it's all about the products and the photos. Photos don't lie either. If someone "likes" one of our posts we literally know they really like the product, and the conversion rate for them going to the website and making a purchase becomes a lot higher than Twitter, for example, where there may not always be a product photo posted.

Karydes: What are some things you can do on Instagram that most people don't know?

Bandklayder: Repost and Message features! With Instagram, you are able to repost, or “re-gram,” other people's photos. Let's say a customer posts a photo of themselves wearing your product, or a blogger may post a promotion and tag you in it! You can repost their post, which will show the original poster and gain more engagement than if it was just posted by you directly. You can also message a customer directly through Instagram. Let's say someone comments that they love your new collection. You can message them directly with a discount code and direct website link to purchase. This cuts out a lot of the lag time between purchasing.

Karydes: If someone only has 30 minutes a day to spend on Instagram, what do you recommend they do?

Bandklayder: This is a two-part answer. First, do a little bit of following and liking. Spend five to 10 minutes in your newsfeed, and like, comment, and engage with some other friends and followers of yours. It will get them looking at your page again and give you a little refresh in views and following. Spend another five minutes getting a few posts of your own ready with compelling hashtags and links, if applicable. Go ahead and post them. Give it a few minutes and engage with some of the people that like, and follow your new post. If they are commenting, respond. Customers appreciate a quick response and will take that as your company operating quickly and smoothly.

Karydes: Is it better to focus on quality of followers or quantity? Why?

Bandklayder: Focus on both. I know this can seem tricky and daunting, but quantity and quality can be equally important. It's great to have followers that are potential buyers and fit the mold for your brand. It's also great to have some followers who won't buy, but maybe their friends will. The benefit of a social platform is that by posting, you are not only reaching your followers, you are reaching friends of friends. You never know whose friend is going to notice your brand and become your next buyer. Treat all followers as potential buyers.

Karydes: What's the best way to find followers? What should we be looking for specifically?

Bandklayder: You want to identify your target market. If you are selling women's clothing, your target is probably women. How old are they? Do they have kids? Where do they frequently shop? By identifying the correct target market, you can target your posts with the proper keywords and hashtags that will garner the correct people.

Karydes: Any final tips you’d like to add?

Bandklayder: The key to successful social media management is being active. Think of social media as a virtual cocktail party. If you aren't talking, no one is going to talk back. Apply this to your social networks. You also don't want to just talk about yourself. Include industry happenings and relevant news or articles. Always apply the "Cocktail Party" technique and you'll do great!

Megy Karydes helps small businesses harness their marketing power. She’s also a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic’s CityLab, Midwest Living magazine and Chicago Tribune, among others. Find her at