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A Picture Perfect Social Media Platform

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – What began as a testing ground for art has grown into something much more for Jamie Jamison.

In 2014, Jamison began using her Instagram account, A La Jamie, to figure out which of her pieces – she works with mixed media and photography – resonated with buyers. If a particular piece or style gained more traction among her followers, it was a sign of where she should head.

Since then, her following has grown to more than 28,000 and the mission of A La Jamie has expanded. With experience in marketing for companies such as Eat’n Park, combined with her own knowledge of the Instagram platform, she’s expanded into social media coaching for small businesses. She will also lead a breakout sessions at the DOYO Live Conference Aug. 3.

“Most businesses know they need to be successful on social media. They’re just not exactly sure how to be,” Jamison says. “They’re trying to figure it out and create relevant and exciting content. They want to engage with their customers, but it’s confusing.”

 

Jamison focuses primarily on Instagram, a platform with 700 million users worldwide. Unlike Twitter or Facebook, Instagram’s focus is on visuals rather than text. Users can post one picture, a gallery of pictures or brief videos, each of which brings its own set of challenges for businesses and, Jamison acknowledges, isn’t the perfect fit for everyone.

“If you have a product that you need to have more language or a conversation about, Twitter or Facebook may be the right platform for you,” she says. “Some don’t have a strong or interesting visual identity. You have to be able to tell frequent visual stories.”

The key to successfully using Instagram as a marketing tool comes down to what Jamison calls the three C’s: connect with your audience, create content and commit to using the platform. They go hand-in-hand.

“You want to make it a real-life experience rather than a commercial one. … People are looking for something organic and authentic, not forced,” she says. “You want daily content, a daily conversation.”

To start those conversations, having a strategy of using hashtags is crucial. To reach users interested in travel, for instance, an account could use #vacation or #Europe or, simply, #travel. Reaching users in Cleveland could be done through hashtags such as #Cleveland or #CLE.

“That’s what helps connect you with the right folks,” she says.

With the consulting portion of A La Jamie, a name she uses across all platforms in all aspects of what she does, Jamison focuses on teaching her clients to run a successful Instagram page, rather than simply handle all of their posting for them.

Last year, she worked with Handel’s Ice Cream to develop an Instagram strategy as the company was expanding across the country. The company has been using Facebook and Twitter for a long time, says CEO Jim Brown, but on the West Coast, apps such as Instagram are the social media standard. Part of the decision to expand on Instagram was based on who uses the social medium.

“We had seen a shift in demographics where older people were coming in on Facebook while younger kids were getting on Instagram,” Brown says. “There was a migration and we know that our consumer base, as they get older and can drive, we need to have conversations with them.”

Most of the Handel’s Instagram account is pictures of the ice cream in all its forms – cones, bowls, sandwiches and specialty items such as buckeyes – with a few videos here and there.

The measure of a successful account, Jamison says, isn’t in the number of followers, but the interactions with them. An account with 20,000 followers but only a few likes and comments isn’t engaging that much, where an account with 10,000 but hundreds of likes is.

While Handel’s was setting up in new markets, Jamison also worked with Melissa DeLisio of Lost My Marbles Fabric. DeLisio uses Turkish marbling techniques to paint fabric and make handmade paper. While she doesn’t operate a storefront, she is featured in area art shows and classes.

Before A La Jamie, DeLisio had never used social media in any form. Today, the Lost My Marbles Fabric account has only 250 followers and updates a few times per week. But those updates generate interactions between DeLisio and artists around the world, with most posts getting around 50 interactions.

That’s opened new doors for the artist. Last year, a quilter in Oregon, Franki Kohler, got in touch with DeLisio about using her fabric in a quilt that would eventually end up in a German embassy. In another instance, a stone carver found DeLisio through a hashtag, #marble, and eventually ordered fabric to be part of a display at the InterContinental Hotel in Boston.

“It generates business for me and my interest isn’t just in the volume I push out, but also in these unique partnerships,” DeLisio says. “I’m interested in seeing my fabric being part of a larger art world.”

While Jamison’s accounts have seen success, it’s not an overnight occurrence. It takes time to develop and a consistency in both number of posts and their quality.

“People want to be able to monetize and measure it and they want it done quickly,” Brown says. “But it has to grow like flowers. You have to continue to water it, continue to be on it and see the response.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.