Today I’m sharing with you a fun little case study from Angela @chocolate_milke.
About a month ago Angela sent me an email about her progress with Instagram after applying my exclusive IG hacks and techniques.
I ain’t gunna lie, my jaw dropped to the floor!!!
After Angela started implementing the tactics and systems I teach in Instagram King, where I show you how to grow your brand, increase followers and make money with IG. I get emails all the time from students with success stories and how much they’ve grown their accounts.
But, Angela’s story totally blew me away!
Here’s what she has to say…
“after reading your IG book, I made it priority to create a dialogue with my followers. Prior to this, I had been hesitant to comment on stranger’s pages (most especially brands/bloggers I LOVED and wanted to partner with)… I’m now being approached by major bloggers and other cool brands to collaborate. It’s crazy exciting and has happened quickly since I started using your process.”
"I’m now being approached by major bloggers and other cool brands to collaborate. It’s crazy exciting and has happened quickly since I started using your process.”
Angels started at 100 is now up to 2K+ followers in just a matter of a few months. Holy crap!!!! That’s seriously amazing.
So of course I was like... girl, we need to tell your super inspiring story! She was totally up for it. So read keep reading to see how Angela completely transformed her business with Instagram...
First off, let's start with her Instagram account. Go give Angela and her kick ass brand a follow, you WON'T be sorry :)
Tell me about you and your awesome business
My name is Angela Lanahan. I’m the founder of Chocolate Milke Apparel (www.chocolatemilke.com) and the mama to a precocious 3-year old, named Finley. Chocolate Milke was my passion project after leaving a long career as a Design Director at majors like Abercrombie & Fitch, Foxhead, Inc and most recently, Skechers USA where I launched their active apparel line.
At Chocolate Milke, we make super-soft leggings, for little explorers and their mamas, using recycled & sustainable knit blends (seriously the softest leggings you’ve ever felt). All products are washer friendly and made to explore in and get dirty.
We have a passion for craftsmanship, unique wash treatments and bold color palettes that excite the eye and stir the soul.
Why did you choose to use Instagram as part of your marketing strategy?
At the time we launched (officially in November of 2015), the Instagram Algorithm wasn’t a thing yet. Based on everything I read and speaking to friends with successful small shops, Instagram was the most direct route to reach potential customers, without having to pay for boosts or ad words. It was supposed to be fast, effective and essentially free.
Do you remember when you first started your Instagram account?
The account was officially opened in May of 2014. I was in between jobs and toying with the idea of launching my own line. I registered the name Chocolate Milke as a DBA and started an IG account.
We had 100 followers in less than two months just by following a few other small shops and mom bloggers.
At the time, Chocolate Milke got pushed to the side. I accepted a position at Skechers and didn’t touch the account again for 1 ½ years. When I logged back on, in November of 2015, our product was completely different and the landscape of IG was a whole new playing field. It felt impossible to stand out.
How was Instagram working out for you at first?
Not great. In retrospect it’s funny how clueless I was when I started. To give you an idea, my first “official” post (after re-starting the account in 2015) was announcing our launch on Black Friday. There was no prior build up with teaser posts, and at the time we had only 100 followers that hadn’t heard from me in over a year.
I did a giveaway where I asked everyone to re-post my picture, tag like 5 people…all these things that are annoying and outdated.
And with no prior “hey guys….Chocolate Milke is coming….here’s who we are”. Just a giveway. That nobody cared about. Not one person shared the pic. Not even my closest friends.
AND, I was baffled.
What kind of struggles did you come across prior to stumbling upon Lot801Marketing.com?
I was working totally blind…and I knew it.
At first, I thought that because my website and photography were beautiful that I had all the right tools in place. But in reality, I was putting up one picture a day (not even at a key post time) and hoping that someone would notice us.
I used a few hashtags, but wasn’t researched or up-to-date with them.
I did zero engagement. I didn’t respond to comments on my page and I didn’t seek out followers directly through researching the many mommy hashtag communities that exist.
I was trying so very hard to look polished and professional that I completely missed the grass-roots opportunity IG provides to engage and connect directly with my demographic.
I had no clue about searching for brand reps, share for shares, collaberation with other small shops…
I was literally clueless.
What were some of your biggest "ah-ha" moments you learned from Lindsay?
Ohmigod. SO MANY. How long can this blog be?
The major AHA moment was that MY voice should be the voice of my company. I’m an intense, loyal, passionate person with an extremely strong-minded child so sass and humor are big part of the dynamic in our household.
That humor and playfulness wasn’t apparent in our IG feed at all. I wasn’t being the face of my brand. We had a clear “girl power” message but there was no real talk or tongue-in-cheek moments. The account was one-dimensional, which made it less tangible to people.
Engagement only happens if you initiate first. I started researching hashtags and seeing what mommies hung out where. I liked, followed, commented on photos that I found particularly beautiful or cool.
I forged genuine friendships through this process, which have actually grown to be incredibly loyal customers and brand advocates for CM.
After first researching and engaging on other peoples pages, I began posting more photos of myself and my daughter. I asked questions from my followers. I shared personal stories.
I shared the reason I started my company (which is because I suffered from severe anxiety at my last job and finally had the courage to leave the industry…I wanted to be a better role model for my daughter.) The more real I got, the more followers I got and the more people engaged.
To summarize, the biggest takeaway for me from Lindsay is now I understand how to properly navigate IG in a way that yields followers, creates a dialogue and gets people to my website (where I get their email, even if they don't order on their first visit.)
"To summarize, the biggest takeaway for me from Lindsay is now I understand how to properly navigate IG in a way that yields followers, creates a dialogue and gets people to my website (where I get their email, even if they don't order on their first visit.)"
- Angela, owner Chocolate Milke
What have you achieved since you've applied what you learned from Lindsay?
Our IG account just hit 2K!! Alyssa Milano posted about us. That one was huge. I’ve been a fan of hers since “Who’s the Boss”. We’ve also had collaberations with rad IG stars like @EverWillaLove, @This.Little.Wandering & @yo.sabba.sabba and mentions from two of the top mommy bloggers – Jordan Reid from @ramshackleglam (seriously the most talented and kind person I’ve ever met) and the incredible Corri McFadden from @glitterandbubbles (her style is epic)!
Our email list is up to 300 people and, in the last 90 days, we’ve had 4x the site referrals from IG than from all other Social Media platforms combined. We are definitely making headway.
What was your biggest takeaway?
There is no such thing as overnight success. From the outside people see our achievements and think we are doing something special but really it’s a commitment to a strategy and continuing to deliver on that strategy every single day…even when it’s hard to keep up.
What's your next goal or what are you looking forward to most with your business?
Right now our focus is exposure of our brand. I want the maximum amount of people wearing our product, even if that doesn’t translate directly to large net gains. About 50% of our customers end up buying again, so the more I can introduce our leggings to new customers, the more we can convert them to fans and brand loyalists.
The big next step for our business is to generate enough income not only to pay for itself but for me to start taking a salary and working for myself full-time. I am targeting to achieve this goal in the next 8-12 months, but with some good luck, we will hopefully do it sooner.
Ultimately, we’d like to add in a charity element. My dream is to partner with charities that foster leadership skills in girls. I want girls around the world to have all the same opportunities that I did. I want my daughter to be shocked that things like a wage gap based on gender and race ever existed. I want to see more female CEO’s, small business owners, mayors, governors, etc.
If there's anything you take away from today's post, I hope it's this:
- Anyone can replicate this process: Once you become a student of Instagram King and implement everything you learn in the course. It's actually quit EASY to recreate this success story for yourself. Angela, didn't know hardly anything about marketing on Instagram, she didn't have any secret powers or do anything special that would only work for her, she simply did the work. And you can too.
- You can make money with IG: It's not always about the numbers... how many IG followers you have. We focus on how many of those followers are customers of yours, that actually buy your products. It's important to know how to convert followers into PAYING customers. Which is exactly what Angela has done with her IG account. She's continuously growing, gaining more and more customers.
- Connections + collabs are important: Getting a shoutout from celebrities on social media can be HUGE for your brand. It can turn your story into an overnight success. What you don't know, is that it's totally doable. Yes, I'm talking to you. Angela is the perfect example that when you implement my secret strategies... it can happen!
- You can do this: Yes, YOU! There isn't any secret way of achieving all of this. Get it out of your head right now that... sure it worked for her, but that could never be me. That's total B.S. It's just a step-by-step process you use that gets you there. Anyone can do it, if they put in to work!