Instagram Inspirations of Barista Parlor

So, Barista Parlor is my new Nashville obsession. If you know me, which you probably don’t (Hi! I’m Rebecca – the new NoSleepForSheep social media intern!), I have this obsessive personality where I become infatuated with something new almost every month. February was coconut water, March was almond milk, and this month (drumroll, please) – it’s Barista Parlor coffee. However, digging into this local coffee shop’s Instagram strategy actually led me to come away with more than just a perfect cup of joe. Let me explain.

Barista Parlor is an artisanal coffee shop that is housed in a former auto repair garage in Music City’s hip east side. Aside from their sensationally-crafted brew, what really caught my attention was their distinct aesthetic. Coffee served on beautiful wooden planks, employees wearing custom-designed wax canvas aprons, independent artists’ pieces hanging on the walls, alternative music that both scared and intrigued me – it’s a hipster’s dream come true. This is a spot where you can chill, have a leisurely cappuccino with friends, or ride up on a motorcycle and sketch in your Moleskine (this actually happened – see helmet in picture below). This was Barista Parlor’s crowning jewel – their hip, artsy vibe that totally consumes you as you step into one of their locations.

Barista Parlor Instagram Marketing

Barista Parlor’s Instagram Inspirations!

Barista Parlor isn’t just coffee – it’s a lifestyle, something that cannot be conveyed through sparkly promos and traditional advertising. This is where Instagram comes in. Like any good millennial, I whipped out my iPhone and immediately looked up @baristaparlor on Instagram, and boy, do they know how to create a healthy social media buzz.

With 45.5k followers, the small, local brand is fostered almost completely through its Instagram. On Instagram, it’s not really about what you sell – it’s about visual feelings. It’s not about your products, but rather the lifestyle behind those products and behind your brand overall. And surpassing all other social media platforms with sky-high engagement (400 million active users as of 2015), Instagram should be at the core of your business’ digital marketing strategy.

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Some of the most successful Instagram campaigns are from Airbnb and Herschel, who craft their brand image through promoting lifestyles (i.e. adventure, being on-the-go). Your business may not have the big bucks that these brands have, but small businesses still have substantial opportunities to better utilize the social influencers they often ignore.

Here’s how. This was the most critical finding from Barista Parlor’s Instagram: the majority of their posts consisted of user-generated content. That is, Barista Parlor’s community managers sift through the branded content publicly posted by their customers every day and ask permission to repost the best ones on their own Instagram, giving the original poster recognition in the caption. These social influencers were effectively doing their marketing for free. It was brilliant.

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Millennials trust user-generated content 50% more than other media (Mashable). By laser-focusing in on their real brand advocates, Barista Parlor can amplify their voices to expand their social reach even further.

According to EngageSciences, only 4.7% of brands’ customers have the influence to generate social referrals. Rather than scrambling to snag conversions from the entirety of your target market, brands should concentrate instead on cultivating relationships with their most passionate customers. By tapping into their top 5%, Barista Parlor can leverage the most impactful relationships and make big moves on social. Marketers take note: You have to talk to the head to reach the masses.

So, here are the 3 key pointers you should be taking from Barista Parlor’s Instagram:

  1. Frame your visual content around a story and create an experience for your customers. Showcase the ‘human’ side to your business and put your employees in the spotlight. Use high quality, visually stunning images that adhere to a consistent aesthetic. Some of my favorite photo editing apps that can seriously make a huge difference in the quality of your images include: Afterlight, VSCO, and VIBBIDI (for videos).
  2. Invest in user-generated content and fold your top 5% into the process. By utilizing your social influencers and nurturing those relationships through reciprocation and recognition, you can ultimately cast a wider net. Ditch paid promotion, and bring your true advocates into social sharing.
  3. Cross-promote your partners and engage with your community. Instagram is so much more than finding fitting imagery to #regram. It’s about cultivating a strong community, and that means featuring and tagging other local businesses that you’re partnered with (read: Five Daughter’s Bakery – #nom), and engaging on social with your fans. A little kindness goes a long way.

Barista Parlor Instagram Marketing

Rebecca Shao is the social media intern and a sophomore at Vanderbilt University. She loves coconut water, the color yellow, and anything with a funky beat. Follow her on her own Instagram: @chairman.shao.