What is the first social media platform that comes to mind when launching a small business?
Sure enough, Instagram is at the top of our list. Instagram is where Barbarian debuted as an official clothing brand in 2016 and remained there until late 2019. We used this platform because it gave us easy and quick access to a huge audience. Instagram is popular right now. Companies know this and it’s why you can’t scroll too long without seeing an ad or an influencer selling you something. Yes, we wanted Instagram to help us make sales but more importantly, we wanted to build a community. We were always interested in sharing our creative process with our audience which would allow for more transparency. We used stories to document every print session, photoshoot, barbarian gatherings, etc. It all felt great until it didn’t. Having to document everything taken away from what we were doing. It took away from our process. It got to a point where we started to feel inauthentic as individuals and as a brand. We became aware of the fact that real connection had decreased—it is comfortable to connect online and pretend to be someone you’re not. We did not want to keep feeding into it by staying there. There are thousands of clothing brands on that platform and very few stand out. As a small business, you’re competing with every brand that exists out there. Instagram also has this thing called an algorithm. Certain likes get you to the explore page where people can find you. The more you post and get likes the more probable you get to being on that page and getting exposure. It can get overwhelming to produce quality when all Instagram wants you to post is quantity. We only posted now and then for very limited shirt drops- therefore we didn’t get much from it. We decided it was time to do something different—something barbaric.
We left Instagram and moved to a platform that felt more authentic. We re-worked our website and turned it into a place where we could share new shirts, upcoming events, and blogs. We created an automated text message that our community can subscribe to and receive updates on any new content. This way we have our own online space that is less crowded. We're then able to focus on building real connections and growing our local community. An advantage of being a small brand is having conversations with the people who attend our events, such as the Pop-Up-Shops. We enjoy creating spaces where people can come, hang out with us and buy shirts if they want to. This is why we cherish our pop-up shops — this is why we moved on from the broad online platform to a more intimate and personal approach to our brand.