0 to 150k Instagram followers in 3 years - an interview with iEDM

I sat down with Anthony Ulanovsky, Founder & CEO of iEDM, to discuss how he's grown his Instagram following from 0 to 150k followers in under three years. The highlights of our conversation can be applied to virtually any brand looking to strengthen their connection with their customers, and expand their social audience. 


What was the genesis of starting iEDM?

In late 2012, myself and a friend of mine started what would become iEDM by setting up a free Google Website for selling unique glasses. We both had full-time jobs at the time, and were just doing this in our spare time. We got the idea because I had friends overseas working in the electronic dance music industry, it seemed like only a matter of time before the industry would go mainstream in the United States.

Social media was a big part of our growth. We would post original content on Facebook and Instagram, people would see it, and things started to take off. As the business grew my partner could no longer commit juggling a full time job and the business and left the company. In turn I began hiring to grow the business.


What led to the biggest inflection point in your company's growth in those early days?

When we started with EDM Life, we were seeing minimal sales. It was really more trouble than it was worth. Facebook Ads changed all of that for us. This was in the early days - our Facebook Ads ID was a 5-digit number... today, Facebook IDs are over 10 digits. So it was a bit of the wild west at the time.

What we loved about Facebook Ads was that it was an efficient way to not only achieve cheap conversions, but also build an audience at the same time. We were the only ones advertising for this sort of product on Facebook at the time. 


What sort of content got this most traction on Instagram?

When customers sent us their photos, we'd always repost them as part of a dialogue with our community; that definitely sparked more customer engagement. We found that the best pattern was to alternate some sort of content our community loved - a meme or entertaining video - with photos of our products. It was important that this wasn't just about selling all the time - it was creating a channel where customers enjoyed our content as much as our products.


What channels did you face building your Instagram audience

As we grew, it went from just me posting to having an actual Social Media Manager. It was important that we had our unique voice - a distinct attitude and personality for all of our posts. Many times, social media managers would come in with their own ideas they wanted to implement. But we needed them to review old posts, see what worked, and get a feel for our unique point of view.

Copycats also made things difficult. There was a flood of other companies just trying to copy what we were doing. That's why it's so important to always be evolving - keep changing, offer something unique... stay different. 


What resources would you recommend to other companies wanting to grow their Instagram audience

It's important to stay active as part of a conversation with your community. Hootsuite is a great resource for that. I'm also always talking to my friends who also run their own company or are involved in marketing - that's led to some incredible discoveries. I'm always reading about Facebook algorithm changes that affect Facebook or Instagram. And I also am constantly doing Google searches to find the newest trends and resources available to fully utilize Instagram. 


What other advice do you have for other brands?

Find what works and learn from what doesn't. Also, always be learning and adapting. What works today may not work tomorrow - stay unique, keep offering something different, and be responsive to what content your community wants.