Marketing your coworking space on Instagram · Part 1

TLDR: No cutting corners. Read it.

Disclaimer: These are my opinions and experiences. While it may feel I’m patting myself on the back, I’m only communicating what has worked for me. If you’ve had different experiences or found something that really works please share it with me at garrett@wearehygge.com. I’ll update this post to reflect alternative ideas and experiences. I would love that. For now, they are just mine.

Before making coworking my full time gig with hygge, I worked in marketing and owned my own digital agency. That’s a luxury that some/most of you might not have. Budgets are tight and experience in the area might not exist on the team.

Google [tips for marketing your coworking] and you’ll be bombarded with all sorts of of listicles. They all say the same thing. They’ll tell you to do events, write a regular newsletter, post more on social media, etc. I don’t find any of it to be particularly useful. I’m hoping with this new series, to help you decide what tactics are valuable for your space and how to execute on them. Even in it’s simplest form.

Let’s get to it. I want to talk Instagram.

I believe this is by far the most important social media platform a coworking space can invest time in. Here’s part 1 of 3.

Why Instagram?

I don’t see a coworking space using Instagram as a tool to market in the moment directly. You’re building awareness and creating something bigger than the day to day. You’re building an opportunity to evoke an emotion.

People are not sitting around looking for coworking spaces and all of a sudden, boom, there you are. That’s not how it works. Something typically happens in someone’s world that sends them on the coworking hunt and they start doing some research.

When someone is interested in coworking and scrolling through your feed, they are looking for a photo/video that makes them feel good and a person who looks like them. They are placing themselves in your space. Instagram gives you the best opportunity to show a potential member these exact things.

Takeaways:

  1. Make a potential member doing research feel good.
  2. Make sure potential members see someone who looks like them. By looks like them, that could mean age, race, gender, industry, etc. Paint a broad and diverse picture.

How do you evoke an emotion?

How do you want people to feel when they look at your space on Instagram? That’s the most important question.

When you look at these 9 photos from the hygge Instagram what do you get from it? What do you see?

  • People of all types
  • People working
  • Community events
  • Coffee
  • The color yellow
  • The word easy
  • Podcasting equipment from the users perspective

We specifically chose each and every one of these photos to properly represent what we want people to see and feel about our space. Yellow was a choice. It’s bright and associated with happiness. We use the word easy, but we desperately want to make coworking accessible and easy for new people. We show events, people interacting and laughing, because often people are looking for a sense of community. We write weekly features on our members and highlight them with photos by Julia.

Let’s take a look at a coworking space that’s up and coming. I’ve removed their name as I’m not trying to call them out directly. This is their last 9 photos. What do you see?

Listen, I’m being critical here. I want owners and operators to care so-freaking-much about the way the public sees their spaces. You get one chance at a first impression. Here’s what we see.

  1. Events that have passed. The crazy thing is there’s a good chance even their followers didn’t see the event posts because of Instagram’s algorithm. It’s not showing posts chronologically so there’s a chance people missed it.
  2. Snowy outdoor space.
  3. Washed out photos.
  4. An airplane shot
  5. Lots and lots of text. I’m going to rant about text on your photos here shortly.
  6. Working alone sucks.

The one shining light in these 9 photos is the phrase “working alone sucks.” It’s just about the only thing that’s built to evoke an emotion. I know this might seem a tad harsh, but I know the way people are vetting spaces. If it was hygge versus the other coworking space and Instagram was the deciding factor, where would you go work?

Also things like the airplane shot and the cold outdoor shot could work if there was a human attached to it. Do a selfie! Share people playing in the snow. Say you’re traveling back to your awesome new space or taking a break for a snowball fight. Something, anything. Evoke 👏 an 👏 emotion.

Even if you had the most awesome space and community manager, you have to get that potential member through the door. This could be the first step.

How do you get high quality photos?

Photo quality is not a subjective thing. There are good photos and there are bad photos.

My first recommendation is to hire a local photographer to do bulk photos in the space. One hour-long shoot could produce content for days. Have a clear understanding of what you want/need and let a photographer go nuts. This is how we create content for hygge.

I work with and pay #hyggefam member Julia Fay. We pay her on a monthly basis and she delivers 15 photos that she shoots throughout the space. We try to pull together a collection of people working, easy mugs, and bright detail shots. This on top of the weekly #hyggefam feature photos.

I’ve heard of spaces reaching out to young, local photographers that are either looking for portfolio pieces or possibly looking to trade photos for access to the coworking space. I’m not a huge fan of bartering but if you can find an easy, beneficial way for both sides to make this happen then go for it.

The last option is phone photography done by yourself. The camera on your phone is likely pretty bad-ass. It’s just a matter of knowing how to take and frame a nice shot. Almost all of our photography in the early days was iPhone. It was definitely a little all over the place in quality but it still fell in line with the goal of evoking an emotion.

If you’re going to shoot with your phone make sure you:

  1. Have some decent light.
  2. Get down on the same level as whatever you’re shooting. Having the perspective like you are one of the members is a good thing.
  3. Close up detail shots.
  4. If you have portrait mode (which most new phones do) please use it. It saves lives, errr photos.

These are all iPhone photos (below). They are still of people, people working and our yellow, on-brand “easy” mug. Consistent and while not nearly as nice as the pro stuff Julia is shooting, they more than support the mission. It can be done.

I have very few members. How do I show the space being used?

The below 9 photos are the early days. This is almost 3 years ago. It’s pre-Julia (our photographer) and we actually only had one member. His name is Chris. He’s one of the 3 people in that selfie shot. The other two are myself and the cofounder of hygge, Kayla.

We did lots of brand-building photos back in the day before we had members. It was all about showing us off. Garrett and Kayla are some sort of inspiration. While the quality of the photos are not nearly what they are today, there’s some consistency. People, easy, yellow, black. There’s some personality.

If we hosted events, we made sure to take as many photos as possible. Very rarely would we post at the time. Save the photos for the next day or week. Do a throwback Thursday #tbt post the next week. Remember, in the moment isn’t nearly as valuable so don’t be afraid to sit on a photo for a while.

The buttons were printed over at stickermule.com and are an easy way to create cool and affordable assets for photography. These surfaced often on our feed in the early days.

Who should you follow?

Since August of 2015 we’ve grown to 3,238 followers. We follow 1,686 people.

Most blogs and articles will tell you to follow and pray they follow back. Just go nuts. Here are some strategies for growing your following without just randomly following everyone in your city. That might work but you’ll end up following 10,000 and only having 400 followers. You can do better than that.

Note: BEFORE you go follow anyone or do any of this, make sure you have at least 9 photos. Create a little mood/brand board out of your first 9. Then people that you follow will know what to expect from your feed moving forward. A small detail, but could be the difference between someone giving you the follow back.

  1. Most important: Don’t buy followers. Period. There are services that will promise you followers for a small price. Don’t do it.
  2. Go to the other coworking spaces in the area (your competition) and look at their followers list. Follow those people. If they followed one they might follow another.
  3. Small business love. Support local is real and I see a fair share of our following comes from the other businesses. Don’t hesitate to give other smaller, indie shops a follow. Especially ones in the creative industry like designers, agencies and dev shops.

What about getting likes?

Getting over the need for likes took me a long time. We all want all the likes. Why does one post do better than others? I posted them at the same time and it’s a super similar photo. The sooner you can get past this need, the better off you’ll be. Remember, we’re playing the long-game here. The next two photos are of the same space, but have drastically different engagement.

Photo 1 (below) shows an empty space and practically no signs of life outside of a water bottle on the left side of the shot. Might there be a person there? This photo got lots of likes and some comments. That makes me happy.

Photo 2 (below) is a year later, has half as many likes and zero comments. I believe this does more to support your brand and potential new members. Here’s why.

  1. It shows life. This is 100% a candid shot and one of my all-time favorites.
  2. There is only one person working but clearly there are others working in the space.
  3. There are good social signs. Coffee, a six pack.
  4. The quote wall, while obscured, makes people think.

This is a thought-provoking photo. People will consider if they can see themselves working in this space. Is there someone or something for me here?

Alright! Hopefully I left you with a ton to think about and consider. If you’re already crushing it or doing all of these things then awesome.

I’ll be back next week with Part 2 where we’ll talk about:

  1. Text on images [ugh]
  2. Talking about available space through Insta
  3. Timing and Frequency
  4. Hashtags
  5. More content ideas
  6. Event marketing
  7. Creating engagement that’s valuable.

Until next time, go create something beautiful. If you’re doing something and it’s working hit me up at garrett@wearehygge.com or in the comments below.

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