In 2015, more than $180 billion was spent in advertising in the United States, according to Statista.com.
There are two women in Tampa Bay building successful businesses on free advertising on a tool many people use every day.
Instagram has become the place where hashtags reign supreme, you can get famous from your gym selfies and your dog gets his own page.
For Ashley Drummonds, creator of ABS protein pancakes, Instagram is helping her make money...and a lot of it!
" I made an Instagram post saying, “Hey I got high protein, low carb pancakes. Message me if you want to order this. Immediately people on Facebook and Instagram were wanting to buy it," says Drummonds.
Drummonds used Instagram to flip the script on conventional advertising a few years ago and hasn’t looked back since, but there is a method to the madness.
“From a business perspective, there’s actual websites you can go to that will tell you every single week what the top trending hashtags are,” says Drummonds.
Some of those sites include:
Drummonds says it was sites like those that helped her go from a home assembly line to a product that now has more than 34,000 followers on Instagram.
Here’s her pro tip for people just breaking into the small business industry, with little to no money for advertising? Don’t pay for advertising.
“You’re spending all this money just to increase your number count, but that doesn’t translate into growing your business," says Drummonds.
But Drummonds isn’t the only one capitalizing on the free advertising. Bunny of Bunny Couture high end bikinis says her businesses advertising is built solely with Instagram.
“If you have a quality product, it will catch by itself. It will spread. People will find out about it,” says Bunny. “Social media is just so driven by images, you get to see it!”
It’s a product that started just because Bunny wanted something a little different to wear for her Spring Break trip and the rest is history. She says Instagram is unlike a magazine or a mailer and that’s what makes her successful.
"It’s not delivered to a mailbox where they will open it later, if they open it. It’s usually mixed with the rest of the mail! [Instagram] goes directly to their phone; you pay nothing to be right in their face," says Bunny.
So what makes her bikinis better than anything she says? She says the Swarovski crystals and the great fit.
Her pro tip to the new entrepreneurs out there is to do what you would do in the business world anyway, NETWORK! But do that networking through social media.
“If you can jump in with other people [who are already successful on Instagram with a large following] their audience will see you and you’ll get that audience too. If you’re making a product that’s similar and something with good quality [that’s what happens.]," says Bunny.