Interview: Francoise Danoy

interview with Francoise Danoy on Stitchcraft Marketing

Interview: Francoise Danoy

Today we’re featuring an interview with knitwear designer and entrepreneur Francoise Danoy from Aroha Knits. Francoise has grown her Instagram following from 200 to over 14K followers in just two years. Today, Francoise shares some of her most successful tactics, many of which can be used by other companies to increase engagement on social media, and especially on Instagram. You can find Francoise on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube.

aroha knits
Can you tell us more about your business model?

I use social media channels such as Instagram, Facebook and Periscope to interact and engage with my audience and strengthen my following. I often use those social media channels to guide them to sign up for my newsletters. I have two newsletters that I send out weekly, one for knitters that includes news about new pattern releases, tutorials or other Aroha Knits related news. The second newsletter is aimed at those in the fiber industry – so posts about how to grow an audience on IG, how to market patterns, how to build a community, etc.

I also use free beta patterns to build my email lists – the free pattern is linked to my blog and if people want the freebie, they have to sign up for my newsletter. An updated and tech-edited version of the beta pattern is uploaded onto Ravelry about a month later, and knitters can decide if they want to pay for the corrections and updates (regardless of what they chose to do, they always get pattern support from me).

I release at least one new pattern every month, and I just recently released two new types of products, an e-book on shawl design and an e-course on designing, writing and publishing patterns for aspiring designers. The e-book is an evergreen product, like my patterns, whereas my e-course is only open for a limited time for people to sign-up.

You offer a variety of products for designers and knitters who want to design. How do you differentiate yourself from big players with big budgets like Craftsy, CreativeBug, Interweave, and a large host of books written on the topic?
Great question! I was definitely aware of the “competition” (I use quotation marks because I don’t really believe in being competitive) when I started developing my e-course and e-book, so first I searched for what I believed to be lacking in the current offerings and build up my products from that. For example, in my book on shawl design, I included how to construct the charts and how to incorporate stitch patterns into them – something I couldn’t find in other books.

The second differentiating point is community. For my e-course, in addition to the HD videos, students also have access to a private FB community. They can directly interact with me, ask questions, get advice and feedback, be held accountable for their goals and celebrate their wins. Designing can be a lonely venture, so building a special community for new designers can make the journey less solitary. They can also develop relationships with other designers, network and learn the importance of collaboration over competition, which is so important for the fiber industry.

And the last differentiating point is me! Every teacher has their own teaching style, process and method. How we interact with our students (from our availability to the words we use) also differ wildly so students have the power to choose which teacher they want to study under. Some aspiring designers find themselves attracted to my “Just do it!” type of attitude and approach to business, others not so much, and that’s ok!

Instagram is a big part of how your generate leads, could you tell us more about how you do this?
I use Instagram to not only grow a community and engage with my followers, but also to direct them to my email list, for my newsletters for pattern releases, or for IG-related challenges that I like to host every once in awhile. If I want to make my audience aware of any Aroha Knits related activities, I put out a Call to Action on my Instagram. I use Iconosquare to determine what the best times to post are so that I can get the most amount of eyes on the post and sometimes I’ll make several posts about a particular event or news throughout the week so I can reach the most people as possible.

How long has it taken to grow your Instagram following, and do you have any tips for others who want to grow theirs?
For context, I started with 200 followers in October 2014, and now in May 2016, I have over 15k followers. However, my growth hasn’t been consistent. On months when I’m not being intentional about growing my IG following, it’s pretty slow. But when I am focused and deliberate, it can grow anywhere from 1k-2k new followers a month. My biggest tip for growing your IG following is to engage on other accounts. Go into hashtags related to your niche and interact with the accounts there by liking photos and leaving comments.

Do you use other social media channels to generate leads for your classes?
Facebook and Periscope are two other areas I use, but not as extensively as I use Instagram.

Ways to employ Francoise’s strategy to your own social media program:

  • Use a high-value download as a lead magnet to get emails for your newsletter list, and provide a link in your Instagram profile. Posts should point people to the link.
  • Before launching a campaign, look at your statistics to see when posts perform the best and what copy is the most successful.
  • Be yourself on social media. Find your unique voice, or the voice of your company. There are most likely other companies making the same product you make, or offering the same service you provide, so differentiate yourself by finding your voice and staying true to your core values.
  • Plan tactically between evergreen products and time-bound products. How can you use  limited-time only promotions to boost your other products, or the other way around?
Leanne Pressly
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