How Butter.ATL Grew Its Instagram Followers by 1,100% in 60 Days

By: Brandon Butler, Executive Director, Butter.ATL

March 11, 2019

We are the lucky ones, the ones who call Atlanta home. By living, creating and building here, we get to truly appreciate and love what makes the city special: the culture, the food, the people and the traffic. (We’re obviously joking obviously about the last one.)

In such a culture-rich city, however, it can be difficult to build a company that stands out. The competition is fierce when everyone with a smartphone can create cheap and compelling marketing content. In order to thrive, you need a way to cut through the crowds. You need to change the way you do business.

Thinking and acting like a media company, no matter what industry you’re in, can help you succeed. Our company, Butter.ATL is the living example of this. Our media-centric approach led to a more than 1,000% growth in followers in just 60 days.

What Media Companies Do Right

Media companies have excelled at adapting to the digital world. It used to be that whatever company had the most money to throw at advertising would win market share. Now, with the growth of the internet and smartphones, the cost of creating and distributing content has lowered significantly.

Recognizing these structural changes, media companies have shifted how they think about content and distribution when building a brand. Today’s successful media brands need to be more strategic, creating content that is genuine, relatable and can be distributed across multiple relevant channels.

The Butter.ATL Story

At Butter.ATL, we produce videos, graphics, interviews, illustrations and more that capture the essence of Atlanta. Our focus is on culture, meaning “people like us do things like this.”

From our ‘Atlannapedia’ dictionary of common local terms to local artist interviews to full issues dedicated to wings or waffles, we strive to highlight what makes Atlanta great for residents and visitors alike.

Butter.ATL had 900 followers on Instagram as of September 1, 2018. By the end of October, that number grew to over 11,000— 1,100%. It’s the kind of growth new companies dream of. How did we do it? By acting like a media company. This media mindset can be summarized in three key points:

 1. Create Killer Content

Taking the cues of media greats, we focused on content. Everything we produce is detailed, relevant to our audience, authentic, credible and believable. There’s no fluff here. Just genuinely good content. Pretty pictures may attract an initial glance, but you only build loyalty by backing up those images with genuine, valuable content.

What makes content genuine and valuable? It’s all about the narrative. Stories have the power to captivate, especially when they’re about a shared experience. We start with the origin point—Atlanta—and go from there. We make sure each of our stories explores what it means to be living here in this day and age.

2. Be a Trend Seeker

Identifying emerging trends may be one of the hardest, but most fun, things to do as an Atlanta-based brand. With so much going on in arts, fashion, music, food, and sports, it’s hard to stay on top of it all, much less highlight the best and most exciting opportunities.

We attempt to filter our content  by focusing unique events that may not be covered by mainstream media but will definitely appeal to our audience. We then group this content into the themed issues that you see each week on our Instagram feed so it appeals to our different audience segments.

We may either be on trend or creating the trend, depending on who you ask.

 3. Iterate and Innovate

This one we borrowed from tech startup culture: iterate and innovate. With any new business, your first product will not be your final product. While you don’t want to make several major changes to your business—it will certainly be hard to build a brand that way —small iterations can help you improve.

Each week we learn what pieces of content have been successful. Depending on how our audience engages, we may repeat actions or implement incremental changes. Small innovations in content or strategy can offer competitive advantage, too, as they’re often largely done behind the scenes and are difficult to copy.

Follow Brandon: @Butter_Atlanta

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