6 Tips to Grow Your Business on Instagram From Sarah Jessica Parker and Glossier’s Emily Weiss

Platform drives conversation, customer service, product ideas

Glossier's Emily Weiss and Sarah Jessica Parker spoke about how they use Instagram for their businesses. Getty Images
Headshot of Kristina Monllos

Glossier founder Emily Weiss created an Instagram account for the brand a month before the direct-to-consumer beauty brand launched. Weiss already ran a popular beauty blog, Into the Gloss, but she wanted to start a dialogue with consumers as soon as she could so that they’d be involved in the process and growth of the brand.

“Glossier was created to make a new conversation happen around beauty wherein it could be very much democratized and very much celebrated as an element of personal style,” said Weiss at an Advertising Week panel in New York on Wednesday. “If you have an account on Instagram then you are already global. You are available to the world. At Glossier the way we think about that is that all of our followers are already customers, they just haven’t purchased yet.”

Weiss continued: “We just turned three and we’re a direct-to-consumer company shipping only in the U.S. and now to Canada and soon, in October, to the U.K. Forty percent of our Instagram followers are in other countries; 60 percent are in the U.S. It’s incredible that you can build a brand, platform, or personality that’s truly global.” 

Instagram does offer brands a great opportunity: 80 percent of the platform’s 800 million monthly users voluntarily connect with a brand. 

Weiss and fellow businesswoman, actor Sarah Jessica Parker, explained how they use the platform for their brands and what they’ve learned along the way. Here are six tips from Weiss and Parker on how to use Instagram to grow your brand:

1. All of your customers are influencers

With Glossier, Weiss wanted to create “a living, breathing company” which is “a huge departure from the beauty companies that I grew up with,” said Weiss. “They were very much about ‘brand knows best’ or ‘brand appointed expert knows best.’ In the age of Instagram, every single customer is an influencer. You are influential to your five, 50, 500, 5 million followers no matter who you are. That’s why they follow you because they care who you are, what you post, what you think.” 

2. Authenticity is key

If you’re going to launch a business just to make money people will see through that and be less likely to engage with your brand, especially on a platform like Instagram.

“Try not to actually focus on results,” said Parker. “If you’re backing into a result you’re not making a thing that is most authentically yourself. If you’re looking at content and trying to figure out what they want, well, what do you have to offer them that is uniquely yours? A lot of people are trying to mimic things that they see experience success and we don’t need that.”


 3. Customers are educated and informed. Treat them that way.

Traditionally, brand messages had to do with, well, what the brand wanted to say. But as brands become more and more accessible via social platforms it’s important to keep that dialogue open, listen to consumers and treat them with respect.

“I think it’s really good for business, to feel that the business is always being scrutinized by a very informed consumer, an educated consumer,” said Parker. “The higher the expectations, the better for us. The customer is such a huge part of the business.”

Parker continued: “It’s very different from what I feel the retail experience used to be, where you create something and you offer it up and there were expectations that therefore you will buy it. Now consumers are part of the design process and you’re constantly considering what they need, what they want. Without that exchange, I feel you’re left with no business.” 

“The conversation is actually integral to the creation of our company,” said Weiss. “We’re the first beauty company that’s being built in real-time in collaboration with our community. That conversation is happening in real time on our platforms like @Glossier on Instagram of Into the Gloss or our one-to-one editors, our store in Soho, and it informs and fuels everything from our product decisions to our future retail locations to who we hire.”


@KristinaMonllos kristina.monllos@adweek.com Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.