We advise brands look at boosting best performing posts on a weekly basis to ensure reach of new and existing audiences, that way you get full value for the content you are seeking to promote.

Prav De Silva, The Thoughtful Agency

An expert in e-com performance marketing, Prav de Silva from The Thoughtful Agency chats with designer and founder of Australian lifestyle brand First Base, Alison Cotton on launching and building a brand on Instagram.


First Base, the Bondi-bred sports lifestyle brand with a healthy online marketplace entered the world through Instagram (@thisisfirstbase) where it’s culture and curation thrived. Now sold across Australia and the USA, First Base founder/owner Alison Cotton worked carefully to manifest a strong culture before experimenting with now widely recommended social strategies involving boosted posts and re-marketing tactics.


  • Determine an ongoing content strategy and DNA for social platforms
  • Successfully leverage Instagram followers to generate online site traffic and e-com sales
  • Select and engage best-fit brand influencers
  • Master communication beyond social in pursuit of meaningful consumer connections



When introducing your brand to the fierce and fickle world of Instagram it’s important to have a carefully considered content strategy paired with a strong, visual DNA and (brand) tone of voice.

Be inspired by successful competitor’s feeds and followship but never imitate.

Collaboration with likeminded creatives in the initial stages of building Instagram-ready brand-creative is the key. Alison enlisted fellow Bondi resident and photographer Jody Pachniuk in the earliest stages of First Base and with the intention of growing a strong DNA together. This is a simple model of ‘emerging artists supporting emerging artists’ and is hugely relevant to salon space.

“Jody has been shooting for us since day one and is still our resident photographer. He really understands the brand and what we’re about – we’re on the same wavelength. When we launched the brand we produced shoots in-house and featured Instagram talent we felt resonated with the brand, this was a consistent approach towards increasing followers through content and collaboration”

With over 8 million retailers/small businesses on Instagram, Alison believes in building an aesthetic that won’t get lost.

“You do really need to have a strong sense of self and brand to stand out in this market, otherwise you blend and fade away.”

 To amplify this content marketing approach, Prav de Silva believes in amplification.

“We advise brands look at boosting best performing posts on a weekly basis to ensure reach of new and existing audiences, that way you get full value for the content you are seeking to promote”

“Run some basic numbers on your monthly spend across this area, measuring clicks-to-site from boosted posts. Then, measure Faceboook and Instagram separately. Quite often Instagram is where the consumer is exposed to your product and enters the brand funnel.”


 For Alison and First Base, they have one dedicated social media employee (“to keep it consistent and clean”) and elect not to set social benchmarks.

“To me that is the opposite of ‘Instagram.’ We use this platform to reach our customers, tell our story and share insights into what the brand is really about and build our tribe.”

“It’s all about culture. Sure it’s important to sell and grow our following but that comes second to communicating brand culture,” Alison believes.

As an expert in performance marketing, Prav agrees culture is indeed a hero for social currency however believes social-to-e-commerce benchmarks are critical.

“For our e-commerce clients, we report weekly across three key areas:

  1. Sales/traffic generated from social advertising across Instagram and Facebook. This includes remarketing to existing site traffic via Facebook Business Manager whilst also remarketing to your email subscribers on social
  2. Site traffic received from your social channels vs paid site traffic from social channels
  3. Suitable and dynamic social remarketing tools such as Snappic for greater user experience, ultimately leveraging your best performing Instagram content


It is hard to deny the prolific impact of the influencer – a concept well executed by Alison and First Base yet one that must be aligned with integrity for instant sales.

“It all depends on the appropriateness and the quality of the influencer. If it’s the right alignment, then we generally see the translation in sales, but with paid advertising being so dominant now, something that worked one month may not work the next,” says Alison.

Alison cites her partnership with @basebodybabes a successful influencer engagement. Health and fitness orientated and sharing a united aesthetic, “the girls really are a perfect alignment for us, they genuinely love our gear and what it’s about, so authenticity is easy.”

Electing not to pay for posts, Alison’s chosen Influencers hand select product that they relate to at the beginning of each season before posting as they please – an organic process further driving credible endorsement and most likely to translate to sales. A concept translatable to the salon and via key colour and treatment services.


Social is a fast, effective and measureable way to engage your audience, however as we are increasingly and effectively targeted, it is the honest, meaningful relationships we seek with brands. Beyond EDM’s, discount codes and free services – how is your brand elevating the consumers’ existence?

“Executing more events has enabled us to go one-on-one with our customers which is super important. I’m seeing a return to this approach, as there is a portion of the market that are disillusioned with social media and who want real and meaningful connections. I know I do!” shares Alison.

Alison ensures the First Base website is kept fresh with a constant feed of new shoots and engaging product imagery, and recently added live chat to the site’s functionality.

“Live chat allows real time engagement with our customers which means real conversations with real people – a super effective customer support tool that leads to conversions.”

What insight will you implement today to boost your businesses’ bottom line?