Instagram started my business

I am admittedly a huge Instagram fanatic. I am one of those weird people who actually loves the popular page and will constantly check it as much as my feed itself. Instagram allows me to constantly immerse myself in my passion, fishing. I understand that this is the case for nearly everyone with an Instagram account, yet for my brother and I, it led to turning our passion into a business.  like flirting liking GIF

Scrolling through my feed, you will see exclusively fish pictures. Last summer, I started to post more and more pictures solely of fishing. The name of my boat is Big Dog, so naturally the hashtag #bigdogsportfishing began to catch on. Whenever friends or family came out on the water, they were always excited to share their experience on social media and I selfishly asked them to use the hashtag. As more and more people caught on, I began to get really pumped up about #bigdogsportfishing, so much so that I transitioned my personal account to@bigdogsportfishing(Shameless plug) . What really began as a fun way to share with my friends slowly began to build momentum. I would get comments from friends constantly saying “Let me come out with you.” or “My dad or uncle would love to come out with you guys.”

IMG_0680As last season came to a close, I started to think, “Wow, the biggest problem people starting a business face is finding customers, and right now based off social media I should have no problem getting people to come out.” I floated the idea by my brother and we began to actually considering starting our own fishing business, chartering the boat to take people out off the waters of Cape Cod. We fish for Striped Bass, Bluefish, and Tuna. Once we committed getting our business off the ground, Instagram and Facebook were pivotal to generating buzz and getting our business in front of as many eyeballs as possible. The best part about using Instagram as a marketing tool is that it can be enormously effective for absolutely zero monetary investment, only your own personal time.

While a website allows individuals to digest a large amount of information about a business in a singular space, there is a huge amount that goes into funneling customers to your site. Initially and naively, I thought I would be able to spend a weekend setting up my site and it would immediately begin to garner page views. This quickly turned into roughly 2 months of work to simply get all the information and aesthetic of the site up to par. This is all before coming to the realization that SEO is not something that just materializes out of thin air. This predicament really highlights the beauty of social media apps like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter provides to small business owners.

Instagram was huge this summer for my business, from sharing the day’s catches, to updating potential clients with reports, and connecting with other fisherman. While I feel I have some handle on using the Instagram platform, I am definitely not adept at utilizing other social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook. This led me to jumping into this course. What I thought would be a pretty clear-cut, and honestly a light workload class (I mean how hard can Social Media be?), I was rudely awakened to a bit of a foreboding warning that this was not going to be a walk in the park. While it doesn’t seem like this class will focus on the practical applications of Social Media for business, I guess that was a pretty uninformed opinion to take into the class in general. We do go to Boston College so I think we can figure out how to use our Facebook pages but what’s more important is understanding the larger influences and problems that arise in digital business. In today’s extremely fast paced business industries, it’s less important to become specific experts in limited digital business trends and more important to understand the larger landscape as a whole to determine what factors will shape the future. These factors can often be valuable for managers to position their companies to take advantage of changes in the dynamics of digital business.

Scrolling through the calendar for the semester, I’m very excited to learn about some topics that have almost zero knowledge or experience with, specifically Artificial Intelligence and block chain. A friend of mine runs a data analytics shop that helps companies build platforms to maximize the value of their data and help decision makers make better informed decisions. I would be very interested in looking into the connection between user data, social media networks, and how this impacts business decisions on a wide range of subjects such as targeted marketing, sales, and even production decisions.

In regard to my own business, I hope I can become more knowledgeable about current and future factors influencing Social Media and digital business to streamline my online presence converting more views into booked customers.


  1. cgoettelman23 · ·

    As a follower of your instagram, I think you achieved exactly what you set out to do via social media. It was both entertaining and amazing to see the work you did daily over the summer–and I learned something about an industry (fishing) that I otherwise wouldn’t haven’t known. I’m excited for you and the growth of your company, and enjoy seeing the strides you’ve made on your Instagram account!

  2. mattwardbc · ·

    Thanks Colby, I appreciate your support.

  3. Nice post. Ironically, one of my students from last year, her family has a sport fishing business out of Yarmouth port. I just looked you up and realize that you are in Orleans. We have a place in Brewster and have spent all summer there for the past 5 years. Will definitely have to swap stories! This class will be a combination of practical and philosophical, and you can pretty much tailor it to emphasize whichever side you want to.

  4. britt_hopkins4 · ·

    This is a really cool perspective. A lot of people don’t look at social media as a way to expand your own business. It would be interesting to see how businesses would perform with and without social media, but I don’t know how this could be measured. I checked out the Instagram and it seems like you’ve grown a lot since the beginning. How did you decide on Instagram as your platform instead of Facebook?

  5. s_courtney18 · ·

    Not too many BC students can say they have their own business–props to you! Great choice to use Instagram as your main social channel because of its fluidity and visual appeal. I don’t think as many people would find interest in a Twitter or even Facebook page because it’s not as straightforward and visually capturing as showing a feed of a huge tunas, striped bass, and bluefish that you and your customers caught during a charter. I can’t wait to hear more about your company’s progression!

  6. Great way to use Social Media and start a business. It’s difficult to get followers and you need to start liking and following back, if you don’t they will “unfollow” you. I know from experience… I like that you mention zero monetary investment. Only time, time is money, however, I can see that time payed off in some new customers and having your summer busy. I am now a follower of your business and hope I can go fishing with you some day. Of course as a paying customer.

  7. As I have only recently been more exposed to the world of digital business, it was interesting and informative to read your perspective as a business owner as to how Instagram as a platform can be utilized to increase/start a business. I don’t want to push you at all in this direction, but it would be really interesting to see, at either the end of the class, or for your presentation, what tools/information from class you think you will go on to implement next summer (if you decide to continue running the business)! It is just really fascinating to hear/read about a “from the front lines” perspective– great post! Also, that fish is huge.

  8. sejackson33 · ·

    Where I interned this summer, a small startup run by one Girl Boss (@shitthatiknit), also relies heavily on Instagram for pretty much all of her marketing (product announcements, promotions, brand development, business updates). It has worked really well for her because she has made the business account super personal–easily connecting with her target customers and interacting with them. I think Instagram is a powerful platform for businesses, especially small businesses, because there is that opportunity to make it as personal and transparent as you want. It is SO cool that you have also found a way to leverage Instagram to start your own business doing what you love!

  9. ericiangesuale · ·

    Really impressed that you were able to launch a business through your use of Instagram! I’m really interested to see what you learn from this class and how you are able apply it to your business. I think Instagram is definitely the prime social media channel to build your business, but perhaps you could become involved in fishing blogs and forums to help spread your influence and get your name out to other fishing enthusiasts.

  10. Sheritta Coleburn · ·

    I thought this was a great post and was able to relate to your post. I also have my own business! However, we did start with having a website and yes, this takes up so much more time then just using an Instagram to really market your business. As I am finding now a days some business can get away with not having a website and just having an Instagram and Facebook to take care of all your marketing needs.

    I also have to say I ended up taking this course to really get more knowledge on using social media for my business, I also thought it was going to be a breeze. It would still be great to maybe talk about some ideas for your business using Instagram!

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