In the summer of 2016, Facebook announced the “Stories” functionality for Instagram. Social media marketers quickly pegged Instagram Stories as a “clone” of Snapchat’s core feature. Facebook has since ramped up with even more clones for Messenger (Messenger Day), WhatsApp (WhatsApp Status) and Facebook proper (Facebook Stories). According to Business Insider, Mark Zuckerberg needs only 1 out of every 200 users of any of his platforms to prefer his clones over Snapchat in order to dominate in the long run.
Insights Into the Power of Instagram
Small Business Trends connected with Chris Gronkowski, a former NFL player and Instagram user, to get his opinion on the different Instagram options — including Instagram Live. He also shared his thoughts on life as a small business owner.
Gronkowski is a former NFL fullback who played for the Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts. Gronkowski is the middle one of five Gronkowski brothers, four of whom have played in the NFL. His brothers Rob Gronkowski and Glenn Gronkowski are currently New England Patriots with Super Bowl rings.
Their father Gordon Gronkowski opened his own retail fitness store 26 years ago. Today it’s the fourth largest seller of specialty fitness equipment in the US. After Gronkowski’s NFL career ended, he followed his dad’s entrepreneurial footsteps and started two different businesses generating more revenue than his NFL earnings. One of the businesses, Everything Decorated, specializes in engraved gifts for all occasions. In 2016, Gronkowski introduced a kitchen-grade stainless steel insulated shaker bottle, the Ice Shaker. He uses Instagram Stories and says he will give Instagram Live a try.
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Small Business Trends: Do you have a preference for Instagram Stories over Instagram Live? I’ve noticed tons more Stories than Live. Do you get product feedback through viewer comments?
Gronkowski: I haven’t used Instagram Live yet as I am pretty new to Instagram. I am thinking I’ll go live tomorrow just to try it out and see the response. I am trying to think of a good idea to go live with. I think going live is a little harder than Stories because you can’t redo it, so if you say the wrong thing you can’t just delete it and post a new Story. I love getting feedback and comments from our customers. Most of the comments are very encouraging, and if there’s a customer unhappy with our product, we like to know why and we use their feedback to make ourselves a better company.
Small Business Trends: Were you on HSN (Home Shopping Network)? How was that experience? It looks like the Ice Shaker has enough square inches for partner branding.
Gronkowski: I did go live on HSN, but it was actually for a product my brother was partnering with called the Gronk Ball. It is a Bluetooth speaker inside a water-resistant foam football. HSN was a great experience. It’s a very impressive setup and operation. I have not partnered up with any companies yet for the Ice Shaker. The engravings are just requested by the customers.
Small Business Trends: Of the topics you talk about on Instagram Stories, which ones lead to the most sales? Are you extra careful when you discuss workout routines and nutrition?
Gronkowski: I feel that weightlifting content leads to more of our sales. Growing up in a family of five boys and being the shortest, I had to be a beast in the weight room. I started lifting weights around 14 years old and was able to set a lot of high school lifting records. I believed I was benching 365 pounds coming out of high school at 6’2” 225 pounds. Most of my Instagram has to do with weightlifting, but I also like posting some of the new supplements or protein cookies and bars that I enjoy. I’m not a nutritionist. I’m not a personal trainer — I pride myself as being a motivator — so I enjoy sharing the workouts and food I eat, but I am not able to provide workouts or nutritional advice.
Small Business Trends: Which of your businesses came first? Everything Decorated or Ice Shaker?
Gronkowski: When I was playing in the NFL, I ended up playing for four different teams in four years. My wife Brittany was tired of trying to find a new job every time we moved, so she wanted to do something from home.
She started hand-painting wine glasses and realized there was a huge market for personalized gifts. Once I saw the demand, I encouraged her to find a way to scale the company. When my NFL career ended, I was able to help her scale and we invested in industrial grade machines to help us take the company to the next level. After about a year, we grew too large for our house and moved into a storefront in 2015. Although I was a big part of it, Everything Decorated was my wife’s passion and in the back of my mind I wanted to stay involved in fitness and sports.
I workout almost every day, and in the summer of 2016, I noticed something in the 100 degree Texas heat. By the time I got to the gym, my water in my plastic shaker bottle was warm with an awful taste in it. So I went on the hunt for an insulated shaker bottle. After searching everywhere and not finding one insulated shaker bottle, I decided to make the best shaker bottle I possibly could.
By finding a solution to the problems of the old plastic shaker bottles while keeping the good features like the tapered shape, I was able to create what I believe is the best shaker bottle on the market. It’s become a top-rated shaker bottle on Amazon. I focused on what I didn’t like about the plastic shakers and what I loved about them. One thing I don’t like about the plastic bottles: They absorb odor and you couldn’t get the smell out if you forgot to clean out your protein shake from the day before. To solve this problem, I made the Ice Shaker with an 18/8 kitchen grade stainless steel bottle. It will not absorb odor. Next, it drove me crazy that the plastic shakers had absolutely no insulation causing my water to be lukewarm in a short period of time, all while condensation would build up and get on my car’s cup holder, my furniture, my hands. To fix this mess, my bottle is constructed with a double wall and is vacuum insulated. This allows the Ice Shaker to hold ice for over 30 hours in a 75 degree room without the bottle sweating because the cold inside doesn’t transfer to the outside.
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Image credits: Chris Gronkowski, Eric Lars Bakke/Denver Broncos, James D. Smith
This is part of the Small Business Trends Livestreamed Livelihoods interview series featuring sessions with today's movers and shakers in the livestreaming world.More in: Instagram, Livestreamed Livelihoods