$0 for marketing? No Problem.

How your business can make over $5 million in its first year with a marketing budget of $0

Triangl, an iconic swimwear brand, has taken Instagram by storm in only a few short years. It all started when creators, Erin Deering and Craig Ellis discovered a gap in the market when they could not find fashionable women’s swimwear that was also affordable. After finding this niche in the market, they started Triangl Swimwear as a small startup in Australia. Soon after, the couple moved to Hong Kong with the intention to focus all of their energy into growing their business into something successful. At first, their goal was to sell one neoprene bikini a day to make $30,000 annually. However, they instead made over $5 million in their first year and $25 million the year after. Shockingly, by using Instagram, Deering and Ellis were able to do this with a marketing budget of $0, proving that social media holds a lot of power. In the beginning, their products were limited as they only sold one style, in one fabric that was only available in several colours. However, their range has now dramatically increased as they have multiple styles in multiple fabrics including velvet, neoprene, spandex, and nylon. Now an international business, Triangl Swimwear is the perfect example of a brand that is strongly capitalizing on the success of Instagram.

As stated above, Deering and Ellis did not have any money to spend on marketing initiatives. Therefore, it was a no-brainer that they had to use social media to market their brand. Ellis states,

“We realized that of all the social media options, Instagram offered the most immediately measurable metrics. It also offered the best platform for showcasing photos of the aspirational lifestyle our product suggests. So, we went to work trying to figure out the best way to maximize our presence on Instagram.”

This was a smart choice as Instagram is one of the hottest social media platforms out there, especially for young women- Triangl’s target audience. More and more businesses are using it to their advantage as they understand that it is a critically important social network that allows brands to connect and engage with consumers on a basis that has never been done before. Currently, Triangl has 3.1 million followers. Their strong Instagram presence has allowed them to retain and gain customers by ensuring that their brand is not being forgotten or ignored.

“This way, there’s a sense of authenticity that’s way more powerful than a billboard.”

Although Instagram is their main social media account, Triangl also uses Facebook. However, they do not have as big as a presence on this platform as they currently have only 265,338 likes. Nonetheless, I think we can all agree that Facebook is dying, slowly…yet still dying. Triangl’s success on Instagram more than makes up for the lack thereof on Facebook as it has now become a tool for people to interact with their older family members. Now, the younger generation is flocking to other platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

Triangl only has two social media accounts, Instagram and Facebook. However, this has allowed them to concentrate on making their two profiles the best they can be, while also making it easier for them to keep their brand image consistent. By keeping their brand image consistent, Triangl can better manage brand perceptions, convey outlooks and attitudes, and eliminate issues around brand confusion.

An aesthetic is essentially a visual identity. On Instagram, and aesthetic entails good looking photos that follow a theme. However, it is not that easy as following an aesthetic calls for more than just good-looking photos. Although difficult for some, Triangl has managed to execute their aesthetic flawlessly, allowing them to become the top player in the international swimwear market.

#feedgoals am I right?

Although their swimsuits are gorgeous, I believe that their aesthetic is what really pushes consumers to want their products. Triangl’s pictures display an overall aesthetic of tranquil beach-vibes, where girls spend their lives relaxing and exploring beaches and pools around the world. As soon as you look at their Instagram feed, you want to buy a plane ticket, a Triangl bikini, and travel to the other side of the world. You want to experience the aesthetic that is displayed. Although you might not be able to afford a vacation, a bikini worth about $100 is not too far out of reach-and this is exactly what they want you to think.

I remember being in grade 10 with a bunch of my friends all huddled around one another starring at the Triangl Instagram page. I was immediately hooked. I wanted to be like all of the girls on their page so I spent all the money I had and I bought one of their bikinis. Some of my other friends did the exact same thing and we were ecstatic. Unfortunately, I didn’t even like the bikini that much. However, after writing this post and looking at their feed again, I want another one, proving how strong their brand image truly is.

Right from the start, Deering and Ellis realized that influencer interaction, a form of free marketing, would be key to their success. First, the couple began giving out Triangl bikinis as gifts to online bloggers who had their own sites. These bloggers would then write and post an image of the swimsuit. However, through this method, it was hard for Deering and Ellis to analyze if it was working as they didn’t have any data to verify. Therefore, they turned to Instagram as it offers measurable metrics and can showcase their products on one platform. Although many influencers on Instagram get paid to promote products, Deering and Ellis are able to avoid spending any money on advertising as their gifts are non-transactional.

In the beginning, the couple’s goal was to reach a big Instagram influencer. However, they knew they had a long way to get there so they started small. Once they started gaining traction with influencers who had a modest following, they decided to reach for Kylie Jenner, one of the most power Instagram users at the time. Ellis states:

“We carefully researched her circle of friends on Instagram, the people she was following and the people who appeared in photos with her. We developed a core list of approximately 20 girls, and sent each of them a bikini in the hopes that Kylie would notice them wearing our brand and it would generate some interest. We started seeing Instagram pictures of our bikinis on these girls, and realized we were gaining traction. A few weeks later, Erin woke up one morning and had an email from Kylie herself, requesting a bikini. After Kylie posted an Instagram photo wearing one of our styles, U.S. sales went through the roof and other celebrities — from Miley Cyrus to Beyoncé to Ellie Goulding– also wore our designs in public, which just added to the momentum.”

Using Instagram allowed them to connect with Kylie Jenner which furthermore allowed them to have the success that they have today.

Not only does Triangl make use of Instagram influencers, but they also utilize the average Instagram user. Many users who buy Triangl swimwear post a photo on Instagram as they want to be just like the other Instagram influencers. Triangl has realized that this is another great form of free marketing and they therefore created the Triangl Girls Initiative. This is where any customer can post a picture on Instagram and use the hashtag #Trianglgirl. If Triangl likes the pictures, they then feature them on their own Instagram page, adding an incentive for people to join in. Furthermore, they also have a page on their website called Triangl Girls, where they feature some of their customers and their pictures. It says,

“For these girls, all across the world — summer never ends.”

This has allowed them to build and grow their social community.

Although this is a great initiative, Triangl seems to be lacking on promoting or featuring it much on Instagram anymore. After scrolling through their Instagram feed for a couple minutes, I was unable to find the hashtag.

In the first three years of their business, Erin Deering and Craig Ellis were able to make a profit of $50 million in sales. This is largely due to their tremendous effort on social media. In specific, Deering and Ellis have been creatively utilizing Instagram to their advantage through social media which has allowed their brand, Triangl, to transform likes into sales. As an international swimsuit brand, they truly are dominating Instagram, and any business hoping to do the same should look at Triangl for advice.