If not for his niece, Antonio Valente might never had dabbled in the world of Instagram. Back in 2015, this grower of organic cut flowers, in Thornhill, Ontario, Canada, had been reluctant to join yet another social media platform, and he wasn’t all that aware of how people were using Instagram as a marketing tool.
But his niece was relentless in her insistence.“In spite of my protests, she grabbed my phone one day and installed the app for me,” Antonio says. “The rest, so they say, is history.”
For Antonio, that history has been filled with more than 31,000 followers and hundreds of gorgeous photos of the flowers he grows. He’s built his following organically, simply by sharing his passion with other like-minded folks from around the world.
“When you’re truly passionate about something, I think it shows, and people really connect with that,” Antonio says. “Instagram is no longer just about the photos; it’s also about what you have to say and what others can learn from you.”
WHO: Antonio Valente, an organic cut-flower grower in Thornhill, Ontario, Canada.
WHY WE LIKE IT: Antonio grows his organic flowers on the same farm where his father and grandfather grew once grew vegetables. That backstory lends an authenticity that comes through in Antonio’s Instagram posts, which mix simple, pretty flower pictures with sincere asides about the growing process and calls for feedback from followers.
GOING SOLO: Unless he’s in front of the camera being photographed by a family member, Antonio’s the one doing all the posting on Instagram. “I’m pretty much a one-man show over here. I get a lot of questions in the form of DM’s [direct messages] and comments, and the responses are always from me. I love sharing knowledge.”
PEAK SEASON: Antonio finds that even though he’s busier during harvest season, that’s when he’s likely posting more on Instagram, sometimes once or twice a day. “There’s just so much beauty growing out here that I can’t help myself. During the winter months, I might only post once or twice a week.”
POPULAR POSTS: Lots of Antonio’s posts are of gorgeous flowers, but there are a few of him with armfuls of flowers sprinkled throughout. Those, he says, get a lot of interaction. “The armload shots are always popular. I try to mix it up. I don’t want every photo to be styled. I try to also post impromptu behind-the-scenes shots. People like that sort of thing. They want to know who you really are and what really happens on a daily basis. I think it’s about finding your style and comfort level, and then sticking to it. If you’re getting DM’s, comments and questions, then you know you’ve piqued the interest of others.”
FLORIST FONDNESS: Antonio has also found Instagram to be a great way to stay current with all of the florists who order flowers from him. “When I’m growing a new variety, something that I’m really excited about and that my florists likely haven’t seen yet, I’ll post a photo of it, and I quickly get requests.”
TIP TO TRY: “First, be authentic. Second, use as many of the features as possible, like the poll in your story. Third, post good-quality well-styled photos. Set yourself up with some interesting backgrounds or staging that will complement and highlight your work. Last, be consistent.”
SEE FOR YOURSELF: @Antoniovalenteflowers