Instagram is becoming the most popular social media network, with over 1 billion monthly users, out of which 25 million are business profiles. Brands are taking it to Instagram to promote their products, keep in touch with their audience and send their brand message to millions of users. And things seem to be going well, as surveys have discovered that 60% of Instagram users have discovered new products through this amazing network.
Usually, with social media marketing, you have to be very careful to choose a platform that relates to your target audience. But with over 1 billion monthly users, we can safely assume that no matter your business field, you will surely have a lot to gain by creating an Instagram profile for your brand.
One of the largest controversies that follow Instagram as we speak, is the fact that their algorithm only shows 30% of the content from pages people follow. Instagram officials have stated that they do so because they only want their users to see the best of the best, but business pages are nothing if annoyed by this.
The best way to make sure users keep seeing your content is to turn to paid marketing, but in order to do so, you need to generate content that is worth putting money towards advertising. Thankfully, if done correctly Instagram marketing can generate good ROI, as you will end up making more from sales than you spend on advertising.
But for that to happen, you need to ensure you have a good strategy in place. If you don’t know where to start, take a look at the following tips, that will help you increase sales on your Ecommerce websites, by using your Instagram account.
Polish your Instagram Business Account
The number one thing you need to do is switch your profile from personal to business. Business accounts have way more credibility and look more professional than personal accounts, but just sticking the name of your brand on it is not enough. You have to make sure you take care of every single aspect that turns a basic account into a well-put-together and professional mirror of what your brand represents.
- Name and photo
The name of your page should be the actual name of your brand and nothing more. This is how people are going to find you and recognize your profile. The profile photo should also be something that people recognize easily, such as your brand logo. You can change it to fit the season or to highlight a certain event that is important for the business but try to keep it consistent, as it will be shown when you comment or when your posts appear on people’s feeds.
- The bio
The bio is one of the most important sections of an Instagram account, as it is the only place you can put a direct link to your website. Sure, there are other ways to send users to a certain page, which we will discuss later in this article, but the best way to put your website out there for everyone to see is by putting a link in your bio.
When writing the bio, make sure to keep the information clear and concise, and focus on the message you want to send. A key phrase, a few words about what makes your brand unique, as well as the contact information for your physical store, if you have one, are some good pieces of information you want to focus on having in the bio section. Linking to other social media accounts is also encouraged, and so is featuring the hashtag you want people to use when talking about your brand.
Here’s how an Ecommerce service Callpage is using their Instagram account bio to explain their main benefits and send more traffic to the blog:
Normally, stories that you post are only available for 24 hours, but with the introduction of highlights a few updates ago, users can now save the stories they like most, sort them into highlights and keep them on their account forever. Highlights appear under the bio and right above the rest of your photos, on the profile, and you can use them to showcase the most important milestones in your brand’s journey, such as product launches, awards you are attending, or anniversaries.
Be Creative with the Content
Instagram is all about creating content that attracts new followers and encourages them to engage with your brand. Studies show that more than 90% of the information our brain processes is visual, and given the fact that Instagram is a platform mostly based on visual content, you can easily leverage it to your advantage.
Instagram does not leave a lot of room to juggle with the type of content you can create, as it mostly revolves around photos, videos, or stories. To better understand how you can use each one of them to your advantage we will discuss them individually:
When shopping, most people get influenced by photos, rather than product description or reviews. Only if they like how a product looks, will they move on to reading the rest of the information. If not, they will simply scroll past it without having second thoughts.
This is why you should always ensure you post only high-quality photos, that not only show who good your products are but also how they can be used. If you only resort to posting product photos, it will come off as just a sales move and will drift visitors away.
People react better to content that grabs their attention and tells a good story, so don’t use your Instagram account to actually sell products, but rather to engage with people and establish trust. If you manage to do so, sales will follow in no time. Present your products by wrapping them up in a cohesive story, and the rest will come along.
- Videos and IGTV
Instagram also allows you to post videos, where you can showcase your products at work, testimonials from clients, or short advertisements. When posting videos, make sure you engage people from the very first seconds, as users’ attention tends to drop if their interest is not caught in a matter of seconds.
Long videos can be saved on Instagram TV (IGTV), and some brands even use this feature to produce a series of videos that they launch based on a certain schedule. For example, you can record a series of behind-the-scenes videos that show how your products are being made, or talk about the history of your brand. Posting them weekly will get people used to turn to your channel if they are interested in seeing the rest of the story.
This is how natural beauty and baby products brand Honest Company combines the power of IGTV and user-generated content in their videos:
Stories are your number one best friend for one important reason: you can include a link to your website, business blog or a certain product, which users can easily access by swiping up on a story. So, when posting about the making-off of a product, simply include a link to the said product, and watch sales increasing.
Instagram stories can be used in many ways, to engage followers and make them interact with your brand. For starters, you can post user-generated content, by sharing stories where your brand has been mentioned. You can also use stories to create polls, ask people questions, or organize a Q&A session, which is very much appreciated by followers, as they get to learn more about your brand.
We decided to discuss captions separately, even though they are a part of the photo-uploading process because they are much more important than you might actually think. Captions can include a call to action, which encourages people to look at your website, as well as hashtags that are related to your brand, or descriptions that complete the message your photo is trying to communicate. If you are having a writer’s block, don’t worry, you can easily search for the best writing services, to help you with all your written content, including captions, or product descriptions. This way, you will have more time to focus on other important aspects that increase sales.
- Engage followers
Instagram is 10% sales, and 90% user engagement, but for that to happen, you need to use a few tricks. Marketing experts call them engagement strategies, and for good reason. A strategy is a plan of action that has long-term results, and if you keep in touch with your followers, the benefits will show for many months to come. Let’s see how some of these strategies work:
Branded hashtags are amongst the best ways you can engage with followers. Look at companies such as Coca Cola, Red Bull, and Dove, who use branded hashtags to spark conversations, or encourage user-generated content. You can then share posts that people upload on your stories, or directly on your account. This shows users you value their engagement and opens you up to an entirely new pool of potential followers. This leads us to…
- User-generated content
This is one of the best marketing strategies out there, as it exposes your brand to a new number of people who may or may not have heard about you before. Encouraging user-generated content will not only lead to more exposure but also show your customers you value them and understand how important they are for your brand. By making them feel like they are a part of the journey, you will build up trust and boost sales, especially if you run campaigns where people have to share photos or videos using your products.
Q&A sessions can be of tremendous help for your brand, as people get to find out more about who you are and what your journey so far has been like. You can ask your followers to send out questions, which you can answer in stories, and then save the entire video compilation in highlights. This is a great option to explain your benefits and unique selling proposition, especially if you’re operating in a tech-heavy niche like log management or cloud computing.
Here’s how Instagram suggests using its Live feature to answer users’ questions and engage the audience:
This way, you get a chance to receive feedback and find out what they like about your brand, or what can be improved. Again, this will help build up a solid customer base.
- Giveaways and contests
Amongst the most popular ways to engage customers and generate more sales are giveaways and contests. This will help you give something back to your most loyal clients, as well as gain exposure. A simple campaign that involves sharing a photo, or post a story, for the chance to win a discount code or a gift will bring more followers to your page, which will, in return, generate more sales.
- Extend your reach
More followers mean more exposure, which makes for a much better way to increase sales. Affiliate marketing and collaborations are amongst the best ways to get access to an entirely new pool of potential followers, which will be at least a bit curious about your brand. But what exactly is affiliate marketing and how can you use it to your advantage?
In the past, people used to trust celebrities or media people who associated their names with various brands. In time, influencers turned out to be a much more genuine and trusted source for getting recommendations, as their followers relate to them more than they do to famous people.
Based on the type of products that you sell, contact influencers in that area and discuss a collaboration. The best part about affiliate marketing is that it makes for a great ROI. There are many ways you can do so, but I will get into details about the most popular influencer marketing strategies out there:
When they are looking to buy a new product, statistics show that people turn to their favorite influencers for recommendations. A simple review of your product will not only show people how that product works, but will also spark interest and, again, open you up to a new range or customers. Ask for genuine reviews that not only praise your products, as they look less like an advertisement and more like an honest opinion. To monitor the success of the campaign, you can provide influencers with different links that their followers can access, this way only paying for what you actually get.
- Discount codes
Providing influencers with a discount code created especially for their followers is another way to increase sales, plus the ROI is much easier to monitor. You can see how many sales a certain influencer has generated, and remunerate them for that. This way, you don’t pay for more than what you get and can use this to see if future collaborations are worth investing in.
Here’s an example of such a collaboration between the fashion blogger Meganellaby and the jewelry brand Monica Vinader:
- Instagram takeover
Some brands have partnered up with influencers and allowed them to do an Instagram takeover on the brand’s profile. Influencers will post about the day and time they are taking over your Instagram page and invite their followers to join your community. This will spark interest and nurture engagement. You can do a Q&A session, a “follow me around” series or, if an important event is coming up, let the influencer walk people through it in stories.
- Affiliate posts
The easiest type of influencer campaign is a paid post where they present your product. This is usually the most common type of affiliate marketing you will see around Instagram and influencers will probably charge you per post. Base on how many followers they have, prices can go from as low as $20, to as high as a few thousand dollars per post. You can discuss the type of post you want them to share and come up with an idea together, or let them decide what works best with their followers.
- Instagram Paid Ads
We have talked in the beginning about paid ads, which are another way to gain exposure and showcase products. Ads are simple to create and not as expensive as you may think. The reason why we left this for last is that, oftentimes, people tend to skip past ads, if they are not extremely eye-catching or engaging.
To promote a post, all you have to do is make sure your Instagram account is set to business and then go to the Business Manager section to start customizing your future ads. Here, you can choose your goals, demographics for the target audience, as well as schedule and budget.
A lot of people ask how much they should spend on ads, but this depends entirely on your budget and the period of time you want the ads to run. You can run a test campaign for a limited period of time, to see the effects and decide if it’s worth investing more.
Generating sales from Instagram does not require a huge budget, but you do have to invest some time in finding the best strategy that works out for your brand. Choosing one or more of the strategies above will ensure you don’t only increase sales, but also engage with customers and build a consistent followers base. By using stories and photos with well-written and engaging captions you will be able to contour your brand’s image and find people that relate to it. Affiliate marketing will also help expose your product to new potential customers, through influencers or collaborations with other brands.
The original version of this article was first published on V3Broadsuite.