There are a number of ways you can market your products when you have an e-commerce store. You can use different social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc. But the one that has maximum engagement compared to all other channels is Instagram.
Did you know Instagram now has more than 700 million active users? The last 100 million users joined Instagram within 5 months from December 2016 to April 2017!
Did you also know that 8 million businesses use Instagram to reach out to their customers? Around 120 million users contacted businesses with accounts on Instagram in the month of February 2017 alone.
With such a level of user engagement, you’d only lose business if you’re not doing Instagram marketing correctly.
Don’t worry, we’ve curated a summary of the best Instagram marketing practices for you! We’ll try and cover almost all the ways you can use Instagram to promote your brand and products.
Instagram Marketing Overview:
- The Basics
- How to grow your followers on Instagram
- How to use your Instagram following for increased engagement and sales
The Basics of Instagram Marketing
There are few basic tips you need to remember using Instagram as a marketing tool:
- Use Awesome Images – Your marketing efforts on Instagram can only be as good as the posts on your account. Invest time in product photography, and post designs.
- Customize URLs – As you know, Google Analytics cannot accurately reflect which traffic was directed from your Instagram account. Use custom shortened links in your Instagram account bio. Custom URL shortening services like Bit.ly allow you to measure the traffic coming from that particular URL.
- Choose Landing Page Wisely – Although Instagram now allows adding clickable links to paid advertisements, you can use the link in your bio for driving traffic. The link in your bio must have the same posts on your Instagram account. The consistency of campaign posts from your account to the landing page on your website increases chances of lead generation.
- Use both Images and Videos as posts – You can add up to 10 photos and videos in a single post. Take advantage of this feature to showcase your products like you’d in a carousel on your website.
How to Grow Your Followers on Instagram
To build a huge Instagram following, you must break down your marketing efforts into 3 questions –
- Are you using hashtags and filters effectively?
- Are you posting at the right time?
- How can you benefit from massive followings of other accounts in your niche?
Post Content at the Right Time
Not only is it important to use right hashtags and filters, you should also know your customers’ usage behavior. When are they using Instagram? During what times of the day do you get maximum engagement?
TrackMaven conducted a research on when Fortune 500 companies post on Instagram. They found out that 88% of the Fortune 500 companies’ posts were made from 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM ET.
You may have focused your marketing efforts to posting on Instagram only during office hours. But most people use Instagram outside their office hours or in leisure time. You can schedule the posts using tools like ScheduGram, IconoSquare, and HootSuite.
Some businesses may prefer to post only on weekdays, some may post content even on weekends. The trick is to find the right time of the day and days of the week to post for your business. Plan out your Instagram content calendar so that you tap into those precious moments when your customers are online.
Leverage other people’s followers
People who are following your competitors are already interested in your niche. So how do you invite them to follow your account and visit your store?
To sway your competitors’ followers your way, you need to find out what your competitors are doing right. Start using the same format for posts, hashtags, and filters as them or beat them using something better!
Follow and engage with followers from other popular accounts to be visible. When you follow, like or comment on someone’s profile, they tend to revert the gesture. This is the principle of Reciprocity. You get when you give and vice versa!
Although this approach may seem to be a lot of work and is exhaustive, it is very much worth the effort. People on popular accounts in your industry are already looking at the products or services you sell. All you need to do is reach out to them and engage.
How to use your Instagram following for increased engagement and sales
We’ll talk about ways in which you can influence your followers into making a decision. But first, you need to understand the basics of persuasion.
Robert Cialdini, a very famous expert on influence and persuasion wrote about 6 psychological factors that trigger buying decisions. Three of them that you should be aware of are –
- The Principle of Reciprocity: Have you felt a need to return the favor when someone has extended a helping hand towards you? Have you felt compelled to buy a product after testing it for free? This is the principle of Reciprocity at work.You can do the same with your customers. Lure them in with free samples, or a gift of content like case studies, reports, ebooks or newsletters.Make them feel grateful for the expertise that you shared with them for nothing and you’ll have customers willing to spend their money on your products.
- The Concept of Social Proof: Have you bought a product based on a recommendation from a friend or family? Did you compare that product with other available products like you would’ve if not for the recommendation?Human beings are social creatures. We trust our peers more than we trust marketers. Any product marked as “popular” or with high user ratings is sold more than others.
- People relate to Stories: Did you support “Live Strong” brand because you liked Lance Armstrong? Or did you support the brand because you were moved by his comeback story and how Armstrong’s will to fight was portrayed?Stories stick with people longer than any ad or marketing campaign you may run. People remember stories you tell them about your brand and it is the single biggest factor for brand recall. People relate to stories and they are moved by them into making decisions.
Why did we digress from the topic of Instagram marketing? The following three ways make use of the above principles to increase engagement and sales:
Running Contests and Campaigns – The Principle of Reciprocity
You can use run contents and campaigns to increase follower engagement. Invite your customers to share what they’ve bought and how good they feel from using your product. Ask them what they love most about your brand and why?
Incentives: The thing to remember when running a content or a campaign is to give away something which your followers may want. Rather than imposing on them what you want to give, think about stuff which may excite your followers enough to take part in the contest.
Theme: Your contest must have a singular point of focus. Decide on an overall theme of what you want out of your Instagram marketing campaign. Once you’ve decided on the theme, promote it using hashtags. Remember to select your hashtags using the same method we discussed earlier. Use research to find the hashtags which are popular in your niche. Shortlist the ones which are unique to your contest and brand, and are easy to remember.
Showcase: When the images start flowing in and your contest hashtag is going viral, you should aggregate the best user posts and display them on your account. This creates a want to share personal experience. Make your contest a trend, people want to take part in.
Using User-Generated Content – The Concept of Social Proof
Imagine you’ve had a brilliant campaign and you’ve got a lot of user generated content. Displaying it on your Instagram account is not the only trick you can pull. Add this user generated content to your product pages and you’ve got proof of social trust and satisfaction.
Many people don’t realize the power of peer recommendation. You’ll not have to spend a penny to market yourself if your customers spread the good word for you.
A Forrester research on user generated content’s impact on brand building shows 48% of consumers trust user reviews as compared to brand sponsored content.
Creating Brand Personality – People Relate to Stories
You should share posts from your perspective as well. Share with your followers how you are hard-at-work to give them the best possible products and experience. A successful brand is one which can create an emotional connection with its customers.
“A brand is ultimately a promise to a consumer, and the strongest brands are ones that consumers trust to deliver on that promise. Trusted brands create an emotional connection with consumers that generates a long-lasting bond.”
– Forrester Research on User Generated Content’s Impact on Brand Building
If your followers can relate to your story, they will definitely give your brand a try. That is all you want to convert them into lifetime customers.
Putting it all together:
Like with any internet marketing effort, you need to use analytics to your advantage. Use post timing, hashtag research and account analytics tools to notch your marketing efforts to another level. Make use of user generated content in innovative ways to build trust. As the old saying goes, all marketers lie. If you can make your followers drop this disbelief and build trust with your brand, you’ll have high engagement and sales figures.