“My friends and competitors are successfully selling through their Instagram accounts. I wouldn’t mind doing the same, since my business is no less "photogenic". The problem is I don’t know how to approach this channel... All those apps and hashtags… Can you sort it all out for me?”
This is one of the most common requests we’re getting from our clients. Increasingly, attention is paid to Instagram’s business potential. Brands realize that being on its feed gives them an exceptional opportunity to monetize the fruits of word-of-mouth marketing.
According to Agorapulse, 72% of customers are more inclined to buy a product after seeing its Instagram photos, and 38% of users frequently purchase stuff they find via the mentioned network. A remarkable level of engagement, huh? That’s why 75% of online businesses actively use Instagram for sales and promotion.
So can you, especially if the sphere of your specification is “good-looking” (e.g., hotels, fashion, food, handmade, et cetera). However, with our manual and a bit of creativity you’ll be able to sell anything – from lawn mowers to SIM-cards. Ready? Set. Go!
Step 1. Photos
People sign up to Instagram to look at pictures. Therefore, the first thing you should do to commercialize your profile is fill it with professional photos of the company’s products. The images have to be square, unblurred and catching. Plus, mind the resolution!
DON’T ignore these requirements. Instagram is all about visual perception. Hence, amateur (= low-quality) photos can bury your brand. The user’s logic is as simple as this: “Why would I buy anything that looks so bad comparing to the rest of my feed?” For that reason, top companies cooperate with professional photographers and designers in order to boost their Instagram sales. Why won’t you?
DO more than your rivals dare. Let them post tons and tons of products’ shots. You can sprinkle those with pictures that tell the story of your customers. What do they do, eat and wear? Where do they hang out? Such images would encourage people to identify themselves with your brand and make a purchase, but only if the company has its own recognizable identity. The best way to channel it through a corporate logo. Do not have one yet? Contact “The Loupe” to create it now.
Step 2. Applications
Instagram is full of jealousy. It wants users to stay on their platform, not to tap away to external sites, which makes shopping extremely complicated. As you cannot provide photos with any clickable links, buyers cannot go to your website straight away.
DON’T expect any of them to highlight a URL from your caption and paste it in a browser. It would take too much time and effort. Even a reference to your Instagram bio, which is the only place you are allowed to put a tappable link, would likely be ignored, so…
DO everything to let your clients buy with ease. How? By setting up a shoppable Instagram gallery. It is a parallel site you link to the bio. A shoppable gallery will take customers to an augmented version of your storefront, which contains clickable photos leading to product pages. It can be set via various apps, such as LIKEtoKNOW.it, Like2Buy, Soldsie et cetera. Choose one, synchronize it with your Instagram account and enable smooth sales.
Step 3. Hashtags
Now that it’s half done, you should think of this touchy subject. While some people hate hashtags, others are head over heels about them. However, Simply Measured claim that a post with at least one hashtag averages 12.6% more engagement than the one without any. Hence, it’s vital to be strategic about hashtag usage.
DON’T overload your posts with dozens of popular but vast hashtags. Adding #love, #happy and #dog might grant you a couple of extra likes, but it won’t give you anything in the long run. If you want to tag a call-to-action, use narrower hashtags that unite a community around something specific (e.g., #ihavethisthingwithfloors, #fromwhereistand, et cetera). Of course, they must be relevant to your target audience. Therefore, it would be wise to check what hashtags are popular among your followers, competitors and industry leaders. Make a list of most frequently used keywords and highlight those that are fitting your account. For example, a profile with fewer than 10,000 followers is more likely to benefit from a smaller, highly targeted #fashiongoals than from a massive #instafashion. Nevertheless, you can also add 3-5 “big” hashtags on post to increase engagement. They should still be relevant, but the target field may be much wider.
DO feel free to create your own branded hashtag. Use your company name, mention one of its products or pick an alternative tagline that would express your brand identity. Let it be something like Nike’s #airmaxday or Herschel’s #welltravelled. The latter is a great example of “associative tagging”: the hashtag is used to encourage fans of the global accessory brand to upload photos taken all over the world. As you see, a branded hashtag has to be short, catchy, creative and easy to spell. But the main demand is its uniqueness. No plagiary, seriously.
Step 4. Promotion
OK, you’ve got cool photos, usable sales channels and dozens of hashtags to reach the audience. The last thing you ought to do before starting your marketing campaign is whip up your followers. Since Instagram is the reigning King of user generated content, gather social proof wherever possible. Look for customers’ photos depicting your products in the wild and post them in your account, so that prospective buyers could imagine themselves holding that awesome phone case or tasting those mouth-watering macaroons.
DON’T edit real-life selfies, just pick those that look nice initially. Authentic photos feel more reliable than professional ones. Featuring them adds to your brand loyalty. By doing so, you’re showing that people’s passion won’t be unnoticed, which turns customers into regulars.
DO your best to keep in touch with your followers. Inform them of any limited-time sales (both online and offline), consider organizing some contests or quizzes. If you’re on Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook, let everybody know. The more platforms – the more clients.
We hope that this brief guide has empowered you with deeper understanding of what Instagram might give to your business. All you have to do is tell a story of your brand and invite your fans to become the part of it. Sounds simple, right? Of course, the reality is a bit more complicated. However, if you are seriously determined to upgrade your Instagram, nothing will stop you. Keep calm and rely on our backup. Remember – #theloupeisthere4u ☺