You’ve probably heard about Instagram, the social networking tool that allows people to share photos. Fun? Sure, but can it help with marketing? Definitely! As with anything however, you need to take the right approach to get the conversions you want.
To help you get the most mileage out of Instagram, we’ve compiled five of the best ways to use it with the goals of generating brand awareness, building consumer relationships and increasing sales.
1. Upload photos worth following
Share only your best, high-quality photos. Be selective. Here are a few ideas:
- Display your products – Let followers do some window shopping by offering them a collection of product shots. Zoom in on labels, angle shots for perspective and size or use interesting backdrops. For service-oriented businesses, show supplies or equipment that your target audience may use (or should be using). Show some restraint, however. Showing too many posts like this can get “spammy” fast. See Shwood Eyewear shows off their hand-crafted, wooden eyewear:
- Show how they’re made – Show the various steps that go into making your products. Highlight subtle product details that separate it from competitors. If the manufacturing is a complex process, breakdown steps into multiple photo uploads. See Sierra Nevada adds loads of fresh hops to their Torpedo IPA beer:
- Behind the scenes – Give a peek behind those unique, interesting moments. Filming a commercial, photo shoots, interviews and tours are things few people get to experience. Let them vicariously feel like they’re part of the process. See Bruno Mars gets to perform during the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show:
- Highlight what the product does – Show before and after shots for a greater impact. Post high-quality shots of the end result to create demand. This also presents an excellent opportunity to request user-generated content from followers. Collect submissions and repost the favorites. See Sephora gets festive by showing their nail polish in creative designs
- Hint at the future – Teasing things to come makes for highly-sharable content. Give previews or showcase new products, services or locations to generate excitement. Play off people’s eagerness to be the first to know about something. See Buttermilk Truck shows they’re parked ready to serve food near the local coffee shop:
- Parade your personality – Post pictures of your office environment or employees having fun. This is a great way to build a brand following and see what it’s like to work at your place. You never know, the next loyal employee might be a follower! See Trunk Club employees enjoy free slurpee day!
- Capture your travels – Document interesting places during your business travels. Hobnobbing with cool people or celebrities? Post photos of luncheons or meetups. Be sure to geotag the location of these photos, too. The “Photo Map” will begin to paint a worldly picture worth sharing. See GQ is on the red carpet with Rihanna:
2. Learn to love hashtags
Instagram is an isolated environment and linking photos back to a website isn’t possible at this point in time. Not to worry, though. Hashtags are here to save the day. These are single words preceded by the pound symbol, e.g., “#shoppad,” “#shopify,” or “#touchcommerce.” Tagging photos with keywords allow them to be discovered by others.
Consider creating custom hashtags or using existing, more generalized ones that are commonly searched. These tags are the only reference to search and find relevant interests. For maximum impact, use specific tags AND general ones so photos appear in most search results.
Tag contest or event photos with unique hashtags. This makes it easier to look up entries or related photos for later use. Bonus points for photos with location geotags, too. Doing so helps index photos for search relevancy.
3. Join the conversation of comments
After you log in, notifications are prominent when you’re tagged or comment on your photo. Respond promptly to keep an open dialog with customers.
Actively follow keyword combinations of your company and products. Follow people using the product or company and like these photos to increase popularity. It’s also a great way to meet customers and hear what they like.
It’s great when users upload photos of the product, but it can be devastating if they were shipped the wrong or a (gasp!) damaged product. Keep an eye on uploads with the company or product hashtags to ensure mishaps are identified. Respond quickly and professionally to correct any problems. Never take the offensive or cause conflict. Think of the silent majority. If you wouldn’t say it at a crowded auditorium, don’t write it on the Internet.
4. Reward followers with exclusivity
Getting the “inside scoop” or just being part of the “inner circle” is exciting. Market exclusive content to Instagram helps build a following.
Uploading photos that hint at new products, events or locations is a great technique. For those waiting for a new release, generate hype by uploading photos of just the corner of the new product or the street sign on a new location.
Make custom graphics to offer exclusive discount codes. Track their redemption rate and build learnings about followers.
5. Offer incentives to potential followers
Getting website traffic over to Instagram can appear difficult at first, but stick with it. First and foremost, keep focused on unique, consistently new photos. Nothing is worth following if the content isn’t fresh or lesser quality. Frequent updates help.
Have a simple account name. Typing on mobile devices isn’t easy. Don’t complicate things further by having and account name that’s long and complex. Just like a website URL, it should be something your customers can easily remember.
Finally, add messaging at the end of conversion flows i.e., your confirmation pages. Exposing social networks post-sales can be highly effective (only if the experience was positive, of course). If purchasers are excited about the product, give them a chance to take a picture to share.