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In March 2013, Nathan Chan launched Foundr Magazine, an online publication for young entrepreneurs, from his bedroom. He decided to focus on Instagram for the promotion of the publication. His early marketing plan consisted of posting several times a day with an inspirational quote imposed on an amazing photo. As he began to accumulate a following, he, of course, moved onto a variety of other marketing tactics, including incentives for followers to share his posts, contests win a free subscription and more. Within a few months, he had 10,000 followers and soaring subscriptions.
Using Instagram as a marketing tool for sales and other conversions can be profitable if done right. Below you will find a number of tips for strategies and tactics you should be using on Instagram.
- Set up an Instagram for Business Account
This is your first step. Setting up this account will let you get metrics on your posts and stories, solid insights on your followers, and allow you to add information about your company – location, hours, phones numbers, etc., if you are seeking local customers. It’s an easy process – do it now.
- Instagram Ads
Instagram is owned by Facebook and, because of this, uses the Facebook Ads platform. You can use this tool to target people based on interests, demographics, etc, and Facebook sorts all of this out for you. You are then reaching people who could actually become customers. And by all means, sweeten the pot with a discount, or better yet, a contest that they can enter and share with their friends. This is also a great venue for launching a new product.
One of the unique things about Instagram ads is that you can include a CTA and a click-through link to your product or website landing page. You can’t do this through a regular post. And, if lead generation is the goal, you want that potential customer to get to your website pages.
- Run Contests
The clothing retailer ModCloth gets a lot of “play” with contests of all types, from naming an item of clothing, to ugliest sweater, to submitting photos of favorite outfits for voting by followers. The prize is either an item of clothing or a gift certificate.
The added bonus? It features “user-generated” content, a great way to spread your brand and make relationships – so important.
- Show Your Product in Action
Now that you can post video on Instagram, here’s another way to gain attention. And if you can use an actual customer in your video, all the better. Solicit videos from your customers that you can then post, showing them using your product. WD-40 does a great job of this, posting YouTube videos of its customers and their unusual uses for the product:
- Use Instagram Stories
If you are not using Instagram Stories, you are truly missing a huge opportunity to connect with current followers who will then share you content with their tribes. These are located at the top of your followers’ feeds, so they can’t miss them.
Here are some tips as you use this Instagram feature:
- Update your stories frequently. These can include videos, carousels that feature customers and/or new products, or your team at work, etc. The more you can update, the more your followers will keep viewing – more views mean more chances that your content will be shared.
- Add CTA’s to your stories, especially if you have a new product, a contest, or an offer if the story is shared with others. Your CTA’s don’t always have to be for a purchase.
- Solicit user-generated content for your stories. You can post their photos and videos, garner engagement, and of course they will share those with their communities. Who doesn’t love being featured on a company social media platform?
- Place coupons on your stories, with a code to use when they link to your product page. Be sure to make it a limited-time offer, so that you trigger that psychological need not to miss out on something.
- Share customer reviews, testimonials, and stories. This is perhaps the most powerful advertising tool you have – actual customers, happy with your product or service, and willing to tell the world about that satisfaction. These say more than you could ever say. Roger Banwick, Content Marketing Director for Trust My Paper, an online writing service, speaks to this: “We were all over Instagram, posting ads, giving discounts, holding writing contests, and more. While these generated some interest and an increase in followers, when we were able to use Instagram Stories to provide testimonials, our following and orders for products and services increased exponentially. These were so much more effective than the testimonials we posted on our website. They ‘rang’ as genuine and trusted.”
- Consider Instagram Live
This is a less-used marketing method because it takes time to set up. You have to have a clear goal for a live broadcast – something that will engage your followers. Then, of course, you have to plan the delivery and promote the broadcast all over the place.
This is a good tool for a new product launch, an interview with an influencer in your niche, or just a solid Q & A session about your products/services. This is probably something you want to do after you have a strong following. And, you can offer discounts or other freebies when followers tune in and get others from their communities to do the same.
- Never Fail to Respond to Comments and Feedback
This seems like a no-brainer, but too many business owners fail in this area of marketing. Especially if you are a small business trying to spread your brand and grow a following, you have to take this seriously. It is how you build those personal relationships that social media is all about and, ultimately, make a sale.
- Collaborate with Related Brands
This is an amazing way to increase your visibility on Instagram. Suppose you offer interior decoration products – wall art, area rugs, drapes, etc. Consider partnering with furniture retailers. Maybe you are a fast-food restaurant. Does beer go well with your offerings? The point is this: find other brands on Instagram that complement what you offer and get into partnerships. You can run joint marketing campaigns. Promoting each other’ brands. You double your exposure and so do they – it’s a win-win. You can even offer joint promotional offers for discounts.
- Prompts for Post Notifications
One of the cool things about Instagram is that you can ask your followers to turn on prompt notifications. Even offer some kind of bonus or discount if they do so. What this means is that they will get a prompt anytime you post something. It’s just another way of engaging those followers who may not interact with your posts regularly.
- Make Your Instagram Feed Shoppable
There are some tools that will allow followers and visitors to shop right from your Instagram feed rather than have to click over to your website landing pages. Anything that provides more convenience for a shopper is a good thing. Check out tools like Curalte’s Like2Buy or Have2have.It. Shoppers can click on a product, get all of the information right there and make a purchase, without having to go to your website pages.
- Finally – Those Hashtags
There’s a lot of buzz about hashtags right now, and how important they are. On Instagram, these are often how people find you through an Instagram search. Be mindful that your hashtags must be very relevant to your product/service or to your brand.
If you have a local brick and mortar business, your hashtags must be localized and product-related – these are the best-performing ones.
If you are growing a following, though, get more specific with your hashtags, and use branded ones that include your company name.
It’s a Wrap
So, here you have 11 tactics you can use on Instagram to increase your following, spread your brand, and get those conversions you want. There are many more, of course, but is you start with these, you should see a dramatic increase in following, interaction, and great relationship building – the things that ultimately generate sales.