Instagram has been quickly gaining steam in recent years, and with good reason. We’re living in a world where audiences crave relevant content, and the shorter the better. In fact, it doesn’t get any shorter than a photo. Whether you’re marketing to consumers or other businesses, Instagram can be a powerful marketing tool when used correctly. Read this recent article from Forbes about how you can apply the best practices of Instagram to your business.
How entrepreneurs can start leveraging Instagram to increase sales
by Neil Patel
Every entrepreneur is in business to make money. If you want to increase brand awareness and start boosting sales to pad your bottom line then you need to start serving content that your audience can’t help but devour.
Not just any content – visual content.
That means Instagram should be at the top of your list for promotion. This is true whether you’re selling a tangible product or you’re a service related business.
Visual content is more than 40x more likely to get shared on social media than any other kind of content. That’s why more than 70% of marketers are relying on visual assets in their marketing strategies.
Instagram is 100% visual, and the community has grown to more than 400 million users . That’s reason enough to leverage the service right now using these tips to increase your sales and brand visibility.
1. Create an Instagram strategy.
Posting random pictures to your account isn’t going to make you successful any more than throwing up a random blog post. You need to create a content strategy that defines what it is you want to achieve and what you’ll do to get there.
Then do that one thing.
Make your plan something interesting; something you can visually share.
Make Instagram part of your daily routine so that you’re consistently creating and posting content. Consistency will promote continued engagement and sharing which will lead to more sales over time.
2. Use eye-catching, high quality images.
You don’t need an expensive camera or a professional photographer to take good pictures. You do need to keep in mind that picture quality is an important element.
If you can’t get good quality pictures then have someone take pictures for you or dig into some photography tips to build your skills.
Not sure what kind of high quality photos to start sharing? Take a look at your competitors as well as other successful Instagram users to see what works for them. You can gain actionable insights this way.
3. Build community connections on Instagram.
Like any social platform, you don’t want Instagram to be a one way communication channel. Don’t just reply on your own images.
Reach out to others through likes and comments within your industry, especially if they’re talking about you.
Check out your competitors and start following the people who follow and engage with them and click that follow bottom.
Richard Lazazzera followed 100 of his competitor’s followers, then liked and commented on their posts. In doing so, he earned a 34% follow back rate.
You can also generate content to drive community engagement, like creating Instagram scavenger hunts, contests and other promotions.
As you build that community, make sure you share photos that let your followers see behind the curtain. Share photos of your people, your facilities, your work routine, manufacturing practices and operations.
Showing off the personality and people behind a brand can help make a very human connection with your audience, and people are more prone to do business with a company they feel connected to on a personal level.
4. Use Instagram ads.
There are now more than 200,000 advertisers on Instagram and you can join the lot easily. With Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram you can access Instagram ads and promoted content through the Facebook Ad creation tool.
It’s not just a tool for promoting images. You can target specific actions with Instagram ads including:
With any kind of advertising you need to experiment to see what works best, so try out different image and text combinations.
Pay attention to which combinations work best, then double down on your efforts while shutting down the losing campaigns.
5. Listen to your fans.
It’s likely that not everything you do when you launch your business is going to appeal to your audience. People from your happiest brand ambassadors to people who had a negative experience will be quick to let you know about ways to serve them better.
So don’t just put the focus on posting quality images.
Focus on engagement and listening.
Pay attention to what your followers want from you including what they want to see differently, what they want more off and what they’d like to see change.
When you show that you listen to your audience and are willing to take action you create an amazing amount of trust. That trust ultimately translates into sales.
6. Don’t be afraid of video.
Instagram lets you leverage the power of video as well as static images. Over 50% of marketers believe video has the strongest ROI of any other form of content marketing, so you have a big opportunity to engage your followers on a new level via social.
It works, too. Shoppers who view video are nearly twice as likely to purchase over shoppers who only engage written content.
Couple that with the fact that mobile video plays are up 74% from 2014 and a whopping 844% from 2012 and it’s clear that customers want more to digest more video content.
You might feel camera shy but you don’t have to be a talking head in every video. Get creative and find ways you can use video around your business to engage your fans:
- Do product features
- Show your staff handling service calls and taking care of customers
- Record testimonials and feature your customers/clients
- Get video of relevant events, trade shows and community events
- Don’t be afraid to get silly and let humor pop into your videos – show your team being playful
- Give tips and ideas to your fans in short video clips
When you want to build revenue using social media platforms like Instagram, your goal is not to turn sales over from every single post (as nice as that is when it happens.)
Sales may be your ultimate goal but your Instagram efforts are the means in which you’ll drive engagement and build the relationship with your customers.
Keep the focus on improving the quality of your content and building those relationships and the sales will come.
What are some ways you’ve used Instagram to build sales for your business?
Neil Patel is a contributor to Forbes and covers cover entrepreneurship, conversion optimization, marketing and sales. A version also appeared on Forbes.