The better way to sell online

Instagram marketing made easy

How to promote your business to Instagram’s 800 million active users.
Instagram is a powerhouse. With 800 million active users, it can be a vital tool when it comes to marketing your business. Studies by Iconosquare show that 70% of Instagram users have searched for a business or brand using the platform.

While other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are largely text based, Instagram only allows users to post square videos or photos. It’s a highly visual, photo album style site. And it will allow you to showcase your businesses unique style, products and customers.

Often, those who shop online turn to social media for references. By highlighting your product and it’s features via the site, you can take passive shoppers and convert them into confident ones.

Have a look at this account, wrightkitchen. By posting pictures from her ‘Feast Your Eyes’ book on instagram, Brittany Wright has amassed over 200,000 followers. Those are 200,000 potential extra sales.


How to get started on Instagram

To advertise your business on Instagram, you’ll have to create an account for it. Unlike Facebook, each Instagram account (whether for personal or business use) is created the same way. Simply download the Instagram app onto your phone and follow the prompts. Keep in mind that Instagram is a smartphone app: while you’ll be able to view photos on your desktop computer, you won’t have full functionality.

Make sure that your username isn’t your name, but the name of your business. The focus shouldn’t be on you but on what you sell! In most cases, your selfies won’t get you sales.

Have a look at the profile I’ve included below as an example. The business is called Letterfolk, and from reading the profile description you can see it’s a husband and wife small business. They’ve identified themselves, but kept the focus on what they sell. They’ve also included two important links; their email address, and a website.

Instagram will only allow you to have one clickable link, so you must utilize it. You won’t be able to post links in the descriptions of your photos, so make the one in your profile count. It’s most effective when it links directly to a product landing page, or the homepage of your website.

You can easily edit your username, linked site and profile picture by selecting ‘Edit Profile’ when you’re viewing your account.

While you should post new pictures on the site frequently, you should keep your profile picture the same over time. It will come up beside all your posts and help your customers identify you.

What to post on Instagram

The current recommended size for Instagram photos is 1080px by 1080px. Instagram used to only allow square photos, but has since changed its policy to allow for rectangles. Even so, it’s recommended to stick to squares as your images will be automatically cropped when viewed from your profile.

When you upload an image to the site, you’ll have the option to enter a few fields of information. Those include your caption, location, and the ability to ‘tag’ or identity anyone within the photo. You can also tag people within the caption by writing the @ symbol before their username. You can see an example of both forms of tagging in this photo posted by Vans.

When it comes to captions, write something short and engaging. Asking your customers for an opinion can be a great way to get people commenting on your posts.

If your business has a local location, it’s also worth adding your location to the images. If your business is online, try adding the location of where your photos were taken. You can do this while uploading your image.

Only around 5% of users tag a location, but posts showing locations have over 70% more engagement. Of course, keep it general and don’t share locations you wouldn’t feel comfortable telling strangers.

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t post your personal address. Geotag your region, ie. New York, instead of your apartment number.

What to include in photos

It’s been shown that lighter, brighter photos earn 24% more likes than dark photos. It’s also been proven that images with a dominant colour earn 17% more likes. Plan your photos to be well lit and bright, with a splash of colour.

Sit down and decide what aspects of your product you’d like to highlight. If you sell swimwear, you could post images of your clothing, the beach, fish and customers wearing your products. Doing so will help you create a theme. A theme, on Instagram, is a style applied to your images to make them appear curated and professional. Pick a theme you like, such as ‘action shots of people running’, and stick to it.

How to make sales through Instagram

Think of Instagram not as the final destination, but as a funnel. This works in two ways. Firstly, Customers will stumble across your account, admire your images and then head onto your website to buy your products. Secondly, when they’re undecided about an online purchase, your Instagram account can show them your products clearly, turning them into confident shoppers.

Instagram is very much a community-driven site, which means that most users won’t respond to hard sells. Your best bet is to demonstrate your products in a meaningful way to connect with potential buyers. A great example of this soft selling is Nike. Rather than telling customers to buy their products, they let them know when they’re updating their designs and showcase them in action.

The key element of Instagram is ‘show, don’t tell’. Demonstrate your products to your potential customers using bright, square images, post engaging captions and pick a theme. Once your page is up and running, you can learn learn how to double your customer engagement in next week's article.

- Lena Klein

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