Not using Instagram to market your items? Then you're missing out on a very valuable tool. Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share your life with friends through pictures and videos using an app on your smartphone.
If you're targeting moms, dads, Millennials, or just about anyone—especially 18- to 49-year-olds—you should create Instagram campaigns
But are your customers on Instagram? Chances are they are or they will be soon. Instagram's stats are nearly as impressive as Facebook's.
Just look at these numbers:
- 400 million+ active users per month (75 percent outside the U.S.)
- 40 billion shared photos
- 80 million photos shared per day
- 3.5 billion likes per day
If you're targeting moms, dads, Millennials, or just about anyone—especially 18- to 49-year-olds—you should create Instagram campaigns. If you already advertise through Facebook, you're ahead of the game. You can use Facebook's simple Ads Manager to create ads for both platforms.
In this two-part series we'll explore how to advertise on Instagram and offer advice from e-commerce businesses like yours who are already using this powerful tool.
First, create a business account
You probably already know to have separate accounts for business and personal use on Facebook and Twitter. The same applies to Instagram.
Instagram accounts "that mix personal photos, with products and sales announcements are confusing for customers," says Kerry Boozeny, founder of Social Selling Mom.
Creating an Instagram account for your business boils down to two choices:
- Convert your personal Instagram account to a business account by deleting all non-business posts then only posting business-related photos and video.
- Create a new account just for your business. Leave your first account for personal things, dogs, cats, food, family, etc.
Next, "determine what your target audience wants and provide it on your page," advises Ashley Baxter founder of ModernMarketingSchool.com. "That could be inspiration, motivation or tips of a specific subject. Make every piece of content you share a gift to your audience to attract the right crowd."
To do well on Instagram as a brand, you need compelling images, adds Dimitri Semenikhin, founder of Yacht Harbour.
As a visual medium, Instagram is all about photos, and yours need to stand out. 'It's crucial that they look good'
These can include "shots of your product or of events related to your field," Semenikhin continues. For instance, you could share photos of great Mother's Day presents if you sell women's items.
Consistency is important, too. "You want people to know what to expect from your channel so they keep coming back for more," Baxter notes. "Start posting on a consistent schedule and post content they can easily recognize as belonging to you."
Make your photos pop
As a visual medium, Instagram is all about photos, and yours need to stand out.
"It's crucial that they look good," Ann-Marie Faiola of the soap-making supplier Bramble Berry tells us.
She recommends taking Instagram photos with the camera on your phone rather than using the Instagram camera.
"The camera within Instagram only lets you take one photo," she explains. "When using the camera on your phone, you can take several photos and then choose which you like best."
Faiola likes using the square setting on her iPhone camera—a setting most smartphones have—since Instagram only allows square photos.
"Using the square camera setting allows you to see what is being cut from the frame ahead of time," she notes.
When you share something, be sure to add hashtags (e.g., #shoes) through comments you post under your post. Choose these carefully to reach more customers or potential customers.
"Hashtags are the best way to connect with and find other users interested in your topic," Baxter says. "But don't use hashtags in your post. Right after you post your image, leave a comment on your own graphic with up to 30 hashtags. That will get you more exposure."
Don't use hashtags in your post. Right after you post your image, leave a comment on your own graphic with up to 30 hashtags
Courtney Reimers, of StudySoup (a popular site for college students) also feels that "hashtags are a great way to grow your audience." She advises using the most effective hashtags by "looking up what's trending and what relates to your image, then comment your hashtags under your post."
Hashtags also help spread your story.
"Storytelling," as Reimers notes, "is powerful in all types of marketing, especially in social media marketing."
How do you tell your story? "Give your audience a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on at your company," Reimers says. "This creates an experience and allows your audience to feel engaged and valued."
Be part of the community
Finally, be sure to react to others' posts to be part of the conversation to increase your reach.
"Start conversations, make comments, reply to questions and compliments, and like what other people are posting," says Stefanie Parks founder of DermWarehouse.com. "Not only will staying engaged with your Instagram following help to build it, you will see that your followers become very loyal to you."
Now you know the basics about Instagram advertising, but there's a lot more to learn. Part 2 will provide more advice about what makes for a great Instagram post and will cover composing your Instagram profile, videos, cross promotion via your other social media activity, and more.
Finally, one of the best resources available to you is Instagram's business site, and in particular its business blog. Through this blog you can discover how businesses of all sizes are advertising through Instagram and stay updated on the latest news. The blog also offers advice about how to best target specific markets.