Instagram has proven itself as a business platform that brings results. It’s no longer about candid pictures or random selfies. Instead, it’s become a space for up and coming brands to make a name for themselves alongside corporate giants.
Gathre, a brand created by two moms, specializes in items for the home like outdoor accessories, yoga tools and leather goods. It used Instagram for a summer campaign and saw a whopping 81% increase in revenue based on Instagram ad spend as a single summer ad campaign.
Instagram knows the potential it holds for businesses. Over the last few years, it has built a community for a global audience, enabled shoppable posts, and checkout features to capture sales without asking potential buyers to switch platforms.
At the same time, anyone who has created a business account knows, just having an account isn’t enough. There’s a lot more than goes into growing your sales with Instagram than most people let on. In this article, I’ll be showing you in five steps to use Instagram to drive sales.
1.Optimize Your Business Instagram Account
Before you start promoting products, you’ll have to optimize your Instagram business account
What you’re doing here is ensuring that when potential buyers search or discover your brand online, your Instagram profile will have the information and contact details to prevent them from turning away.
Add a Recognizable Photo and Username
One of the worst mistakes you can make is to have an unrecognizable username and display photo. If you’ve already got this part down, you can skip to step two, but if there’s the slightest chance that you might want to make a few changes, stick around and let me show you how it’s done.
You’ll want an Instagram username that’s the same as your business name so that searchers can easily find you. That’s what shoe brand Payless did.
Whereas Red Lobster took a creative approach by using two red lobster claws as their profile image, which sums up what and who they are.
Claiming your business name might be easier said than done if you were late to join Instagram. With more than 500 million users on the platform every day, someone might have already taken your Instagram business username.
If your original username is gone, just add a variation to it, and you’re good to go. Take Later, for example: someone else has already taken the username @later, so the marketing team used @latermedia instead.
Need help coming up with an Instagram Username? Check out Plann’s fun guide to creating Unique Usernames for Instagram That Will Get You Noticed.
Include a Link to Boost Traffic to Your Site
There’s no point in getting sales with Instagram if you don’t promote your website link on your Instagram channel. Drop your link your Instagram bio to boost website traffic and sales.
Instagram Example: All Bird
An Interesting Bio That Hooks Followers
People will often scan your bio and photos before deciding whether they should follow you.
Think of your Instagram bio as an elevator pitch to get people hooked on your brand. You can write a simple line or use up the entire bio word limit of 150 characters.
Here are two brands with great Instagram bios:
2. Create an Instagram Marketing Strategy
If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. Create an Instagram marketing strategy for your business so that you can set goals and actions that align with your content. A strategy also helps you to measure how effective your Instagram marketing is in terms of the type of engagement, revenue, and the impact you want your brand to have.
Now more than ever, a marketing strategy is critical. With Instagram’s changing algorithm working on over 95 million posts every day, you’re going to need a plan to push your brand above all that content and noise.
You can use the following to get started on your Instagram marketing strategy:
1. Create a Marketing Goal Why are you marketing on Instagram, and what do you want to accomplish? It’s a given that you’d like to increase sales. But how do you intend to do it?
It could be as simple as planning to sell x amount of products per month, get more subscribers, increase repeat shoppers or all of the above. Whatever the case may be, it’s wise to start with one goal at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.
2. Create a Content Marketing Plan Now that you have a goal in mind, you’ll need to create a content marketing plan that will complement it. Your content marketing plan is the key to creating amazing content (we’ll talk more about that later), and it’ll help you to keep your sanity when you’re coming up with content ideas to post on Instagram.
Here’s a detailed guide to show you How to Build a More Complete Content Marketing Strategy to start seeing some Insta-famous results come your way.
Pro Tip: If your already have a content marketing strategy but the results are underwhelming, here are 6 reasons your content strategy isn’t working and 25 tips on how to fix it.
3. Social Media Strategy (Checklist) What’s a social media checklist?
It’s a daily, weekly, and monthly to-do list for your social media accounts. It helps you manage your Instagram account with ease, without feeling overwhelmed with comments, likes, and messages constantly flooding you.
I’ve created a step-by-step guide on how to make a social media checklist so you’ll be handling Instagram like a pro in no time.
It can seem like a lot to take in, but if you want to start using Instagram to drive sales to your business, you’ll need to get serious about how you handle it, or you’ll just be posting with little to no results. Take it from me: a well-executed plan pays off in the long run.
3. Boost Engagement on Instagram & Strengthen Customer Relationships.
Engage with Your Instagram Followers
No customer wants to walk into a retail store and be ignored; the same goes for customers going to your Instagram page.
When customers are ignored on social media or notice an inactive brand on Instagram, they’ll most likely unfollow you or buy from your competitors.
That’s something no one wants, so start engaging!
Engagement increases your social media presence, builds loyalty, drives ROI, and attracts new followers.
Take a look at 720 Sweets & Etc. answering customer questions about their locations. As simple as it is, it can also drive foot traffic to your brick and mortar store.
Fitness brand Equinox has over 200,000 followers, yet they still take the time to engage with their followers by candidly answering and liking comments.
When you engage with followers, you should naturally promote your product website or store. Try not to make it seem forced. For example, Primark’s Instagram account occasionally suggests customers come into their store to buy their products, or they ask customers to share how they style Primark pieces. Here’s an example below:
4 Effortless Ways to Engage with Followers on Instagram
- Ask them a question about your products
- Answer their questions in the comments
- Recommend products they might need or want
- Talk with them in the comments section
- for feedback about your services or products
Jumpstart Your Instagram Engagement with Contests
Social media contests are a marketer’s growth hack when it comes to getting more followers, more engagement, and generating leads with the serious potential to drive massive sales.
Brands like Hydroflask make giveaways an essential part of their Instagram marketing strategy to gain more followers and increase sales during holidays. They host giveaways every three months and partner with complementing brands to make each giveaway prize even better than the last.
For example, for summer Hydroflask got over 100,000 likes and over 50,000 likes and comments with their partnered giveaway with Pura Vida’s Stickers.
4 Most Popular Types of Instagram Contest:
Like-to-Win or Comment-to-Win: USANA Summer Giveaway
Follow To Win: The Beauty Spy
Tag -A-Friend : Tono & Co.
Click The Link In The Bio To Enter : World Photography Organisation
Pro Tip: Just like Facebook, you’ll need to follow the contest rules. You don’t need a lawyer for this one, but instead use this Complete Instagram Giveaway Rules Guide (With Examples).
Answer Your Instagram DMs
When you’re using Instagram for business, managing all of your direct messages, comments, and replies can take up a lot of time! Sometimes you’ll have to answer the same question, over and over (and over) again.
But keep at it! Answering direct messages and comments is essential when it comes to maintaining engagement with your new and current followers.
Luckily, Instagram now offers saved replies in your direct messages, so you can save yourself the trouble of typing.
How to Use Quick Replies
- Open your profile and tap the button with three lines in the top-right corner of the screen. This will open the sidebar menu where you can access your Instagram settings.
- Next, tap the settings button and scroll down to Business Settings. Here you should see an option for Quick Replies.
- Tap the “+” button in the top-right corner to create a new quick reply.
- Once you’re happy with your quick reply, tap the ‘Save’ button in the top-right corner (you can always come back and edit or delete your quick reply later).
When you go into your direct messages to access your replies, you can click on the icon below:
4. Drive Sales with Instagram “Shopping”’ Content & Features
Now that you’ve shaped your Instagram into a lean, mean sales machine, it’s time to produce, package and deliver content and features to drive sales on your Instagram.
Promote Your Products with Creative, Professional Photos
Share your products, events, and giveaways on your Instagram profile.
You want to ensure that you promote your products with creative, professional photos. Since most online shoppers can’t physically touch the product, they need to see your products in a good light (no pun intended).
Your customers need to see what they’re buying. The product image needs to be professional or placed in a lifestyle setting so that they can imagine a product in their day to day life. One of the reasons most products on Instagram sell so well is the high quality in product photography and display.
No matter how good your product is, without the right pictures, shoppers will still hesitate to click ‘Purchase’.
Everlane’s Instagram shows off their products and pieces with fun lifestyle and product shots.
If you’re on a budget or need help taking better product images, Hootsuite’s got you covered with a step-by-step guide on How to Take Good Instagram Photos on Your Phone.
Sharing content in your Instagram story is an easy and effective way to expand your reach. With Instagram’s ‘swipe up” feature to drive customers to your website, you can capture a few sales in between.
Write a Killer Caption That Sells
A common mistake that most brands make on Instagram is trying to “hard” sell products to Instagram followers. Instagram was made for connecting first. Business became a part of it later. Try soft selling to appeal to Instagram’s Social Culture.
Think of your captions like mini-movie trailers or sales pitches; you don’t start off the bat by saying ‘buy now’, not unless you have a monster of a following of loyal buyers like Nike or Old Navy.
The length of your caption can vary, despite popular belief that it should always be short, that may not be the case. Take Herbivore, for example, when they posted about their discount for their 8th birthday. It’s a bit lengthy, but it’s engaging:
Instagram Example: Herbivore
You can also use hashtags in your captions. Hashtags help to make your post discoverable for people searching for your brand or the products that you offer.
You can incorporate hashtags to make your captions more actionable. Take Chinese Laundry, they use the hashtag #ChineseLaundry for brand awareness and #TapToShop to let users know they can tap the image for Instagram shoppable posts.
Instagram Example: Chinese Laundry
Use Instagram Ambassadors to Share Your Brand
Using Instagram influencers has been proven to drive to drive sales. Around 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations, and 40% purchased something after seeing it on Instagram.
Now major brands like H&M have been known to use influencers for every fashion collection.
According to Mediakix, influencer marketing is expected to grow to a $5 – $10 billion market by 2020. More and more influencers are popping up each day, as more brands begin to take up dedicated influencers for their own.
You don’t need an influencer who has millions of followers. You can use micro influencers who have between 5000-200,000 followers. More and more marketers are looking to micro-influencers to deliver affordable, professional and amazing content.
5 Best Tools To Get More Sales On Instagram
- LinkTree: Linktree allows you to turn your tiny Instagram website link into a sales funnel for your business. Take a look at what happens when you click on Wishpond’s Instagram Linktree URL:
Owned by Curalate, Like2Buy was the first company to offer brands the chance to turn their Instagram posts into shoppable images. Brands like Target and Sephora trust Like2Buy to help drive sales for their Instagram marketing.
- Instagram Shoppable Post:
Once your business has a product catalog via Facebook connected to your Instagram account, tagging products is as simple as tagging a person in a post. Instagram shoppable posts are marked with a “Tap to View Products” pop-up or small white circle with the shopping bag icon.
- Instagram Checkout:
March 2019, Instagram dropped the checkout feature vendors had been waiting for. Now, not only can you tap to view a product, but you can offer viewers the chance to use the “Checkout on Instagram” button on the product page, so shoppers can pay for their order without leaving Instagram.
Once the buyer’s first order is complete, the information will be stored securely for convenience the next time they shop.
- Instagram Stories Shopping Stickers:
Similar to the regular Instagram shoppable posts, you’re able to tag physical products from their inventory or e-commerce platform. When you click on an item in Instagram, you’re able to view the item name, price, and description.
You can use Instagram Stories stickers on both images and videos, and there are four different types of stickers. It is restricted to certain countries, just like a shoppable post.
5. Beat Instagram’s Algorithm & Measure Your Success
So your content game is strong, and your account has taken over the gram. To keep that success coming, you’ll need to watch out for Instagram’s ever-changing algorithm and measure your success so you’re on the right track.
How to Beat Instagram Algorithm
Every year, business owners over the world grumble about Instagram’s algorithm as they try to grow their following, but there are some good intentions behind it all.
At the end of the day, Instagram’s algorithm, like YouTube, rewards content with high engagement. The not-so-secret sauce to beat the algorithm is to stay consistent with your content strategy and online activity. Wolf Software shows it best:
Just like a fish swimming upstream, the moment you stop moving, stop being active, you risk losing your pace.
Don’t fall into the trap of post-it-once-and-forget-it. Keep up with these Important Instagram Algorithm changes, and you’ll be able to use the algorithm to work for you.
How to Measure Your Instagram Success
You’ll need to go beyond how many followers you gain for the month. New followers aren’t always paying customers; they’re new leads you can turn into potential customers. That’s to say that having 10,000 followers isn’t the same as 10,000 orders. Maybe a small fraction of those customers purchase from you, and an even lower percentage become repeat customers. Which is why it’s important to measure your success, and take a close look at the impact your Instagram has on your revenue.
Look at your engagement, how many queries for prices and orders you get along with how many people complete purchases on your website after coming from Instagram. From there, you’ll begin to measure how successful your Instagram is when it comes to driving sales for you.
Here’s a quick recap on how to use Instagram to drive sales and grow your engagement:
- Optimize Your Business Instagram Account
- Create an Instagram Marketing Strategy
- Boost Engagement on Instagram & Strengthen Customer Relationships.
- Drive Sales with Instagram “Shopping”’ Content & Features
- Beat Instagram’s Algorithm & Measure Your Success
Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been on Instagram for a while, you can use these tips to push you in the right direction.
Which tip was your favorite, or which are you trying now? Comment below and let me know. I’d love to hear!
Read more: 5 Dreadful Mistakes You Should Avoid in Your Instagram Bio