Instagram is a great way to promote your products and your services. Instagram will help you promote your products and services for free. Here are some of the things that you can do to boost your sales and increase brand awareness through Instagram:
1. Create an Instagram account for your business.
It is quite easy to create an Instagram account for your business. All you need to do is:
- Download Instagram and sign up. All you need is an e-mail. Instagram works on most mobile devices, so be sure that you will be able to use the app on your device of choice. It would be good to have both Android and Apple devices in different screen sizes (i.e., smartphone and tablet) so that you can check how your posts look on those screens. Sometimes, the interface looks different on different mobile platforms. Also, though not a lot of users check Instagram on their desktop, it is possible to see Instagram pages on Internet browsers. Be sure to check how your page looks on different browsers, too.
- It is important to choose a username that represents your business and your brand. If your brand name is already taken, pick a username that reflects your business. As with Twitter, be mindful of how it would look like a handle with a “@” symbol. It is also possible to use underscores in your username. Make sure that it is not too long and is easy to read.
- Add a biography, profile photo, and a link to your website. This will help you increase brand recognition. It is not possible to link to any websites on Instagram except in your bio, so make sure that you link to your official website there. If you do not have a website, then it would be best to have the URL to one of your other Digital Marketing accounts. It is best to use your company logo as your Instagram profile photo. Take note that Instagram profile photos show up as circle icons, so the sides or corners of your photo may get cropped. Keep important elements of your profile photo such as the brand name and logo in the middle of the photo you upload to prevent them from being cropped out.
- Link your Instagram account to your Facebook and your other social networking site accounts. When you post something on Instagram, the followers on your other Digital Marketing accounts will be able to see it instantly.
- You can also place Instagram plug-ins on your website where slideshows or feeds of photos from your account will be displayed on the page. This is especially good for companies and professionals who rely heavily on images for their businesses such as design studios or photographers.
- Announce on your Facebook page or other social networking site that you have an Instagram account. Ask your Twitter followers and Facebook fans to follow your Instagram account.
2. Create an Instagram tab on your company’s Facebook page.
InstaTab is another app that you can use and it displays photos in a grid layout.
Big companies like Mercedes-Benz are very intelligent and brilliant at linking their Instagram content on their Facebook accounts.
3. Post creative photos of your products and services.
Instagram allows you to post creative photos of your products and services. It is a very image-heavy platform. Instagram also allows you to showcase your products and services through striking photos. For example, if you own a coffee shop, you can post photos of your daily specials. If you own an online clothing company, you can post photos of your clothes. If you own an architecture firm, you can post photos of your latest projects.
But, be careful in using Instagram to showcase your products and services. Limit your Instagram post to three posts a day. Spamming pictures will not help you increase brand trust and recognition. In fact, it will annoy your Instagram followers, and it may drive them to unfollow you.
4.Create an Instagram brand specific strategy.
You have to keep your Instagram content focused on how you want your clients to perceive your brand. Connect your brand with your Instagram ‘tribe’ in a consistent and in a visual way.
Create a style and signature that you can recreate on all your posts so that they are unique to the brand and memorable to your followers. Doing so will also make you stand out from other Instagram accounts. This can be a design choice for your photos or the use of similar filters.
5. Use hashtags in your Instagram posts.
As mentioned earlier in this book, hashtags will make your posts more searchable. You can use as many hashtags as you like because you are not limited by character count. But, using too many can be irritating, annoying, and visually confusing. It is best to use a maximum of 2 hashtags. Make sure that your hashtags are relevant to your company, products, and market. Some people use unrelated hashtags in a comical way, but that is not advisable to do for businesses.
Think of hashtags as a way for customers searching for products or services to find what they are looking for in a more convenient manner. You can also use hashtags to find posts by other users that are related to your business. You can use the search function to search for both users and hashtags.
6. Utilize brand-specific hashtags.
It is best to include your brand name in your hashtags. Also, it will be helpful to use unique tags for certain marketing campaigns that you are currently running. For example, if one of your products is “on sale,” create a unique hashtag for the campaign. For example, you can use #summersale2014, #5opercentoffonallitems #pricecut2014.
You can also use engaging brand specific hashtags. For example, if you are selling alcoholic drinks, you can use the hashtag #drinkdifferent. Of course, this hashtag is a pun of the popular Apple tagline “Think Different.” If you are selling burger patties, you can use the hashtag #nobunintended. You have to be creative in using hashtags.
7. Use general hashtags.
It will be useful and easier to use general hashtag. For example, if you have a coffee shop, you can post a photo of your specials and include general hashtags like #coffee, or you can use hashtags like #cappuccino.
8. Use appropriate trending hashtags.
If you want to ensure that thousands of people will see your post, use a trending hashtag that is appropriate and relevant to your brand.
9. Interact with your Instagram followers.
Be sure to check your Instagram account on a regular basis and respond to customer inquiries right away. This will give you a chance to build a strong relationship with your customers.
Also, check your followers’ updates to check if they are posting about you or seeking for products and services that you offer. Leaving comments on other users’ posts also gives you exposure. Their followers can see you and check out your account. Seeing how you interact with their friends can also help in building a positive image among your market.
10. Make your followers famous.
Starbucks is one of the top three brands on Instagram. One of their Instagram tactics is to show their appreciation to their customers by sharing their photos on their Instagram and Facebook account. If you spot a customer posting a photo of your product, repost that photo and give a shout out to that particular customer. Your customer will surely appreciate it.
Be sure to ask permission first before reposting and publishing your customer’s name and other information (e.g., location, purchase). Some people prefer to stay private and not have their posts shared to a wide audience.
11. Like the photos of your followers.
It would help if you acknowledged the awesomeness of your followers by liking their photos, especially if they emulate your brand or include your product in their photos. This is the simplest thing you can do to show your appreciation for the people who patronize your business.
12. Respond to all the comments on your posts.
One of the most effective ways to interact with your Instagram followers is to reply to all the comments on your posts. This will make your followers feel like they are engaged to a “human voice.”
13. Mention your customers.
Like on Twitter and Facebook, you can mention your followers by using @ before the username. You can say something like, Thank you @customer for trying out our new latte flavor. Do not forget to mention the users you are replying to by including their handles in your comments. For example, you should write “@lisasmith Thanks for the lovely comment!”. This will ensure that the original commenter can see your reply. Take note that Instagram does not have a Reply function the way Facebook does.
14. Focus on engaging with your Instagram followers and your customers.
You have to post more than just your brand and your products. You have to authentically and sincerely connect with your followers by posting things that are important to them. For example, if you are selling cabinets, you can post photos that show how your customers can sort out their clothes inside the cabinet. The post is still about your product, but it also caters your customers’ needs. It is information that most of your customers could relate to.
15. Enhance your photos.
Spend time in making sure that your Instagram photos are visually appealing. Use photo applications to enhance your image like Adobe Photoshop, Photoshake, or Diptic to edit your photos. Instagram has a built-in camera and photo editing app, but its features are quite limited. Here’s the list of the other apps that you can use to enhance your image:
- Lens Flare
- Tangent App
- DXP Free
- Tilt Shift Generator
- Average Camera Pro
- 8mm Vintage Camera
- Slow Shutter Cam
Take note that Instagram compresses the photos you upload, so you may lose the quality on your photos when you post them. Also, photos must be square so keep them in a 1:1 ratio.
Do not go overboard with using too many filters, stickers, and texts. Keep your images simple. Although, do make sure that it fits with your brand image. A street wears brand can easily get away with messy graffiti style photos.
16. Post videos.
Instagram allows you to post short videos. Use this feature to showcase your products and events. Instagram videos can last from 3 to 15 seconds. It can also have a sound. Although there are apps that can help you fit in more seconds into a video like with Hyperlapse (which speeds up your videos) or Video Collage (which stitches together several videos into one video).
17. Showcase the practicality of your products.
Use Instagram to showcase the practicality of your products. You can post photos of how your products are used in real life. For example, if you are selling bottled water, you can post a photo of your customers drinking your water at a crowded outdoor concert.
18. You have to showcase your brand and your company’s story.
You can post cool and hip photos that represent your brand’s history. You can also post something photos that represent your brand’s principles, mission, and values. You can also post photos of your employees and staff. You can post photos how you make and ship each product. It is best to also post “behind the scenes” photos.
19. Post fun and authentic photos and videos of your company’s CEO.
20. Share exclusive content to your Instagram followers.
To make your Instagram followers feel special, post photos or content that you have not posted on your other social networking accounts yet.
21. Launch a product on Instagram.
If you are opening a new store or you are launching a new product, it is best to do it live on this amazing photo sharing site. For example, if you are launching a new product, make a video or two showing your preparation for the product launch. This will get your Instagram followers excited. Tease your Instagram followers with a 15-second video showing how you are preparing for the product launch.
22. Show your post product launch clean up or party (if you have one).
This will allow you to show your employees and yourself authentically to your Instagram followers.
23. Ask your followers to comment on your photos and videos.
You can ask your Instagram followers to comment on your photos and videos by asking open-ended questions. You can also use the phrase “let us know what you guys think” after every post.
24. Partner with other Instagram brands.
Instagram is a great tool to use to partner with other brands and companies. You can ask companies to post about your brand, and in return, you can also make an Instagram post about their brands. For example, if you are selling sunglasses, you can partner up with companies that sell SPF lotions. If you are selling rubber shoes, you can partner up with companies that sell sports socks.
25. Ask your Instagram followers to create a caption your posts.
26. Run an Instagram contest.
Running Instagram photo contests is a great way to get user-generated content. It is also a great way to interact with your Instagram followers and customers. Here are some tips that you can use in running an Instagram photo contest:
- Set goals – Like any other great marketing campaign, you have to set goals. This will allow you to monitor your ROI or return on investment. Do you want to generate leads? Do you want to increase sales? Do you want to increase brand awareness?
- Identify your target market – Before you start a photo contest, you have to identify your target market.
- Create your budget – It is necessary to create a certain budget for your photo contest and stick to it. How much are you willing to spend for this contest?
- Choose your prize – It is necessary to choose a prize that will entice your target market to join.
- Choose a contest type – To ensure that your Instagram contest will help you reach your goals; you have to pick a contest type that will capture the interest of your target market. You can run a voting contest, an essay contest, a video contest, a photo contest, a raffle, or a photo caption contest.
- Pick a theme for your contest – If you are running a photo contest, choose a theme that will help you achieve your goals. Also, make sure that your theme will help you generate UGC or User Generated Content. For example, if you have a clothing store pick seasonal themes like Best Summer Outfit Contest or Back to School contest.
- Establish the contest time frame – You have to be clear about the time frame of your contest. The short time frame is best when you want to get fast results.
- Be clear about the contest mechanics – You have to be clear about the contest mechanics. This will prevent disputes, miscommunication, and a decrease in customer satisfaction.
- Promote your Instagram contest – To get as many entries as possible, you have to promote your Instagram contest on your other social networking sites. You can also email your existing customers and ask them to join.
- Feature the winning entry on your website and social networking sites – If you are running a photo contest, it would be best to feature the winning photo on your social networking accounts and your website.
27. Be true to your company and your brand.
You have to ensure that you are true to your company and your brand. You have to ensure that your photos have a well-defined personality and voice.
28. Share experiences with your Instagram audience.
It is important to share experiences with your Instagram audience. This will establish a strong connection to your Instagram followers and your potential customers.
Instagram is a great way to market your product. It is also an inexpensive way to promote your products and get to know your customers more closely. Apply what you just read this part on Instagram to boost your sales and increase your brand recognition.
An article by Dougles Chan – SEO Master, An Expert SEO Coach that specialized on coaching SEO marketing.