Getting Started with Instagram
Instagram, unlike the many other social media platforms widely available now, is primarily a mobile application, which creates a unique social marketing experience for ecommerces looking to tap into the picture-sharing platform. While it is most often navigated and viewed on cell phones, Instagram recently released a web-based interface, resembling Pinterest, accessible via the computer. (By the way, be sure to check out our 3 Strategies to get People Pinning Your Products on Pinterest to make sure you have all your social media marketing strategies covered for your online store.)
Gaining Access to the Application and Creating a Username and Profile
The very first step to getting started is to download Instagram through the Apple store; this will give you access to create an account and create a username for your profile. You’ll also want to sync the Instagram application to your cell phone to snap and share photos instantly.
Getting started on Instagram and creating your brand’s profile includes picking a username––hopefully your full company or store name is available. This is the best option to increase brand recognition and for successful online branding for your store. A profile image will be needed, ideally it is your logo, and add your online store URL and a summary description of what you sell and about your store. This is limited to 150 characters, so don’t be too long-winded and hone in on your products and promises for consumers. You may also, if you wish, connect your Instagram account to your other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. This is a great idea for complete branding as long as it’s all standardized (in terms of tone, look, and feel) across the board. Don’t link to your personal Twitter or Facebook, and make sure your logos and names across all three are the same so not to confuse your customers.
A good thing to know is that if you ever want to view or promote your web-based Instagram profile, the URL is: instagram.com/yourusernamehere. View your photostream online to verify the quality of photos and content.
What to Post
Creative Ideas for Posts that Promote your Ecommerce
With your profile completely filled out and ready to go, you can start posting photos that will increase customer engagement with your brand and promote your online store’s products. Just make sure that every post ties back to your ecommerce. Don’t post random photos without informative and contextualized content promoting your merchandise and encouraging potential buyers to shop with you! As cute as a picture of kitten wrapped in yarn is, if your store doesn’t sell pet products or yarn, and you aren’t able to add a caption that entices people to click onto your store, an image such as that is better shared among your friends and not consumer-base!
a) Share product images. Use pizzaz and creativity to capture dynamic photos of your merchandise for sale. Take products outside and snap pictures of them in nature, modeled by people, or surrounded by interesting texture and color. Seeing items outside of their usual ecommerce element––meaning on a background other than plain white––can often be enough to encourage customers to buy it or at least take a second look.
b) Display new and sale items. Give your Instagram followers a sneak peek of upcoming collections, new products, and merchandise that has been marked down in price. Always include a link to the item in the caption so that buyers are just 1-click away from purchase. Plus, leaking new and discounted items also gives incentive for potential customers to follow you on Instagram to be the first to know about deals!
c) Always add captions and context. Anytime you post a photo to instagram, it must be followed with descriptive content or “captions”, both explaining the image and tying it back to your online store. Maybe this means sharing the product name and information, your online store’s website URL, or a coupon code they can use to get a discount on the posted product.
d) Share product-making. For the crafty online stores, this type of Instagram strategy is a goldmine. Stores who produce their own goods are sure to attract many followers and pique the interest of consumers by displaying their creation process. People love seeing a product being made from start to finish and Instagram is the perfect platform to share it. Don’t think this is limited to the handmade though, if you run a screen printing company, for example, consider posting a photo of the machines stamping the shirts or whatever interesting process goes into your merchandise.
e) Behind-the-scenes action shots. In addition to showing your customers how your products are made, you can also build trust with your consumers by giving them access to your company behind the scenes. People are curious beings, so it’s interesting to see how an entity functions, how processes come to be, and who’s behind the brand. It also shows buyers that there are real people filling their orders and not just automated robots!
How to grow a following
With Social Media, Engagement is Key
Here are 2 ways to build and increase brand engagement with your Instagram profile:
a) Respond and communicate with your followers. Instagram has grown to encompass 100 million users, and that number grows every day. Imagine the amount of access and sheer-size of potential engagement here. You want your company in as many conversations possible at all times, so ensure this by communicating with your followers. Keep the comments section current and lively by responding to questions or encouraging posts. Don’t let a new or recent post sit idle and stale when it has the potential to engage people and increase traffic to your website.
b) Share and encourage sharing. As with any social media platform, engagement really comes from how shareable your content is. Your objective to building your Instagram is to get as many people to view it, comment on it, and ultimately share it––because the more eyes on your posts, the more that will check out your website, leading to a larger number of conversions.
Quick and simple ways to increase shareability of your posts are to involve the viewers. People love speaking about themselves and sharing their experience––and if they are personally invested in the content, they’ll share it with their prospective networks, increasing your reach.
Post interactive prompts like asking your customers to email a photo of when they received their order; then post that photo to your Instagram. The people whose faces show up on your photostream are almost guaranteed to display it on their own social networks, increasing your visibility.
A second strategy to increase shareability is to introduced well-curated hashtags. Hashtags are Instagram’s organizational tags. You and your followers can tag their posts and comments with hashtags that will automatically group together. Brainstorm relevant hashtags that tie back to your ecommerce and share them with your followers. For example, if you prompt your customers to post photos of them wearing your custom T-shirt (let’s name it CharlesX) while out and about, instruct them to use the hashtag, “#CharlesXseestheworld” or something clever, catchy, and memorable tying back to your store and merchandise.) All these photos will group together for an instant promotion of your T-shirt (with very little effort on your part, by the way) all while fostering an active community among your followers!
Instagram is among the newest and fastest growing social media platforms out there today, but many ecommerce entrepreneurs are unaware of its value. With the right strategy and content, as we’ve detailed here in this post, Instagram can help your company increase your number of fans, engagement, and conversions.