Are you looking for ways to engage your customers and attract new ones?
The strong visual appeal of Instagram offers a wide variety of marketing opportunities for businesses of any size.
In this article I'll share four tips for successfully promoting your products and services on Instagram.
#1: Use Hashtags
I know what you're thinking—not hashtags again! And while it's true that hashtag abuse is a serious problem, hashtags play an important role in Instagram engagement.
Max Woolf analyzed over 120,000 Instagram photos to determine whether a correlation exists between hashtags and likes. He found that the more hashtags an Instagram photo has, the more likes it gets. Why? Because hashtags give photos a larger reach.
Let's take a look at Fringe and Fettle, a small ceramics company that does a great job incorporating hashtags into its Instagram posts. In the image below, they include not one, but four, hashtags that are relevant to the image.
If you want to be sophisticated about choosing hashtags (of course you do!), research which hashtags are most popular or searched for.
Using Iconosquare, you can see that each of the hashtags Fringe and Fettle used has thousands of images associated with it. That's a good indicator that many people are searching for these hashtags—which means people are more likely to find the company's images.
Do your research to ensure the hashtag you commit to is active and thriving. A few popular hashtags you can start with are #throwbackthursday/#tbt, #regram, #nofilter or #latergram.
#2: Build Trust
When Kayla Itsines, an Australian personal trainer, started on Instagram, her photos and videos were comprised of fitness selfies, clips of her workouts and mouth-watering pictures of her meals. Over time she started attracting attention and received tons of questions about her diet and workout regimen.
How did Itsines leverage that attention to grow her business? She created the Bikini Body ebook and a 12-week training guide. As her success grew, she introduced part two of her guide, as well as a line of fitness equipment.
Kayla now has over 1.7 million followers and a dedicated customer base.
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So, how did Kayla achieve this massive success, and how can you replicate it? It all comes down to trust. Kayla gained trust by establishing herself as an expert in her field, providing value and sharing social proof (via testimonials) that her fans loved her products.
Kayla frequently posts individual workouts from her ebook to her Instagram account. That's an easy way for her followers to try before they buy. After trying a free workout myself (and almost dying), I was hooked and bought the book.
Do your Instagram posts pack that kind of punch? If not, brainstorm ways you can offer value to your Instagram followers. You'll be setting yourself up as an expert resource and bringing attention to your product or service.
Kayla frequently shares customer photo testimonials on her Instagram account. The pictures show the amazing results real people have achieved using her ebook.
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Sometimes seeing is believing. If any of her followers have reservations, these testimonials and photos speak louder than words—and motivate fans to purchase. If you're not sharing your customers' successes with your product, it's time to start!
#3: Connect and Collaborate
What better way to build brand awareness than to have an influencer promote your product?
Like other social platforms, Instagram has communities related to pretty much any industry. For example, Instagram has a large number of makeup experts that, as a group, garner tens of millions of fans.
Makeup company Sigma used that community to their advantage by contacting influential members and sending them samples in the hopes of a product review. How does giving away free products to influencers help Sigma?
Consider this example. If a makeup expert posts a picture of a dazzling new look and notes that they used Sigma products, I'm more likely to buy Sigma products if I want to replicate the look. Plus, knowing that an expert recommends the product influences my perception—it must be good if the pros use it!
The key to attracting attention is reaching out to a large number of influencers—the more your products appear in a user's feed, the better.
As a small business, you should actively research which Instagram influencers are a great fit for your products. Chances are, their followers have the same interests and are potential customers.
When you've connected with influencers and found a few who really resonate with your audience, consider collaborating more with them.
I recently came across a very cool fitness app called Cody. Unlike Sigma, which sends their products to influencers in the hopes of a review or photo, Cody has actually partnered with them.
For example, Kino MacGregor (an Instagram celebrity in the yoga niche) has created a 21-day Be Strong Bundle that's only accessible via the Cody app.
By leveraging Kino's enormous network, Cody gains access to her followers and the leads pour in.
Think about what kind of partnerships you can build and with whom, then go after them!
#4: Post Regularly
Just like any other social network, the key to success on Instagram is frequent and consistent posting.
Instagram's feed functions much like Twitter's real-time feed—it's constantly refreshing. That means it's essential to post frequently so you can ensure visibility in your followers' feeds.
Take a look at The Beaufort Bonnet Company, a retailer of upscale baby clothing. This company posts no fewer than four times a day. They mix it up with product photos, fan photos and fun quotes. The result? They've said they owe about 80% of their sales to Instagram!
Unfortunately, there's no magic number of posts per day that works for every business. The best way to find out what works for you and your followers is trial and error.
Experiment with a different number of posts each day, at different times of day and then measure your results. Keep testing and tailoring and over time you'll find the perfect formula for you.
Over to You
As a business, the possibilities for thriving on Instagram are endless. With dedication, patience and creativity, this social channel will increase your brand awareness and introduce you to new leads and customers.
What do you think? What are some Instagram best practices that work for you? Do you have examples of small businesses doing well on Instagram? Let us know in the comments below.
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