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How to Leverage Instagram for Your Business

by
September 3, 2015

 

This post is contributed by Chris Bennett, CEO and co-founder of Soldsie, a social shopping service. He is passionate about social change, innovation, and the Internet.

With over 300 million monthly users and 75 million daily users, Instagram has become a massive social network and an indispensable tool for brands to connect with their fans. A new study by Yesmail, however, found that only 23% of brands use Instagram despite it being the fastest growing social network for businesses.

Now is the time for savvy brands to incorporate Instagram into their marketing strategies and pull away from the competition. This post enumerates the ways you can leverage Instagram for better brand recognition, more user engagement, and boosted sales.

Building an Instagram Following

Your customers are already on Instagram—it’s just a matter of finding them! Incorporate the following best practices to attract your target audience and build an online community.

Optimize for posting time and frequency. It takes a bit of research, but finding out when your users are online will help you get the most engagement with your posts.

Iconosquare delivers key metrics about your Instagram account, and can be a great resource for figuring out your posting calendar. Test a few combinations and use the Iconosquare optimization report to determine when you get the most likes and comments.

Use relevant hashtags. Hashtags identify and group ideas, making it easy for people to discover the topics they’re interested in. Make your brand searchable by adding hashtags that describe the photo and your business.

Also, don’t be afraid to create and distribute your own hashtag! It can be a fun, interactive way to build your brand.

Partner up with social influencers. Powerhouse Instagram users have followers that number in the hundreds of thousands, and oftentimes, they’re willing to collaborate with brands. Find influencers in your niche and ask them to feature your product or service in a future post. They will probably charge a fee, but this is one of the best ways to reach a large, engaged audience.

To locate potential Insta-stars, search relevant keywords, hashtags, and company names in Instagram, and find the most popular accounts.

Host a contest. Contests and giveaways are a surefire way to drum up engagement with your posts and earn exposure for your account.

It can be as simple as a “like-to-win” or “repost-to-win” prize contest, or it can be more involved like a photo challenge. Creating your own hashtag is an efficient way to organize entries and help get the word out about your brand.

Selling Your Product on Instagram

As you build up your following on Instagram, it’s important to introduce your new fans to your brand and seize opportunities to convert leads into sales.

A good photo is king. Don’t underestimate the power of a clearly focused, well-lit photo. Use soft, natural light, or build your own lightbox. Experiment with compositions and effects like creating a flatlay collage or changing your depth of field. In short, make sure that your Instagram account is rich in visual interest and is on-brand aesthetically.

Don’t shy away from posting videos, either!

Announce promotions on Instagram. Give your followers incentive to follow your brand on Instagram by distributing exclusive deals and discount codes in your posts.

Find out which kind of sale works best for your fans. Direct sales are now possible on Instagram, and users scrolling through their feed are keen to purchase!

Flash sales, such as those held by Fash Forward Boutique, happen weekly at a specific time. It takes advantage of the fact that the average Instagram user checks their feed every hour.

BirchboxDaily sales allow posts to be spaced throughout the day, reaching more followers and staying closer to the top of the feed. Brands like Birchbox sprinkle sale posts throughout their regular content.

Spot sales are shopping events that happen once or twice a month, and they feature new or exclusive products. Brands like Lulu Frost plan spot sales that surprise, engage, and delight their fans.

Have2Have.it links users to specific product pages on the web after spotting a covet-worthy item in a brand’s Instagram post. For example, DAILYLOOK uses Have2Have.it to drive web sales directly from Instagram.

Apps and Tools for Instagram

While Instagram’s in-app photo editing features work well, there are a variety of other apps and tools out there that can enhance your Instagram content.

VSCO Cam provides filters more subtle and fine-tuned than those built by Instagram. Their wide selection of editing tools allows you to play with saturation, exposure, contrast, tints, graininess, and much more.

Picstitch allows you to create a photo collage with over 230 different layouts. It includes a photo editor and the flexibility to work within each frame. The collage style is great for showing multiple views of one product.

Canva is a design program that produces stylized text photos and text overlays for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and email. With thousands of templates and stock photos, Canva enables anyone to develop creative content for their brand.

Unfollowers helps you manage your followers and followees on Twitter and Instagram. It allows you to gain attention by following users that are likely to be interested in your brand.

Instagram holds great potential for brands at every stage of the sales cycle, from lead generation to conversion. Make your Instagram shoppable with Have2Have.it. Visit the Soldsie website to start your 14-day free trial!