How to Boost Your Business through Instagram Marketing
By Tannette Johnson-Elie
People often think of Instagram as simply a place to share ‘selfies’ and fun snapshots of what you ate for lunch or crazy pet photos, but research shows the business potential of this visual social platform is pretty substantial, especially if you’re in the e-commerce or online retail business.
With 200-million users capturing and sharing their lives through photos daily, Instagram is now as important as Twitter and Facebook, the giants of social media. If you’re looking to boost your e-commerce or online retail biz, it would be a smart move to have a presence on Instagram.
Here’s why: More than 55 million photos are uploaded on Instagram daily, making it a virtual goldmine for companies and brands that figure out how to use the photo-driven site to their advantage.
While Instagram now is one of the fastest growing social media platforms, it is one of the most underutilized apps by marketers, social media analysts say.
Nevertheless, brands that embrace Instagram are seeing a significant boost in engagement, research shows. This is particularly the case for online retail businesses, professional sports teams, and fast-food chains that have the ability to lure consumers with visually compelling content.
“The reason Instagram is so successful for businesses is because like most social channels, it’s all about showcasing your personality and there’s no quicker way to do that than with photos,” says Sarah Quinn, a copywriter and Instagram expert for Wyzowl, a content marketing agency based in the UK that has customers in the U.S, Europe and other countries.
“In fact, studies by Hewlett Packard show that people remember 80% of what they see and just 10% of what they read, making Instagram an extremely valuable tool,” she said.
Here’s more reason to promote your business on Instagram: It touts the most engagement and the highest conversion from browser to shopping, according to a recent report by L2, a subscription-based, business intelligence service that benchmarks the digital competence of brands. The report also shows that 92% of luxury brands who post an average of 5.5 times a week on Instagram increase their customer base, as reported in a recent article by the business magazine Fast Company.
Brands like Starbucks, Nike and Burberry are killing the competition on Instagram. These brands have become standouts by being authentic and allowing their customers to see them in a different light. For example, it would be easy for Burberry to bombard its customers with boring images of clothing; instead the high-end clothing retailer posts cool pictures of London, where it’s based.
In another example, Nike ran what is perhaps one of the most successful Instagram campaigns to date: Nike’s PHOTOiD, which allowed fans to customize a shoe inspired by a photo on their Instagram feed.
That said, you may be wondering how you can stand out above your competition on Instagram. Quinn, of Wyzowl, provided the following advice for marketers and business owners looking to increase their visibility on Instagram:
Post behind-the-scenes images
Provide followers with a genuine glimpse into your life and what you’re seeing, feeling or experiencing at the moment.
“Show your followers what you get up to in your day, or take pictures of fun events/fundraisers/team building days, etc., “ Quinn said. “To get the right people interested in your page, you should also be posting images of your product or service.”
Use relevant hashtags to gain more photo views
Hashtags are extremely important on Instagram just as they are on Twitter. Hashtags enable people to find photos of specific subjects of interest to them. Quinn recommends doing research to determine the most popular hashtags and use them for your images.
“The good thing about Instagram is you can add as many hashtags to your post as you like, and you won’t risk annoying people by doing so – you’ll just gain more likes,” Quinn said.
Run an Instagram Competition
Instagram contests are a great way to engage potential customers, gain followers and build brand awareness. Choose a cool prize to entice people to enter your contest. Make it something relevant to your business like a gift card for the products or services you sell.
“Get people to send you a photo and use a unique hashtag, so you get to see all entrants in one place,” Quinn said.
Maintain an active presence
While Instagram isn’t as demanding as Facebook or Twitter, it does require a certain level of consistency, says Quinn.
“You should only post an image once or twice a day, and your image could be anything, so it’s so much easier than thinking about what you could write for your next tweet,” she said. “If you really don’t have any time to do it, think about speaking to a content marketing agency to help take the load off. “