Instagram is quickly becoming one of the biggest contenders in social media. It’s always been known that visual content has a boosted sharability factor, and that’s definitely something that the image-based social site uses in its favor. Instagram is known for being a popular celebrity social media platform, perfect for keeping up with stars and friends you follow, but what about businesses?

Though the data is still in fledgling stages at this point, many businesses are finding success on Instagram through content strategies that appeal to the platform. Here’s one thing that’s for sure – it’s hard to succeed on Instagram if you’re treating it like just another social media platform.

For the purpose of this article, I will assume you’re already using Instagram as part of your digital marketing strategy, and that’s likely true. More and more businesses are jumping into the Instagram pool, but many aren’t finding the same success there as they do Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. So here we want to try and help you improve on that today.

Intro – The Stats that Matter

Before we get into the best ways to up your Instagram engagement statistics and sales, let’s talk about some other stats you need to know about:

  • 78% of consumers make purchases based on a brand’s social media activity.
  • 67% of consumers report that the more detailed an image, the more it influenced their purchase decision.
  • 70% of Instagram users have looked for a brand on the platform.
  • 37% of people on Instagram follow as many as five brand accounts, while 32% follow more than five.
What does this information tell you?
  • One, social media is an important part of any marketing strategy.
  • Two, Instagram is a viable option if you’re looking to up lead generation and site traffic.
  • Three, Instagram users are looking for you on Instagram, and you may not be there like you should be – or at all.

Instagram users are very active, which means that the content that you post is sure to get engagement if you have the right audience…but first you have to grow your audience, and then they will be able to find your content.

Here’s the idea in its simplest form: get more followers, use a simple marketing strategy, and make sales easy for your Instagram audience. When you can get this right, you’ll have a good formula to succeed on Instagram.

Step One – Get More Followers

Get More Followers

Before you truly commit to getting more sales, you need to start amassing some followers. While you could get some traffic and leads through hashtag searches (more on that in a second), a bulk of your leads will come from having loyal followers.

When someone follows you, this isn’t just to boost your ego. This also signals to you that they’re looking forward to your content. When you post deals and advertisements, this means they will be able to see any info that you post but you also need to be careful not to post only promotional content. It’s Important that you also provide content that is fun, interesting, and well designed so that your Instagram feed is fun to follow. We like to use the 90/10 rule. 90% of the content you post should be provide value in some way and the remaining 10% can be promotional in nature.

1. Know Who Your Customers Are

In order to get more followers, you need to know who is most likely to follow you. To solve this mystery, try out these simple questions:

  • Who is engages with my brand?
  • What content am I posting elsewhere that’s getting attention?
  • What time is my audience active?
  • Which hashtags do I use that get the most engagement?
  • Who am I attracting, regardless of my strategy’s intent?

These are great questions to help to identify your overall audience, but you can also follow some simple stats as well.

  • Peak Instagram interactions occur from 7 PM to 9 PM.
  • 30% of posts are created on the weekend.
  • Brands post about 6 images per week on average on Instagram.
  • 88% of Instagram posts contain at least one hashtag.
  • Posts with 5 or more hashtags tend to perform best
  • 54% of brand followers do so to discover and learn about a brand.

Think about this when craft Instagram sales strategies. How will this information affect how you view your customer?

2. Post Targeting Content

When you post targeted content, you post content that your audience will appreciate and engage with – it’s that simple. The hard part is crafting this content and making a sales-driven Instagram post.

First, know what makes a sales-driven Instagram post work.

Number One: It has a strong image. Visual content is content that works for you with ease. The best visual content falls into one or more of these categories:

  • The photos suit a certain lifestyle. Lifestyle content is exactly what it says on the tin – photos that depict a certain lifestyle that’s feasible.
  • The photos are bright. The lighter and clearer your photos are, the more likely they are to get likes.
  • The photos are minimalist. When an image has more background space, it tends to get more likes.
  • The photos focus on a single color. Simple, single-color driven images boost engagement because they’re easy to remember and aesthetically pleasing.

You can see some obvious trends with the visual content, here. Simple, clean, relatable images succeed on Instagram if you’re a business.

Number Two: It has a strong, engaging caption. On average, an Instagram caption is a little shorter than a tweet – 138 characters long. This means you have a short amount of space to make your point and send your message.

There are two components to making a strong caption. One is a direct question. Do you like soccer or golf? How do you cook your eggs? Do you like to ski? The second component is a call to action, like “tell your friend” or “follow this link to read more.”

This gives you two forms of engagement. One is via comments, the other is via direct interaction through someone, whether it’s a website or another person.

Number Three: Time for hashtags. This seems like the simplest part but it’s easy to mess up if you don’t know how to do it correctly. Two common mistakes you can make, is posting too many hashtags, or not knowing which hashtags to use.

When you post too many hashtags, your post looks bad and as a brand you looks desperate for reach, also know as hashtag spam. Just like you don’t want to overload your Twitter content with hashtags, you also don’t want to do the same on Instagram. If you find that at the end of any Instagram post you have more than 2 lines of hashtags, two at the most, you’re definitely using too many. 5-10 hashtags is the perfect range for Instagram.

When you don’t use the right hashtags, you’re making the mistake of losing potential reach on your posts. Hashtags are how you get visibility through Instagram. Use the wrong hashtags and you won’t reach the audience you want to. You can easily avoid this by finding popular, active hashtags to use through hashtag checkers.

For more examples of how to use hashtags the right way, you can also check out this blog post with some great advice.

Step Two – Use a Strong Marketing Path

Use a Strong Marketing Path

If you aren’t sure what this means, it’s essentially telling you to get out there and be active in your marketing. Marketing isn’t just about posting content and waiting for something to happen – you also have to engage and be active. Afterall, social media is about being social right?

Because Instagram is a social media platform, this is actually very easy to do. When you’re trying to get noticed without a social platform, there can be a lot of Internet work involved.  Social media platforms give you everything you need all in one place.

On Instagram, here are the quickest ways to get noticed:

  • This one is the simplest of all: like and comment on the content of others! This gives you visibility and also boosts business credibility. When you’re out and about in the business community, you give your business a more human edge. Don’t make everything about business, either. Sometimes the way to a consumer’s heart is to simply comment on a post of theirs with a nice thought.
  • Talk about others on your business account. A great way to engage with others through user-generated content is to offer a promotion. When someone buys your products and posts about them on Instagram, re-share the photo through a shoutout. This makes them feel good, increasing loyalty. It also creates an incentive for other users to do the same, boosting sales.
  • Like personal posts from your followers. Many Instagram users feel noticed and appreciated when they know you’re following them like they’re following you. Give them a little nudge to remember you’re there every once in a while. You establish loyalty and they feel good.

If you want to go above and beyond, the best way to do so is via Instagram contests and promotions. Again, you’re likely to utilize the concept of user-generated content again here. These are some simple content-based Instagram contests you can run:

  • Ask for followers to create an Instagram video discussing why they like and champion your products and services. Encourage creativity for a greater virality factor – rapping, acting and singing are all a-okay.
  • Tell followers to take photos related to your service, like showcasing creative ways to use your products. The pictures with the most likes will get amazing prizes and re-shares with other honorable mentions getting featured on your website.
  • Run a hashtag creation campaign. Which hashtags will your audience come up with that will get the most buzz? The winner will be used in a viral campaign you run for a set amount of time.
  • Do a simple giveaway. Anyone who likes your photo is entered to win a prize, and extra shares and follows give them additional entries.

Contests on Instagram can be utilized to get more followers, raise awareness around a product or service that you offer, and to get more reach on your posts. We find that contests tend to grow our followers at a rate of 30-40% faster during times that we are running contest compared to when we are not.

You should also switch up the kind of content you post in order to vary your marketing strategies. This includes product shots, advertisements, lifestyle photos, user-generated content, text-images and other forms of content. Give yourself the best chance for success with lots of content variety.

Step Three – Make It Easy To Buy

Make It Easy To Buy

You already have two stops down on your road to success, but the next few stops go by really quickly. You’ve put up content with a strong image and a call to action, now you’ve got to take your consumers the rest of the way there to close your sale. This should be what your roadmap looks like:

Strong Image > CTA > Direct Bio Link > Landing Page > Consistency > Buy Now Button

As stated above, you’ve already got the first two down. Now we go about dealing with the other four.

  • Direct Bio Link – You should always have a link to your website on your Instagram profile page. This can either be a general site link or a link to a specific promotional page that consumers would need to flock to based on your current ad strategy. This makes things easy for the consumer when it comes to actual conversion. Because you can’t add links to your images or your content part you need to add the link in your bio where you want to direct visitors.
  • Landing Page – Just because we’re focusing on Instagram doesn’t mean your website isn’t part of the equation too. After all, that’s where and business will happen.. Don’t leave your consumers stuck at roadblock once they click your bio link. Your website landing page needs to be easy to navigate with clear direction, or else you’ve lost them.
  • Consistency – Every area of your site needs to be high quality, from the copy to the photos. You need to seamlessly blend your Instagram into your website. Use the same photos, the same logos, the same color scheme. This helps your brand identity stand out and also puts your consumer at ease.
  • A Buy Now Button – Don’t make buying products hard. Most online storefronts have a three-step process for buying things online, and this system becomes even shorter once someone saves their credit card information and shipping address. Make sure that your products stand out clearly and that it’s as easy as possible to purchase once a consumer commits.

The point at which a person looks through their shopping cart before committing to the sale is the most vulnerable. This is when they make the final decisions about what products they buy and if they follow through with the sale. It’s your job to make sure they actually convert, and that responsibility starts at your Instagram page.

More Tips for Pushing Through Sales

You’ve got the basic map, but what about some pit stops along the way? Sometimes you need some extra tips to make the whole process run much smoother:

  • It’s already been stressed multiple times, but always try posting user-content. Share, share, share for more success!
  • Use hashtags that are already established, and don’t try to create your own. People aren’t searching for hashtags that are unknown so when you try to make or create your own people won’t find them unless you are a well established global brand like Coca Cola or Nike.
  • Make sure to sync your Instagram to your website. You can do this through manual images and add-ons like widgets. The more you post your Instagram on your website, the more you establish a unified brand-social media image.
  • Apps exist to take orders directly from Instagram. Consider something like Like2Buy or Solosie in order to make this a reality. Other apps also exist that can help you make your Instagram sales strategy stronger.
  • Never underestimate the power of a mission. Using something emotional like a purpose or cause to help sell your products and isn’t something shifty. When you align yourself with a genuine passion, you humanize your business and also create opportunities to help others.
  • You also shouldn’t neglect your bio on Instagram. Even though you only have a very small space to tell people about you and your brand, it’s something you need to do. Put any business taglines or catchy statements here that quickly identify your brand. You can also go the simple route and state that you’re “the official Instagram of [insert your business name here].”
  • Don’t be afraid to get creative. Try out new things, see what your analytics can tell you about what works and what doesn’t. Creativity is celebrated on Instagram, and you don’t grow by playing it safe. Try out content that gets people talking, not just boring stock photos with equally boring stock descriptions.

Last but not least, you should always be willing to continue learning. New information comes out about Instagram best practices all the time, with blogs constantly being updated with tip lists and strategies that can better fine-tune your Instagram sales strategies.

Your job as someone in charge of social media is to constantly work on improving your numbers. Instagram is the new business marketing frontier. Combine these facts and you’ve got the perfect reason to start working on boosting your Instagram presence.

It can still be challenging for you to succeed at selling or getting leads on Instagram, but if you keep experimenting to see what works well for your brand and what doesn’t, you will be in a much better position that most. I would love to hear your thoughts and tips that have worked well for you on Instagram. And as always, if you need help or have specific questions about Social Media or digital marketing in general please feel free to reach out here with any questions.