Strategies to Boost Instagram Traffic for Online Merchants

Strategies to Boost Instagram Traffic for Online Merchants

So, you’ve got your online shop set up and are starting to explore different avenues for traffic. Instagram is one of the most popular avenues for online merchants but can also be incredibly tricky. With roughly 600 million active monthly users, Instagram is loaded with potential new customers.

All you have to do is set up an Instagram account, post a few pictures, like a few photos, and … boom! You’ve unlocked a stream of traffic available at your every wish and command, right? Wrong. Just being there is not enough to make the most out of Instagram, and, in order to hit the growth metrics you want, you will have to pursue a more active Instagram strategy.

To boost your Instagram traffic, you must adopt a two-part strategy that focuses on first building up credibility and your audience on your Instagram account, and then funneling that traffic to your site.

Building Your Instagram Audience

Accounts and niches respond to different strategies in a variety of ways. The first step in building your Instagram audience is to clarify what type of audience you want to have, relevant to your industry.

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Building an Instagram audience is getting increasingly more difficult, as Instagram post engagement is down an average of 33% for 2017. Every Instagram user is seeing much more content than they were just a year ago, and they have started to react to this content overload by becoming increasingly less engaged with brands.

Variety of Post Content: If your focus is on building an audience, your posts should primarily be entertaining, informational, and community oriented. These posts help to build up your brand and increase your follows. Having a variety in the type of posts is a great way to keep your followers interested. For each product-oriented post in the early growth stages, you run the risk of pushing your audience away.

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Hashtags: Having at least one hashtag on Instagram, on average, gets a post 12.6% more engagement than a post without one. Although hashtag use is not as novel as it was a few years ago, there are still massive numbers of users that use hashtags to discover and surf new accounts. Try to find what hashtags your audience is already using instead of playing guessing games. The more community-oriented, trending, and specific a hashtag, the better.

Call to Action: Having a CTA in your Instagram caption is an excellent way to encourage users to engage with your brand. Sparking a conversation in a caption like “What does everyone think about Instagram Live? We like it better than Snapchat, but we want to hear your thoughts” is a simple way to bring up a topic with which everyone using the platform should be familiar. The more industry-specific your captions, the better you will be able to target your audience in the future.

Sending Instagram Traffic to Your Site

So, now you’ve got a significant amount of engaged followers familiar with your brand. Your Instagram growth strategies don’t need to come to a stand-still, but it’s time to start incorporating specific posts that send traffic to your site. Once you hit a sweet spot of followers and engagement with your Instagram account, consider using a few of these strategic posts to boost your site traffic.

Related Content Post: Now that you have a significant following on Instagram, you have an excellent opportunity to share useful content from your site. Creating a captivating and informative post adds variety to your posts, but a link to your on-site content in the description also provides interested readers with additional useful information. Using a site like Canva.com allows online merchants to create graphics with text that drive the reader’s attention toward the description and then toward your site.

Host an Instagram Contest: Running a giveaway or photo contest is an excellent way to reward your followers with an enticing prize. An effective prize for your contest would be something that draws attention to your brand and your products. Although showcasing your best-selling product in the giveaway might drive attention to the product, it could also seem overly promotional if done a certain way. It is important to set the criteria to enter to meet your end goal—in this case, getting site traffic.

An alternative brand-building strategy to drive site traffic is to promote an on-site contest on your Instagram account, with the main prize being something not directly related to your business. For example, if your store primarily sells high-quality bandanas and your Instagram audience consists of a high percentage of music-festival-goers, you could host a ticket giveaway to an upcoming festival.

Run a Limited Time Discounted Instagram Promotion: The first step to taking advantage of Instagram’s feed is to understand what time your audience is checking their Instagram. By viewing optimal times on Instagram, online merchants can plan contests to add an atmosphere of exclusivity and urge users to pay attention to their brand name in the future. If you find that the majority of your audience is on Instagram at 3 p.m., you could launch a two-hour contest during which each purchase comes with a free item.

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Network with Influencers: Sometimes the best way to send traffic to your site is to work on promotions with influencers with significant followings. Most influencers usually welcome working with other companies for a share of the revenue, a fixed payment per post, free products, or even, occasionally, goodwill if they are familiar with your brand.

Conclusion

In addition to the above strategies, there are many other tactics that will help online merchants boost traffic from their Instagram account. The logic behind driving Instagram traffic to your site is pretty straightforward, but, in order to optimize the full potential of Instagram, online merchants need to have a clear strategy and the ability to analyze what works and what doesn’t. Neither of these strategies is a magic pill for site traffic, but when combined with a holistic content strategy they can come pretty close.

 

3 Tips for Incorporating Testimonials into Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

3 Tips for Incorporating Testimonials into Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

In our digital age, consumers are just as likely to trust the opinions they find in online reviews as they are to trust those of their friends. The numbers prove it: recent polls show that close to 92% of consumers make a purchase decision based on online reviews of products and services.

There’s some interesting psychology behind this phenomenon. First, there’s the time-saving aspect – today’s consumers, even those making thousand-dollar purchases on behalf of their companies, don’t have the time needed to thoroughly research all the options out there. So, they rely on the experience of peers who are like themselves to save time.

There’s also the “I’ll have what they’re having” principle, which explains why companies often highlight their best sellers. And let’s not forget about “implicit egotism,” the psychological phenomenon that explains why we gravitate toward the choices made by people who resemble us. This one is key to understanding why you should always highlight testimonials from people who are most representative of your target audience.

When it comes to your social media marketing strategy, make sure to highlight your testimonials in ways and places where your target audience will be most likely to see them. This should involve finding out which online social channels your target audience uses most – such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter – and displaying your testimonials there. This will expose your target audience to your testimonials without requiring them to leave their comfortable ‘watering holes’.

Here are some ways to incorporate testimonials into your social media marketing strategy:

1. Address your target audience’s pain points

Defining your target audience is key when you’re putting together your social media marketing strategy. Indeed, what you determine about your target audience will guide most of your marketing and social media activities. This process involves gaining close familiarity with your target’s pain points – what problems they’re trying to solve, what challenges they’re facing, what goals are they aiming to achieve, etc.

Incorporate your testimonials in your social media marketing strategy by using the knowledge you have about your target audience’s pain points. Listen and participate in online conversations in groups where your target audience hangs out. Based on these conversations and on your buyer personas, you can understand what it is that you can offer them that your competition can’t (or hasn’t).

Within the relevant social media groups, you should answer questions, make comments, and share testimonials and client stories that speak to those pain points and show how you solved their problems – so potential clients can imagine how you can solve their problems, too.

Think about implicit egotism – any testimonial you have from a person experiencing the same issue as your target audience is a powerful tool to help you generate new business.

2. Incorporate social media into your testimonials

You need a social media marketing strategy because social media is so powerful, right? So, why not pull an “Inception”, and incorporate social media into your testimonials, themselves?

Social media, with testimonials, with social media….

Let me explain.

Displaying testimonials that include links to the reviewers’ social media profiles, alongside their profile pictures, gives you the best chances at having your potential clients connect with the testimonials and your brand.  This means that the odds of the testimonials positively impacting their buying decisions will be greatly improved.

If your prospects can click on your testimonials to see the reviewers’ profiles and discover what their jobs, locations, ages, etc. are, then they can quickly identify reviewers who are like them (remember implicit egotism?), making it easier for them to imagine that your product, service or solution can work for them, too.

In addition to helping your target audience relate to the stories in your testimonials (which already goes a long way toward creating lead conversions), featuring photos and links to social media profiles makes your testimonials 100% trustworthy and legitimate.

You can integrate social media in your testimonials (to integrate in social media) by using the Spectoos testimonial platform. It enables you to add and aggregate your testimonials from just about anywhere across the web. It then enables you to display your testimonials on your Facebook business page and web assets, complete with the reviewers’ photos and links to their social media profiles.

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The Spectoos Testimonial Platform on a Facebook business page

3. Remember that content is king

As a marketer, you’re surely familiar with the phrase “content is king”, and you most likely understand the validity of the statement. Content and social media marketing constantly intersect. In fact, 64% of marketers consider social media to be one of the top 3 tactics for content marketing, making this junction an ideal place to incorporate testimonials for greater visibility and lead generation.

One way to use testimonials with your content is to create a new content piece, such as a blog post, video or case study, around one or more of your testimonials. This is a great way to highlight a testimonial that specifically discusses a pain point your target audience typically has. It also provides you with a great opportunity to use the powerful tool of storytelling.

Neuroeconomics master Paul Zak has found that storytelling can elicit powerful empathetic responses: “Stories are powerful because they transport us into other people’s worlds,” he says, and this type of empathetic reaction triggers the release of Oxytocin – the “trust hormone.” Thus, when people get emotionally involved, they’re more connected to your brand and more likely to buy from you.

Marketo do a great job with this, using moving video testimonials from real clients on their solution pages, like this one:

Because storytelling gets your prospects emotionally involved, highlighting testimonials in dedicated content pieces and circulating them on social media channels will do wonders for helping you generate more leads.

This is an activity you can schedule to do on a regular basis, or whenever you have a new testimonial that merits a dedicated content piece.

Testimonials have never been more effective at helping businesses grow than they are now, and giving them a spot in your social media marketing strategy will make them even more successful in their efforts to bring you traffic.

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5 Big Trends and Tips for Social Media Marketing

5 Big Trends and Tips for Social Media Marketing

In the last five years, social networks have acquired about 1 billion new users. Over one third of the world’s population is now accessible via social media, and companies have gone from being skeptical about social media marketing to seriously investing in it.

In this social media dominated world, marketing is heavily reliant on technology, but that technology remains focused on people. This year’s trends will help marketers reach and engage their audience on a more personal level, over social media noise. Companies will be able to fine-target their niche communities, with increased support from software solutions.

Social Media Marketing Trends and Tips

The following is a list of trends and tips for social media marketers to leverage now.

1. Investment in Visual Marketing Will Increase

Most social networks have already launched their versions of live-streaming. Twitter has Periscope, Facebook’s Live, and other networks like Blab and DubSmash support live video sharing. Live-feeds are becoming the “in-thing”. Even the US Presidential election updates were broadcast live by BuzzFeed on Twitter.

You can use live video platforms to engage you audience will near-tangible experiences. If you don’t have a Facebook Live strategy, now is the best time to get one.

With social feeds growing crowded and viewer attention spans growing shorter by year,  you’ll need powerful graphics to captivate your audience. In the last five years, the graphic design software market has expanded, giving marketers extensive options to choose from. You can put together graphics on a drag-and-drop editor to simplify your content creation process.

2. Personalization Will Become Priority

Today’s social media users are faced with ads and commercial content on multiple fronts. The receive information from multiple sources, and breaking through that barrier is becoming a tough task for brands and marketers. Personalization will help marketers slice through the chaos and reach only the people who matter.

Tracking consumers’ behaviors on social platforms and targeting them based on interests will become an essential part of marketing. Some social media marketing tools and apps are already incorporating features to support personalization and targeting. More technology solutions will appear in the time to come. You can target your high-potential market by posting content that only they can relate to, or by targeting them using data pulled from tools.

3. Brand Advocacy Will Grow Popular Among Marketers

Ad saturation is driving brands to look for alternative means to reach their target markets. Investment in advocate marketing has seen a steep increase (by about 191 percent) in the recent times. Micro-influencers could be the key to increasing your brand’s reach on social media, because they are more influential and credible than your brand can be.

Employees, customers and social fans are among the micro-influencers that brands are activating. There a quite a few great employee advocacy guides and case-studies that you can look at for inspiration in building your brand advocate outreach programs. You can use an advocacy platform to build and run your brand advocacy program.

4. Native Content Promotion Will Expand

In Joe Pulizzi’s words, native advertising is content marketing’s “gateway drug”. The modern audience is wise to commercial ploys, and traditional advertising alone may not be a great option for branding your company. Native ads help you create awareness without disrupting users’ activities. Content delivered in this manner can help you connect with your audience without being too pushy. According to a study, native ads are set to to grow to $21 billion by 2018.

Content discovery tools, content distribution platforms and content amplification tools are interesting means to having your content shared organically on social media. You could use one of these solutions to have your content positioned where it can earn you some traction.

5. Marketing Automation Will Go Mainstream

Companies with constrained marketing budgets may have not used marketing automation until now, but according to a study, 92 percent of these companies are losing revenue because of that decision. 2017 may see business of all types and sizes adopt marketing automation. 91 percent marketers are convinced that automation is an indispensable part of marketing.

Each social network is unique in terms of demographic and use-cases. This may force businesses to be present on more than one of them to keep consumers and prospects engaged. Managing social pages can be a time intensive task, without the assistance of a supporting social management tool. The idea is to use the tool to automate tasks that don’t require personal attention – like posting created content to multiple accounts and catching mentions of your brand. You can also curate content with a tool and take the final call on what to share. It all comes down to the extra-time that you can save to better invest elsewhere. Managing content on a central platform can also help you maintain consistency across different pages.

Wrap

Social media marketing is set to evolve into a highly tech-focused and detail-oriented effort. To succeed  at reaching and engaging your target market, you need to explore and stay abreast of the latest developments and technologies offered for social. The areas mentioned on this post are good places to keep tabs on.

Social Media Photo via Shutterstock

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3 Tips for Conducting a Social Media Audit

3 Tips for Conducting a Social Media Audit

Whether you’re working with a new client or doing a yearly analysis of your own social media channels, conducting a social media audit and coming to an actionable conclusion can be tough. For starters, you might be wondering which metrics are the most important, or how to get through all of your data.

Here are a few tips to keep you on track.

1. Go In with an Open Mind

If you’re looking to prove certain metrics right or wrong or tell a specific story, you may find yourself ignoring data that tells a stronger tale.

Because of this, it can be helpful to tackle an audit in two parts: Have one team member pull and aggregate the data into a usable format, and have another start the analysis. This keeps one person from having tunnel vision and getting stuck on the minutia.

2. Plan Check-Ins

This is very important, particularly if the conclusions you are coming to about the success of your social channels aren’t positive.

Check in with clients or team members so they’re not taken aback by the results or feel attacked if their role has not contributed to social success. The point of an audit is to find a starting place and continue to move forward, regardless of the success of current strategies. While you may not be on par with your competitor or aspirational pages, there’s always something you’re doing well comparative to the rest of your page.

Be sure to highlight the positives as well as the negatives you’ve made in strategy.

3. Stay Focused in the Present and Past Happenings

When conducting an audit, it can be easy to get sucked into thinking: “Okay, we aren’t doing this right, so here’s what we should do instead.” You need to paint the full picture of what is or isn’t successful before you can make informed strategy decisions. Once your audit is complete, you can take the next steps forward to build a strategic future plan.

Bonus Tip: Don’t sweat a mistake in one small post. If it’s not a pattern, pull back and see if that little thing impacts the bigger picture. If it doesn’t, drop it.

Completing an audit can be difficult, but keeping your mind open and trying to stay focused on the bigger picture will make the process go more smoothly.

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4 Tips to Maximize Social Media for B2B Marketing

4 Tips to Maximize Social Media for B2B Marketing

When Facebook first launched in 2004, its sole purpose was to connect college students socially. When Twitter started a few years later in 2006, it was designed to serve as a ‘headline-only’ version of a personal blog. The beginnings of social media were largely focused around connecting individuals with other individuals. And now, it’s predicted that the number of worldwide social media users will grow from 2.1 billion in 2015 to 2.6 billion by 2018.

While many B2C businesses have tapped into the huge potential and reach of social media by incorporating the medium into their overarching marketing strategies, many B2B companies are still hesitant to jump on board, convinced it’s too hard to successfully measure B2B online marketing ROI.

According to this article, via Business 2 Community, measuring social media ROI still poses a challenge to many:

“46% of B2B marketers say they’re not sure whether any social channels have generated revenue for their businesses. Only 13% believe they’ve proved the impact quantitatively – though that may be because just 14% tie social media marketing activities to sales levels. And for all the bashing of ‘vanity metrics’ in social marketing, those likes and shares (i.e. ‘engagement’) remain the most commonly used measures for evaluating social media success. 80% of marketers use these as primary success metrics; 56% base social success on website traffic.”

Regardless of whether your business needs to reach B2B or B2C audiences, the point of social is interaction. We need to remember that – at the core of all social media marketing, it’s simply people talking to people. People have jobs. These are the people you want to reach and influence with a targeted B2B social marketing strategy.

For B2B engagement, social media often works best as a tool to raise brand awareness, rather than act as a channel to direct sales conversions. Using social, businesses can make a genuine contribution to online conversations and add value to them. The end-goal is making sure each of your future clients is aware of your brand presence before they make that first contact to purchase something.

Here are some tips on how to effectively ‘do’ B2B social media marketing:

1. Have a plan

Before diving headfirst into B2B social, it’s important to take time out to think strategically about your business’s key messages, goals, and objectives, and some tactics for how to communicate these via social. What tone of voice should your business use to start or join conversations? What times of day and how often should your business post? What platforms should you use? Prepare a risk management strategy that covers what to do in the event of negative activity on your profile, do your research to find answers to these questions, and write it down.

Defining this thinking will help you form a more solidified social media strategy and ensure that you hit the ground running, confident that your social activity will reflect your business values and messaging.

2. Pick your social media team

Put the right people behind the levers. Your nephew might have a huge following on Instagram or Snapchat, but that doesn’t mean he’s the right person to implement your business’s social media strategy.

There are many examples of underling employees or interns who lack the ability and maturity to build and protect the business reputation online. The person posting on your behalf should know the business, employ the right voice, and be well versed in how to effectively respond to issues that might otherwise get out of hand.

3. Content marketing all the way

Content marketing should form an integral part of your overall social media strategy, so include governance on how to produce on-brand blog articles, photos, videos, GIFs and all other content that will help communicate what you do.

Whether you’re using social to create short videos that show people how to use products, or you’re hosting a live Twitter chat with a dedicated hashtag, the objective should always be to increase brand awareness among your B2B audience.

Your core audience may not be highly active social media users, but if your business’s content is good and consistent across all communication channels, your audiences will find you, remember you, and seek to work with you.

4. Cultivate content partnerships

All businesses have partners. They might be the very people who work for you, or for organizations outside your own, and these people have trusted networks of their own. Find these partners online and work to build them into your social media marketing plan. Engage with them to build a relationship of reciprocal content sharing. Follow their online business profiles and be present by sharing their posts, liking their photos and leaving comments. Your partners will help you influence and reach new audiences within your own sector and should be considered an ongoing priority.

Don’t get left behind. If you don’t have the resources to put together a solid social media team, there are agencies out there that offer social media strategy and ongoing community management services.

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