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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.