The following is a guest post by Burkhard Berger, the founder of awesomex™. You can follow him on his path from 0 to 100,000 monthly visitors on www.awesomex.com. His articles include some of the best growth hacking strategies and digital scaling tactics that he has learned from his own successes and failures. Feel free to follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Do you use Instagram to promote your business? If you’ve been neglecting it, then you’re leaving a lot of money on the table.
Brands like Airbnb, British Airways, RedBull, Amazon, and other big names leverage Instagram to grow sales. My favorite success story is LG’s Instagram campaign that generated 1 million likes and millions in newly-launched Smartphone sales.
Instagram may not be on your marketing list, but it has the potential to multiply your sales. Instagram has millions of users globally and has proven to be one of the most loved social media platforms today.
In 2018, Instagram reached and exceeded the 1 billion monthly active users threshold, according to TechCrunch.
Although it started as a simple photo-sharing app, Instagram has evolved into a business relationship and marketing platform.
Millions of consumers are discovering new products and services on this platform, and billions of transactions are recorded.
As a business owner, it’s vital to tap into the same channel where your potential customers and clients are already actively engaged. All you need is the right marketing strategy.
In this article, you’ll discover 7 highly-effective Instagram marketing strategies that will triple your sales. Let’s dive in.
1. Partner With Targeted Influencers
One of the quickest ways to reach thousands and even millions of people on Instagram is by leveraging influencers.
Influencers have been in the trenches for years. They have done the hard work of getting millions of followers.
If you’re a new business or small team that wants to be productive with your marketing strategies, attempting to grow your following before marketing your product may take a lot of time (years).
The beauty of partnering with Instagram Influencers is that they have established trust and relationships with many people. Today, many people buy products and services based on what they see on their Instagram feed.
That means they’ll discover your product when an influencer shares it on their Instagram feed. It’s a great way to get your products and brand in front of potential buyers.
When it comes to partnering with Instagram Influencers, you need to make smart decisions here.
Because Mega Influencers may have millions of followers, but their style, content, and audience are not the right fit for your products and services or what your brand stands for.
On the other hand, a mid-tier influencer with about 50,000 – 500,000 might be the right candidate to work with since their followers are more targeted to your products/services.
Instagram marketing is most effective when you connect with the right influencers and followers.
Not every influencer is okay for you, no matter the millions of followers they have attracted. Your results will depend on the audience you’re exposed to.
For example, HP partnered with an influencer to promote a contest they were running:
When you partner with an influencer, think long term.
It’s better to build a strong relationship with the right influencers that will drive consistent brand growth and sales in the future. Don’t always be concerned about short term gains and direct sales from your campaign.
Build a long-term marketing strategy with 2 – 5 relevant influencers in your industry.
Remember that your product will not be promoted for life, so you must devise means of establishing rapport with your influencer’s audience. That way, when your partnership is over, you still have an audience to sell to.
2. Show Your Products In Action
Giving customers the experience of using the product will often increase sales.
It’s good to use high-quality images of your products on Instagram, as that will grab attention, but you need to do more.
To make a real impact on Instagram, you need to “show how your products work” instead of just telling people how great it is.
Ramit Sethi, the entrepreneur that runs one of the most popular finance blogs, shows how to live a rich life at his blog, and he posts his adventures on Instagram. He doesn’t just tell it; he shows it.
Social media users, in general, love stories that connect with them. So, you need to tell a story through your Instagram posts using photos, videos, animated gifs, and other forms of content. This will show your products in action.
For example, a food brand can post sumptuous images of dishes that can be made with their seafood (the main product).
The brand can go as far as describing the perfect occasion to enjoy the dish. It’s an effective approach to connect better with the audience. It’s well-illustrated below:
If you’re a clothing brand, it makes sense to show people wearing your clothes in different contexts. You can include a caption that best describes the experience of wearing the clothes or conveys the texture of the fabric.
GoPro is a popular camera brand that showcases their camera models in action. On their Instagram feed, you see beautiful and dynamic photos and videos taken using their camera.
Let people get the experience of using your product. Even if you’re a real estate professional, show videos of home tours, showcase photos of both the front, back, and an aerial view of your properties.
If you’re a SaaS company, show Instagram users how to use your software by giving them access to the demo or a sneak peek of the product. Personalitymax.com, for example, allows people to start a free personality test before upgrading.
When you post pictures and videos on Instagram or run paid ads, you can maximize conversion rates by relatable experience.
Keep this in mind when next you’re executing an Instagram campaign. You may use Sociopilot, one of the popular Instagram automation tools, to handle everything.
3. Post Engaging Content Consistently
This strategy might seem obvious and ineffective, but how many businesses and online marketers do it religiously?
Consistently always wins. One of the reasons people don’t stay consistent is because it’s a soft skill. You may not touch or feel it, but it can be a defining factor between your business success or failure.
If you post 1 picture or video to your Instagram account once a week or monthly, how do you prove to your followers and other users that you’re entertaining (the main purpose of every post on Instagram)?
Even if you’re providing education or selling project management solutions as ClickUp does, you need to make it entertaining. Otherwise, people will likely not be interested in your content.
Infinite Recovery does something remarkable. Although a drug rehab center, the marketing team is smart on Instagram. They post entertaining videos of events, fun therapy sessions, and defining moments from the organization.
So, posting every other week or month isn’t a good Instagram marketing strategy. It’s far from being ‘great.’
On the other hand, when you’re posting consistently (daily or several times a week), your brand will remain fresh in the minds of your followers.
According to RevLocal, “On average, top brands on Instagram post 1.5X each day.” That’s about 10 or 11 posts per week.”
Of course, you don’t have to overdo it and thereby flood user timelines with new posts. This can be annoying. Find a middle ground. If your audience prefers one post daily, then do it. It’s a straightforward customer retention technique that works.
More so, when you post (the timing) on Instagram is critical. Most brands that have seen success typically post during office hours, according to RevLocal.
But why do brands post content to their Instagram accounts during office hours? A study shows that 90% of employees use social media as a distraction while at work.
Instagram is like Twitter in a way because you have to be consistent with your posting activity to be noticed.
Considering how effective ‘timing’ matters on Instagram, you can plan and schedule your posts accordingly. It’s best to use a scheduling app like Woven or a social media management tool for this task.
This will increase the likelihood that many people will see your content, interact with your brand and products, and buy from you.
4. Build Trust With User-Generated Content (UGC)
User-generated content (UGC) is a powerful tool for marketing on Instagram and other social media channels. Today, it’s a good form of word of mouth advertising.
If you can persuade your happy customers to create content that shows how your product works, you can reach new people. Content from your customers can be one of the best online learning resources you can share with others.
Most consumers don’t trust what brands and product managers say about their products. But they can buy a product based on the experiences of other consumers.
It makes logical sense. After all, if consumers share positive experiences on Instagram, it’s a sign that the product truly helped them. And vice versa.
So how do you encourage happy customers to share images of your products since most of them may not readily do it due to their tight schedule?
Well, you can reward or incentivize them. You could offer a chance to win a gift or get a massive discount if they post photos featuring your product or hashtag. Any valuable lead magnet that you give away for free would work.
Better yet, offer your customers a chance to get featured on your brand’s Instagram account or reward them with gift cards. In the long run, you’ll make more money if you put your customers first.
Remember to create a branded hashtag they can use when posting the content. This helps you keep track of the effectiveness of your Instagram marketing efforts.
A great example is The Melt, which often reposts photos taken by their patrons. They usually give due credit to the user in the photo and add funny captions to create some interactions with their followers.
When customers buy from you several times and remain loyal to your brand, it’s because they are satisfied with the experience.
This sort of satisfaction is what popular eCommerce platforms like Shopify and 3dcart deliver. Hence, they’re able to thrive in the face of competition.
You have to celebrate your customers. Whatever content they share with you is a living social proof for new customers to enjoy, especially customers who still have some doubts about your products.
If you appreciate your customers as you claimed, then show it by reposting their content on Instagram. This marketing strategy alone is highly-effective and can triple your sales.
5. Ask For Honest Reviews From Instagram Influencers
Honest reviews are not the same thing as positive reviews.
Customers aren’t looking for positive reviews; what they crave is honest reviews. It can be positive or negative, but as long as it’s from an honest consumer, they can make better decisions.
72% of users will read online reviews first before buying a product. That’s how serious it can be.
Influencers have earned the trust of their followers. This has made influencers like everyday consumers; hence, their opinions and advice seem to be trusted more than a product commercial from a random celebrity.
When you connect with an influencer that people respect, both on Instagram and other social media platforms, you can ask them to write an honest review of your product.
Of course, they’ll have to test it first. When writing the reviews, they should point out one or two negatives or downsides about your product (if any). Remember that when an influencer honestly shares some negatives about your product that they don’t like, their positive remarks seem more genuine.
Don’t try to hide the ‘not-so-good’ aspect of your product. Common sense tells customers that every product has some pros and cons. So invite your influencer to genuinely share their experience with your product.
An Instagram Beauty influencer, Adri regularly endorses products she’s used. But before endorsing them, she posts honest reviews about her experiences using those beauty products.
She usually posts (with photos) her results while/after using the product and shares honest information about whether or not the results are in tune with the product claim.
The goal of getting honest reviews from Instagram influencers is to hopefully get more ‘pros’ for the product that will outweigh the ‘cons.’
If an influencer gives an overall score of 8.5/10, this can triple your sales almost overnight. In turn, this honest appraisal is what followers and consumers want.
Although it helps the brand to get more sales, it boosts the influencer’s credibility as well.
6. Cross-Promote Your Instagram Posts To Other Networks
Don’t waste all your perfect snapshots and videos on Instagram. You can get better results if you cross-promote your posts. It’s a great way to squeeze more ROI out of your Instagram marketing efforts and possibly make extra money.
If you have a post that generated some attention on Instagram, you can promote it on Facebook and Twitter to maximize its reach.
Whether you’re working with an Instagram marketing agency or you choose to do it yourself, you should see remarkable results.
Rather than relying on its Instagram profile, 99robots, a Facebook ads agency, also cross-promotes its posts on Facebook. It uses professional thumbnails and visuals from its Instagram profile to drive additional eyeballs on other social channels.
When cross-promoting content on social media platforms, bear in mind that each social platform has its own format and best practices.
For example, Instagram posts rely on hashtags before they can get to the right audience, while a good description of images wins on Facebook. A hashtag tracker can give you insights on how to best craft yours.
Cross-promotion is time-consuming if you do it manually.
But you can utilize Sprout Social’s Asset Library to store images, texts, and videos in one place for use across all your social platforms. You can find, edit, and publish directly from your Asset Library account to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
Essentially, when your tweets are performing well (e.g., getting retweets), you can repurpose it as a post for your Instagram audience.
If it resonated with your Twitter audience, there’s a chance it’ll do well on Instagram, in most cases.
7. Utilize Branded and Industry Hashtags
Before you invest time and money to promote your brand and products on Instagram, you need to create hashtags to encourage sharing.
A recent study shows that a brand requires 9 hashtags to drive engagement per post.
Although you can have fewer hashtags and still reach your target audience, the goal is never to post on Instagram without a hashtag.
Your followers will love it, especially if the hashtags are easy to memorize, relatable, and fun. A good example is Ernie Ball’s hashtags: #colorsofrocknroll and #iplayslinky — these hashtags are boldly displayed in their bio.
They use these hashtags to promote their posts. Thousands of their loyal fans also use the same hashtags to promote the brand organically.
The only difference here is that Instagram users are searching for your hashtags directly on the platform.
That’s how powerful hashtags are.
Aside from your hashtags, you should also promote your Instagram posts using more general, community hashtags.
Some of the popular ones are #6strings (music) or #unicornhair (beauty). You’re making your Instagram posts searchable by tag-followers. In turn, this increases your reach on the platform.
If you’re relying on organic search traffic alone to grow your business, it’s time to diversify your customer acquisition channels.
If you stay motivated, post entertaining content consistently, and leverage branded and community hashtags, you’ll increase your chances of attracting more followers and customers.
Remember that social media, especially Instagram, influences consumer’s purchasing decisions.
Now is the best time to start using Instagram to drive sales. You just need to know when to post and what type of posts to share on Instagram — that’s how you win and triple sales without using marketing tricks.