In 2014, Instagram surpassed all other social media platforms in the average dollar value of a sale. The social network is currently growing at a faster rate than any other. And to date, 71% of the top ecommerce brands use Instagram to improve their sales and connect with customers. But what if you’re not one of the top ecommerce brands? How can you use the social sharing tool that’s growing like wildfire to benefit your business?
You may or may not have heard of Fox and Fawn, a small boutique vintage shop located in Brooklyn. When the store’s growing number of Instagram followers began calling in to inquire about the items posted on their newsfeed, owners made a bold move. Customers call the store to provide their address and payment info. From then on, any time Fox and Fawn posts a photo of one of the store’s items, all that customer has to do is comment “ring me up!” followed by their last name. Once the sale goes through, the item is shipped to the lucky customer. Today, Fox and Fawn estimates that anywhere from 25-40% of their daily sales are made through Instagram. Shockingly, Fox and Fawn has less than 5,000 followers to date. By no means is this a massive following. Fox and Fawn devised a way to actively engage each one of their followers, and more impressively still, harness that engagement into sales. Their success on Instagram even inspired the owners to open up a second physical store in a nearby city.
A while back, we talked about how beneficial Pinterest sales are for your ecommerce brand. Today however, Instagram is slowly but surely edging out all other social media platforms for business. Ecommerce companies in particular have profited a great deal with Instagram’s help. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest feats Instagram acheived in 2014.
Of the 152 million active monthly users, half of these are active daily users. Instagram is currently the fastest growing social network. And the most impressive statistic? A recent study by Shopify revealed that Instagram has an average order of $65, six dollars more than the average Pinterest user and ten dollars more than the average Facebook user. From an adspend perspective, Instagram is a business owner’s dream. This social sharing tool that relies solely on photos allows for a unique campaign strategy with a $0 budget. Unlike the Facebook we’ve all come to know today with less than 10% of your page fans seeing the average post, every one of your Instagram followers will see everything posted to your account.
Now, for the downside. Instagram has two factors making it unique to other social media platforms. From an ecommerce perspective, this factors might also be described as hurdles to cross. For starters, there’s no way to insert a clickable link in an instagram post. This poses a major issue for ecommerce brands. How can a follower find a product if you can’t support your post with a link? (We can’t all be Fox and Fawn, afterall). Secondly, Instagram was created as a mobile app for social sharing. So, unlike any other social channel, a brand has to assume that Instagram users are on their smartphones. Standard image optimizing rules do not apply.
Eight Tips To Skyrocket Your Instagram Sales
To aid the small ecommerce owner in their quest for Instagram success, we’ve compiled a few tips that any business can apply to their brand. The goal is not necessarily to increase your following, but more importantly, to increase engagement. Proper use of the following tips also means an increase in sales, and isn’t that what we’re all after?
Use the Following you Already Have
Chances are, once you’re considering an instagram profile, you already have a somewhat substantial customer base. Make an announcement on your Facebook or Twitter feed, in your monthly newsletter, or anywhere your customers typically congregate to make sure they know that you are now on Instagram, and their lives will be better if they follow you. Entice followers with potential additional sales, first looks behind the scenes, and a chance to take part in your brand that hasn’t been available before. Your customers can’t follow you on a network if they don’t know you exist, so tell them!
Harness the Power of the Hashtag
This one may seem like a no-brainer. But since it’s extra important, we’re going to talk about it. Hashtags, are the easiest, most effective way to engage users on Instagram. Create a branded hashtag for your followers to use when they’re thinking about you. Run a simple search for that hashtag, and voila! You have an instantaneous list of all of your businesses most loyal followers.
The beauty of hashtags is that Instagram allows you to use up to 30 at a time. When your brand is starting out on Instagram, utilize this function. Incorporating top trends with your brand is a sure way to earn engagement from new people, and potentially new customers.
Once you establish a bigger following, start up a social campaign to re-engage your followers. So, let’s say you sell women’s sweaters; encourage them to post images with #FallCollection for a chance to win a free item from the same line. Get creative, and have fun with it!
Use Real Photos
One of Instagram’s many benefits lies the filtering capabilities. They allow anyone – and we do mean anyone – to become an art director. Your business can now have professional looking photos at no cost. Use the opportunity to humanize your brand. Don’t seek out models for your new ad campaign, use your customers. These more “authentic” images allow your customers to see themselves using your products. It makes your brand more relatable, and saves you money.
Connect Your Gallery to Your Website
It may sound simple, but there’s a wrong way to do this. Adding photos posted by fans to your website’s footer as an afterthought is all well and good, but there’s a better way. Similar to using authentic photos, aim to incorporate customer’s images onto your website with your own, rather than keeping them separate. Fast Company explains the many different ways that customer’s Instagram photos have been incorporated onto their favorite brand’s websites. The best news for business owners is that these customers are usually thrilled to be featured, and will gladly hand over the photo at no cost to you!
See how the clothing company Madewell encourages their customers to use their #Totewell hashtag, with a chance to be featured on the store’s website, below.
Track Your Analytics
Built-in Instagram analytics are (hopefully) a thing of the future. But for the time being, there are other ways to track your Instagram analytics. Iconosquare is a free tool that breaks down your most popular posts, most engaged users, best performing filters, and more! When used and interpreted properly, these metrics can be used to make future posts more successful.
Timing is important
Recall that more than 60 million of those using Instagram are using it daily, this bodes well for your chance that someone will see an ad. However, similar to any other social platform, Instagram has prime posting times throughout the day. Posting at the appropriate time is important for your brand. Follow standard guidelines when posting photos. Depending on how often you plan to post, best practices can vary.
Until recently, there was no scheduling software for Instagram. If you wanted a post to go out, the most advanced way to remind yourself was to schedule an alarm. However, a recently released a new tool called Take Off, has become Instagram’s first scheduling tool. Similar to Buffer, it allows users to set up a queue of photos and posting frequency. The app takes care of the rest!
Go Behind the Scenes
Do you have a product that keeps selling out? Post an image of it on your feed informing loyal customers that the item is back in stock, and they’d better act quickly. Your loyal customers want to know everything about the inner workings of your business. Use instagram to let them into the stockroom, and give them previews as to what’s coming in the upcoming season. They will feel connected to you in a way they never have before.
Interact With your Customers
Any small business owner knows that their customers are their most valuable asset. Instagram gives the means to interact with them in a way they never have before. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, which have recently become sounding boards for customer service inquiries, Instagram allows you to interact with them regarding specific topics, namely, the topic of your photo. Many brands ask customers what they would like to see next, or let them vote on what color a new item should be available in.
Use Iconosquare to run a mass search for those who are using your brand’s name in their photos. Like the photos, and even comment on them from time to time. The novelty of direct interaction from a brand doesn’t just keep you on that customer’s mind, it also may lead to a sale.
Who is doing it best?
There are an infinite number of ways to take these tips, and make them your own. Each business is different, so each customer base is different. As a business owner, the goal is to make these tips work specifically for you. For a little inspiration, let’s take a look at which brands are killing it on Instagram.
In addition to posting wonderful photos on their own account, Starbucks is notoriously amazing at engaging Instagram followers. They’re regularly reaching out to customers regarding photos. Still skeptical? Just run a search for the #psl hashtag, and let the results speak for themselves.
Take a peek at Nike’s Instagram account and try not to be inspired to go shoot hoops at the playground, or go for a run at sunset. Nike understands that a brand amounts to so much more than just the products they sell.
Nike ran an incredibly successful campaign on Instagram that allowed users to design their own shoe, and adding it to one of their own photos.
Warby Parker utilizes a great mix of photos from customers, product, and staff to speak to their overall brand personality. Even those who don’t wear glasses have something to gain from this account.
While Red Bull isn’t exactly an ecommerce business, we have to give them credit. Their Instagram page is a prime example of taking a simple product, and turning it into a philosophy. Red Bull regularly posts photos that encapsulate the brand’s “Red Bull Gives You Wings” tagline. Indeed, they’ve come a long way from cartoon commercials.
Passion thrives on Instagram.
We know you’re passionate about your brand, so show it. Think about what you sell, and why you love selling it. Whether it’s massage tables, or ATV accessories, or women’s clothing, there’s a uniquely brilliant way to connect with your customers. We bet they’re passionate about your brand, too.