As of June 2016, there are 500 million monthly active Instagram users shifting marketers’ focus on Facebook to visually-centered Instagram. In terms of dollars, an engaged follower on Instagram is worth more than a Facebook user: $65 versus $55.
According to a 2015 Pew Research Center report, 26 percent of adult Internet users use Instagram. Fifty-three percent of those adult Instagram users are between the ages of 18 and 29 years old. Twenty-five percent of Instagram users are between the ages of 30 and 49 years old.
Instagram is one of the fastest growing mobile applications, yet it’s also one of the most underutilized marketing tools available to marketers. The company’s recent announcement that it’s rolling out Instagram Stories has marketers scrambling to figure out how to add this new feature to their marketing strategy.
If you haven’t quite figured out how to use Instagram to help you increase sales and engage your social media followers, you can’t possibly know what to do with Instagram Stories. These eight tips will help you get started with the basics.
Related Article: 12 Tips and How-tos For Leveraging the Power of Instagram
1. Post Consistently
In 2015, Social media analytics tool Quintly analyzed more than 5,000 profiles and learned that the average Instagram account posts once per day. Additional data suggests that Instagram accounts with the highest number of fans often post up an average of two or three photos per day.
The general rule of thumb for creating an online presence is consistency. People are more likely to follow a brand when they know quality images will be provided daily. The biggest part of gaining followers and increasing revenue is gaining trust with your followers. When they know what to expect, they are likely to stick around and engage.
2. Avoid Direct Advertisements
Instagram users love the platform because it encourages, and almost dictates, creativity and the use of powerful images. Users are more likely to ignore or unfollow an account that constantly pushes forced graphic advertisements at them instead of creative on-brand imagery. Try using contests and giveaways to boost sales and increase engagement. If you want to use advertisements, Content Marketing Associate Carolyn Berk provides great advice in her article “3 Disastrous Instagram Advertising Mistakes To Avoid.”
3. Keep Descriptions Short
Because Instagram is a visually driven app, you’ll want to keep lengthy post descriptions to a minimum or absent altogether. If your photo is unable to convey the majority of your message to customers, you may be using the wrong image. Again, too many words can feel like old-school advertisements that might turn your followers off.
4. Use Hashtags Well
Since you’re keeping descriptions relatively short, hashtags become a major part of your Instagram marketing. Using popular hashtags like #latergram or the ever-popular #tbt helps promote your images to a broader audience. Not using hashtags means your brand will never show up in a search because that’s what Instagram uses to categorize images. This means the only people who will find your post are those who already follow you, which can be a problem for brands just getting started. Basically, if your hashtag game isn’t strong, you’re wasting your time on Instagram marketing.
5. Share Followers’ Content
One of the best ways to boost engagement and gain followers is to share their posts. This can make a large brand feel more personal with its followers and customers, helping to create brand loyalty.
Benefit Cosmetics, rated one of the best Instagram accounts of 2015, had major success with their 2013 #Realsies campaign for their new mascara. By creating this hashtag and encouraging followers to post their own pictures using the product helped boost sales of Benefit’s “They’re Real!” mascara. This resulted in thousands of followers posting their own images which Benefit Cosmetics then posted on their website and Instagram account.
6. Partner With Social Influencers
Depending on your industry this could be anyone from beauty, fashion, or lifestyle bloggers to prominent food photographers and world travelers. Following and/or using real people with an established Instagram account gives your own account credibility and can rapidly expand your reach. In 2014 American Eagle partnered with two fashion bloggers to promote new products. Using "real" people instead of models made the images more relatable and made the styling of the clothes accessible to more followers.
7. Guide Followers to Buy Button
Despite the move toward Instagram marketing campaigns, there is one major issue, Instagram doesn’t allow live links that leave the app except for in a user’s bio. This makes it difficult for brands to drive traffic from a highly liked Instagram post to their website where real purchases can be made. However, brands like Zara and Topshop include reference numbers in their posts that feature products, so followers can easily search for items they want. And even though the links aren’t active, Nasty Gal still provides URLs in their post descriptions so customers can copy and paste it.
8. Display Your Instagram Posts on Your Website
Instagram web embeds allow brands to add Instagram videos and photos to their website. This tool helps brands deliver custom stories that help them deliver the marketing message they want to convey. These messages can be changed quickly and easily by simply changing the videos and pictures. EMFURN, a company offering mid-century modern furniture, displays various product offerings on their home page using Instagram embeds. The display makes use of various colors and furniture pieces so the web visitor is curious about additional content on EMFURN’s Instagram page.
Related Article: How To Sell On Instagram: Emerging Trends and Platform
These eight tips should be enough to help you get up started. Remember to post consistently, avoid direct advertisements and keep your image descriptions brief. Sharing your followers’ content will help secure brand loyalty and partnering with social influencers will help you expand your reach.