With over one billion monthly active users, Instagram stands as one of the most influential social media networks in the world. It’s only natural that brands would desire to have a strong presence on the site as well.
In fact, according to Instagram’s own internal data, over 80 percent of users follow at least one business online. Whether it’s a major corporation or a small startup, it’s clear that businesses are able to garner high levels of interaction and engagement with their target audience.
But getting likes on your latest photo isn’t the end goal of a brand Instagram. Whether you’re nurturing leads or showcasing a new product, e-commerce brands must be actively seeking to monetize their accounts.
When done right, your business’s Instagram account can become a significant source of traffic and revenue. Because Shopping on Instagram isn’t available for all markets, here are a few tips that all e-commerce stores can use to increase sales:
Focus on differentiating your content
Your content will always be what ultimately determines whether you are able to sell your products on Instagram. As an e-commerce entrepreneur, you should already understand the interests and attributes of your target audience.
Now, you need to focus on providing unique content that engages with their interests to capture their attention. You have to differentiate your content from the competition — and this means doing more than posting professional-grade photos.
For e-commerce brands, a good practice is to alternate between promotional posts that showcase your products and lifestyle posts that cultivate your unique brand image. Let your personality shine through. Always seek to engage your audience by asking questions and soliciting comments. This will help you gain more followers and increase engagement on all posts.
Maximize promotional opportunities
Promotional posts are going to be where you make your money, and a few tactics can make a big difference. First, remember to always include a clear call to action in your Instagram posts that tells consumers where to find the product on your site. Place a link to your website in your bio to generate clickthroughs!
Use hashtags to expand the reach of your posts. Use a mix of branded hashtags and broader hashtags related to your niche to build brand awareness and make it easier for new customers to discover you through Instagram’s search tools.
Contests and giveaways are also a great way to grow your audience and yield future sales. Studies have found that “Instagram accounts that run contests grow up to 70 percent faster than accounts which don’t. In addition, Instagram contests generate 65x more comments, and 3.5x more likes than regular posts.”
For best results, run contests that require participants to tag a friend in a comment on your post or use a branded hashtag in a post that features one of your products. The resulting word of mouth promotions will put your brand in front of more people similar to your current followers. Giving away a prize today could result in more sales tomorrow.
Use tools to ‘growth hack’ your account
Brands need to put a lot of work into creating quality content, but this is far from the only thing that needs to be done to make money through your Instagram account. In my experience, leveraging the power of Instagram tools that automate many of the “back-end” tasks is vital for growth hacking your account.
For example, tools like Kicksta help you save time by automating the growing of your audience by liking posts from users in your target demographic on your behalf. These interactions yield natural, organic growth by helping interested users discover your brand — which will naturally increase your number of followers.
Later is another great tool that allows you to schedule out your Instagram posts in advance. As you use analytics to determine the best time to post to reach your audience, advance scheduling will help you maximize your exposure opportunities.
By automating and streamlining key account responsibilities, you will have more time and energy you can devote to creating the quality content needed to build your brand on Instagram in the first place.
Use the analytics at your disposal
Coming to understand what types of posts — and even which products — have the greatest appeal to your target audience can’t be left as a “set it and forget it” exercise. You have to take advantage of analytics tools to keep fine-tuning your posting strategy.
By determining which posts perform best, you can continue to fine-tune your Instagram content so you can drive more traffic to your e-commerce store. Brands can get started with Instagram Insights, a free tool available to business accounts that tracks reach, impressions, and interactions with your posts.
Not only does this help you identify which content performs best; it also offers insights into your audience demographics. This will make it easier to create custom and lookalike audiences for paid Instagram advertising campaigns as you use them to grow your brand presence, ensuring a better return on investment for your marketing spend.
Turning your brand’s Instagram account into a reliable source of revenue can take time. But as you consistently provide your audience with quality content and deliver real value through your posts, you will grow a highly engaged following that is willing to give you their attention — and their money — as they scroll through their Instagram feed.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.
Published March 11, 2019 — 18:36 UTC