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If you were to mention Instagram and marketing to a room full of business owners, you’d soon find out what social media channels they prefer.
A couple will say Facebook, a few will say Twitter and then some will show their love of Pinterest, for both business and personal use.
Despite this, there is no doubt that the current popularity contest prize, for visually appealing business industries, goes to Instagram.
Not surprisingly, if you were to ask these same entrepreneurs it they had been successful using the Instagram platform to create brand awareness or to drive sales, you’d more than likely be met with several blank stares and murmurings of “not really.”
Instagram and Marketing: Can it Work for Your Business?
Social media is all about planning, strategy and implementation. With the correct tools and strategy, all you need is elbow grease and a little bit of creativity.
Definitely. Take a look at Brisbane-based fashion designers, Yiota and Thessy Kouzokas. Their handle, @SaboSkirt, boasts close to a million followers.
According to them, Instagram is an incredible way for you to take your brand global with minimal outlay.
Instagram lets you engage with customers around the globe, increasing brand awareness while driving website traffic and sales.
You can even post from your computer now!
You can do it for your business too. Here are 8 creative ways to use Instagram and marketing to increase your bottom line:
1. Show off Your Goods
Who doesn’t love a bit of window shopping? So give your followers something to browse. Show off your products and post photos of your newest or lesser-known items or services.
You could even start engaging followers by zooming right in on a product and getting them to guess what it is – the winner gets a prize.
Is your brand more about a service rather than a product? Then use Instagram to show off the equipment that plays a role in the services you offer or share a photo of the end result.
Hairdressers can post images of their best hairstyles, and interior designers can share the latest kitchen trends.
2. Let Your Followers Know What Your Products Do
If you provide versatile products, offer your clientele new ideas on how to use them. Besides your followers appreciating the tips, this could lead to increased sales.
Get followers involved by asking them to submit photos of them finding creative uses for your products.
If you’re in the service industry and offer web design, for example, show your followers just how your work can impact and improve their businesses.
3. Target Followers, Engage Them and Follow Back
Instagram is an all-encompassing platform. You don’t just have access to desktop PC users; you can reach out and engage with tablet and smartphone users too.
Give them image-based stories and actually invite them into the crux of your business, products, and services.
Once you’ve got the engagement flowing, keep your followers interested. You could offer discount codes and promotions on your latest offerings.
It’s a great way to get people joining in online with your brand, and that eventually leads to sales.
Keep up your engagement and before long you’ll have built an active, effective online community.
Encourage your followers to post likes and get involved with comments and you will be amazed at the wide reach your brand could start to gain.
Don’t forget that competitions draw participation and engagement, too. Photo contests on the platform are super simple.
Ask followers to include a specific hashtag when posting pictures and you can sift through them to decide on your winners.
4. It’s Time to Humanize Your Brand
Instagram is a good way to start humanizing your brand. The people you employ will help make the company what it is, so you need to be introducing them.
They’ll enjoy being appreciated for what they do and your followers will get the opportunity to put faces to the brand.
Why not implement an ongoing campaign and take your followers virtually around the office to meet the staff and learn more about the roles they play in the company?
Create punchy posts by sharing a little information about each person and encouraging followers to interact.
5. It’s Okay to Take the Mystery out of Some Things
Who isn’t curious about how things are made or where the product they’ve bought came from?
Let your followers in on some of the mystery behind your products by posting snapshots at different points during manufacturing or processing.
If it happens to be a long process, create a multi-part post following the entire process from conception to delivery.
6. If You’re Walking the Walk, Start Talking the Talk
Text and web-speak play a big role in how online communities communicate.
Don’t be afraid of emoticons and abbreviations to reach out to your followers. This will also go some way to humanizing your brand.
7. Offer Followers a Sneak Peak
We all like to be the first to know about something.
Leave your followers feeling special by posting images of your brand new store or offering an exclusive preview of your latest service or product.
8. Take Them Behind the Scenes
While it’s hard work getting ready to promote a new product or launch a new service, it’s also the best time for great Instagram content.
Whether your team is getting ready to hit the red carpet or start shooting a commercial, share the behind the scenes happenings with your followers.
Instagram lets people experience things they may not otherwise experience in real life. Give your loyal community their backstage pass, digitally.
Conclusion: Instagram and Brand Building Go Hand-In-Hand
Taking your product or service to Instagram is about brand awareness. In turn, brand awareness leads to sales.
If you’re looking for ways to use instagram and marketing to grow your business and increase your customer base, Instagram is a platform you simply cannot afford to ignore.
Here’s a handy guide for more detailed tips and pointers on integration.
Of course, as ever, you have to match up the right platform for your audience. Sexy niche’s work really well with Instagram, as do fashionable industries.
Social media is also an amazing resource for lead capture, which obviously goes hand in hand with sales operations.
Each follower is a lead. But be careful not to try to push sales materials at them before they are ready, and before they trust you.
About the Author
Matt Janaway is an Online Entrepreneur and Digital Marketer who specialises in the eCommerce and retail arenas. He has purchased, built, optimised and sold more than ten eCommerce businesses over the years.
Having earned considerable multi-million pound revenues via these ventures, he is now leading a team project that involves optimising over twenty thousand products on thirty websites.
Image source: author-owned