Social media is a place to be if you want people to fall in love with your brand. But you need to choose the right platform for reaching the right audience with relevant offers.
With a 2.2% interaction rate and a whopping 1 billion users, Instagram is on the shortlist of promotional channels for thousands of e-commerce business. It’s extremely visual, fun to use, and brings real value to e-commerce businesses in the form of audience and conversion growth.
At the same time, promotion on Instagram requires a thought-out approach – or you might get in trouble and even have your account deleted. To help you make sure that you got everything covered, we prepared a detailed guide on Instagram promotion, featuring the best ideas on how to make your profile shine.
Setting up the Instagram business account
The first thing to do is set up an Instagram business account since you cannot sell and promote goods and services from your personal account.
To set up an Instagram for business profile, do the following:
Step 1. Download the app if you don’t have Instagram.
Step 2. Register or sign up to a personal account and then switch to a business account in your profile settings.
Go to Profile > Settings > Account > Switch to Business Account.
Step 3. Link your business account to your Facebook catalog. This is crucial for getting access to Instagram shoppable features, like product tagging.
Note: you can integrate your Magento store with Facebook either through the API or via the CVS files upload.
In order to link the accounts:
- go to Facebook Catalog Manager,
- select a catalog,
- proceed to Diagnostics,
- click on More Ways to Use Your Catalog,
- choose Instagram Shopping,
- click on Connect Your Instagram Business Profile,
- connect Account.
Step 4. Get your business profile approved and enable shoppable features.
For that, go to Instagram Settings > Shopping > Continue > Select product catalog > Done.
Once you complete all the steps, you will have access to the Instagram shoppable features and can start filling in your brand-new profile.
Think about your content!
Content is the core of any Instagram profile and there is a lot to plan before actual posting.
Filling in the profile bio
The first thing you need to do is fill in your company’s bio.
Some e-commerce store owners don’t take writing an Instagram bio seriously but this is a wrong approach. A well-crafted bio creates the right impression of a brand and encourages people to explore the profile. A poorly written bio, on the other hand, may decrease the level of trust towards the brand and discourage the users from interacting with the company.
So what should a good Instagram e-commerce bio look like?
The primary goal of a bio is to inform the users about the brand: who you are, why they should care, and what value you can offer. While every bio is unique, there are some universal rules that you should follow to get the most out of it:
- tell about yourself and make it interesting: use emojis or customizable fonts, if relevant,
- add a link to your website,
- add clickable hashtags for better customer engagement,
- add a call to action (i.e. “click our link” or “tag our products”).
To get inspired, you can study your competition or see how the biggest industry leaders write their bios. And always keep in mind that a good bio reflects the brand’s identity and communicates its message to the users.
Choose the content for posting
The biggest thing to focus on when promoting on Instagram is your content. After all, that’s what the users come for – to check out your posts and (hopefully) engage with them.
In order to choose the right content for posting, you need to understand who your audience is. Some people actively engage with inspirational quotes while others love watching behind-the-scenes videos.
After researching the needs and preferences of your audience, it’s time to choose the content type. The most popular forms of content for e-commerce stores on Instagram are:
- product posts,
- announcements of sales and similar events,
- customer-generated content,
- lifestyle posts.
It’s a common knowledge that Instagram promotes not products but experience. So your task is to create a gallery that would promote the lifestyle associated with the brand.
For Winky Lux makeup, it’s all rainbow-fun-dreamy-unicorn style. Note how they combine product photos with aesthetics that are associated with the brand and create a cohesive and incredibly attractive gallery.
One of the major differences between personal and business Instagram accounts is consistency. It’s an absolute must for the brands to have a consistent gallery that reflects the brand’s ideas and promoted lifestyle.
Consistency includes the overall color palette, style of the photos, choice of font (if needed), photo angles, content type. By making your content consistent, you will avoid looking random and instead will gain credit for a solid brand display.
It is highly recommended to hire a professional photographer to ensure the excellent quality of your product photos and videos. Poor content quality is a huge red flag that immediately drops down the brand’s credibility.
Schedule the posts
The average recommended posting frequency for Instagram is 1-3 posts per day. While that does not sound much, imagine that every day you have to come up with 3 unique and engaging posts and manually upload them.
To save a fair amount of time, you need a posting schedule. This allows not only to create a better posting strategy but also get ready for major events (like holiday sales) in advance.
Unfortunately, you cannot schedule posts directly on Instagram. But in 2018, Instagram granted access to its API to the biggest social media software providers like Hootsuite or SocialFlow. This means the software users can now better manage their Instagram accounts and prepare massive sets of content in advance.
But there are also small businesses and sole entrepreneurs that don’t necessarily use third-party software for social media management. For them, there are tools like Later that offer social media management at affordable rates.
An important thing to keep in mind is the posting time. Even though statistic says the best average posting time for Instagram is between 2 PM – 3 PM, it may differ drastically for your specific business. Use Instagram Insights to track your users’ activity and identify the top-performing posts and their posting time.
#ThatsMyBrand: how hashtags help you spread awareness and grow the audience
Hashtags are the shadow behind the scenes when we talk about e-commerce on Instagram.
Though seemingly minor, hashtags are the tool that drives people to your profile. They help users discover you among hundreds (if not thousands) of similar accounts and add uniqueness to your brand.
You can add hashtags to:
- regular posts,
- profile bio,
Hashtags can be used for different purposes – let’s have a look at each.
Such hashtags are associated with a specific brand. They help users follow your content and search for it.
The obligatory part of a branded hashtag is the name of a brand – the rest depends on your goals. For example, you may want to introduce different hashtags for different product categories for better search and navigation.
Lush, for instance, has a general #LushCosmetics and more narrow-focused #LushPerfume.
In order to drive users to their profile and expand the audience, companies use general hashtags that are related not to a specific brand but to a product. The examples of such hashtags would be #handmadejewelry, #highheelboots, #sterlingsilver.
As well, many companies use popular hashtags like #photooftheday to increase the profile’s visibility. This is a good strategy for small companies that just launched on Instagram and need to be discovered.
The post from Ahoy Birdy is a good example of using general hashtags in a wise manner. By putting #magical and #witches hashtags, the brand targets a specific audience that may become potential buyers and will most probably like the product.
Contest hashtags are used to introduce a contest that is held by the brand.
These hashtags are unique for a brand and are needed to monitor the event and find user-generated content. With the help of contest hashtags, users can easily find all the content related to the contest, get noticed, and track the event progress.
User-generated content is extremely valuable because it shows genuine interest in your brand from the customers’ side.
To encourage users to share their photos with your products, introduce a special hashtag. With its help, you’ll be able to find the user-generated content and users, in turn, can be sure they will get noticed.
In addition, such content incredibly boosts the brand’s credibility as it shows a high level of trust and loyalty from the users.
A few words on geotags
There is one more form of tags that Instagram offers to help businesses promote themselves. We are talking about geotags aka location tagging.
When creating a new post, a user can tag their location. And that’s one feature that e-commerce stores should definitely pay attention to.
Geotags define the store’s location (or locations) and serve a few important goals:
- help drive the foot traffic to the store,
- engage the users by showing the store’s location,
- grow exposure and help find the target audience,
- help find possible influencers in your area.
In addition to tagging your location in the regular posts, you can also add a geotag sticker to the Stories. Both options are efficient for gaining attention and letting the users know that you might be located just a few blocks away from them.
There is also one trick that many e-commerce stores do: they tag different popular locations in their posts. In this way, when a user taps on location to see the top posts, they may notice your post as well and become engaged.
Before jumping to the next section, we still have a few questions to answer.
Q: How many hashtags do I need?
A: It depends. A big and worldwide recognized brand does not need to put #comfortableshoes next to the #puma hashtag because the brand fans are already there and know what they came for. But smaller brands that need recognition and promotion can try using both general and branded hashtags and see which ones will draw the users to the profile.
Q: How do I choose the hashtags for my specific brand?
A: Study your competition, research influencers, or use online tools for ranking hashtag popularity and relevance.
Q: How do I know if I chose the right hashtags?
A: Check the analytics and compare the metrics to analyze the users’ performance and see where your traffic comes from.
Stories: the new look of Instagram posts
Stories were introduced back in 2016 and since then became one of the best promotional channels for e-commerce businesses.
There are a few significant differences between regular posts and Stories:
- Stories disappear 24h after posting,
- Stories are not visible to non-registered users,
- you can do Instagram live with Stories.
The main aim of the Stories is to highlight a moment. Though it seems like nothing more but a fun experience, 1/3 of the most viewed and popular Stories on Instagram were created by businesses – and that means something.
In addition, Stories have extensive functionality like an option to place hashtags and geotags on your Story or add swipe-up links to your store (on condition that you have over 10K followers).
How to create a Story
From the Instagram homepage, either tap on the “My Story” circle or do a sideswipe from left to right. You will then be able to:
- take a photo,
- upload a photo from the phone gallery,
- take a video,
- upload a video,
- go live,
- post a text message.
As you see, Instagram offers a big variety of content forms for a Story and that’s a big benefit for the businesses.
Though Stories are usually posted in a spontaneous manner, e-commerce businesses need to plan and schedule them in the same way they plan regular content.
As well, because people tend to check Stories first and then proceed to the posts, many businesses use Stories as teasers for the posts.
Highlights: the crop circles on your profile
One more obligatory feature to use is Stories highlights.
Stories disappear 24H after posting – but you can save the favorite Stories in highlights which will be added to your profile. Think of highlights as of a photo album where you store your best Stories.
For businesses, highlights serve as catalogs or store sections. For example, a skincare and makeup store would have such highlights as “Skincare”, “Oils”, “Body treatments”, etc.
But that’s not all. Many businesses also use highlights to collect the customer’s reviews, store information about pricing, FAQs and other relevant content. In this way, you provide users with easy and clear navigation through the content on your profile.
IGTV: are we on YouTube yet?
In 2018 Instagram introduced IGTV or Instagram TV.
These are the videos up to 1 hour that brands can use to promote their products and services. A good example of a channel with high engagement is Kylie Cosmetics which posts makeup tutorials on its IGTV and receives an immense number of views and responses from the users.
For many e-commerce brands, IGTV is a great way to engage the audience and draw traffic to the profile and the store. Considering the growing popularity of video, it’s definitely a feature to use in your Instagram promotion strategy.
The shoppable features of Instagram
Now to the most interesting part – the shoppable features that were rolled out in 2017 in order to optimize Instagram for sales.
The biggest benefit of these features is that they help e-commerce stores sell in a natural manner without interfering with the customer’s journey. At the same time, they provide excellent customer experience and significantly minimize the checkout process.
The main feature that lets the stores promote and sell products via the app is the product tagging option.
When creating a post, you can tag a product the same way as you tag a person. Once you are done, your post will have a “View products” tappable icon. After a few seconds, the text will disappear, leaving the icon only. At the same time, a user will see a white dot (shout out to Pinterest) indicating the shoppable products.
Upon tapping on the photo (in any place), the user will see a tag with product name and price. But if the user taps on the shoppable icon, they will see a small pop-up window. The window (which can be swiped either up or down) has “In this photo” information about the product and (ta-da!) other products from the seller, which, to be honest, is a quite good form of product recommendations.
Upon clicking on the product, the user will get to the product window with a “View on website” option. From there, the user can proceed to a product page and either buy a product or put it in the cart.
This feature is indeed great and can significantly boost the conversion rate of a store. Because the products are tagged in the same manner as people, users don’t get product information straight in the face and instead, can learn more if they wish so. As well, users can view these shoppable posts only if they follow the brand or visit the “Shop” section in recommendations which, again, is done by their own will.
Because Stories became incredibly popular, Instagram added shoppable features to them as well.
When you create a Story and either take or upload a photo (or a video) you can see the product stickers in the corresponding section (the one where you find GIFs, location tags, etc.). The process is similar to product tagging in a post: you select the product sticker, choose the necessary product and place the sticker on your Story.
The sticker is tappable and also contains product name and price and can take you to the in-app product page upon tapping.
Another thing that you can do with your Stories is adding a swipe-up link that will take the users to the product page (or any other that you wish). These swipe-ups can drive a significant amount of traffic to your store and cause great engagement from the users.
Checkout on Instagram
This feature was introduced in May this year and is still in beta version and available in the USA only. But it already got many e-commerce store owners hyped as it aims to make Instagram shopping even easier than it is now.
The Instagram checkout will enable shoppers to checkout without leaving the app. They will be required to enter their billing address, payment information, name & email, and voila – the information will be stored for future purchases.
Though Instagram offers paid ads, we recommend you try shoppable features first. The reason for that is that the audience that sees your shoppable posts is already interested in them. In the case of paid ads, wrong targeting can cause huge budget losses with zero results.
The same rule applies for promotion on other social platforms too. For example, Facebook remains a powerful marketing platform for e-commerce stores but one has to know all the aspects of Facebook Ads in order to retain the revenue and grow conversions.
Collaboration with the influencers
Another great way to get your profile noticed and conversions growing is a collaboration with the influencers.
Influencer marketing has been gaining momentum for a while. It implies reaching out to people who have the same vision as your brand and might be genuinely interested in your products. And this lets you precisely pinpoint the audience and increase the chances of selling to the right customers.
Where to find the right influencers for your brand
There are three main sources for finding the influencers:
- via the Google search (yes, that simple),
- with the help of special tools (like Buzzsumo or Reachbird),
- among the existing followers.
Once you figure that out and come up with a list of potential influencers, do some research to choose the perfect fit for your brand.
Pay attention to the amount of sponsored content on their page, level of genuine customer engagement, the influencer’s values and interests. If the person does nothing except for doing sponsored posts, it won’t bring you the desired results and the followers may as well include a fair amount of fake accounts.
The do’s and don’ts of collaborating with the influencers
The first thing to remember is that influencers do their work – in the same way as you do yours. That means they need to be paid in order to feature your product on their profile.
As well, do not try to limit the person in the content creation process or provide them with some strict guidelines. People love this particular influencer for a reason – so don’t kill the vibe and let them be themselves.
However, do provide the influencer with the overall guidelines and main points to mention in order to help them display the product in the best manner.
Boost sales with customer engagement
Social media is all about socializing and Instagram is no exception. A great way to leverage your brand and increase recognition is by holding contests and flash sales.
Planning the contest
The first thing to think about when planning a contest is your KPIs. What do you want to achieve in the end: grow audience, increase sales of a specific product, or simply raise engagement with your profile?
After you are clear with that, think about the contest type and its length.
The types of contests on Instagram:
- like to win,
- repost to win,
- like & tag friends to win,
- comment to win,
- posting user-generated content to win (selfies or posts with special hashtags).
The contest type will depend on your KPIs and the goals that you want to achieve.
As well, there are different contest lengths to consider:
- 1 day,
- 1-3 weeks,
- 1 (or more) months.
Use a special hashtag to monitor the contest and be ultra-specific about contest rules and prizes to avoid confusion and help users get an enjoyable experience. A good idea to boost customer engagement is sharing the user-generated content in your Stories to display the content progress and encourage others to participate.
One more way to boost customer engagement and sales at the same time is by a flash sale.
Flash sales run for a short period of time and offer unbelievably huge discounts. Such sales rely on impulse buying and can significantly grow your revenue if planned right.
So how to do a flash sale on Instagram?
Step 1. Think about timing
While some stores make their flash sales as a surprise, we recommend you inform the users in advance, by using a countdown, for example. In this way, you will grow anticipation and will make sure the users see the sale and participate in it.
Step 2. Choose products for sale and come up with relevant discounts
Remember what we said – flash sales offer bigger discounts than regular sales. So choose the products that you are willing to give away for low prices and ensure the users will be satisfied with the provided discount.
Step 3. Prepare for the sale
Some of you may remember how Amazon’s servers crashed on its Prime Day 2018. To avoid such situations, double-check if your store is ready for increased traffic and orders and whether you can provide users with efficient shipping and order processing.
Step 4. Support the campaign with relevant hashtags
Because it’s Instagram, introduce a special hashtag to use in announcements and campaign itself. It will help the users navigate through your content and keep updated with the news.
Things not to do with Instagram: the biggest red flags
After everything you’ve read, it may seem that keeping an Instagram account is just too much and it won’t hurt if you automate certain things or buy a number of followers.
Stop right here.
Though some e-commerce stores do it, there are some things that can seriously hurt your business and may even lead to profile deletion. Let’s have a look.
Buying fake followers
You might have received direct messages like “Do you want to grow your followers for just $15?”
Though tempting enough, fake followers are never a good idea.
First, fake followers do not engage with your content so you will have quite an obvious mismatch: 20K+ followers vs 15 likes on average. And because users pay attention to it, this will significantly hurt your credibility as a brand.
Second, Instagram itself keeps an eye on fake followers and accounts that buy them. This may lead to the purge of your followers base and even account suspension.
Automation of actions
There are plenty of social media automation tools on the Internet that can “save your time” by automating such actions as likes, comments, DMs, following and unfollowing.
Here goes nothing, right?
However, spammy Direct Messages bots and other automated actions are a big no-no unless you perfectly fine-tune them. They can be incredibly annoying and completely irrelevant.
It often happens that a user posts a meaningful and serious photo and a few seconds after receives a comment like “Awesome profile, please check mine for more beautiful photos!” Completely wrong.
To avoid such situations, do not automate your Instagram. Instead, hire a person who will 100% keep your profile relevant and genuine.
Connect your Magento store and Instagram
Last but not least – making the customers aware of your Instagram profile.
Of course, paid ads, hashtags, and influencers will do their thing but what about your existing shoppers? For that, Magento offers a few brilliant solutions.
Add Instagram button to the site
This one is really easy and any good Magento development company can do it within a few minutes. You simply take the icon from Font Awesome and add an Instagram link to it.
You can choose where to place this element but most stores display their social media profiles either at the bottom of the page or in the upper right corner.
Add the Instagram feed to the site
The adding of your Instagram feed to the store’s landing page greatly boosts conversions and customer engagement. Many brands use this method to encourage users to share their photos for a chance to be featured on the site’s landing page.
To add an Instagram gallery to the site, you can either use any available tool from the Marketplace or ask your Magento developers for custom integration.
One more thing to keep in mind: is your Magento store ready for the upcoming traffic? Once everything is set and you start promoting on Instagram, get ready for the increased load on your site.
To make sure your customers will have no trouble with placing the orders and receiving them in time, request a performance audit. This will help you avoid unwanted issues with the site and boost its speed to turn the whole selling process in a fun and smooth experience.