3 Tips to Grow Sales Using Instagram

Instagram 570x300Instagram is rapidly approaching Facebook and Twitter levels in social media popularity. Instead of providing real-time updates via words, users post photos with short captions and hashtags – it’s literally a snapshot in time. And for e-commerce site owners, Instagram can be a highly effective advertising channel to showcase products and engage customers.

Here are 3 tips to help you use Instagram to its best advantage for your e-commerce store:

Tip 1: Timing is everything. Take a look at the engagement level of past posts via your comments section. For detailed statistics around the timing of posts and how much engagement they drive, take a look at a program like IconoSquare. With IconoSquare, for example, within minutes you’ll receive an email with data such as the number of followers that “like” and comment on your posts, plus how engaging your posts are – or aren’t! – to those who don’t follow you already. Instagram users typically follow a mix of friends and businesses, and the feed moves quickly. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, only one Instagram post at a time is visible on a phone or tablet screen, so your well-thought-out post could easily be 10 to 20 posts down within minutes! The key is finding that sweet spot of low activity and high readership! Once you’ve determined a pattern, be sure to post on the days and at the times when engagement is highest. If those particular times don’t work for you, consider an Instagram scheduling program like ScheduGram. You can line up several posts to go up at certain intervals, which not only gets them seen at optimal times, but also frees you up for other activities.

Tip 2: Figure out the best hashtags and filters. Make it easy for Instagram users to find your products using search terms that will bring them to your posts. Avoid popular hashtags like #happy and #shopping that don’t relate directly to your store and products; do keyword research via sites like IconoSquare and Webstagram that will give you lots of effective options. For example, if you sell handmade jewelry, type #handmadejewelry into the search function on Webstagram, and you’ll get a list of similar hashtags along with their popularity; for this example, popular hashtags include #handmadejewelryforsale and #handmadejewelrydesign. Other popular hashtags include names and locations, so you can even personalize your hastags like #handmadejewelrybymary and #handmadejewelrysandiego.

Filters are an Instagram photo-editing feature. Many replicate the look of old or retro-style photographs, and others allow you to do quick color corrections (such as Amaro and Mayfair) or evoke a certain mood, like Early Bird and Toaster. As far as filters go, your first objective is to show your products and other photo posts to their best advantage. However, research once again plays a key role, so study the data from sources like IconoSquare to see which filters resonate the most with your followers. You may love the look of the Brannan filter, but if your target demographic responds to Early Bird, that’s your cue to go for the retro vibe!

Tip 3: Find new followers via your competitors. Pay attention to your competitors’ Instagram accounts. When their followers like or comment on posts, take the time to follow those users yourself, and start liking and commenting on their photos. For many Instagram users, a large following is a tremendous point of pride, so don’t be afraid to reach out! Include additional information in your profile, such as your city or industry, which will help provide more common ground among those interested in your field or geographic area. And, as is true with all social media, the more you are engaged with these potential customers, the more likely they are to be interested in your e-commerce store. Finally, once you get in this habit, be sure to post regularly on your own account so your new followers don’t lose track of you!

The Bottom Line
Remember, the name of the game in social media is social! Be yourself, show your pride in your brand and products, and be willing to engage with followers. You may find that Instagram can be a picture-perfect addition to your online marketing plan.