‘Instagram is the handshake. Make it a firm one’
Love it or hate it, Instagram is quickly becoming one of the most-used social media platforms for business. While it used to be seen as an image sharing platform with funky filters, it has fast become a multi-layered, digital marketing Rubik’s Cube waiting to be solved. A staggering 1 billion people use Instagram and 60% of them discover products on Instagram, so your business can’t afford to turn a blind eye.
So, how do you convert Instagram followers into sales? Play the game, master the algorithm, and see your business soar. Like all things worth doing, cultivating a fruitful Instagram account can be time-consuming and appear thankless at first, but that’s the nature of the beast. Embrace Instagram as a platform to invite leads to move the conversation elsewhere (your website, a phone call, etc) and your sales will follow.
Switch to a Business Account
First things first, if you haven’t already, it’s time to make the switch from a personal account to a business account. This enables a number of functions:
- Categorising your business
- Adding CTA buttons (contact, call, website link, etc)
- Tracking your account’s analytics with the Insights tool. This lets you see when your followers are most active, the demographic you reach, your impressions, reach, website clicks, and more measurable data.
- Paid ads and the ability to boost posts to reach a wider audience
- Linking your Instagram to your Facebook shop catalogue and tagging products in your posts, allowing your followers to click on images and be directed to your ecommerce page
Although followers aren’t the end game, one undeniable advantage to having over 10k followers on a business account is the ‘swipe up’ feature on stories which is unlocked when you reach the golden number. Instagram only supports links in your bio, but this feature enables you to add a link to your Instagram story so viewers can access the web page of your choice (and convert) simply by swiping up. I have personally seen this feature increase web sessions by 1249% in a matter of months, and take Instagram assisted revenue from £0 to almost £4k in the same time-frame. Giving your followers a clear path to conversion with as few hurdles as possible is key, and the swipe up feature makes this much more achievable.
When people follow you on Instagram, they are buying into your brand. Look at your feed and ask yourself if it intentionally reflects your company. Is your brand presence strong?
Your followers should be able to tell they are looking at your feed without seeing your name, based on the images you post. You can create a strong brand aesthetic on Instagram by incorporating your brand colours and sharing images that reflect your values and story. We like to use Later, which lets us visualise our grid before we click ‘schedule’ to make sure it fits with who we are. Check out our blog post on creating a social media style guide for more on this.
A great example of strong brand aesthetic is Google, who deliberately peppers its feed with their brand colours in a fun and engaging way, using user-generated images of their iconic logo. It is impossible to look at this feed and not know it belongs to Google. This kind of visual consistency fosters the kind of credibility every growing business relies on.
Serve, Serve, Serve
While it can be tempting to push hard sales on everything you post, this is a sure-fire way to alienate your following. Earn your followers’ trust by following the 80/20 rule – 80% of your content should be focused on educating and engaging your audience and only 20% should be self-promotional, according to Gary Vaynerchuk, author of Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.
Check out our friends at Google once more. The majority of Google’s posts have nothing directly to do with their products. In fact, the two most recent images of the Google Pixel phone are separated by 40 photos of other things. Stupid? Or really, really smart?
Who is Google’s target audience? Google wants to serve everybody who can afford to buy their products. There is no real niche market here – if you have disposable income to spend on tech, Google loves you. And that’s their message, except not so bluntly.
So, you might ask, ‘what do Black History Month or Native American heritage Month, or puppies have to do with the new Google Pixel phone?’ The answer is nothing. These things have absolutely nothing to do with the products, and everything to do with the buyer and creating content that gives before it tries to take.
Through their content on Instagram, Google is shouting, ‘we care about diversity and we care about the things you care about. Whatever your background, demographic, whether you’re a cat person or a dog lover, we are your people…’
And then, subliminally, between the lines, they whisper,
‘…and we have amazing products for people like you, designed and created by people like you who understand’.
Does it work? As a leading tech giant, Google has a lot to lose if they get their digital marketing wrong. 9 million followers and yearly revenue of $110.8 billion suggests it’s working out for them.
Find Your People
Take a leaf out of Google’s books and start serving your people. To master digital marketing for Instagram you need to know who you are hoping to engage with. If you haven’t already, write your client persona. Knowing who your target audience is makes it much easier to produce content that makes people feel important and delivers results. With a little research online, you can find out which time of day your target demographic is most active on Instagram and which hashtags will help them find you!
Engagement > Followers
While having thousands of followers might make your business look good, this can be where it ends.
The fact of the matter is, you could have tens of thousands of followers with little to show for it in your businesses’ revenue. The goal shouldn’t be to collect followers, but to gain trust from followers who will engage and convert. This is where a few hundred followers could have a bigger impact on your business than thousands. 70% of Instagram posts don’t get seen and Instagram’s algorithm favours accounts that have genuine engagement, not necessarily accounts that have thousands of unengaged followers. So don’t be disheartened if your follower numbers are lagging behind. We’ll say it again – it’s all about the content! Set your gaze on creating useful content and genuine, engaged followers will show up, helping to make your brand even more discoverable. Start with scheduling frequent posts (aim for one a day), and sharing glimpses of ‘behind the scenes’ on your Instagram stories, using boomerangs or quick videos. Tools like Hootsuite are a great, time-saving way to schedule in bulk, or we can take care of it for you with our tailored social media marketing service.
To snap up that sale, where do you want to direct your followers to and how many steps do they need to take to get there?
There should be clear CTAs on your profile, a contact button, a website link, etc. If you want your followers to land on your blog, share excerpts or relevant snippets on your posts to entice your followers to read more by clicking the connecting link in your bio. Let’s face it, nobody wants a contract shoved in their face at the first networking event. Instagram is the same. Treat it as the coffee shop where you woo your prospective client. Save the hard sell or pitch for the board room (or in this case, your website) because if you engage well, your followers will end up there anyway.
If this all feels a tad overwhelming, don’t worry. It’s an art to master, but it’s what we do and we’re here to help! Why not give us a call or pop in for a cup of tea?