Over 120 million Instagrammers took some form of action after seeing an Instagram ad in March 2017. Whether by visiting a website, calling, emailing or direct messaging the company behind the ad, that's around a third of users positively responding to advertising on the platform.
Along with this, 60% of Instagram users say they learn about products and services through the network, organically and via ads, with 75% saying they visited a site or referred a friend after seeing an Instagram post.
This is promising news for brands looking to reach customers on the network and make more sales. People are happy to engage with branded content, so what can you do to take advantage of this?
Do the groundwork
If you’d like to grow your business using Instagram, then you should optimise your account first. Why not review your Instagram profile, here’s your to do list:
Revisit the basics – rewrite your bio and update your profile image.
Set up analytics – if you’ve not already, switch to a Business Account on Instagram which will allow you to access basic stats for your account.
Evaluate your photos – Are your photos good enough? Accounts which gather followers and loyal fans invest in quality photographs that reflect their brand.
Schedule or plan your content – Plan the photos you’ll post and their accompanying hashtags and captions on a regular basis – that could be monthly and weekly. This approach means you can evenly spread your messaging and plan around campaigns, trends and new products.
To learn more about sprucing up your Instagram account, read our post on refreshing your Instagram strategy.
Instagram analytics, available to business accounts, are basic but provide an excellent way of knowing what your customers want. The data it provides helps you to refine what you post and post more of what people have responded to in the past.
You can use analytics to track:
Follower growth and behaviour
Impressions, reach, profile views, website clicks, email clicks
Follower demographics (gender, age, location)
The demographics data will help you understand who your followers are. Are these your typical customers, or has the data surprised you? Are you posting the right content that appeals to these people? You can also see when people are active on Instagram, and schedule your posts around those days and times.
Post-performance allows you to see which posts performed the best using a variety of metrics – impression, reach, engagement, likes, comments and saves. Whilst you won’t be able to see any conversion data here you should pick which metric is the most important to you, and judge your post performance on that.
Also, don’t forget to use Google Analytics alongside Instagram. Create goals that track how many conversions you receive from Instagram visitors, and measure these on an ongoing basis. You should also compare these with other social networks so you can decide which networks are the best for your business.
Create giveaways and contests
A healthy following of relevant people (not bots!) is important if you want to start making sales on Instagram. Simply, more people are likely to see your content. Giveaways are a fantastic way to scale your Instagram account with relatively little expenditure, opening it up to new potential customers and encouraging your loyal fans to spread the word.
The best mechanism for running a giveaway on Instagram is to encourage people to tag a friend (or two, or three) in the comments to enter the competition. At the end of the giveaway you pick a winner and the prize goes to them. By using the tagging method new people will find your account, enter the competition and most likely follow you too.
Your customers are choosing who they think would be your best customer, from their own Instagram friends. You’re getting them to do the legwork and research for you 😊
Here are some examples of competitions from a variety of brands and industries:
Try Instagram advertising
Using the powerful Facebook advertising platform, Instagram ads allow you to create campaigns and maximise conversions to people specifically interested in your products.
Before we start talking about setting up your campaigns, here are a few golden rules:
Use advert creative that matches the network - Use creative images that reflect what’s on Instagram, match the pictures in your feed. Also, ensure they are cropped square.
Don’t duplicate from Facebook - It’s very easy to just check a box to run the same Facebook ads on Instagram, but don’t! They will look out of place and will divert your Facebook Ad budget – which can diminish the effectiveness of your Facebook campaigns overall.
Keep it simple - Most people use Instagram on mobile, that’s what it's set up for, so don’t overload them with information. Keep your captions short and your images clear and in context. This makes decision making easier and is less likely to annoy the viewer.
Don’t forget the Facebook Pixel - Install this on your website so that you can track what happens after someone clicks on your Instagram (or Facebook) ad. More data is always better!
The process of creating Instagram adverts is very like Facebook advertising, which also means you can access a large amount of data to create your perfect campaign.
You can choose to target by demography and interests – age, gender, location, language, interests, behaviours and connections.
You can choose lookalike audiences, which will show your adverts to people who are like your existing Instagram followers. Custom audiences are also available – you can upload your email list and show ads to your subscribers on Instagram. Similarly, you can retarget your website visitors showing adverts to people who visit any part of your site, or a specific landing page or product.
When starting Instagram advertising we’d recommend trying all three options and undertaking a split test. Run the adverts for at least one month with the same budget and creative, and then analyse which provided the most conversions. Once that initial test is over you can then further refine the best ad set or sets to get more value for money.
For more on refining your social media advertising, read our 5 tips for boosting ROI.
How can you maximise conversions on your adverts?
Offer a discount code. Just 10% off a purchase can be what convinces a customer to purchase.
Create dedicated landing pages. Rather than showing your homepage or a long list of products or services, try to narrow it down to aid decision making. For example, if you sell cookbooks why not create a landing page dedicated to baking and then run adverts to those who like the Great British Bake Off?
Update your ads regularly. After a while adverts become ineffective as Instagram will stop showing them to people who don’t respond, or those who are still seeing them may become fatigued by them. This means it is important to refresh your creative regularly; every 2-3 weeks is best.
Keep posting photos. Just because you’re using adverts, it doesn’t mean you should neglect your usual feed. Make sure you keep posting and engaging on Instagram, as new fans who come from adverts will find you there too.
Work with influencers
Building your Instagram presence can take time so you may want to jumpstart your sales with an influencer marketing campaign instead.
Provided you work with the right people and collaborate with them to create a campaign that entertains their audiences, then people will respond.
First, you need to find the right people, it might be a blogger, a notable person or a brand that shares your values. Find who is respected in your industry, look at the quality of their content, the types of brand collaborations they do and the size of their audience.
They could review a product, run a competition or even work on a full campaign with you. Work together to find the best way to showcase your product in a way to appeal to your key audience.
Want to learn more about influencer marketing? Read our guide to blogger outreach.
Over to you…
Instagram has 600 million users, 66% of which use the network every day, and it’s a network that’s still experiencing healthy growth each month. This presents a huge opportunity for brands who are looking to find relevant audiences in new places. With the backing of the powerful Facebook platform plus the continued interest in Instagram, it’s a great way to make sales for B2C businesses big and small.
Instagram has matured from a simple photo sharing app to a much more powerful social network and community. It’s the ideal place to find influencers, to reflect your brand style and to launch targeted advertising campaigns.
We’d recommend starting simply by getting your content schedule in order, then think about launching an advertising or influencer campaign. Any or all the recommendations in this post will help you discover new customers and importantly, understand them too.