In the ever-changing world of social media platforms, Instagram is a truly formidable player. Combining the visual impact of Pinterest with the content-friendliness and engagement potential of Facebook, Instagram is a powerful way for ecommerce store owners to market their products and connect with their audience.
So why isn’t every ecommerce business thriving on Instagram? It takes considerable effort to build momentum to do so. Instagram’s algorithm favors the everyday user, and the marketers at Instagram are constantly throwing curveballs at businesses as they learn more about the needs of their broad audience. For example, the recent decision to hide hashtags has created volatile engagement rates for social media managers who thought they had their hashtag strategy down to a science.
Fortunately, with consistency and effort, it’s still more than possible for businesses to turn Instagram marketing into a vital revenue stream. Here are some strategies to get you started:
Know your audience
Understanding your audience is the root of your success on Instagram. What type of content does your audience want to see? How much text are people willing to read? Which brands and influencers do your customers follow? How do they engage with posts? Find a few representative members of your target audience on Instagram and follow them as they interact with different types of content so you can develop an understanding of what resonates.
Jump-start your progress with ads
It’s very difficult, if not impossible, for businesses to build up a significant following on Instagram 100% organically. While Instagram ads are an important part of every stage of your social strategy, they’re especially important at the beginning. Use them to reach prospective customers and develop an initial following, which will help build the momentum you need for a thriving strategy.
Take advantage of influencer marketing
Ads aren’t the only paid strategy in town. Influencer marketing can be just as effective as traditional paid advertising; often, it’s even more effective. Users have a habit of skimming over and ignoring ads, but they’ll take time to explore content coming from their favorite influencers.
There are a number of ways to find prospective influencers for your brand, from online platforms that let you browse through various profiles to manually reaching out to people who are admired in your industry. As you vet possible influencers, keep in mind that audience fit is more important than audience size. You don’t want to pay top dollar for an influencer with the same reach as a celebrity if their audience isn’t a ready fit for the products you sell. Create a bigger impact with far less money by targeting industry influencers with a highly niche audience.
Experiment with different types of content
If you’re not yet sure what resonates with your audience most, there’s only one way to find out: try something. Give yourself the freedom to experiment with different types of content, and monitor what gets the most traction so you can adjust your posts in the future. You’ll find yourself gradually moving in a certain direction as you learn what your audience likes best, and before you know it, you’ll have your brand voice down to a science.
Above all else, stay consistent with your efforts. Stick with a posting schedule over the long term; it can take months to build up a loyal following. Make a habit of engaging with your fans and followers, answering their questions and thanking them for their comments. Brainstorm fun and creative ways to give back to them through contests, discounts, live Q&As, and more.
A strategic approach to Instagram will serve you well, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of room to have fun. Delegate your Instagram strategy to someone who genuinely enjoys using the platform, whether that’s you or a team member. Your enthusiasm will shine through to your audience, and they’ll reflect that enthusiasm back by becoming some of your most loyal, life-long customers.