Once heavy-hitter Facebook is dwindling in relevance, leaving room for Instagram to assert itself as a top contender for social sharing sites. With an audience of 100 million active users uploading over 40 million pictures a day, Instagram has great potential for a brand to drive awareness. Instagram is more than just a hub of dinner plate pictures and cats looking grumpy – it’s a powerful tool. Not to mention, one that can drive sales.
A photo streaming app used heavily by millennials to post selfies can drive sales? Sounds like a lofty claim, but according to Abigail Jacobs, VP of brand marketing for West Elm, it’s not. “There’s definitely a correlation between the ones that sell the best and the ones that are on Instagram,” she says. Businesses are even installing widgets that upload their photos and communications from Instagram to their site. Why? You might ask. Pau Sabria, co-founder of the Olapic app that provides these widgets, recently shared with the New York Times that brands using the widget “on average see visitors turn into buyers increase by 5 to 7 percent.”
To encourage customers to engage with the brand and follow through with purchase, some businesses have hired brand ambassadors to carry out an array of strategic tips. Hiring a staff of people to act as the face of your social media is not an option for every seller. To gain insight into the planning of a brand ambassador, I spoke with Lexie, an ambassador at Henri Girl, a women’s boutique, to ask her how she does it. Here are Lexie’s top tips and tricks to drive sales with Instagram.
Everyone loves to feel like they got a great deal. With promo codes, you entice customers to buy with the notion that they will be getting a bargain. Not only does a discount encourage customers to follow through with purchase, it’s traceable. Lexie advertises with a promotional code customized to include her name it in. When shoppers use it online, that information is stored for Henri Girl to track its usage. With tracking, you can adjust percentage of discounts, on which products, and when you post, to test what works best for you.
Set a Schedule
Lexie has a set regimen of when, and what, she posts. Lexie posts for Henri Girl on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at least. She suggests you regiment the schedule further, and create a theme for each post day. Lexie posts a giveaway promo on Monday, a photo of herself in her favorite Henri Girl products on Wednesday, and a “20% off during a certain time frame” on Friday. She can post additional photos during the week, but the structure of her posts allows Henri Girl fans and potential customers know when to check in, and creates an expectation of what’s to come. The anticipation of knowing a new promo code will appear on a certain day leads to an increased hype around the brand.
Make It Personal
The promo/giveaway/discount posts are essential- do not skip them. It will help customers feel special, and provide them with added incentive to follow through with purchase. However, the in-between posts should be personal, and less about business. Sharing a friendly face will help foster an intimacy between you and the customer, and that is what will keep them following long enough to see the promos and giveaways. Lexie confirms that though promotional posts create direct sales, the personal ones are what help create movement around your brand. On average, Lexie will receive about 20 comments on the pictures of the contests and discounts she posts. When she uploads a picture of herself, either alone or with friends in her day-to-day while wearing something from Henri Girl – she receives 80. That engagement is what will keep your followers interested, and eventually buying.
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is not link-friendly. Instagram users are allowed one website link in their account profile...and that’s it. No bitlinks. No shortcuts. So when a business posts to their Instagram, there is no clickable link they can add directly into their upload. This can result in some confusion for customers, like where to find the store, what’s the website, etc. To circumvent this, make sure you are reading through the comments to look for any related questions a follower might have. Lexie says the most common question she gets on Instagram is where to find the store, both online and their physical storefront. If you’re only online, you should still respond to a question asking where to find you on Google maps. Let followers know where to find you, and keep the conversation open.
As a brand ambassador, Lexie thinks Instagram is an essential tool for marketing and driving sales. “Instagram is the best way to reach the market Henri Girl is all about. It’s very visual, and can be so fun. The ‘Henri Girl’ has an eye for fashion, and with Instagram, we can make sure that eye is looking our way.” Keep your Instagram followers looking, and leverage their attention into sales.
About the Author
Tiana is the Marketing Coordinator at ecomdash, an inventory management system for online sellers. She writes for the ecomdash blog, and enjoys finding creative ways to help online retailers achieve their goals.