Do you have an Instagram account yet?!  If you’re a small-to-medium sized business owner, you should consider getting one… yesterday.

If you run an online store or product-based business of any kind, it’s past time to ramp up your presence on Instagram.  According to Business Insider and Socialbakers, Instagram posting has now taken over Twitter, with posts from big brands receiving almost 50 times the engagement on Instagram than they do on similar social platforms. We are all witnessing the rise of the visual web, a rise that started when Pinterest first appeared on the social scene in 2010.  Pinterest continues to flourish but Instagram is now dominating a considerable portion of the social media market, with over 300 million active users in 2015.  Ignoring this photo-sharing platform is a mistake that most online store owners should avoid.

instagram

Use Instagram to promote your online reputation, as well as products and company culture!

Because Instagram is newly trending in the eCommerce business arena, some business owners may not know exactly what it is.  Instagram is basically a social media app that is downloaded to a phone or other mobile device.  It was made for sharing photos and short videos but has become a powerful marketing tool for many business owners.  It is similar to Twitter and Facebook in the sense that everyone has a profile, a constantly updating news feed and followers, but is visually focused, featuring photographs and movie clips instead of simple test posts.  Facebook actually acquired Instagram for 1 billion dollars in 2012, which has helped the recent surge in its popularity and made it more of a marketing tool for business owners around the world.  The good news is that you don’t have to be a great photographer to use Instagram. Equipped with just an iPhone, you can easily start to promote your eCommerce products to a large audience.

It may take some time for a new Instagrammer to get ahead of the learning curve and understand how this visual social platform works for eCommerce businesses. To build your active fan base and generate sales revenue for your online store quickly, you need to work according to a well-structured action plan.  Doing so will help you use Instagram to promote your online store with little time lost.

Here are some tips to help you work out an effective plan for promoting your online business on Instagram –

  1. Build Connections
    Of course, you’re on Instagram to promote your eCommerce store and increase the sale of your products. But focusing on immediate gains can be detrimental to your marketing efforts. You should always treat Instagram as what it fundamentally is – a social media platform. Build connections and post more non-promotional content to keep your profile social.
    From day one, you should think about your audience and what they are looking for.  Do this while making it clear to them what your eCommerce business stands for, how it is different from the competition and why they should buy from your online store. To build connections, you need to be informative, educational and entertaining.
    Always keep the specific requirements of your ideal customer in mind when you post content to your Instagram account.
  2. Post Regularly
    When promoting an online store, remember to post frequently. You must have heard the adage – ‘Out of sight, out of mind’.  If you show up consistently in their social media feeds, you’ll keep yourself in the mind of your target audience and prospective buyers. Try to post at least 2-3 times a day while also focusing on the quality of the content that you share.
  3. Run a Contest
    One of the most effective ways to promote your eCommerce business on Instagram is to organize campaigns or contests. A large part of the Instagram users are youths or teens (though it’s slowly making way through the rest of us). Therefore, offering something for free by way of a contest can really work wonders. There are multiple useful tools that you can use to make your contests effective.
    In any case, you should not forget to abide by the promotion guidelines set forth by Instagram. Be creative and work out a contest that’s simple enough for your audience to participate in.
  4. Share ‘Behind the Scenes’ Images
    As an online store owner, you may feel tempted to post as many product images as you can. Product images are good, in fact they’re great when used right. But too many of them, every single day, may not go down well with users. To keep it interesting, you should also post photos of the activities that are performed behind the scenes. For example, a t-shirt store owner can post images of how those t-shirts get printed. Photos of employees at work or celebrations at office can quickly pique people’s interest in a brand.
  5. Publish Videos
    Apart from photos, Instagram also allows you to share short-length (up to 15 seconds) videos. Compared to still images, videos gain more traction from people of all ages. Creating videos is not an expensive affair, and you can use them to instantly attract attention on Instagram.
    The videos that you publish don’t necessarily have to be very professional or highly polished. This means  your iPhone will work too.
  6. Connect Your Post to Your Website
    On Instagram, you can also include the URL of your eCommerce website or its pages. If you post the image of a product, for example, you can include the corresponding URL in the image description part to make it easy for users to gather detailed information about that product.

Instagram is undoubtedly the rising star in social media marketing. A single picture or video allows you connect with your target audience, showing them the kind of culture that thrives in your company.  It can add to your online reputation in positive ways as it allows followers to get a feel of what makes your online store worth shopping.  And, if used sparingly, posting quality product images on Instagram can drive targeted traffic into your website, increasing sales and traffic.  Instagram is the current growing trend in social media.  Don’t wait too long to take advantage of its many benefits.

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