Last week we posted an article on how to use Instagram for your business, detailing the steps to growing your Instagram following with qualified prospects (customers). Once you’ve accomplished the task of building that base, the time will have arrived when you can actually begin selling to your following. And while Instagram has just launched great new business tools for brands there are ways to start selling without using paid Instagram ads. But this must be done with care, otherwise you will find followers dwindling into the double digits. Today we look at a few key tips to selling your offering to users on Instagram.
4 Tips to Selling Your Product or Service on Instagram without Using Paid/Sponsored Ads
- Showcase Your Offering in the Best Light
You’re on the biggest photo sharing network in the world, be sure to feature the best of your best. Present photo captures of your products in a true light. Use editing tools (i.e. Google Snapseed) to enhance them, but avoid over-distorting them with unnecessary editing filters.
If your product looks great on its own you can display them as such. Everything from clothing and accessories to cars and real estate can be conveyed in a snap. But also remember to show your products in use. Nothing connects the customer to your offer better than the opportunity to envision themselves in the position of enjoying the product. Feature satisfied (and willing) customers in possession of their new purchase. Turn customers into impromptu models after buying clothing or accessories from your store. Allow the proud owner of a new car the opportunity to show and shine by snapping a pic of them at the wheel. Contribute to the new family photo album of a household once they’ve taken possession of their new home, complete with the kids playing in the front yard. You get the idea.
Showcase highly engaging photos of your offering and you will have set the table for selling on Instagram.
- Use Hashtags that Sell
Use popular (with over 10K posts) hashtags that detail your product and its benefits. This will allow your offering to be found by existing and new followers alike. For example, if you sell cars, hashtag the brand (i.e. #ford 10.2+ million posts), brand specifics (i.e. #fordmustang 585K+ posts) and brand connectors that Instagrammers have fostered (i.e. #fordlife 67K+ posts).
Also use applicable general product hashtags that are being used on Instagram. This especially necessary when brand hashtags don’t have enough visibility. Using a wedding planning business as a new example, you may consider #weddingplanner (2.07 million posts) and others like it. By attaching your city to the product/service (i.e. #vancouverwedding 41K+ posts) you attract local buyers which is especially important for local businesses. Businesses serving online customers will see even greater success.
Feel free to append “for sale” to your hashtag mix. Connect it to your product (i.e. #condoforsale) and to your locale. Some products are more applicable than others with the #forsale hashtag. For instance, #artforsale (560K+ posts) makes sense. Research the Tag category to find out what applies to your offering. While #forsale is more popular for some products and places than others, the few users that do search these actionable hashtags are far more likely to buy than the rest.
- Change the Link in Your Bio to Feature Access to Your Offer
The biggest beef that brands have had with Instagram marketing is the lack of ability to link a post to a website landing page where a user can take an action (buy, sign-up, etc.). However, you are allowed to change the link in your bio. Thus, consider Instagram campaigns where you feature a certain offer and within the post/s you write a caption that encourages the user to click the link in your bio to take the prescribed action (buy, sign-up, etc.). Do this once per week, and create a website landing page URL specifically targeted to Instagram users who would only find this page when clicking the updated bio link. Your website analytics will tell you if Instagram is sending this qualified referral traffic to your landing page, and if they are being converted into customers or clients.
- Promotional Imagery (in Moderation)
This is connected to item #3 above. While you hope that a user will read your caption (encouraging them to click the link in your bio) they remain more likely to view only your image (until they become loyal followers). Thus, your highly engaging image (as per item #1 above) will have to do the talking. Every once in awhile (certainly not each and every post) you can add text to your image (a simple mobile app such as Diptic does the job) to encourage viewers to take the same action. Alternatively this appended text can provide an exclusive (to Instagram followers) promo-code (discount, giveaway, etc.) for redemption. Do this only once or twice per week (assuming daily posting) or you run the risk of spamming users and followers.
It’s important to remember that having a strong social media profile (Instagram included) is great for branding and has many indirect benefits for your business, benefits that indeed lead to future action (sales, sign-ups, etc.). Thus, even though it won’t necessarily be easy to sell on Instagram, it’s worth the effort for so many reasons. And if you indeed apply the above tips to your campaign and find that you’re able to gain customers you will have unlocked the door to true success on this highly engaging social network.