More Prospects And Sales With Instagram
You would have to be hiding under a rock not to have heard about Instagram. It’s been around for years, but the boom in mobile phones with cameras has rocketed to one of the top 20 websites in the world.
What is Instagram?
Instagram is a social network for sharing photos and videos, ideally from a Smartphone. Take the picture, upload it, and share it with your followers. Think of it as Twitter for images, or a simplified version of Facebook, with images and video the main content formats. (Facebook recently bought Instagram.)
Every time you post an image and a link to a page at your site, your followers will see it and be able to like, comment, and share through an embed code. They can share to a specific person by typing in the person’s name and appending the “at” symbol (@). Hashtag sharing is also an option.
A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by a hash or number sign (#). It’s often used to identify messages on a specific topic. #cockerspaniel would be an example of a hashtag. If you clicked on it, you would be taken to a page with images of cocker spaniels (currently more than 3 million).
Note that unethical marketers often try to deceive or tick readers by using popular hashtags on unrelated content. Always create valuable content for the people in your target audience and avoid spamming. Choose hashtags carefully to make sure they obviously pertain to the item. Marginally related tags may be flagged as spam.
Why use Instagram?
As with all social sites, Instagram will give you increased visibility. If you love to take pictures or have a lot of high-quality images of your products and services, it’s easy enough to post from your phone or even from your desktop with the help of a browser extension (such as Website for Instagram, which you can add to your Google Chrome browser).
Since Instagram is now owned by Facebook, you can also be confident that it will be growing by leaps and bounds. In addition, you can now run Facebook ads on Instagram. They offer a number of different ad formats and ways to create the ad, including right from your mobile phone.
Instagram ads are a relatively new phenomenon, so there is less information and therefore the price will be cheaper. Best of all, the ads will be highly targeted thanks to Facebook’s audience targeting. Select by age, marital status, location, interests and more.
It also means tapping into an audience that tends to be younger, more tech-savvy, well educated, and in a higher income bracket. More than 60% of 18 to 29-year old use it, and more than 33% of those 30 to 49. The audience tends to be female and live in an urban area. One-third of all users earn between $50,000 and $75,000. If this looks like the type of audience you would like to attract, it’s time to start marketing on Instagram.
Note that if you wish to run your ad on both Facebook and Instagram, the image has to be at least 600 x 600 pixels square.
Getting started with Instagram
As with all social media sites, your starting point will be a great profile. Linking to your Facebook account for your login is a good idea, so you don’t have to remember lots of passwords and can connect to the Facebook ads platform as and when needed. Be sure you link to your business Facebook account, not your personal one.
- Your thumbnail image – Once you are linked, it should carry over your thumbnail image.
- Your description – Add your description. Use keywords to help make it more discoverable.
- Add a URL – Include a URL. It will be visible right in your profile and can be clicked directly so visitors can learn more about your business right away.
Note that for some reason, Google Analytics can’t track traffic from Instagram on mobile. Consider creating a custom URL in bit.ly for the link to your landing page. Analytics can track it and help you see how much of your traffic is coming from your account. You can also track the traffic in the bit.ly interface as well. Use your Facebook account to create a free bit.ly account. Click on the top-right. “Create link” and add the URL you want to track. Copy the shortened bit.ly link onto your profile page and save.
In order to generate leads, use your custom URL to send them to a landing page for a free e-book or e-course that would have wide appeal to the people in your niche.
For example, if you are in the pet industry, consider giving them an e-course on how to train a new puppy, or deal with common behavioral issues such as chewing, barking and so on. Once they are on your email marketing list, you will be able to develop a relationship with them and market products and services.
The most obvious use for Instagram is to show off your products and service. Add a link in the “blurb” section under your image, and they will be able to click to buy. Include an image of every product you sell, and add new images when you launch a new product.
Don’t worry if you are just starting out and don’t have any products of your own to sell yet. Keep growing your list. Become an affiliate and post your specially coded links on Instagram and in your emails to your marketing lists. Each time someone buys from the link, you will earn the commission.
Posting your content
The key thing to remember in terms of your images is that they have to be square. You will need to edit your images on your desktop, using the free Paint program, for example, to crop, resize and so on. Some people will just add a square background to a rectangular image rather than re-size everything. For example, if you are selling books, the book cover will be portrait orientation. You can lay your cover in the center.
If your image is longer length-wise than height-wise, you would center it in the middle top to bottom. However, beware of exceptionally wide images. It might be best to re-size them. The recommended image size is 1080 x 1080 pixels.
Note that if you are posting via desktop, it will not allow you to delete the images. If you want to delete through the mobile app, click on the three dots on the upper right-hand corner and click “Delete.”
If you are posting directly from your phone, keep a couple of things in mind. Remember the image has to be square, so try to position the main object of interest in the picture as close to the middle as possible.
Editing your images
You can crop, edit, or adjust as needed in the Edit menu within the app. You can also apply various filters to make the image look more attractive. Here’s how.
Remember, a picture can be worth a thousand words, so keep in mind what your images say about your business.
Cross-posting on Instagram
Use hashtags to post your images on relevant topic boards. Create your own custom hashtags as well to track the response you get to certain images. Then you can see how much buzz you are creating.
Cross-posting on other networks
Posting on Instagram can also mean cross-posting on a number of other networks, including Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. This handy shortcut will help you keep your accounts fresh and up to date.
Search for people with similar interests so you can follow them. Increase your visibility by liking and commenting. Just click on their name and you will be able to learn more about them. Once they post content, you will be able to see it in your feeds.
Include keywords in your profile and your image blurbs/descriptions to make it easy for people to find and follow you. Once they follow you, they will be able to see your content in their feeds.
Connecting with others
Once you use Facebook to set up your account, click on the heart icon on the upper right of your screen and it will make suggestions as to who you might wish to connect with. Follow them if you think their content will match what your target audience will wish to see. Don’t follow too many non-niche-related people, however, as your feed can start to get very cluttered and you will have to do a lot of scrolling to find what you want to like, comment on and share.
You can send images privately to up to 15 of your friends/followers in the app. You can also share items from your feed directly with people through messenger.
Your videos can be up to 1 minute in length.
Consider creating an ad from your most popular content in order to increase your profile online. See which posts are getting the largest number of likes and comments. Set your target audience and watch your traffic and leads grow.
Send your audience to your best content pages
Post images related to your best content your target audience has responded well to. This will help position you as an expert and keep them coming back for more.
Promote your colleagues, and vice versa
Share their content, like and comment, and chances are they will be willing to do the same for you.
Connect with influencers
Social media influencers are people who have a large following on a particular network and can, therefore, sway opinion significantly. Interacting with the content on their account can make your brand and business more visible. Just don’t be too pushy. Whatever you post, make sure it is helpful.
Create ads in different formats
There are 4 formats to choose from:
Photo and video are self-explanatory, and the easiest ads to set up. With a carousel, you can create an ad using more than 1 photo and/or video. Imagine you are launching a new product. Your carousel might include a 360-degree view of the item, followed by a video that shows the features, benefits, and happy buyers using it successfully and improving their lives in some way.
A story is a relatively new feature imitated from the other popular social media site Snapchat. A story is a photo or video that you post which will last only 24 hours and then disappear. There are no likes or comments.
Stories are a way of posting lively, interesting content, such as a behind-the-scenes look at your company. It creates buzz and can build relationships by creating content that will entice the viewer to want to learn more. Think of it as a quick movie trailer, inviting you to visit to learn more.
To see stories in your account, look up at the top of the page. You should see their round icon and be able to click on it. This could be perfect for creating a “Flash sale” with a special discount for 24 hours only. If you’re going to do this, include a special URL on the image itself to help them find it.
To publish your own story, tap your own photo bubble from the main feed, or swipe right on any tab to access the stories camera tab. Then add your content.
Less is more. It gives you a better chance of likes and comments and therefore more visibility.
Link to your Instagram account
Once you have a great-looking account, link to it so people can follow you. As with many things in online marketing these days, you can get ahead of the curve compared to businesses who don’t yet understand the value of Instagram marketing. For those in the know, you will show you are too by having a great account.
Follow the Instagram blog
It can give you hints, tips, and insights on how to make the most of your account and the free tools available. It will also keep you in the know about any new features they roll out.
Instagram is now part of Facebook, so if you have not started using it yet, this might be the perfect time to start planning content and an editorial calendar for regular postings of images, short videos, and stories. As with any social media account, you have to be in it to win it. Fortunately, it is easy, fun and can help you develop more leads and sales quickly, particularly in relation to a younger audience you might not be tapping into yet.