Instagram is pure awesomeness. Since I started using it just over two years ago, I have posted over 3,400 photos (no problem with finding content to share) — mostly of my kids (due to their above-average cuteness). If Instagram ever goes under, I’ll basically lose the family photo album.
But is Instagram more than just a personal photo album? Can it be used to drive sales, attract revenue, and increase your profitability? Can you sell digital goods on Instagram?
The answer is yes. Read on to find out how to do it without spamming hashtags.
How to Sell on Instagram [10 easy steps]
Ten easy to follow steps that will teach you how to sell products on Instagram.
1. Place a link prominently in your profile.
The key to a sellable Instagram presence is your profile. This is the only spot in Instagram that you can place a clickable link. The single most important takeaway here is to create a brief, compelling description with a link to your site.
Check out Patagonia’s brief description. It sums up the brand with a short, but memorable description, then provides a link.
Clicking on the link prompts the user to go further, and to visit the brand’s website.
JCrew makes it even briefer with their single-word profile description: “snapped.” At least they have a link.
One Instagram ebook seller, @theebookbug doesn’t have a website, because they engage sales solely through their Facebook account. They use a private account to garner members and gain loyalty. Here’s how they sell ebooks:
You may not have a website, but at least you have a place where you sell your goods — another social media outlet, perhaps. That’s no problem at all, especially considering that Sellfy works *anywhere, *as long as you have a link. Determine where you make most of your sales, and post that link.
2. Find followers, and get social.
In one sense, Instagram is like Twitter. Common courtesy suggests that you should follow back those who follow you. At the very least, followbacks suggest that you’re being social and active. Furthermore, if users visit your Instagram profile and find that you’re just following a paltry few, they become less likely to follow you. This bit of advice is primarily for smaller brands. If you’re a huge brand like WalMart, it’s less important to follow back your users.
3. Use great pictures.
Good pictures mean more sharing potential. Avoid the instantaneous urge to post a blurry, grainy, or dark picture. People want to see and enjoy what you’re posting.
4. Make use of text.
Even though Instagram is a photo-based sharing site, it provides a great opportunity post text-based images. For example, @laurengleisberg sells diet plans and health coaching. In addition to her instructional fitness photos, she posts inspirational quotes.
There are several great Android and iOS apps that allow you to spice up an Instagram photo with text.
5. Use a call to action or feedback on your photos to engage interaction.
Once you start getting interaction on your photo — beyond a modicum of likes — you’re doing well. The important thing here is to post in such a way that you’re inviting that interaction. It doesn’t need to be overt; it just needs to be inviting. For example, Keith Urban’s recent selfie unleashed a torrent of comments that gave his Instagram a boost.
Urban’s goal is brand exposure, not digital sales. However, you can post photos that pose a question, invite feedback, or stir up a discussion. This is the feedback strategy which improves social signals.
To be more direct, you can encourage viewers to click on your profile link, visit your site, or purchase your product.
6. Post at least twice a day.
There’s no magic number of posts per day that you need for Instagram success. However, the optimal average is at least twice daily. At this rate, you’ll be posting regularly enough, but not wasting your time and annoying your followers with excessive posting.
**7. Post on Sunday and Thursday at least. **
According to stats from Buffer, most of the big brands post on Thursday, following the tried and true wisdom of most social media sites. Instagram, however, is slightly different. The best day for posting is most likely Sunday.
(Photo credit, Track Maven and Buffer)
8. Use hashtags
Ah, hashtags — that wonderful magic of the social media world. Instagram is a hashtagger’s paradise. Here are a few tips on hashtagging.
Use event-focused hashtags for special occasions. If you’ve got a blitz sale, a Christmas special, or just a unique angle you’d like to address, create a unique hashtag for the occasion.
Hashtag your brand. Your own personal brand deserves its own hashtag. If your brand name is unique enough, then hashtag it. If, however, your indie band is named Milk, then the simple #milk hashtag won’t cut it. Instead, you need to create a unique hashtag, such as #milkindieband.
Use popular hashtags. Hashtags give Instagram browsers to happen upon your brand as they go on a hashtag tour. Let’s say, someone is following their friend who posts a #nofilter. He casually taps the #nofilter tag. (Since there are nearly 50 million #nofilter tagged photos, he’ll have a lot of browsing to do.) Nonetheless, he’ll come across a recent photo that you posted of a #sunset. Instantly, you’ve got brand exposure from a hitherto unreachable potential customer. That’s the power of hashtags — free advertising to virtually everyone in the Instagram community.
Don’t overdo it. Some people go hashtag hogwild, unleashing a veritable fury of the pound sign. People think it’s funny to hashtag phrases or sentences describing their Instagram, or trying (once again) to post the world’s longest hashtag.
9. Find other users in your niche, and follow them.
As you’re searching for a bigger fan base, try to find users who are in your niche. You can do this by using, once again, hashtags. For example, search for hashtags that pertain to your niche, and check out who else is posting photos with that hashtag. These could be people to follow, and who may also follow you back.
10. Comment on the users and photos in your niche.
In addition to following and being followed by the people in your niche, it’s also helpful to interact within your niche. This can be as simple as commenting “great photo!” on great photos, asking questions, and liking photos.
In order to be truly successful on Instagram, you must be proactive. Don’t expect followers to come flocking just because you showed up. Instead, go out and seek IGers in your niche, and get social.
If you’re looking for more in-depth guide on how to sell on Instagram, check out this ebook by Ksenia Zaharova called “How to Sell on Instagram: The Ultimate Guide“.
Over to You
Instagram is a powerful platform for selling, but be sure to understand it’s not a direct sales channel. It can be a part of your lead generation efforts, and hopefully with these tips you now know more about how to sell on Instagram.
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