How to Use Instagram to Increase Sales
1. Add a Link in Your Bio
One drawback to Instagram is the inability to add links to photo captions. To work around that hindrance, tell your followers to click the link in your bio. When editing your bio, you can enter a website URL; use that space wisely by linking to a specific page where customers can easily find the products you showcased in your photos. For example, many clothing stores link to a Shop Our Instagram page, where customers can tap a photo and go directly to the linked page to purchase the items they’ve been checking out.
2. Use Hashtags
Posting relevant content on Instagram is great, but adding hashtags can help you take your social strategy to the next level. For instance, by adding hashtags like #TBT for Throwback Thursday or #ootd for Outfit of the Day will increase your visibility in searches. In addition, industry-specific tags will help you reach your target audience more efficiently.
If you’re going to utilize hashtags, ensure that you keep your captions polished. Instead of adding hashtags to your caption, add a comment to your own photo beneath the caption which features relevant hashtags. Your photos will still show up in hashtag searches, but you won’t have a long, distracting caption.
3. Make a Story
Many customers love seeing a behind the scenes look at what your business is up to. Although Snapchat was once the place to go for posting short videos, Instagram now makes it fun and easy to share stories. In an article for Forbes, Lisa Montenegro (Founder and President of Digital Marketing Experts) explains that Instagram stories disappear after 24 hours like Snapchat, but make great bonus content to go alongside the staged photos featured on your Instagram page.
4. Invest in Paid Ads
Instagram allows businesses to purchase photo or video ads that will show up in the photo streams of their target audience, along with story ads that show up when users are watching stories from accounts they follow.
To do this, utilize The Ads Manager tool to set your ad objective, focus on your target audience, and set a budget that will determine how frequently your ad will show up and for how long. One of the most important features of a paid ad is that you can include a link directly in the post. Customers can simply swipe up to get more information or tap a link to go to your website.
5. Promote Posts
If you’ve already posted a photo that you think would be the perfect advertisement for your small business, you can turn it into an ad. All you need to do is select the photo from your account and click the Promote button. You’ll be prompted to set the same guidelines that you would for any other ad. Then, Instagram will give you updates on how your post is doing, so you can determine if it’s a successful ad or not.
6. Host a Contest or Giveaway
Everyone loves freebies, and giving products away through Instagram is a great way to increase your follower count. Start by deciding what you’ll be giving away, then create rules for the contest. Post a photo of the items you’ll be giving away, with a caption explaining the rules. Ask visitors to follow your page and like the photo as part (or all) of their entry. You can also ask entrants to repost the photo, tag friends, and visit your website for extra entries. Be sure to read and follow the Promotion Guidelines from Instagram before beginning your giveaway, to prevent your account from being flagged or removed.
7. Partner with Influencers
An Instagram influencer is someone with a large following on the platform who promotes their favorite brands and products.
To start a successful partnership, find an influencer with an audience that matches your target audience and reach out with incentives, ranging from discount codes to free products to review.
8. Find Out What’s Working and What Isn’t
There are plenty of ways to use Instagram to increase your small business’s sales, but not every tip is right for every business. Measuring the success of each post can help you decide where to focus your time and effort going forward, and show you which techniques aren’t working. To do this, consider utilizing Hootsuite, which offers a list of analytics tools for monitoring your account’s activity. Find the tools that work best for you, and use them to learn more about how Instagram can help you grow.
With low costs and engaged audiences, social media platforms like Instagram can be a smart and valuable tool for small businesses. Find the strategies that work best for your business, build your following, and continue to make great content that will convert those views to sales.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.