If you own an up-and-coming eCommerce business, Instagram is the place to be.
According to data from SelfStartR, Instagram’s reach has increased by 115% since 2012, while, for example, Facebook’s reach has gone down instead.
Instagram also gets you 58% more engagement per follower than Facebook, and the average order value associated with Instagram engagement is $10 higher
The Instagram market is not as saturated as you would think, either: only 36% of marketers use Instagram as a part of their marketing strategy.
This means that using Instagram effectively can give you the leverage you need to successfully compete with faceless eCommerce giants as well as smaller brand names.
Here are our top 7 tips for building an Insta-friendly eCommerce brand today.
Hire a photographer
Instagram is all about the visual appeal of your content, so hiring a professional photographer is an easy way to stand out from other eCommerce brands just starting out on Instagram.
It does not have to cost a fortune, either. You can even hire a photography student with a professional camera and an eye for detail.
Doing a professional photoshoot will give you a series of high-quality, on-brand photos that will make your Instagram feed look both beautiful and consistent. Plus, setting up regular sessions with a professional photographer will help you make sure that you are never out of fresh content to post on your feed.
Check out the competition
Chances are, at least some of your main competitors are already using Instagram to market their products.
Discovering what types of images, hashtags, and captions work for them can give you a pretty good idea of how to build an Insta-friendly eCommerce brand for yourself.
While you could perform your own hashtag research, a quick hack is to simply copying others. Make a shortlist of your closest competitors, check out their Instagram and make a note of what you feel works and what doesn’t.
But don’t just stop at their feed - follow their Instagram stories for a while to see what they are up to on a day-to-day basis.
Remember, the goal here is to understand what is already working, not copy their tactics and strategies exactly.
There is no need to reinvent the Instagram wheel completely, but you are going to want to find a way to put a unique spin on what’s already out there.
Follow their followers
If you are starting to grow your eCommerce brand from zero, you are probably going to need to look for some Instagram followers first. Checking out who is following your competitors is a great place to start. You can “steal their audience” by following the accounts that already follow your competition and seem to fit within your target market or niche.
Don’t just stop at following them, either. Engage with them. Social media is all about interacting with others, so like and comment on their posts to make your brand stand out.
You can even send them a direct message letting them know that you have an online store that caters to their needs.
However, make sure to avoid coming off as pushy or salesy. The power of Instagram lies in its ability to establish a personal connection between brands and consumers, so be thoughtful and considerate in your interactions.
Create a brand guide
There is nothing worse than an inconsistent Instagram feed.
Why? Because consistency breeds trust and trust leads to sales. Look at any successful website out there today that’s actually making sales, and you’ll see scores of engaging brands that display a brand strategy that is coherent and consistent — one that rings true with their followers.
Therefore, if you want your eCommerce brand to be Insta-friendly, you need to make sure the visuals and the messaging you are putting out there are consistent and cohesive. How? By creating and enforcing strict brand guidelines.
Don’t rely on your team to keep things consistent on their own.
Instead, hire a designer to create a brand guide for you detailing everything from your color scheme to your preferred fonts, to the different variations of your logo and their uses.
(Bonus points if you create a brand “Dos and Don’ts” guidelines for your captions.)
For a DIY version, check out Canva’s brand board templates, and keep one around when you are designing and writing your Instagram posts.
Create a brand hashtag
A custom brand hashtag helps you create some much-need Instagram buzz around your store and gives you an easy way to see user-generated posts all in one place.
You can use your business name, your tagline, or another creative phrase as your brand hashtag.
Just make sure to let your audience know what it is by putting it in your Instagram bio and adding it to every single post you make.
Run a contest
Contests and giveaways will get you more followers quickly.
They will also help you build up your brand’s reputation, especially if you collaborate with a couple of Instagram influencers in your niche.
Figure out what’s something your audience would want to win (e.g. a gift card to a popular store), then create an eye-catching giveaway graphic to post on your feed.
The giveaway rules can vary based on your goals, but most brands tell their audience to like the photo and follow their account for a chance to win.
You can also ask your audience to repost your picture with an @mention, which will show it to their followers as well.
However, make sure to follow through and pick a winner promptly after the giveaway ends to avoid earning a bad rep on Instagram.
Use Instagram stories
Last but not least, don’t forget about Instagram stories.
Over 300 million people watch Instagram stories every day, and the “swipe up” function gives you an easy way to link to specific products in your online store and get those sales rolling in.
Film short product tutorials, go behind the scenes of your business, send a personal message, or host an influencer takeover to generate some buzz.
The possibilities are endless.
Instagram is a much less saturated platform than Facebook, and there’s plenty of room for a new eCommerce brand to grow. Follow the tips above and build a strong Insta-friendly online store today.
About the Author: Patrick Foster is an eCommerce writer from Ecommerce Tips, an online library and resource of everything you’d ever need to start building an online store. From design to marketing, Patrick has you covered. Head over to Twitter today @myecommercetips to find all the latest.