Instagram is huge. In fact, as one of the fastest growing social media platforms in existence, this photo sharing giant has now passed 1 billion users.
That’s a pretty solid chunk of this earth’s population.
If you’re a marketer of any kind (and if you landed here, then the odds are pretty good), you need to understand the importance of Instagram. I’ve written about the importance of social media in general, plenty of times. It matters. 96% of my business traffic and sales in the early days of my Shopify store came through Facebook. My first conversions with affiliate marketing came through Pinterest and Quora. … 100% free. In fact, I have still yet to pay a dime for advertising of any kind.
Doing business on Facebook is obvious. 2 billion + users, it’s the easiest thing to use, etc. I’m going to guess that if you’ve launched a business that you hope to make profitable, you’re already there. But what about Instagram? How does promoting a brand work through Instagram?
It took me a lot of trial & error, and tons of research to fully get my brand’s Instagram account growing and popular (and I still have a lot to learn). I’ll share with you what I learned about how to promote a business with Instagram.
First Off – Why Does It Matter?
There are a lot of marketers that still don’t take Instagram seriously. That’s pretty fair! As an active affiliate marketer I remember being quite the Instagram agnostic. Pinterest made sense to me! Pinterest is a marketer’s paradise. 75% of people who use Pinterest INTENTIONALLY use it to plan purchases. Pinterest users don’t just tolerate advertising, they welcome it. So blast your links all over creation!
Instagram is different. You aren’t even able to put a link into an Instagram post. You literally have to write into your caption under your shared photo “Link in bio”, because your bio on your Instagram profile is the only place you can really nest a solid link to your business. Sounds a little tedious, right? Customers don’t usually like going through multiple layers just to get to what they’re looking for. That takes time. And time is a scarce resource.
That has to make Instagram bad for marketing, right? Wrong.
Marketing is about human psychology. That’s a complex thing to even think about, but if you don’t understand people and how their brain’s work, your marketing might be sunk.
By not including links, Instagram maintains its purity. It’s like a spam free zone. As a result, it becomes a zone that feels neautral, and a zone where brands become approachable. People love this. Realize that the billion people using Instagram are familiar and comfortable with the “Link in bio” message. It turns them into the seeker, instead of the victim of a barrage of advertising. Consumers (myself included) love to feel like they are in total control. Like they are making buying decisions, completely free of manipulation.
Instagram fosters this environment. It’s not the place to push. It’s the place to introduce. To say hi. To share nice pictures. And it’s truly a powerful and effective tool for business promotion.
Rule #1: Don’t Skimp On The Bio
The first thing you need to know is this. If the one portal to your actual blog/store/business/moneymakingthing is in your profile page, then it stands to reason that your profile page matters a lot.
You want to grow your follower list. To grow your follower list, your profile page needs to be quite literally like your landing page. It has to be attention grabbing, developed, and very very clear what it’s about. People aren’t going to bother following your brand and seeing your stuff in their news feed if they don’t feel like there’s a consistent style to it that they like.
Nobody likes writing the little 50- word bio, but that’s essentially your elevator pitch right there. Be authentic, and straightforward. Treat that like it’s the sign over the doorway of your business.
This is ours below. Right next to our link, we have an introduction. It doesn’t tell people they should buy stuff. It just explains clearly what we do, and invites visitors to form community around our mission – artwork blended with fashion. You could leave this blank if you want to… but people would rather follow an actual voice, not an anonymous photo machine.
Remember, all of your later posts (well… not all… most) will be pointing people to this landing page. This page is your brand. This page should speak for itself about why it’s worth following. Don’t sell here! Just build a following. It’s just like building an email list as an affiliate marketer. If you’re trying to sell repeatedly to the same person, gain fans, and build trust for higher ticket sales, you need to build an email list, right? The same applies here. This is where you draw in followers.
Rule #2: Understand #hashtags
Check out the post below:
Pretty subtle. Nothing too crazy. But you need to understand how to use those hashtags. These are your keywords. These are the things you use to make your posts public, and drive free traffic to your content.
First, search some hashtags related to your niche. For our business, for example, some extremely popular hashtags are #artistsoninstagram, #menswear, #styleideas, #fashionova, etc. If you’re a newer business, start by posting to hashtags that have UNDER a million posts, because it’s easier to gain a higher ranking and land higher on the page. Within minutes of making this post we got a small stream of likes and follows from people who follow this hashtag.
It’s essential that you do this well.
There’s definitely a right AND a wrong way to use hashtags. While Instagram’s official hashtag limit is 30, it’s better to not push this limit. Hashtag stuffing on Instagram will be treated similar to the way Google will treat keyword/link stuffing on a blog. If you’re overdoing the number of hashtags, it not only makes your post look spammy, but with each hashtag that you add, it steals some of the juice of the previous hashtags. That means that many of those important hashtags (a.k.a. keywords) are having their potency depleted by the drainage of other hashtags.
My recommended number of hashtags is around 10. Experiment with them a bit. Post one set of 10, then another, and see which ones result in the most likes and follows. This will help you choose high quality hashtags every time. I also recommend putting the hashtags in the comments of your post, instead of directly in the post. This won’t hurt your ranking in those hashtags, and it helps your caption look cleaner.
Rule #3: Post With Variety
The two posts above are pretty different. Obviously. This is another essential when marketing on Instagram. For every post that directly promotes your business and products (with that “tap to view products” button sitting on top of your caption), you should include a variety of neutral pictures.
It could be a stylish picture of your logo designed on a free app like Canva, or Photo Director Editor. It could be a colorful picture of you hard at work, or sipping an iced tea and musing about the importance of resting. Adding occassional posts like this will remind your customers that you’re human, and breaks up the stream of self-promoting posts.
Rule #4: Being Interactive
Okay, so this one might sound too easy. Of course, social media is for being social. But you may not have considered how important this is for your business.
One of the most effective ways that you can increase the number of follows, likes, and comments on your posts is by giving them out. Click on the different hashtags you use on your posts, and you’ll see hundreds of posts from other users. Go through and give them comments, compliments, and likes. Since these people are using the same hashtags as you, they will probably have similar interests. This can result in more follows and likes to you in return.
This will help you elevate the attention to your posts above what just using hashtags will usually achieve. To continue expanding your reach, put out posts that not only speak about who you are as a brand and a person, but that also invites conversation. If your focus is art, don’t just make a post about your artwork, invite other people to show off theirs with you in the comments. Do this with any niche! Put some text with a direct question or an invitation to interact or share.
People on Instagram are looking to share as much of their creativity and work as possible. Inviting them to share will also bring them to your content.
Rule #5: Using The Power Of Influencers
This idea is one of the most powerful marketing tactics possible for a Shopify store. Influencers endorsements are like celebrity endorsements. There are many users on Instagram, often who don’t even have businesses and just use it recreationally or to share about their photography and lifestyle, who have thousands and thousands of followers.
You can contact many of these influencers, and ask if they’ll share your product or service on their Instagram story for a day, or even make a post or 2 about it. You can often do this for $35 or less, and it will get your products in front of thousands and thousand of people, with the endorsement of the Insta celeb backing you up too.
Like most marketing tactics, there’s a right and a wrong way to do this. Make sure that you’re only contacting Instagram influencers who are specifically in your niche. If you sell hiking boots, don’t contact Instagram influencers who have an Instagram that’s all about cats, or playing frisbee golf. Those people may not care about boots, and a boots post would just look weird. Just because someone has 100k followers, DOES NOT make them an automatic candidate for your helpful influencer!
Don’t underestimate the opportunity that these influencers provide. Their endorsements can be even more powerful than Facebook ads, and it’s fairly affordable advertising.
Rule #6: Use Engagement Groups
Check out this page on Facebook – Instagram Engagement Groups
When you’re first starting out on Instagram, you NEED to be active on these groups! You can boost your Instagram following into the thousands by blowing around $35 to be promoted by some Instagram gurus, but if you’re trying to keep down your spending in your early launch, you can gain hundreds and hundreds of followers for free by being active on Instagram engagement groups.
Essentially, the way they work, is that you exchange follows for follows with fellow Instagram promoters trying to grow their following. It’s not amazing, because often these people are only following you because they want your follow, as opposed to being genuinely interested in your content, but by growing your following you will gain credibility, attention, and Instagram’s favor, and this will increase the health of your account.
Rule #7: Use MiloTree To Build A Following
One of the most important things that you can EVER do for your business is to grow your following. In other words, instead of pouring all of your energy into getting new traffic, put some investment into RETAINING the customers, readers and visitors you’ve already had.
If you can get random visitors to your website to become followers, you may gain hundreds and hundreds of extra sales. The easiest sales I’ve made in my own business have been repeat customers. I’ve made a single new Instagram post, completely for free, and because they were already following me, they bought the new product in a matter of hours.
You can grow this following by using MiloTree.
MiloTree is a plugin that you put onto your website which creates a pop-up to catch followers. It only costs $9/month, and it’s a completely customizable net. You can add pictures or anything else that will grab your customer’s attention in a split second, and get them to follow you.
MiloTree is perfect for growing your Instagram, but it also works for Facebook, Pinterest, and building an email list. I recommend it most for Instagram and Pinterest because it’s much easier to build a following through these than an email list, where people are worried about being spammed.
Try it out here – MiloTree – and spread the word. Building a following is essential for every entrepreneur.
These are just a few basic strategies that I’ve found effective for my own business. What are some that have helped you? Let me know in the comments!
And if you’re new to marketing on Instagram, make sure you’re applying these strategies actively and consistently. I’m here to help if you have any questions.