A picture is worth a thousand words. So instead of relying on sales pitches and writing copy to sell products, taking advantage of visual social media posts can attract far more attention. Instagram stands as one of the most used social platforms on the Internet today. With its tight connection with Facebook (which now owns Instagram), posting an individual picture may generate far more traffic to an eCommerce site than most other platforms. However, it is important to understand how to best use Instagram to generate additional interest and boost visitors to a company website. To do this, it is necessary to follow these 16 powerful strategies to get more eCommerce traffic from Instagram right now.
1) Create a Business Account
Yes, it sounds pretty straightforward and simple, but if you don’t have a business account you’ll never grow your social media presence (a business account provides additional analytical insights than a standard account). Beyond that, Instagram is tailor-made for user engagement over Facebook. According to research conducted by Selfstartr (2016), 68 percent of Instagram users will regularly engage with brands. This number drops to just 32 percent of Facebook users. In addition to this, Instagram users engage 58 times more frequently than a Facebook user. It isn’t possible to win without playing, which is why every company needs to move forward and create an Instagram business account. It’s as simple as that.
2) Stalk Successful Accounts in the Industry
Before becoming the master of Instagram marketing, it is necessary to learn from the current masters. Every industry, regardless of if it is fast food or clothing, has influential accounts. Once the influential account is identified, stalking this profile is crucial. Looking over posts, studying which images receive the most likes and comments can help identify what photographs a new account should use. Additionally, paying attention to image descriptions and hashtags used could also prove helpful further down the road. As is the case with most other eCommerce marketing strategies, following the leads of other successful businesses can help identify beneficial trends and tactics to utilize.
3) Seeing the Posts is Believing the Posts
It doesn’t matter how great the Instagram if nobody actually sees the image. Like every other social media platform, understanding when to post content to maximize viewership is important.
When looking at the most desirable times, there are two rules of thought. The first is when the greatest level of user interaction occurs in general, while the other looks at when the most interactions occur for a particular user. According to CoSchedule (2016), the best days of the week to post (a company should post every day, but some days will receive more traffic) are Monday and Thursday. During these days, the best time to post is 2 AM, between 8-9AM and at 5 PM.
So why are these time frames so successful? It is built around off-work hours. It shows individuals are more likely to check their Instagram accounts right before and right after work than during work. And the 2 AM time slot? This is generally when bars close. Instagram interactions significantly increase at this time as the bar going crowd is just starting to leave.
On the other hand, the exact times for every successful post are not always universal. What works for one company may vary from another. Thankfully, Instagram provides business accounts with an assortment of insights. By selecting the “See More” option, company accounts can identify stats ranging from regions their followers come from two days in the week and hours in the day most interactions occur.
4) Sprinkle in Video
Instagram allows users to post videos. A business has the capability of taking advantage of showcasing products and services through the video option. According to a study conducted by News Whip (2016), while photos do tend to receive more engagements in the way of likes, videos receive over twice as many comments. Additionally, the video posts instantly display how many times a single video has been viewed, which provides helpful analytical data. The image option does not provide this same data benefit.
5) Showcase User Content
In some shape or form, humans have an egotistical side to them. In the world of social media, this comes in the form of wanting more followers. It shows popularity and demonstrates social power. A company should try and take advantage of this by showcasing user content. By requesting customers to post images of themselves using a product while tagging the business, it allows the company to see how people enjoy the product. It also makes it possible to share and post the user content to the company page. This comes with a few different benefits. For starters, the followers of the shared account see the company’s products, which they might not have in the first place. This increases traffic to the Instagram account and potentially to the eCommerce site. The second benefit is it forms a stronger connection between the company and original customer, increasing the chance of this customer returning for future purchases.
According to research conducted by Crowdtap (2014), user-generated content is 50 percent more trusted than posts from a company, and 35 percent more memorable than business posts. This demonstrates the necessity of utilizing user-generated content for a company’s Instagram account.
6) Take Advantage of the Story
Not too long ago, Instagram rolled out its “Instagram Stories” feature in a way to help it continue competing with newer social media accounts such as SnapChat. The Stories option allows a user to post a series of photographs or videos, designed to offer more of a beginning-middle-end storyline, rather than a single snapshot. The beauty of the Stories feature is it is displayed proximately at the top of a user’s account. So, whenever an account the user followers produces a story, it instantly loads right in the header.
Utilizing the Instagram Stories feature is like free paid advertising for a business. It places the company’s profile at the very top of someone’s account, without paying to push its visuals to the top of the page. Additionally, according to The State of Social (2016), only 16 percent of marketers currently use Instagram Stories, which means there are not many other business visuals popping up on a user’s Stories section. This offers a world of opportunity to promote a company and to bring in additional traffic to the eCommerce site.
7) Link in Your Profile
Instagram thrives in many categories. However, providing links within posts is not one of them. Copying and pasting a link into an image description not only is ugly, but it doesn’t actually link. A user needs to copy the link and head over to their mobile browser to use it. Due to this, a business account needs to both consider a workaround and an alternative option.
Copying and pasting product links or even YouTube URLs into the post description takes up a considerable amount of space while coming off as spammy (especially YouTube video posts, which often include a string of letters and numbers). However, for businesses determined to include a product link, using a URL shortening tool, like Goog.le, condenses the link down to a handful of letters and numbers, while taking up a substantially smaller amount of space.
Realistically, posting links within posts helps generate little traffic as the user needs to physically copy and past the link. Most casual users will not go through the trouble of doing this. This is why posting the company link within the Bio section of an Instagram account is so important. This is the one place where a clickable link appears. With a link in place, users viewing a company’s profile will have access to a drink link back to the eCommerce page.
Yotpo recently looked at 160,000 online businesses and looked at how long visitors spend at an eCommerce site after being directed from external links. The research included traffic directed from email, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, referral links and a host of other methods. In total, Instagram performed the very best, with an average website visit duration of 192.04 seconds. This is 30 seconds longer than YouTube, and a full 90 seconds longer than Facebook and Twitter. This research demonstrates the power of Instagram and why including a bio link is so important.
8) Connect Contact List
When creating a business Instagram account, it’s important to notify current customers and contacts of the new profile. Many will not actively search out a company’s profile without some sort of warning or notification. This is where connecting a contact list comes into play.
While running a business, collecting emails and contact information is vital to building up email marketing. It also helps in many other ways, including building an Instagram account. In the beginning, gaining followers can prove challenging, which may turn off other Instagram users. As is the case with most other social media platforms, users want to associate with popular brands. The more initial followers an account has, the greater the chances of catching new followers. Every new follower presents the opportunity of developing leads and generating traffic to an eCommerce site.
Because Facebook owns Instagram, it also allows connecting contacts from the Facebook platform as well. While posting the same content to both Facebook and Instagram is not always beneficial, taking advantage of the contact lists certain is.
Instagram, founded on October 16, 2010, has seen rapid growth since the Facebook takeover. Since then, it has remained on a drastic incline of new, active monthly users. According to Business Insider, as of April 26, 2017, there are 700 million active users and climbing, which makes it the fastest growing social media platform in terms of growth. Incubating an Instagram community in hopes of boosting eCommerce traffic is possible. A company just needs to use its current contact list as the foundation of the community.
Originally a creation of Twitter, Instagram quickly followed suit with hashtag utilization, allowing users to connect with others through keywords. Basically, keywords are an offshoot of targeted keywords used by search engines. The power of the hashtag every business account needs to take advantage of. For companies not hashtagging, these leaves potential followers and eCommerce traffic on the table.
Instagram allows up to 30 tags per post. Using all 30 can come off as spam, so typing out all 30 tags may end up causing more harm than anything else. The content may appear for more users, but fewer will interact with the image. A business account relies on viewer interaction, as this opens up the eventual potential or sending traffic over to the eCommerce site.
Based on research conducted by SocialFresh (2014), seven hashtags generates the most engagement. Around 23 percent of users interacted in some way with these posts. Eight hashtags came in second with 21 percent of users. However, once the tagging amount moved to nine, user interaction dropped to just over six percent.
Taking advantage of tagging is a must for any business account, they just need to use their tags wisely in order to avoid spamming viewers and turning off potential customers.
10) Content is Still King, Even With Images
Since Google altered its search engine algorithms with its Panda and subsequent updates, the entire Internet shifted, focusing on higher quality content rather than sheer quantity. The same is also true on social media platforms, including Instagram. While Instagram relies on visual uploads, the quality of the picture still reigns supreme over quantity.
According to MadeFreshly, the perfect visual post for optimal interaction begins with a high-resolution image. While Instagram squeezes its images down to 640 x 640, the original image should be at least 1280 x 1280 (most modern cell phones capture pictures in this resolution or higher). Bright lighting helps colors pop while using filters helps add contrast and improve the visual appeal of the image.
11) Remember The Call to Action
A business Instagram account is still marketing. This means a call to action absolutely must be utilized. It informs viewers of exactly what a business wants them to do. Whether asking a user to leave a comment, like an image or head over to the profile page and follow the included link back to the company website, a call to action is a must and can help play big dividends in the long run. Currently, there are no real studies looking at the success rate of Instagram CTAs (mostly in part because embedded links are not an option within a post, but regardless of link capability, every social media post, regardless of platform, needs to include a CTA).
12) Avoid Annoying Viewers
Every social media user has blocked other accounts for annoying them. Business accounts are no exception. It is important for a company to understand when certain posts cross the line. By avoiding annoying actions other brands have taken on social media, it ensures all posts remain visible to current followers.
According to SproutSocial (2016), 57.5 percent of those polled stated the most annoying actions on social media is a company posting too many promotions. Consumers are already bombarded with advertisements in every direction throughout the day. They don’t want to see more ads on their social media feed, especially from accounts they follow. This quickly leads to an unfollowing of the particular brand. 38.4 percent of responders to the poll suggest using slang and jargon comes across as annoying and the company attempting to be “hip and cool.” Unless the slang fits into the established identification of the business, companies need to avoid this. 34.7 percent of responses suggested a lack of any personality from a brand account leads to an unfollowing, while 32.3 percent said accounts trying to be funny (but aren’t) is another major turn off. There is a reason why major comedians are paid a significant amount of money. Humor is not easy, so if an account can’t hit home with its humor, it needs to avoid it all together. Lastly, 24.7 percent suggest companies not replying to a posted message as the reason for unfollowing a brand.
13) Take Advantage of Geotagging
Instagram, much like Facebook, allows a user to tag a specific location when writing out a description. Companies need to take advantage of this feature, even if the company itself doesn’t have a brick and mortar location (if it does, all the better).
Geotagging shows followers where a particular post comes from. It also works as a powerful tag, connecting the business account with all others within the tagged location. For eCommerce stores with a physical location, it is important to register it on Foursquare. This is free and ensures the store location appears on Instagram maps (which allows others to tag themselves at the store while using Instagram).
14) The Filter Does Really Matter
Boosting social interaction and sending traffic over to an ecommerce website isn’t all about tagging and using a call to action. It also revolves around taking advantage of popular trends, including filters. Instagram set the stage with filters (although SnapChat has run with this idea and taken it to the next level). According to Instagram, its top filters are “Normal” (aka not using one at all), Earlybird, X-Proll, Valencia, and Rise. However, using the right filter can actually increase social interactions. According to research conducted by Flight Media, the “Mayfair” filter generated more than twice the average likes as the next filter (Valencia) and over three times the number of comments per photo than the next (Amaro). A business account should experiment with filters and pay attention to what works and what doesn’t, although the Mayfair filter is a good place to start.
15) Instagram Ads
Much like Twitter and Facebook, Instagram offers those with a business account to produce advertisements. With so many other options out there though, some marketers and business owners may be a bit standoffish in investing in Instagram ads. However, taking advantage of this advertisement opportunity has the potential of bringing in more traffic to the eCommerce page while costing less.
The best way to determine the success of Instagram ads is to weight it against that of Facebook. The average low “bidding” price of a Facebook ad sits at $2.84, according to Marketing Land. The median price is $4.27 and the high is $8.53. For many businesses, the high of over $8 comes at far too high of an investment. Outside of companies selling expensive products, such as electronics or automobiles, smaller start-ups would not make a profit with this kind of high price. In comparison, the average low bidding price for Instagram ads (which are set up in a very similar way, thanks to Facebook’s ownership of the visual social media platform) is $2.14, a full $0.70 lower than Facebook. The median price is $3.21 ($1.06 less than Facebook), while the high price for a CPI bid is $6.43 ($2.10 less than Facebook).
Of course, the money saved is all for not if it doesn’t generate better click-through results. Without users visiting the eCommerce page no amount of money saved matters. Facebook’s CTR percentage is 0.6% of ad viewers (or six of every 1,000 viewers). The Instagram CTR jumps slightly to 0.8% (eight of every 1,000). The average cost per click also drops, from Facebook’s $.080 to $.061.
These numbers demonstrate the value of Instagram advertising as it delivers a higher click-through rate at a lower price. For any business currently paying for Facebook advertisements, it will prove beneficial to shift some of these financial resources over to Instagram ads.
16) Instagram Live
The Instagram Stories tool makes it possible to reach the top of a user’s profile feed. The same is true with Instagram Live. In fact, Instagram Live cuts ahead of all other Stories and appears directly next to a user’s own profile picture. This makes it the very best way to draw attention to a company’s profile.
The Instagram Live feature works in a very similar way to Facebook Live. This tool offers business accounts with a great way to showcase the inner workings of the company, how to use a product, unboxing a new release, or just what kind of fun employees have on the job.
Instagram Live, beyond appearing next to a user’s own picture, receives a special “Live” badge under the image, which draws even more attention to the account. Currently, according to Buffer App (2017), only 27 percent of users currently take advantage of Instagram Live. However, Social Media Examiner (2016) discovered the most an account goes live (on both Instagram and Facebook), the more non-live content receives exposure. So by going live, a business account will not only jump to the top of a follower’s feed, but future posts receive additional exposure as well.
As the graphic from Let’s Run Digital indicates, video marketing trends in 2017 are just starting to develop. While only 26 percent of Instagram business accounts use video (and just 19 percent use Facebook live), these numbers are set to grow dramatically in 2018.
Taking advantage of the power of Instagram can and will drive traffic from the social media platform to your eCommerce site. However, you need to understand how to appropriately utilize the tool in order to do as such. By going through and implementing these 16 power strategies, you’ll instantly see an increase in customer traffic to your Web store, which in turn will help boost potential leads and sales. So take the next step in growing your online brand and beginning utilizing these tips and tricks today.