If you aren’t already on Instagram, you almost certainly should be. A study done by Forrester Research late last year found that posts on Instagram had an engagement rate of 4.21% that’s 58 times higher than the same on Facebook and 120 times higher than that on Twitter. Here are few ideas on how you can build your store’s brand on Instagram.

Don’t focus on immediate gains

Building a following takes time. Don’t expect to open an account one day and then have your followers crowding your online store the next day. When starting out on Instagram, focus on connecting with users, share content that will give them an idea of what your brand stands for. You don’t have to share product images all the time, you can take users behind the scenes of a photoshoot or the product creation process. Zappos fills its account with images of their employees. An occasional grumpy cat meme might not be terribly out of place if your brand’s image leans toward to a more fun and casual vibe. 🙂

Build a lifestyle around your products

People buy for more than just utility, very often they buy because the purchase makes them feel part of a larger social construct. Keep this in mind while creating images to share on Instagram. Instead of sharing only images of a product on a model or just the products themselves, you can place your products in images that depict a lifestyle around your products. For example if you sell leather jackets, an image of a few concert goers at a rock concert with the jackets on might be a better way to showcase your products. One brand that does this very well is Absolut Vodka. Another way to share product images is to encourage your employees to share pictures of themselves using your products.

Instagram collections

Announce exclusive offers on Instagram. With the image linking option in place for ads, you can consider creating Instagram specific product collections on your store and link the images you post on Instagram back to those pages.

User generated content

Having users share images of themselves using your products is a great endorsement and will go a long way in attracting other users to your brand. Create giveaway contests to encourage users to do so. Spend some time looking through your followers and identify key users who engage with your content often and tag them on your posts to get the ball rolling. It helps if they have a good following of their own. If you have already built a community for your online store, you can consider making these folks a “Community Expert”, “Community Ambassador” or something on those lines. That will give them an added incentive to be an advocate for your brand

Create a hashtag that followers and customers can rally around. You can use a Hashtag monitoring tool to keep a look out for posts with your hashtag in them and “regram” those images from your account. Starbucks is one of those brands which have had a lot of success brands on Instagram and a huge part of the content they share is reposted images from their customers. You can also embed a feed of those posts on your website for an added push to the visitors there.

Influencer generated content

Having celebrities post images of themselves with one of your products might do a lot for your sales but getting them to do so is easier said than done. You could instead focus on a local influencer outreach program which can get you similar results with much less hassle and spend. Target Instagram influencers, bloggers and other key people in the market you operate in, engage with them and try to get them to endorse your products. You can also consider asking your most valued influencers to take over your account for a day and post images on your behalf.

Capitalize on trends

Like on all other forms of social media, creating content that effectively capitalizes on current trends can help attract users to your brand. Be careful while doing so and try to avoid sensitive issues unless you have a purely positive message on those. Here’s a list of 8 biggest marketing faux pax out there to give you a list of things to avoid.

Hashtag research

Hashtags can help bring traffic to your page if used well. Use tools like Webstagram, Populagram or any other Instagram research tool to find out the post volume on each hashtag to help pick the right ones. While generic hashtags like #sale #free might have a high post volume, the crowded nature of those feeds will make it impossible for your posts to be visible for very long. You can instead try finding more niche hashtags to use.

Automation

There’s a lot of services out there that claim to help you gain followers, increase engagement and more. While they might be useful for routine actions like liking posts, they are not always the best for actively engaging people. The tools are quite good at increasing your follower count but the audience you end up with rarely shows the same engagement that an organically built audience might. Also the followers you get are often just other bot managed accounts. For more on some of the problems with Instagram automation tools, read this. Having used a few of these tools, I’d recommend you proceed with caution if you are planning on using any of these tools.

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