As long as businesses have been around, their goal has been to achieve maximum visibility and credibility. Those are trademarks of success. In the old days, merchants would do their best to get the best spot in the marketplace — the one with most people passing by. Modern stores do all they can to increase their footfall, thus maximizing the odds of completing more sales.
It’s true that the product and the brand’s reputation greatly matter but since the objective is to get more customers there is the need to be noticeable and unforgettable. If you are an entrepreneur only starting to get an audience and make some sales it’s even more important to get on as many people’s radars as possible.
Using Instagram to boost your online business
At first glance, Instagram seems like a cute little platform filled with lovely pet pictures, fan pages and every possible hashtag one could think of. The numbers, however, reflect how immensely popular it is.
- Over one billion accounts worldwide are active every month,
- More than five hundred accounts are active every day and
- 80% of accounts follow at least one business on Instagram;
- 60% of people say that they discover new products on this platform,
- Over 200 million instagrammers visit at least one business profile every day and
- One in three most viewed stories come from businesses.
If you are convinced by the statistics and want to set up an account to promote your product, they have made it incredibly easy by providing a course here.
For more tips on how to be highly successful in using Instagram as a marketing tool for your online business, read on.
Be more than a publisher
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that simply by posting witty or interesting things you are going to get great numbers of followers. The first rule of any social media platform is that you must be actively involved in the virtual community.
Apart from constantly uploading valuable content you have to interact with other users and follow influencers that are in your niche.
Read more: An introduction to influencer marketing
Respond promptly in your comment section and leave comments on other users’ posts. Conversations are vital to getting people interested and engaged.
It’s also a good idea to repost content from your prospective customers and give them credit for it.
Make sure you receive all feedback gracefully and follow the online etiquette.
Get the trends to help you
Trending is a rather new addition to the English language dictionary. This adjective refers to items that are widely discussed and popular at a certain time in social media environments.
Since the online communities are so dynamic and so much content is posted every second, the popular content changes very often so you need to stay on top of that.
It’s not a matter of being informed but one of tapping into what people are already intrigued by in order to get higher engagement with your brand.
For example, at election time when everyone is pumped up about voting, you can share your opinions about democracy and civic duties or even offer a shout-out or a discount to those who get involved in the process.
Use testimonials for promotion
People looking at your business Instagram profile are well aware that you are seeking to sell them something and if they are taking a closer look it means that they are genuinely interested.
However, your description and praise of your own product will not suffice in convincing them so you need them to hear from their peers. Nothing sells better than a recommendation from somebody one can relate to.
Instagram is a very friendly platform and one of the most popular hashtags is #nofilter (which is rather ironic since filters are the first things that pop on your screen when you post an image). People want to see and hear something that feels truthful so ask your existing customers to help by giving their honest opinion about your product.
Offer a sneak-peak of the workshop
In the same spirit of honesty and full disclosure that I have mentioned above, people like to feel like they are offered a tour behind the scenes. It’s obvious that you have put some work into developing the online course that you are selling but it’s advisable to share some of that labor with potential customers.
It can be a video on how you first got the idea, a short documentary about how it all came to be or simply some photos of sketches, notes, whiteboards, your team brainstorming while eating pizza at 2 A.M. or you scribbling on lined paper.
The point is to make potential customers part of a select crowd that gets to witness just a little bit more about you and your brand.
Have a hashtag competition
This is one of the most fun and engaging ways to up your follower numbers. You offer a prize to users in return for following your page and submitting content under a given hashtag. People who participate will send links to their friends asking for votes and as a result you will become known to a much larger audience.
One thing to keep in mind is that in order to have such a competition on your page you will need a third-party contest builder. You can find out more about the options here.
Make sure you are very clear on the rules, the type of content that is acceptable and always respect the deadlines you set.
Use hashtags wisely
The whole point of hashtags is for people to have an easier time finding what they are really interested in seeing. If people you target don’t see you in their searches, you are not using the right hashtags.
The key is to use at least three if not more of them in order to ensure you cover as may inquiries as possible. The best hashtags are the ones that are most often searched – the latest list is found here and being original by coming up with your own will not be very helpful on Instagram.
It’s best to do some research and see which hashtags are relevant to your target audience. Also, check if the name or brand you want to use is not taken or significantly similar to a competitor’s to avoid confusion.
To sum it up
Instagram is a great place to meet people who want to hear from you and know more about your online course. It is well within the general frame of social media but does have some specific internal workings that you need to be mindful of in order to harness the full marketing power of the platform.
Raluca Cristescu has over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.