New to Instagram marketing?
Or struggling with gaining followers and making sales?
Then this article is for you.
Read on for 11 tips.
Why Sell on Instagram?
There’s no doubting it.
Instagram is huge.
In fact, it has over 1 billion active users worldwide.
But did you know that the hip photo-sharing platform isn’t only for artists, photographers, and everyone who loves digital art?
Instagram is an excellent marketing platform for businesses.
And no wonder!
- 90% of Instagram users follow at least one brand.
- 83% of Instagram users find new brands or products on the platform.
- 80% of users say Instagram helps them when deciding to buy a product or service.
It’s not all unicorns and butterflies, though.
In 2016, Instagram changed its algorithms to make posts appear in feeds based on popularity instead of in chronological order.
This means posts with high engagement rise to the top, and posts with low engagement never get seen.
So if your brand is new and you don’t have a ton of followers, how can you increase sales on Instagram?
Here are 11 tips to increase your visibility and sales on Instagram.
1. Craft Stunning Images
Imagine your average Instagram user scrolling through her feed.
She whizzes by post after post of yawn-inducing mediocrity.
Until one jumps out and grabs her attention such as this Instagram post by National Geographic.
You don’t have to travel to Greece and capture a photo of the full moon rising behind Poseidon’s temple.
All you need to stop Instagram scrollers in their tracks is a beautiful, unique, high-quality image.
Here are three tips to increase engagement with your images.
Post Images that Speak to Your Audience
For example, if you know your audience is interested in different cultures around the world, an image like this will spark their attention.
Stick to the Rules of Great Photography
The great news is you don’t need a DSLR camera and expensive professional gear to take stunning photos.
Simply follow these rules with your smartphone, and you’re good to go.
- Use natural light whenever you can.
- Avoid overexposure (to do this, tap the brightest part of your frame before taking the photo).
- Shoot at sunrise, sunset, or on a cloudy day.
- Take photos from different vantage points. (That’s right! Crouch, crawl, lie down, even scale a wall if you’re feeling ambitious.)
- Use unique frames. A hedge, two skyscrapers, or just some extra space are stunning examples.
Enhance Your Images with the Right Tools
Here are the top three image editing apps that further enhance your photos.
- VSCO – This app is ranked by photographers as the best image-editing app for Instagram.
- Canva – Canva has a ton of tools that allow you to customize your images.
- A Color Story – This app helps you stick to your theme color by offering customizable filter packs.
2. Run Contests
Running Instagram contests helps you spark engagement, plus win a ton of new followers.
Here are three great Instagram contest ideas you can use.
- Like, comment, and follow. Users like your post and follow you to enter your contest.
- Tag a friend. Users get one entry for every friend they tag in your post.
- User-generated content (UGC). Your audience creates their own unique posts and tags your business or uses a hashtag you created.
So far, the best type of contest is the UGC contest.
Here’s an excellent example of a winning UGC contest from Upwork.
View this post on Instagram
Have you found success as a freelancer? We want to hear about it! 📣 1️⃣ Share your success story on Twitter, Instagram, or the Upwork Facebook page with hashtag #UpworkSuccess. 🙌 2️⃣ Feel free to include a photo or photos, a blog post, video, or other media in your post to bring your story to life. 📸 3️⃣ Be entered for a chance to win $1,000! 💵 LINK IN BIO for more details and Official Rules. . . . . . #bestversionofme #businesssuccess #freelance #freelancelife #freelancing #freelancer #ambitions #entrepreneurship #selfemployed #remotework #remotelife #workfromanywhere #lovewhatyoudo #dowhatyoulove #futureofwork #wfh #workfromhome #contest
And check out one of the top entries.
View this post on Instagram
It’s freelance Friday 😱🤗😱 People often ask where I get my clients from, and it has changed a lot since I moved from being a freelancer to a business-owner, but some things remain the same. Referrals, word-of-mouth, email outreach (leads find me online and email me), IG DMs, and Upwork invitations are my tip ways for getting new clients. I don’t actively apply for Upwork jobs anymore, but because I have a Top Rated account I still get invitations for projects that I often accept! Top Rated ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ status gives you exclusive perks including increased exposure. 𝐒𝐨, 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐝𝐨 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐛𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐚 𝐓𝐨𝐩 𝐑𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐟𝐫𝐞𝐞𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐫 𝐨𝐧 𝐔𝐩𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐤? 1. A current Job Success Score of 90% or higher 2. First hire on Upwork was more than 90 days ago 3. Maintained Rising Talent status or a Job Success Score of at least 90% for at least 13 of the last 16 weeks 4. A 100% complete profile 5. 12-month earnings of at least $1,000 6. Up-to-date availability 7. An account in good standing with no recent account holds 8. Activity on the platform in the past 90 days It sounds like a lot of work, but when you follow these guidelines, it makes the process 10x easier. ❓What’s your #1 way of getting new clients❓
It’s because people love to share their stories, tap into their creativity, and impress their own followers. (Not to mention win cool prizes!)
3. Leverage Video
Did you know that Instagram videos receive 2x the engagement of other posts?
If you want your followers’ attention, it’s time to leverage those videos.
Here’s a quick guide to Instagram videos:
- Keep your videos short and grab your viewers’ attention with movement in the first few seconds of your clip.
- Add captions (Instagram videos are mute by default).
- Plan your videos with a specific goal in mind (e.g. drive traffic to your blog, spark engagement, gain new followers, or educate your audience).
- Add behind-the-scenes footage of your brand for a human touch.
- Capture your products in action (a video of customers using your products is great).
- Follow the rules of great photography when shooting your videos.
Check out this cool example from Ben and Jerry’s.
4. Give Exclusive Content with Stories
Use Instagram stories to show behind-the-scenes action and truly pull those viewers into what your brand does.
A super example is Boxycharm and their absorbing story clips.
As you know, Boxycharm offers customized makeup boxes with all your favorite brands in one box.
To engage watchers, they post stories of real people using their boxes to “glow up.”
Take a look at this video and this video from BoxyCharm’s Instagram.
5. Respond to Comments
Instagram users are swamped with content.
So when they take the time to comment on your post?
Yup! You’ve achieved something awesome! 👍
But don’t stop there. Make commenters feel special by responding to them. Like their comments, thank them, and answer their questions.
Like what Starbucks did here.
If you get thousands of comments (kudos to you!) and don’t have time to reply to them all, you can always hire a social media manager to do the work for you.
6. Join Instagram Pods
New to Instagram marketing and don’t have a ton of followers?
Get on quality Instagram Pods to ramp up your engagements.
In their blog, Hootsuite called Pods Instagram’s latest engagement hack.
Here’s how it works:
- Find a small Instagram Pod. Pods are groups of Instagram users who band together to increase each other’s followers and engagements.
- Follow the Pod’s engagement guidelines. You usually have to like, comment, and share other Pod members’ posts.
- In return, your own posts will receive likes, comments, and shares from other members.
- Go for small pods with 15-20 users.
- Avoid giant spammy Pods with thousands of users.
- Keep your end of the bargain! Failure to like, share, and comment on posts can get you kicked out of the Pod.
- Pods are only great for getting started. As your brand presence matures, you’ll want to gain your own likes, comments and shares instead of Pod-generated ones.
7. Use More Hashtags
Using hashtags is an excellent way to expand your Instagram audience. This is because they make your posts appear in the pages of hashtags you use.
Since Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per post, you can go all out with them!
First, make sure to use the most popular hashtags on Instagram. These will get you in front of millions of users.
Then, create your own customized hashtags. This is a great step for when you’ve established your brand presence and already have a large following.
Remember, mix things up! Avoid appearing spammy by not stuffing your posts with the same hashtags over and over again.
8. Use Your Links Wisely
Unlike other social media platforms, Instagram doesn’t allow links in posts.
But don’t worry. Here are two ways you can drive users to your store with links.
Use Your Link in Bio Option
Instagram allows you to use a single link in your bio. Use it wisely to connect users to your most prominent website page.
Like what Nike did.
This link takes you to Nike’s membership page.
Add Links to Your Instagram Stories
When you reach 10,000 followers, Instagram gives you a “swipe up” option on stories where viewers can see links or other information about you.
Follow HubSpot’s simple guide for adding links to stories.
9. Connect with Up & Coming Influencers
Here’s a stunning fact.
80% of marketers say influencer marketing is effective.
That means connecting with real influencers can turn into a big win for you.
But remember, it’s important to pick influencers carefully. You want to go for people who:
- Have real influence in their area
- Do something relevant to your product
- Have followers who will benefit from what you’re selling
Check out this post before launching your own influencer marketing campaign: 5 Key Considerations When Launching Influencer Marketing Campaigns.
10. Use Emojis: The New Language of the Internet
Lavishly sprinkle your Instagram posts with hearts, rainbows, and smiles.
They’ll make viewers feel good, plus they’re super popular.
In fact, 50% of all Instagram posts contain emojis!
Like this one.
Remember, emojis aren’t only for fun, trendy brands. When used wisely, they go well with a serious, professional presence too.
Like in this post from ABC News.
11. Run Compelling Instagram Ads
69% of marketers in the U.S. spend their influencer budgets on Instagram ads.
Plus, Instagram ads have the potential to reach 849.3 million users.
So if you haven’t started an Instagram ad campaign yet, it’s a great idea to get cracking on it today.
Follow these pro tips when creating your Instagram ads.
- Know what your audience wants to see.
- Keep your message short. Your text will be cut off after two rows, so motivate with a CTA as soon as you can.
- Engage with users. Treat your paid ads just like your organic posts to connect with your audience.
How to Engage with Instagram Users & Gain More Sales
With over a billion users, there’s a ton of noise on Instagram.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to spark connections with your audience and drive sales.
Quite the opposite!
When you learn how to create the kind of noise your audience wants, you’ll be amazed at how Instagram can grow your brand.
- How to Dominate Social Media Marketing: A Complete Strategy Guide
- Perfecting Your Visual Strategy on Social Media: 19 Tips to Follow
- How to Create Your Instagram Content Plan
All screenshots taken by author, August 2020