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The Year of Instagram: How E-commerce Brands Should Gear Up

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The Year of Instagram: How E-commerce Brands Should Gear Up

Jini Maxin
The Year of Instagram: How E-commerce Brands Should Gear Up

Imagine you’ve only got a 10 minute break to refresh yourself before beginning your next important project. So, what do you think, how are you going to spend those crucial 10 minutes? It could either be by playing ‘Pokemon Go,’ or reading ‘Gone Girl’ or browsing ‘Marks and Spencer’ tops on Instagram?

But then, a majority of them are most likely to spend their time scanning tops on Instagram than reading a ruddy novel or playing games on apps these days simply because it’s the age of visuals and videos. The growth in video marketing activities is a testament to the fact.

So, as an e-commerce owner if you wish to harness the power of visuals and videos this year, try Instagram. No one does it better than Instagram when it comes to displaying visuals and videos in the most creative way possible.

Billed as ‘The World’s Most Powerful Selling Tool,’ Instagram, thanks to its user-generated content strategies, is helping brands draw users in big numbers.  

Some of the well-known brands that are already making the most of Instagram include

  • Starbucks – 2.6 million photos
  • Nike – 12.7 million photos
  • Michael kors – 1 million photos
  • Chanel – 2.4 million photos
  • Audi – 1 million photos

Admittedly, even smaller businesses are leveraging the power of Instagram to grow their businesses.

However, not all kinds of visuals and videos are gonna tug at the heart-strings of Instagram users. Harness user-generated content (UGC) if you really want to bring in more users on board. Come to think of it, UGC is the heart and soul of content marketing. 

Now, how can you attract required, relevant, user-generated content for Instagram? And, besides UGC content, which other strategies will draw more users to your Instagram account? Leverage these simple Instagram tips and strategies to make sure you draw maximum traffic to your eCommerce site this year.

#1. Turn Customer Visual Garbage into Marketing Gold

There’s a huge difference between you waxing about your product and inspiring your customers to wax about your product. Your waxing would be plainly branded as pure self-promotion while getting your customers do the same might help you attract more eyeballs.

Simply put, leverage crowdsourced content for product promotion. Iconic brands like Starbucks and Nike generates its Instagram rankings from the user-generated or crowdsourced content. This helps them build a more relatable brand image because the visuals used are of real people.

So now, how do you crowdsource content?

Start by launching a campaign or contest. That would draw the attention of Instagram followers. Suggest them to share relevant photos pertaining to your campaign, which you could curate and display. 

Let’s say, you want to run an Instagram campaign for your small coffee shop business that has got a small library as well. So, first off, you pick a theme on which you could base your campaign. Let’s say something like: “Capture some of your amazing coffee moments in the company of your favorite books and enjoy 30 days of free reading.”

 Now, sit back and relax.

Instagram Campaign for a coffee shopInstagram Campaign for a coffee shop

You are gonna receive some great visual content from Instagram users cum bookworms. 

Some must-haves to keep in mind while running your Instagram campaign

Pick a fitting campaign hashtag.

Since you’ll be collecting content via a hashtag, make sure that your hashtag is unique and simple. And, more importantly, it reads right from every side. Or else, you might get caught in a catastrophic situation just like pop star Susan Boyle got into.

It so happened that when Susan Boyle threw an album launch party #SusanAlbumParty, the hashtag eventually read something like this #SusAnalBumParty. You could read the story here.

Additional Points To Bear In Mind on Twitter Hashtags

1. Keep it descriptive and as specific as possible. If you are a fan of ‘Game of Thrones,’ the hashtag should be #gameofthrones.

2. Check out the existing hashtags. When yoga wear clothing company, Lululemon, ran a 30-day Instagram photo challenge in September 2012, titled “What the Focus” and used the hashtag ##WTFSEPT. It seemed all right at first until the users started checking photos tagged #WTFSEPT and were surprised to find pictures of people in different yoga poses alongside 9/11 memorial photos.

3. Add your name. Adding your name to the hashtag makes sure that users see what you have posted so far. This strategy is being commonly applied both by brand marketers and photographers alike who are interested in displaying their work online.

4. Numbers, letters, and underscores could be used in hashtags. However, avoid special characters.

5. Maximum hashtags that you could use per photo is 30. Your photos would fail to load if you go beyond this limit.

Pick a theme

Setting up with a campaign theme is important because it would help users in coming up with specific images. But then remember: Keep the theme broader, because a broader theme provides people with a wider window to explore and capture images. On the contrary, if you choose a narrower theme, people might get tired trying to capture that perfect snap, and might as well leave the campaign disappointed.

But then, if your theme is such that users are free to upload photos of themselves or their friends or relatives on Instagram, nothing like it.  

Find a nesting place for your photos

You may have managed to accumulate a good number of photos from Instagram. But, to take full advantage of them, your next step should be to find a place to store these photos. For this, you can set up a microsite or even have them displayed them on your Facebook page tab. But then, don’t forget to use a proper content aggregation tool or third party service to moderate your images.  

Link Instagram galleries to your eCommerce site

If anything, you could even connect user-generated pictures to your product gallery or microsite to generate more sales.

Let’s say, you are an XYZ company selling summery dresses on discounted rates and you’ve been a running a campaign for the same so as to crowdsource some great Instagram content. To this effect, an Instagram user has posted an image sporting your XYZ summary dress. Now, you can leverage this UGC to make further product suggestions to this user and others by placing relevant XYZ URLs in the UGC galleries.

Nonetheless, the best way out is to take the help of third-party companies such as Link2Buy and place the link in your bio section. On clicking this link the user will be directed to all your Instagram posts, including items that are available for sale. Once the user reaches this page, consumers could find their way to the product’s landing page at the eCommerce store, where they could click on all the related images as well.  

Banana Republic’s link2buy link added in the bio sectionBanana Republic’s link2buy link added in the bio section

#2. Use Videos Whenever Possible

Don’t forget that Instagram is not just about images. It’s about videos as well. So, if you think for a specific situation, videos are better off than images for your target audience, then opt for videos. For instance, NBA comes up with an assortment of videos consisting of match highlights, training sessions, and events, thereby making it possible for its fan to relate to them and their game more. The video approach helps NBA stand above its rivals like MLB and NFL.

#3. Regram the Most Popular Images

If a particular trend or style is picking up, brands should ‘regram’ it to further engage its users. For instance, Starbucks is known to regram its most popular users’ images to engage with its customers and also to add more power to its content. You could read more about regramming here.  

#4. Pitch in with your own Relevant Posts

Agreed, user-generated content drives the best of the traffic. But then, it’s equally important to be part of the conversation and share your brand voice as well.

For this, you could post visuals of what’s happening behind the curtains of your corporate office. This would help your users to bond with you and also establish a certain sense of transparency about your office affairs. Also, you could post pictures of new product launches. However, keep off from heavy promotions. First look forward to establishing rapport with the users. Sales could come later. 

#5. Images Should Mirror your Personality  

Your images should reflect your personality. Instagram helps you in doing just that, which may not be the case with your corporate site. Your corporate site may face problems in the form of technical glitches and usability limitations. Adidas Originals is one such company that makes sure that it’s Instagram images are in tune with its personality. Its urbane theme permeates in all of its posts, whether its images of its products, sports stars or the post of music artist Rita Ora who seems to dominates the feeds.

#6. Repost Shares to Enhance their Shelf-life

Social media posts usually don’t have a longer shelf life. As new images keep getting posted, older ones are pushed back on user’s feed.

You could convert these customer posts into blogs by using headlines like Instagram posts of the day, week or month. You could even think of reposting them on Facebook or Twitter and even on other social media channels. By doing this you would be rewarding the efforts of your customers and also be prolonging the shelf-life of your customer-generated posts. 

Wrapping Up

Sure, Instagram is a mother lode of visuals. But it’s the age of user-generated content and so if you are able to get users to generate visuals for you, nothing like it. Agreed, it’s becoming an over-used strategy, but it’s one of the most effective eCommerce marketing strategies that’s sure to witness widespread adoption in the years to come. One last and most important thing, see if your images could leave a smile on the face of the users. If you are able to do that, the user is yours forever.

As an e-commerce company does your company apply any unique Instagram strategies that are driving users to your site in big numbers? If yes, we'd love to hear about them.

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Jini Maxin is a Senior Writer with OpenXcell which offers mobile app development services across the globe. A voracious reader who pours all her learning into producing well-researched and data-driven posts. You can connect with her on Twitter.
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Jyoti Thapa
good excellent post, very informative and clearly depicting the strengths of instagram. Thanks for the suggestions
Jini Maxin
Jyoti Thapa
Thanks for those nice words Sandeep.