If you have been reading one of the recent summaries of #semrushchat, you might have stumbled upon a statement that made your world topsy-turvy or at least has raised some feeling of inner protest:
a3) Your best content shouldn't necessarily live on your site, but live where the most people in target audience can see it. #semrushchat
— Ryan Johnson (@rsj8000) February 7, 2018
In terms of SEO, many would say this is nonsense. All roads must lead
to Rome your website. All the best content must reside there — and get backlinks, backlinks, backlinks. Why would you post your best content anywhere else?
Yes, SEO brings you traffic. Done right, it brings you the traffic that converts.
But what if you are a B2C company offering different kinds of services or selling some consumer goods: clothing, food, furniture, accessories, etc.,? Many of your potential customers do research your industry in Google. But let’s face it, there exists a large portion of those, who DON'T.
About a third of your potential buyers still prefer researching in store, according to the Total Report-2017 by Pwc. They break it down by category: 33% of jewelry and watch buyers, 39% of furniture and homeware buyers, 34% of clothes and footwear buyers, from 16% to 53% — in other categories, described in the report.
All these people will go to a brick and mortar store to research the goods. Most of them will unchangeably go to some proven seller they have been buying from for years.
Getting THEIR attention is a challenge. How to lure them away?
The indisputable truth of efficient marketing reads: Be where your customers are. So, businesses are trying to make their way to such buyers, using extra channels like TV and radio ads, leaflets, and magazines.
But chances are, a good portion of your target audience is spending their leisure time on Instagram. Relaxed, without buying intentions on their minds at all... and, therefore, even more "vulnerable" to falling into a trap of a smart marketer.
Below is why you should at least consider your presence there:
You may be skeptical about Instagram because in its early years it was known for being a place for only food, selfies, pets, and travel pics. You may say that your niche hardly implies eye-candy and mouth-watering photos and you may find dozens of excuses not to follow the wisdom of the crowd.
But what if we put them aside and take a closer look at some examples of “boring” niches that, at first sight, “have no beautiful visual content to share”?
Kings Brewing Co, craft beer brewers — 13.6K followers
Carpenter Trade LLC, manufacturing baseball gloves — 4K followers
Plumber Parts (a self-explanatory name!) — 4K followers
Goat Rodeo Farm & Dairy — 2.1K followers
No matter how “humdrum” your product photos may seem to you, no matter how specific the audience is, it is possible that you can turn Instagram into a reliable “supplier of orders” for your business. Even if you are not planning to accept orders via DM, Instagram will still be a great tool to promote your brand and increase brand awareness.
As a quick experiment, take your colleague’s smartphone with the Instagram app installed (if you don’t have an account yet), click on the magnifying glass icon and try searching by hashtags, using one of your money keywords.
Money keywords used as hashtags on Instagram. Unexpected? Check yours, too.
Can you see that Instagram is no longer a place only for selfie lovers?
It has become a recognized tool to market what you sell. And it is probably the most efficient social media platform to start from if you are considering building a social media presence now.
10 DOs For a Brand on Instagram
Businesses reach their potential buyers either by building their own communities of followers or with the help of “influencers” or both. What do they do, how, and why? I have analyzed this and collected some essential information in the list below.
1. Promote Engagement By All Possible Means
The right way to do that: Encourage users to comment, explicitly ask for likes, trade followers’ activity for gifts, and/or run giveaways.
Why: The Instagram algorithm monitors the performance of a new post from the very first post views. If the post doesn’t resonate but is being scrolled down, it may never be shown to a vast majority of your followers.
2. Convert Your Personal Profile Into a Business Profile
The right way to do that: Tap a gear icon on your profile page and find “Switch to a Business Profile” in the menu. Follow the procedure. Note that you will need to connect your Instagram account to a Facebook Page to do that. If you don’t run paid Instagram ads, such an account is free.
Why: Business profile enables a number of options, crucial for a smart social media manager to touch up the marketing strategy. It includes an Audience activity chart to choose the best time to post, extra contact options, access to Instagram Advertising, and Instagram Insights about your followers — gender split, age range, and top locations.
3. Put a Link In the Bio and Use Your Profile Description To the Full
The right way to do that: Fill in all the relevant contact info that the Business account offers: directions, email, phone number.
If you can, squeeze your unique selling proposition, mission or additional contact info like WhatsApp,Telegram, SnapChat, or Viber, in there. By the way, your profile copy supports emojis, which are an integral part of Instagram community communication, and you are welcome to use them.
Finally, post a link to the homepage of your e-commerce website or to a particular product/category featured in your recent posts. This link is not “carved in stone”; you may edit it as often as you wish. But always, every single time, when you post a promotional image or video, mention in your caption that the “shoppable link is in the bio”.
Why: Unless you are paying Instagram for an ad, Instagram is not itching to send its users to external websites. You can’t publicly post a clickable link in the caption or comments. The link in the bio is the only option.
4. Use #Hashtags to Make Your Instagram Account Findable
The right way to do it: By “findable” I mean the ability to compete with other profiles for the target audience. Choosing and using hashtags is not rocket science, but if you are having a hard time, I have some tips:
- First, hashtags must be relevant, i.e., describe what your post is about.
Second, they need to be trendy. Perform a manual research and start by typing the first letters of your keywords in the "Search by hashtag" section of your Instagram app. Instagram will suggest the most popular hashtags starting from this syllable or word and estimate the number of public posts with this hashtag available at the moment.
From time to time, analyze the performance of your hashtags to exclude the worst and replace them with better ones. Instagram itself will not allow this, but numerous 3rd party tools (like Iconosquare, Websta.me, and Hashtagify.me) will.
Why: In a sense, Instagram is another search engine, where hashtags are the “keywords” you are optimizing your “pages”, or posts with. The better they are chosen, the more potential followers discover your profile. The more exposure, the more followers and, potentially, sales.
5. Use #Hashtags to Make Your Instagram Account Searchable
The right way to do it: Under “searchable”, I mean the navigation within your profile, that can be structured and optimized for a customer’s research, too.
"Is there an Instagram profile navigation, really?" — you must be asking now. Indeed, Instagram is far from categorizing the posts of the users. But with hashtags, you can categorize your own posts and make them easy to browse. This needs an example.
Let's say you are representing a brand, selling some baby outfits, and you post your goods on Instagram together with some other engaging content.
- Introduce your personalized hashtag that will be added to each caption for products posted. It will stand for your entire "catalog".
- Next, introduce your "category tags" to use with the corresponding pics, like "#YourBrandHashtag_Sleepwear", "#YourBrandHashtag_Bodysuits".
- Insert both types of hashtags into the caption in a "native" way, giving a clear instruction to a follower, what else and where can he or she find similar items:
"Meet our new #PJset with a cute #unicorn print. Check out our new #pajamas collection marked with hashtag #YourBrandHashtag_Sleepwear or browse our entire catalog under #YourBrandHashtag."
- From time to time, post your "hashtags map" to acquaint your new Instagram followers with what your offer and how they can find your products via your profile.
Why: Most Instagram posts work just once, at the moment of sharing. This approach will help you create the posts that will do the job for the long-term after they're posted.
6. Run Contests and Giveaways
The right way to do it: Instagram gives you much more freedom than Facebook when it comes to giveaway conditions. Tag a friend, repost, like, comment, or entice users to subscribe — you can combine them, as you like, depending on what you are after.
Top Instagram bloggers often team up together to run a contest with something irresistible like the iPhone X being a prize. But you will build a more loyal following if you give away your own product, and doing this has its bonuses. First, it may be cheaper and second; only your target audience will participate.
Why: Everyone loves free stuff. Instagram users eagerly participate in these kinds of contests. An Instagram contest done right is one of the most efficient tools to get followers. But be sure to post your best content after the contest/giveaway to keep the new followers — or be ready to see how quickly your follower count can go down.
7. SFS: Partner with Those Who Sell Complementary Products
The right way to do it: You can partner with those who sell complementary products and run an SFS (“shoutout for a shoutout”, i.e., you mutually advertise each other in your posts). Some examples of such products and services: a gym, a sportswear brand, a sports nutrition store or manufacturer. Or something like oh-so-yummy doughnuts and your coffee shop.
Why: You share the same audience offline, and perhaps online, but you are not competitors. You can hardly lose anything, but you can gain a lot. It can be a win-win for both businesses and customers.
8. Try Influencer Marketing — Micro Influencers Work Best!
The right way to do it: The main part of your homework is to find the right influencer; marketing loves targeting. Celebrities want crazy money (what about $550K per post by Selena Gomez?), but their audience is a motley crew. It is better to find an influencer with a smaller number of followers, but whose audience is a perfect match with your own targeted “personas”, and in terms of ROI,it will beat an ad published by Kim Kardashian herself.
Why: We like them -> we trust them. They recommend -> we buy. That simple. The researchers predict the further growth of Influencer marketing in Instagram from $1.1B 2017 to $1.6B in 2018 and $2.3B in 2019.
9. Try Different Types of Content to See Which Type Gets Maximum Exposure and Engagement
The right way to do it: Your Instagram posts can shine, even if your business niche hardly supplies a vast variety of eye-candy-like images of your products. Check out this very beautiful post for 30 creative Instagram post ideas, when you have run out of ideas. Another option when you have a low budget or need a new strategy is user-generated content (UGC). It is a common tactic to repost UGC if the customer has posted a pic of your product in use, but be sure to get the customer's approval for your repost.
Why: You never know what works best until you try different strategies and measure the results for each. (Just a reminder, the statistics, a.k.a. Instagram Insights, is available for Business Instagram accounts only.) Create different types of posts and see where user engagement, i.e., likes, comments, and saving to bookmarks, is the highest.
10. Instagram Advertising Is the Last, but Not the Least Opportunity On the List
The right way to do it: This requires another large post, I’m afraid. Fortunately, creating adds on Instagram is relatively straight forward.
Why: Back in March 2017, Instagram welcomed the 1,000,000th advertiser. So far, their ads really work, and targeting is excellent, as it is based on the Facebook advertising engine. And a bonus, the costs are way more affordable.
A DON’T, But a Big and Fat One
Don't buy fake likes, comments, and followers.
Yes, the number of followers measured in thousands next to your profile name is enticing. But if even a portion of them is fake, it could be a disaster for all of your Instagram marketing campaigns. Why?
- Fake users don’t buy — and you have come to Instagram to sell. Right?
- Fake users don’t like, comment, or engage with your posts — hence, yours will see lower engagement rate, with a risk of disappearing from the newsfeed. The Instagram algorithm is just an algorithm.
In terms of Instagram, buying fake followers and likes is a sort of like a “black SEO technique”, and we all know that this means more risks than benefits.
Instagram Inspiration: Top Brands to Learn From
We all love learning from the top performers. I have a collection of the most beautiful and successful brands for you to check and follow for inspiration:
Nike — 76.1M followers
Tesla Motors — 3.9M followers
Airbnb — 2.8M followers
Adobe — 612K followers
Tescofood — 184K followers
Bank of America — 62K followers
Also, how about a coffee-break with Starbucks (with 16M followers)?
If your buyer personas spend time on Instagram, post your best content there. It might take some time, but with hard work, you can make a big impact in the next 6-12 months. Remember, you are not doing this for a vanity metric like followers numbers, but for the sake of your SALES.