The Swipe Hype
How to leverage Instagram for your benefit
Have you wondered where all your Facebook followers have gone?
If you’re a retailer – or just an average user – you may notice that you’re seeing more ads, political content, and puppy pictures than usual. And most important, fewer younger users.
That’s because the graphics-based social media platform Instagram has swooped in and begun dominating social users.
Instagram claims over one billion monthly active users. ONE BILLION. That’s a tough figure to ignore, and it illustrates why so many smart retailers are taking notice.
Instagram’s early days offered a somewhat rudimentary vertical display of pictures. Period. Ultimately its potential grew, and combined with forward-thinking strategizing of its leadership, it now has become a major player in advertising and marketing.
What drives most of Instagram’s appeal are “influencers,” or celebrities and others who have massive followings. Not willing to mess with the litany of issues that keep making Facebook more of a chore than a pleasure, these high-profile dazzlers maintain captive audiences. Some may be compensated to plug a product, but others are self-financed, and they honestly promote their favorite clothing, cosmetics, household décor, and just about anything they think of.
Here’s a life hack for ecommerce merchants, and a cool development you won’t want to miss.
No, not the standard app you’ve been playing around with for a while, deciding whether it’s of value to you as an online seller. After all, it’s so, so graphical. Maybe too graphical. And personal. Isn’t this what millennials use to share selfies?
Not anymore. With the lion’s share of social media apps hungry to gain attention from businesses, Instagram has been paying apt attention. The ever-popular feature Instagram Stories quietly morphed into a tool for ecommerce in the fall of 2017, allowing businesses to tag product photos through “stickers” on their posts. Those stickers are active links to your site.
And in June of 2018, Instagram took to the video platform with IGTV, an app designed to animate social and business parallels.
It’s gone so well that Instagram is reported to be launching an app tailored for you, the merchant. And experienced users will get the hang of it in no time flat.
Consider this: More than 25 million businesses have existing Instagram accounts. Of those, 2 million are advertisers. The foundation is set for sales, and they have been happening. If you feel like you’re missing a golden opportunity, you may be right.
The numbers are in, somewhat. A recent survey showed that brands have reported an increase in site traffic of more than 1400 percent and a whopping 20 percent gain in sales. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
To no one’s surprise, potential hasn’t escaped third-party app developers. Ecommerce site Ecwid rolled out a transition app on its own. It’s pretty interesting. But conventional wisdom says they anticipated Instagram would seize on the opportunity to rebrand their name, and it appears they will.
It’s easy to get stuck following the same tactics in social media marketing, particularly if one strategy has been lucrative or has grown your business exponentially. Amazingly, though, many social media “gurus” continue with campaigns that aren’t bringing in revenue.
While it’s important to keep up-to-date with new strategies and evolving techniques, it’s also important to ditch so-called “best practices” that aren’t delivering. Sometimes, it’s what you don’t do that contributes as much to your success as what you do do.
If you’ve been a copywriter for any length of time, you know the ongoing debate of what the ideal length of a sales letter should be. As long-time A-list copywriter Mark Ford notes, everyone purports to despise long copy, yet it has always consistently out-pulled and outsold short copy.
But what about social media posts? Is shorter copy is the ticket to higher sales?
Some say that copywriting has evolved—and social media is to thank (or blame) for it. But saying it has evolved is too broad a brush to paint this picture.
It’s more accurate to say that copywriting has expanded. Different media platforms may take center stage now, yet the same principles upon which advertising and marketing were built in the mid-20th century still apply.
So, in today’s social media-dominated world, how much is too much? Is it possible to optimize the length of a post to engage and convert readers? What’s the ideal length of a post to drive viral engagement that reaches as many people as possible?
As always, it’s up to you to find out what your unique audience wants and cares about. To know their pains and concerns so you can offer the best solution, service, or product for them.
Generally speaking, though, it depends on your forum. But to know for sure, you’re going to have to test and find out what works for you. Neither guessing nor being creative for the sake of it is going to cut it.
Your ecommerce social media arsenal simply isn’t complete without a strong presence on Instagram. Drawing a diverse audience that stretches from Boomers to those not quite ready for a driver’s license, Instagram is a powerful tool in your social media portfolio.
But you know this. And you’re there. You’re already making the most of your Instagram, right?
But there’s a good chance there are features you’re missing. Features that could boost your scope and help you reach more of your target audience.
Las Vegas Market Has Arrived!
Las Vegas Market kicked off last night and we hear it's going to be better than ever this year!
There's an Instagram takeover planned (follow #viewonvegas), tons and tons of exhibitors and all kinds of fun to be had. It's one of our favorite event of the year - and not just because it's Vegas.
If you're a first-timer, there's a great guide for that -- check it out here.
And if you're an old hat, we hope you find something new and exciting to enjoy this year.
Check out the Market site -- www.lasvegasmarket.com -- for all the information you'll ever need, and if you're there, let us know in the comments what you're enjoying most.
To follow everything Market, check out their social media hashtag, #LVMkt on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Instagram: A Marketing Bonanza
It’s nearly impossible to imagine living in times when picture catalogs were rare and expensive to produce. But those of us who soaked up the pages of the Sears Wish Book, and other legendary retail catalogs, recall with great fondness the magic of visualization and how it propelled our desire to shop.
Fast-forward to 2016, when image saturation is both a boon and a bust for merchants hoping to lure customers. Presenting photographs of your offerings is enormously helpful – particularly for those doing business exclusively online. Saying that social media has played a significant role in multiplying sales opportunities of e-tailers is a vast understatement. With players such as Pinterest, Facebook, and other venues offering space for both vendor listings and consumer shares, the promises of commercial prosperity on the World Wide Web have materialized.
Enter Instagram, a visual-based app that began as a way for users to share snapshots of family and friends. Its ethereal growth has led to a jaw-dropping 300 million users worldwide, many of who access the app several times daily. Commercial sellers have taken note and entered the fray, being selective with postings and taking full advantage of demographics that match their niche.
Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of using Instagram to promote your business is found in the habits of its users. They are already visually oriented and fond of narratives over simple text and photos. They look for stories to be told through pictures.
Right out of the box, the sellers’ first step is to build a following while understanding that the lack of interactivity is a limitation. Users can’t immediately access your website from Instagram. But media outlets certainly take notice of how many followers your site has, and if your wares fit their editorial purposes, they will do the footwork if you bring your product to life by incorporating how customers use or display it.
Understanding the basics of social media platforms requires a basic know-how, including the use of hashtags – the “#” character made famous by Twitter, and one that directs potential customers and followers to a special interest category.
Personalizing your offerings through photographs of events where they are featured is a fabulous way to engage media and customers alike. Vintage fashion curator Emme Wynn of Alexandria had a brilliant idea: why not form a partnership with a collection of wedding vendors that fit her aesthetic? The collaboration uploaded finished photographs on Instagram and targeted bridal publications. Wynn’s Etsy store, Gossamer Vintage, became a favorite, and before too long magazines were pushing her hashtag to help promote her shop and entice their readers. Also, by joining with merchants and service providers delivering to brides- and grooms-to-be, she created a holistic marketing strategy that focused on a singular event.
Hashtags are fun, but overusing them can be counterproductive. Set up a schedule for timed and themed events, such as a “Throwback Thursday” campaign, and watch your followers stay tuned each week.
It’s important to remember that quality is virtually everything. Present only the best photographs, and the most enticing, clearly written text, when uploading to Instagram. Followers are far more likely to notice – and to share – when the image is compelling. And keep in mind that while they will ultimately focus on the product, its presentation has the power to attract interest or be passed over. Showing a fashionable patio ensemble is fine; creating a warm feeling by illustrating it with guests enjoying an outdoor party steps up the effect by planting the psychological image of how it would enrich the experience of your customers.
For more tips on how to leverage the power of Instagram, soak up these tips from social media guru Stacey Herbert. She’ll guide you through a series of critical steps that will unleash the power of Instagram to build your brand and your business. Most important, have fun with your marketing. Prospective customers will sense your enthusiasm and respond in kind.