It wasn’t that long ago that Instagram was just a niche entry in the world of social media marketing. Facebook was king, with Twitter snapping at its heels, and YouTube out the side for “kids.” A lot has changed in a short time, however. Instagram is now a social media powerhouse, with over 1 billion monthly users. It is still arguably the social media network of choice for younger generations but is also beloved by anybody who loves sharing visual content. Importantly, it is the network beloved by most social influencers.
It should be no surprise; therefore, that Instagram is a favorite site for generating e-commerce traffic. Marketers have been quick to discover Instagram’s possibilities, both for paid and organic e-Commerce traffic.
However, constant tinkering to Instagram’s algorithm has made it tricky for firms to gain traction on the platform. You can’t achieve success randomly. You need to implement robust strategies if you hope to get e-commerce traffic from Instagram. Here is a selection of strategies that can help your account stand apart from your competition.
Powerful Strategies to Get e-Commerce Traffic from Instagram:
- 1. Set up a Business Account
- 2. Don’t Ignore Your Current Customers and Contacts
- 3. Post at the Times Your Audience is on Instagram
- 4. Your Profile Link is Vital to Your Success
- 5. Create Perfect Posts
- 6. Include Video in Your Content Mix
- 7. Feature User Generated Content
- 8. Use Hashtags intelligently
- 9. Don’t Use a Bland Call to Action
- 10. Use Filters That Interest Your Audience
- 11. Avoid Spamming and Annoying Your Followers
- 12. Tell Your Brand’s Story with Instagram Stories
- 13. Go Live on Instagram Live
- 14. Determine the Influencers in Your Niche
- 15. Use Shoppable Posts
- 16. Gain Exposure with Instagram Ads
1. Set up a Business Account
Some people, influencers, in particular, have resisted upgrading to an Instagram business account, feeling that their followers will see it as “selling out” to the corporate dollar. However, it is an essential step for anybody wanting to be successful on Instagram, and obviously a must for any business.
The four main benefits of converting to a business account are:
- Access to Instagram Insights – the official analytics page
- The ability to add a Contact Button
- Your industry will show on your profile
- The ability to add links to Instagram Stories
Instagram has much higher engagement levels than Facebook, and Instagrammers are not afraid to engage with brands. According to Socialbakers, brands can generate over 4x more interactions on Instagram compared to Facebook. Instagram engagement for brands increased by 29% between October 2017 and May 2018.
2. Don’t Ignore Your Current Customers and Contacts
Few businesses rely on Instagram for all of their marketing efforts. You’re likely to have built up contacts through other methods, including email, other social accounts, and the work of your sales assistants.
When you set up your Instagram account, you should make a point of telling all of your current contacts about the company Instagram account, and encourage as many people as possible to sign up to it.
While many of your contacts probably run Instagram accounts, they’re unlikely to hunt proactively for your account, so you need to give them a reminder.
If you have built up an email list and you send out a newsletter, you could use the newsletter as a way to encourage your contacts to follow your Instagram account.
Although these people are already contacts, adding them to your Instagram followers does help with one psychological issue. People naturally prefer to follow popular accounts. You will find it easier to grab new followers if you already have a reasonable number of existing followers visible for everybody to see.
3. Post at the Times Your Audience is on Instagram
In the past, Instagram delivered posts in strict chronological order. It has abandoned that model now, using an algorithm to determine the most “suitable” posts to feed to any particular users.
However, the timing of posts is still important. Your posts are far more likely to be seen by your target audience if you share them when (or just before) your followers are online. If you post outside your audience’s favorite times, it is less likely that anybody will see your posts, no matter how good they may be.
CoSchedule has collated data about best posting times for some years now. According to their 2018 data, the best times of the day for various types of businesses to post on Instagram are:
- B2C: 8 am, 1 pm, and 9 pm.
- B2B: 12 pm-1 pm, 5 pm-6 pm, 8 pm-9pm.
- Software Services: 11 am, 1 pm, 5 pm.
- Healthcare: 10 am and 2 pm.
- Media: 9 am, 12 pm, and 3 pm.
- Higher Education: 5 pm - 6 pm
CoSchedule has calculated that the most successful day for posting on Instagram is Friday.
Of course, you’re likely to post at times other than peak times. However, you could consider targeting your best posts at these times, depending on your niche.
Be aware, of course, that not all Instagram accounts are equal. Just because others have their greatest successes at particular times, does not mean that your audience will react the same way. If you look in your Instagram Insights, you can see insights relating to when your audience has been mostly online. You may want to adapt your posting schedule to match these statistics.
4. Your Profile Link is Vital to Your Success
The biggest negative of Instagram from a business point of view is that apart from a few specific exceptions, you can’t include a clickable link in your posts. This is one of the main reasons that businesses were initially slow to discover the Instagram platform.
You can include a link in your profile, however. One of the most important ways a business can help its engagement is to use this profile link strategically. Don’t just make it link to the homepage of your website and then forget about it, as is the norm for most businesses.
There is no point placing a non-clickable link in an image. People are not going to be bothered to type it, hoping they don’t make a mistake.
Whenever you begin a campaign, you should create a relevant landing page, change the link on your profile to match that landing page, and then use your posts to direct your audience to the link in your profile.
5. Create Perfect Posts
In one way, Instagram is no different to any other online site. The better the content you create, the higher the interest in your posts, and the more engagement you will receive. Just don’t expect to perform well on Instagram, if you merely upload stock photographs without any great thought. Similarly, any posts that come across like ads will be ignored and generate little if any engagement.
The more effort you place into content creation, the better your results should be. This is just as important with images as it is with text, for instance, a blog post.
If you want your posts to succeed, you need to follow the basic technical rules. You should upload high definition images, but not so large that they slow everything down. Ideally, your images should be at least 1080 x 1080. Your images / videos should have an aspect ratio of between 1.91:1 and 4:5.
You want your profile image to be 110 x 110. Remember that this needs to be square for it to work correctly.
If your image includes text, an infographic, for instance, make sure that the text is readable on all possible devices. Remember, most people use Instagram on their phone.
Think in terms of your audience. What do they want to see? What posts interest them? Instagram is not a traditional advertising medium, so don’t upload traditional ads.
If you want people to interact, you need to create content that attracts the eye of your followers and encourages them to engage with you. They’re unlikely to comment, like, or share a post, just because your company made it (except perhaps for your mom). Therefore, you need to create content that stands on its own feet.
If you intend to use Instagram’s video platform – IGTV – for longer videos, as a YouTube competitor, remember that all videos need to be in a portrait format.
6. Include Video in Your Content Mix
Although Instagram started as a way that people could share photos it quickly adapted to meet the needs of its followers. With increased popularity in video, Instagram made it as easy to attach a short video to a post, as it is a still image. According to NewsWhip, 33% posts in 2017 included video, compared to 67% with a photo.
You probably shouldn’t rely solely on videos – most successful channels emphasize variety in their posts – but you should sprinkle videos into your content mix. In NewsWhip’s survey, the largest brand with the most video content was ESPN, which included videos in about half of its posts.
NewsWhip found that photos tended to drive more likes per post for the top publishers, while videos drove more comments on average.
7. Feature User Generated Content
It is vital that you do not let your Instagram account just become a corporate mouthpiece. Your engagement will surely dry up if you do. You want your Instagram account to be social.
People love to see themselves or their creativity online. Many of the best Instagram accounts encourage user-generated content.
For example, many businesses have tasted success by encouraging their customers to post a picture of themselves using the company product. You can tie this all together by asking posters to @mention the business and even using a custom hashtag,
An advantage of this is that it shows happy people using the company product. An additional benefit is that user-generated content is generally more trusted than official company-created and vetted posts.
8. Use Hashtags intelligently
Hashtags initially gained regular use on Twitter. People now use them on many social platforms; however, Instagram is where they have found the most success.
As we saw in The Ultimate Guide to Using Instagram Hashtags to Grow your Followers, there are two main approaches you can use with hashtags:
- Use Popular Hashtags to Increase Your Views
- Use Highly Specific Hashtags to Reach Your Ideal Audience
Instagram allows you to use 30 hashtags with your posts, although in reality, you are unlikely to have high engagement if you use your entire quota. The key to using hashtags on Instagram is to keep them relevant and help your fellow Instagrammers. Don’t you use unrelated hashtags, however, because people will look at you as spamming the system and risking an Instagram shadowban.
A relatively recent change to Instagram means that you can now include clickable hashtags in your bio.
Some of the most successful brands on Instagram have created successful brand and event hashtags, which people have happily shared. They work particularly well with user-generated content.
9. Don’t Use a Bland Call to Action
Ultimately the reason you operate a business Instagram account is to market your good or service. While you will never succeed with blatant advertising on the platform, you can encourage your followers to take specific actions – to convert in your preferred way.
As with all e-Commerce, you need to include some form of Call to Action, to encourage your followers to do what you want of them. This can be a simple as asking people to leave a comment or share your post. If you want them to leave Instagram to do something you need some form of Call of Action telling them to go to your profile page and click on the link you have placed there.
10. Use Filters That Interest Your Audience
Many Instagram users love playing with the myriad of filters available on the social network. Using different filters can affect how people interact with your posts.
You will probably want to experiment with different filter options to determine which ones resonate most with your audience.
11. Avoid Spamming and Annoying Your Followers
It is possible to be too social on Instagram. You need to avoid coming across as spammy. If you annoy your followers, they will unfollow, or even block your account.
The biggest danger for a company is publishing too many promotional posts. You need the bulk of your posts to be valuable content for your followers, with only a small number of promotional posts sprinkled in the mix.
The other important thing you need to consider is the tone of your target audience. You need to match the nature of your posts with the people likely to see them. You would not use much slang or swearing in your posts, or upload risqué pictures if you target a family audience. However, you might if your product targets young working males.
12. Tell Your Brand’s Story with Instagram Stories
One of the fastest growing areas of Instagram in recent years has been Instagram Stories. They have even been called Snapchat-killers as they have taken on many of the most loved features of their rival, and now have a much larger user base.
Instagram Stories are temporary and vanish after 24 hours, but they are perfect for storytelling. Instagram Stories allows brands to tell fresh visual tales about their business on a regular basis.
Instagram Stories do not clog up their audience’s feeds. They don’t appear in people's’ timelines, so don’t come across as being spammy.
They are a combination of images and videos that work together, along with a commentary overlay, to tell today's story for a brand.
Instagram Stories appear at the top of a user’s feed, which places your brand right before their eyes – albeit only for 24 hours.
13. Go Live on Instagram Live
One of the more recent additions to the platform is Instagram Live. This is a great way to gain exposure and engagement as you carry out a live video on the platform. As with Instagram Stories, Instagram Live appears outside your newsfeed, at the top of your page.
Businesses that have tried Instagram Live report that not only does Instagram Live reward accounts that stream live; it also gives more weighting to the account’s non-live posts too.
14. Determine the Influencers in Your Niche
Influencers earn that title because they become masters in a niche. Therefore, if you want to be successful, you need to learn what makes the influencers in your niche successful.
You will probably know the successful influencers in your field, but if you are uncertain, use a tool like Buzzsumo to discover your industry’s social leaders.
Take a close look at how these influencers operate. What have they written on their profile? What types of posts do they make? How do they mix them up? Which of their posts were most successful, receiving the most comments, likes, and shares? Have they used custom hashtags, and what did they do to encourage others to use them? Try to determine the reasons why those posts performed better than others did. Look for any consistent patterns and trends.
15. Use Shoppable Posts
Instagram introduced shoppable posts in the US in 2017, expanded it across the globe in early 2018. This makes it easier for people to find, evaluate, and track relevant products on Instagram.
Businesses can create and tag a post with products directly from their iOS mobile phone. Once a business connects a product catalog to their account, they can tag a product as simple as tagging a person in a post.
Shoppers can tap on a tagged post within their feed or use the Shop button on a business's profile to learn more about buying the product. People can go from inspiration to information and purchase in just a few taps.
16. Gain Exposure with Instagram Ads
If you have an online advertising budget, you might choose to play with Instagram ads. These are part of the Facebook ad network, and Instagram is just one of the places where you can select to deliver your Facebook ads.
If you target your Instagram ads well, you should increase your Instagram traffic, and in turn, improve your Instagram engagement.
As with all Facebook ads, you go about this process by bidding on spots in people's’ newsfeeds. We have covered this process in detail in our post on How Much Does it Cost to Advertise on Instagram.