More Than Pretty Pictures: How to Drive Sales with Instagram

Many independent retailers rely on social media to promote new product arrivals, engage with customers and share information on events and specials. It is a powerful tool to connect with a converse with customers in an authentic way – and it is a powerful addition to an already important ecommerce strategy.

With the average person spending over 1.5 hours browsing social media every day – it has incomparable reach. Instagram has risen through the ranks as the resource for product research and inspiration for customers when making a buying decision – they are actively looking, ready to make a purchase, and your feed and social strategy should be there to guide them to a purchase.

Here are a few tips to ensuring you’re making the most of Instagram to drive sales:

1.  Quality and consistent product imagery
The atheistic of your Instagram defines your visual brand on social. Keeping things consistent helps keeps your posts look clean (and recognizable) when they show up in your customers’ feeds.
– Identify a few consistent backgrounds to take lay-flat product photography
  (wrapping paper, kraft paper, concrete or hardwood floors work well!)
– Use natural light or a consistent light source – this will keep your photos looking consistent (you can always enhance and adjust brightness within Instagram, or a photo editing app!)
– Focus on one or a few like products in a shot – showing more detail rather than a large display is always more impactful. Less is more!

2. Partnerships with tastemakers and influencers
With the more recent addition of Instagram Stories – and custom (meaning trackable) links allowed in those stories to enable users to direct shop from a story that captures interest – it is much easier to track and analyze conversions on these paid partnerships. An influencer can be a person, a publication or even a complementary store or brand that has a strong and authentic following with high engagement. Before, this type of partnership was hard to measure to determine ROI and was more for branding, but now, you will be able to see just how much revenue is driven by your influencer sources and turn up and down your investments to perfect your mix.

3. Apps that make your feed “shop-able”
As you’re curating a beautiful feed of crisp, clear and consistent product images – you’re going to want to ensure that a customer who is scrolling though can easily find a product you posted 5 days ago without having to navigate through hoops to find it on your website. This is where apps like curalate come in – they turn inspiration to action – and allow your customers to click a link in your bio where your customers can shop your entire feed with links directly to the products featured. There is usually an investment cost here – but again, it’s trackable to determine effectiveness and is an important way to drive direct sales from your feed.

4. Drive traffic into your store
While there is no denying its role in Ecommerce – using Instagram is one of the most effective communication tools to drive foot traffic in store. We’ve seen some retailers promote “store only capsule collections” on Instagram with the call to action to visit the store and streaming LIVE unboxings of new items that just arrived in their Instagram stories. And, while these types of engagements are not as trackable to a specific action or sale like driving to the web, one of the most important things to remember is the power of creating authentic, conversational and engaging content to build your brand story with your customers. These types of posts make your followers feel special and offer exclusive content that will keep them coming back.

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