September 15, 2020 5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Sixty-two percent of Americans were working from home as of late spring, according to a May 2020 Gallup survey, making ecommerce even more critical to any successful marketing campaign. Social channels are especially helpful in encouraging customer demand, which offsets risk amid a deep recession.
Instagram in particular is one of the most profitable sites for promoting goods and services, especially if you operate in a niche — think fashion and beauty, travel, health and fitness, food, consumer goods, home and decor and digital services — that makes heavy use of multimedia content. In fact, ecommerce makes up 15.8 percent of total interactions on Instagram, according to a January 2020 report by Socialbakers.
Here’s how marketers, independent contractors, freelancers and small-business owners can expand their reach and acquire new customers on Instagram.
Create a business account to draw inbound interest
Instagram has 120 million U.S. users, according to analytics firm NapoleonCat. More than 200 million global users visit at least one business profile daily, according to Instagram, and 60 percent of people say they discover new products on the platform.
“Create a business account so the Instagram marketplace knows that you exist,” advises Tony Noskov, founder of Snoopreport, a firm that developed Instagram Activity Tracker for individuals and businesses. “An Instagram business account lets you see real-time metrics on engagement so you can adjust strategy, interaction and content to attract inbound interest on goods and services. A business profile enables brands to publish location, store hours, website and phone number. Put a call-to-action button that moves consumers along the sales funnel to possible conversion.”
Thirty-seven percent of U.S. adults are Instagrammers, and 63 percent of them visit the site daily, according to Pew Research. Noskov’s Instagram Activity Tracker lets anyone monitor a public user’s likes, comments, follows and other activities.
For businesses, the tool is helpful for building a list of influencers and for benchmarking competitor strategies. Instagram also comes equipped with native tools that allow users to optimize photos and videos without having to pay for additional software or services.
Make time for social outreach
Between March 1 and July 10, 132,580 businesses closed around the country, according to Yelp’s Economic Impact Report. Social marketing can mitigate economic risks by unforeseen forces. It’s prudent to seek deep-pocketed clients or customers who refresh the work pipeline so you can better sleep at night. Allocate one day per week to be actively engaged on social channels or with online promotion.
If you’re busy with current projects, you should still commit at least 10 percent of your workweek to marketing. You may find higher-paying gigs that come with less headache. Delegate by hiring a low-cost intern who won’t mind earning money and class credits to use Instagram for business.
An effective approach when using Instagram is to first define your target buyers. Businesses can define market segments in several waysm including demographics, values and lifestyle, consumer behavior, disposable income and geography. By identifying their ideal buyers, marketers can customize messages and offers, as well as concentrate on a smaller group of consumers who benefit the most from a product or service.
Companies are in a better position to optimize marketing efforts, pricing, product design, shipping and other aspects of their businesses when they better understand their customers. This can lead to improved key performance indicators (KPIs) like click-throughs, conversion rates, profit margins, customer satisfaction and other important business metrics.
Who is your ideal client or customer, and how do they interact with your Instagram content? What keywords, hashtags, photos and videos do they respond to? What communication styles best resonate with them? One helpful approach is to create a buyer persona — a fictional representation of a few ideal customers based both on experience and data. By knowing who specifically you’re targeting, you can improve content, sales and marketing, product design, delivery and other aspects of customer acquisition.
Benchmark top performers
An Instagram strategy shouldn’t be set in stone; it should be liquid. You must continually optimize methods based on new preferences and trends, but once you’ve gained actionable insights from top accounts, you can begin to create aesthetic visuals for your brand.
The key is to capture amazing photos and videos and to tell stories that spark lively discussions from people who will like, comment and push your brand. Write compelling captions that convey the essence of your craft, i.e. what makes you tick and why you’re the right person (or product) for the job. Display client stories or give audiences a behind-the-scenes look at how things operate at your place of business.
The end strategy you settle on will depend heavily on your industry and target buyers. That’s why it’s important to observe and understand why top performers are converting the way they are. Something in your approach resonates with them and aligns with how they consume and engage with your Instagram content.
Once you’ve found a good fit, keep your foot on the proverbial gas pedal.