Guest post by Claire
Social Media Expert of Crunchy Social, a social media agency based in Sydney
Instagram is an incredible social media platform. With millions of monthly users and a truly engaged audience, you can use Instagram to completely elevate your business. As many of us know, Instagram is an extremely visual platform, and many businesses tend to struggle to find how they can consistently provide aesthetic posts that attract an engaged audience.
The beauty of retail is that every business owner is looking to promote a product they believe in. There is plenty of scope when it comes to visual updates, even if your offering isn't the most photograph-able. We’ve compiled a list that will help you find ways to utilise Instagram. Yes, it can become more than just pretty photos with filters.
1. Get creative
With so many Instagram profiles out there, you do have to get a little bit creative. What can your profile offer that others don’t? You need to add value to your content and give your followers a reason to follow you.
It's a great move to adopt a certain “theme”, which immediately appeals to your audience. This can be in terms of your colour palette, fonts and post styles but also content pillars. Having themes for your content can make it easier to post multiple updates per week and compartmentalise your social media requirements. It also helps you work out what your followers like, depending on your analytics.
A few examples of content pillars could be:
A motivational quote on a Monday
A picture and explanation of your newest product or service on Wednesday
A tip on how to use your product or what complements it nicely on a Friday
And finally, a casual and real update over the weekend to show that there are humans behind your retail business e.g. a pic of your favourite coffee or an inspirational design you like.
If you have trouble remembering to post on Instagram, try scheduling your posts in bulk on a platform like Later or Buffer. These automatically post at your planned time so all you have to do is keep an eye on your comments and DM's!
2. Utilise Instagram stories
Don’t forget to use the Instagram story option. As these only remain live for 24 hours, they are a much more casual way to connect with your audience and improve your user experience. They also add a sense of urgency for your audience to watch them which is great if you have any special offers for your most loyal followers.
If your business profile has over 10,000 followers, stories also give an option to add a “swipe up” link. This allows you to send people straight to your website, which is a great lead builder. Why not use stories to post behind the scenes images and videos to show the more authentic side of your business? Show the new stock you've ordered, introduce your staff members with fun and thought-provoking questions or involve your audience by asking them to vote on their favourite variation of your products.
Instagram Stories are almost like an exclusive look into the inner workings of your business, well, the fun parts at least!
You can add your past stories to highlights which feature on your profile. It's a good idea to build these up according to different themes, to establish an active and interesting profile. This works well for any brand, especially fashion and beauty brands. Travel profiles also benefit greatly from this feature too.
3. Use hashtags
This might seem like an old tip, but it is still really relevant. The way we use hashtags has changed over the years, but you should continue to use them on all of your posts for better reach.
Keep your hashtags relevant to your business, and the post. Also, avoid general or vague hashtags. These might bring in a few extra likes but they won't bring valuable followers, potential customers or views to your profile.
When posting about events or trends, make sure you keep an eye out for any designated hashtags to capture the niche audience of interested people.
4. Collaborate with others
Don’t forget to feature other people or businesses on your profile, and tag them. Chances are, others will start to do the same for you. This allows for another whole audience of people to see your content and messaging, providing you with the opportunity to gain more attention and followers. By engaging with other's you're simply getting your name out there and showing users that you're active and interested in their updates. The more you engage with others, the more others will engage with you, benefitting your business.
You could also try influencer marketing, particularly micro-influencer marketing. This sort of collaboration could involve simply supplying your product in return for a post to the influencer's followers. Be sure to take careful consideration of their statistics and your own analytics during the promotion.
5. Always check your analytics
One thing that a professional social media manager will tell you is that the key to social media is to constantly check your analytics. This way you can decide what is working and what isn’t working quite as well as you expected. You need to understand how people are reacting to your content.
Don’t forget to pay careful attention to the best posting days and times, as well as the types of content that are getting the most likes. If you don’t use this information to update your strategy, change with the times, and scrap certain ideas, your Instagram may not do as well as it could.
Using Instagram has a plethora of benefits and it's important that you create an online reputation of being active and approachable. Customers will be much more likely to purchase from your store if they're able to form a deeper connection with your brand.