Using Instagram for Business

One of the most common questions I get in various Facebook groups is how do I use Instagram as my main source of marketing for Mini Backdrops. Well today I am going to share three tips on using Instagram to grow your small business. These tips are particularly geared towards those that have a webshop and are selling physical items.

Change the way you think about Instagram

When I first starting using Instagram, it was with my personal account and I used it as a way to connect with other mom bloggers and family and friends. For me, it was very personal and I always try to keep it authentic and a place to share images from my daily life.

I attempted to do something similar with Mini Backdrops right at the very beginning. But I quickly realized, that if I wanted to turn Instagram views into sales I had to do things different.

I was told by many people that Instagram will never be the main driving force to gain sales. That is is only for branding exposure, and people do not go to websites to purchase something they have seen on Instagram. This is false and simply not true. Instagram is the number 1 source for traffic on Mini Backdrops, and I have had many customers tell me that they found me through Instagram.

So how do I do it? Simple, I got less personal and started treating my Instagram as a marketing campaign. How am I supposed to sell backdrops by posting pictures of myself or my desk? I stopped thinking of Instagram as a place to share the world about who I am all the time, and tried to figure out a way I could still connect with my potential customers in a way that was not ‘hey look what I am selling’ but still putting my product in front of them all the time.

Get Creative

I learnt quickly that posts that say things such as ‘Mini Backdrops, only 19.99USD and free worldwide shipping’ and really sales pitchy did not go well. These types of post feel too much like I am only out to sell you something, and people quickly scroll past this.

So I started to think.. who are my customers, and how would they use my backdrops. At this point, I really started to fine tune my images and started to only use images of my backdrops in use, in various ways that I could see my customers using my backdrops. I curated my feed. I made it ‘pretty’. In this way I started creating images that stop people from scrolling, that capture them for a moment, and when you do this, then they are more likely read your caption.

In our case, we have a wide customer base and interests. Because of this I choose to focus on something I am good at. Photography. I started taking flatlay photography using my backdrops and used hashtags appropriate to my images. I will also take pictures of items to show how our backdrops can be used for product photography. In this way I am sometimes able to add a bit about myself in my photos. For example, for those who follow my feed, will know that I have a think about taking pictures of flowers and tea. I was able to introduce my family life by taking images of crafts my kids have made (showing bloggers ways to use my backdrops).

My suggestion to other small businesses is to find creative ways to show off your products that are not just strait product photos. Make it fun, inviting, interesting. Think about it, unless the product image is amazing, would you want to follow an Instagram feed that is just product images? Or would you rather follow an interesting feed. Make a feed that you would want to follow yourself. If you wouldn’t follow your own account, you are doing it wrong.

Follow…. and Unfollow

Okay, so this one is a bit controversial. There are a lot of people who find this system disingenuous. But this tip really falls back to my first tip with changing the way you think about Instagram. You need to remember at the end of the day your goal is to sell the items in your shop. The best way to do this is to get your product in front of as many people as you can. There is a really easy way to do this. Follow a lot of people.

Think of your Instagram account as a business card. Every time you follow someone, they receive a notice. This is like handing them a business card, where they can choose to look at your account, or they can choose to ignore it. If the choose to visit your page, they will see your profile, and here they should be able to find a link to your website. Just like a business card has information to to get in contact to you.

The most important part of this, though, is to follow those in your target market. If you are following completely random people, then then this won’t turn into webshop visits or sales.

Now by doing this, you are going to end up following a lot of people. Which also is not idea in the long run. Ideally you follow people who you can interact with. If you follow to many people, you will not be able to interact with them. So every now and then (I do this once a week) you should go into your account and unfollow accounts. Now there are different ways to decide who makes the cut. A lot of businesses will automatically unfollow someone who is not following them. I do not do this.

I look at my list of who I follow in two ways. I follow my customers when I can, because this will give me the opportunity to interact with their images and keep reminding them of me, and thus keep them coming back to my shop. I follow accounts where I could potentially network with and create good business relationships. Lastly I follow any account that I like. By keeping the number of people I am following lower, and am able to interact better.

A lot of people think that you have to look at your followers and the people you are following the same way. But essentially they require two different strategies and purposes when looking from a business standpoint.

I do not do follow for follow. I do not want a lot of followers who are not interested in my product, nor do I think the people I follow should have to follow me back.

Wow… that post ended up being a lot longer than intended! But those are my three main tips or strategies when using Instagram for business.

Have questions? You are more than welcome to join our Facebook Group where I can answer questions or post them to our Facebook Page.