28Jul
By: Paula Borowska July 28, 2016

Instagram is one of my favorite social media channels. Because it is filled with high quality content, using Instagram for business is a great addition to any social media marketing plan. As the name suggests, this post will walk you through all the necessary considerations for deciding how to use Instagram for business. We’ve already written a post about Instagram marketing tips so be sure to check that hyperlinked article out once you’re done reading this guide. But first, let’s dive in and get a handle on exactly how Instagram works and why you should consider using it for your business.

How to Use Instagram for Marketing: Why Is Instagram an Important Platform?

Oh my, where do I even start? 70% of Instagram users report they have looked up a company on the platform. 62% of Instagram users follow a company on Instagram. Based on these statistics alone, using Instagram for business is pretty much a no-brainer.

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The demographics of Instagram are interesting too. As much as 29% of women online use Instagram vs. only 22% of men. Whereas, 53% of 18-29 years olds use Instagram. That’s every other person in that age group. If you’re looking for more information on the statistics Buffer has a great report. The main takeaway here is that you should use Instagram for business especially if your target audience includes women or younger adults. 

Instagram vs. Facebook

To understand how to market on Instagram, doing a bit of comparison with other popular marketing channels is always useful. As an ecommerce entrepreneur, you’ve probably read about Facebook as the most fundamental platform for advertising your ecommerce business. Indeed, it is quite popular and a useful starting point because many other marketing channels function on similar systems to Facebook ads. In fact, paid advertising on Instagram is synchronized with the Facebook ads system. Therefore, connecting an Instagram account to your existing Facebook ads account can be done in just a few clicks.

If we were to examine the two channels side by side, the first thing to point out is that there are many more companies using Facebook, one of the more common social media platforms for business, than Instagram. Therefore, Instagram provides the great advantage of being a less saturated market. That said, note that this is changing rapidly as Instagram’s user base grows. Be sure to get onto Instagram sooner than later, as the market keeps filling up with companies who realize the immense benefits of utilizing this channel.

For example, Instagram tends to outrank Facebook in the level of direct engagement that exists here between companies and their followers. Because of the democratic nature of the platform, where each user’s account operates the same way, you audience will typically feel more comfortable commenting, sharing, and liking your posts as they show up in their feeds. You can interact via Instagram stories, and reposting, liking, or commenting on other users’ activity is a more natural aspect of using the platform than it is with company page on Facebook.

Some specifics about how to utilize Instagram in comparison to Facebook are as follows. Integrating hashtags into posts by using the ‘Explore’ section of Instagram make finding new users to follow much easier than attempting to build an organic following for a Facebook page. Thus, it’s going to be much easier for you to be more visible to more users, too, as your account could show up on other peope’s Discover feeds. The one very interesting thing about Instagram as compared to Facebook is the amount of posting one should do. On Facebook, posting a lot is actually not the best idea as it clutters the newsfeeds of the people who liked your post in a way that just doesn’t quite fit on the platform. For the reasons mentioned above, posting often on Instagram, on the other hand, leads to higher engagement. It’s best to post once a day or more on this platform. There are even numerous companies on Instagram that post multiple times a day to maximize their engagement.

Instagram vs. Snapchat

On the other end of the spectrum, where Facebook is the classic channel used for ecommerce marketing, Snapchat is a more emergent and experimental option. Instagram is situated right in the middle, providing the established best practices you might be able to find with Facebook, with the visually stimulation and interactivity of Snapchat. When playing the game of Instagram vs. Snapchat, while Snapchat is built around ‘stories’ and direct ‘snaps’ between users, Instagram actually has all these features built in. Therefore, you can be using the streamlined paid ads system that is directly integrated into the Facebook ads channel whilst also regularly updating your Instagram stories– almost identical to the Snapchat platform– to engage your audience organically. On top of that, on Instagram you can maintain a steady feed of product images and even employ the new in-app purchase feature where users can buy from your brand directly from their feeds. Essentially, with Instagram you get pretty much all of the creative features attached to Snapchat plus a wider audience that is more receptive to product promotion.


Setting up Your Profile

There are three key things you should know about your Instagram profile, fundamental aspects of understanding how Instagram works. It’s essential that you follow these tips if you want to understand how to use Instagram for your dropshipping business. If you want to know how to use Instagram for marketing, creating a profile is going to be a practical first step. The first thing you need to get right is your profile photo; it should be of your company’s logo. Anything else is not going to be recognizable. The second thing to get right is your description or bio. It’s a little bit of text that lets you share and explain who is behind the account and what the photos are about. A good start is to include a quick outline of who you are and what you do. That’s it really.

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The third thing to know about is your profile link. Unlike other forms of social media, Instagram does not allow many links. Frankly, they only allow one in your bio. You can’t have links from individual photos. You can update your bio link as much as you want. Of course, the link should go to your website. But, if you’re currently running a sale, link to that instead. Post a photo related to the sale and update your bio link. It’s a pretty common practice since there isn’t much else one should do. Now that you know how Instagram works in the basic sense, it’s time to consider how to use it as a marketing channel for your business.

Things to Post on Instagram: Create a Content Strategy

With any social media or marketing efforts, you should have a strategy that drives your decisions surrounding things to post on Instagram. There are already plenty of detailed articles about content strategies on Oberlo. But I will give you the gist of it. A good content strategy lets you measure how successful your campaigns are. You are going to set goals and track them. You would observe how the thing you post are doing and learn from them. Over time, you’d learn quite a lot, especially how to choose things to post on Instagram that work directly to your advantage. This would not only give you more confidence and knowledge but strategically drive more followers, engagement, traffic and even sales your way. The remainder of this article will give further insight about exactly which things to post on Instagram and how to go about doing so most effectively.

How to Use Instagram for Marketing: Elements of a Highly Performing Account

One key thing about using Instagram is the style you craft around your profile. Instagram is all about branding. Develop a beautiful feed mixed with product photos along with other imagery that brings your brand persona to life. If you are selling sunglasses, show people on sunny beach holidays wearing your products or place a pair amidst other outfits and accessories fit for adventures your audience might want to go on. Always think about the distinction between what kind of imagery and imagination you can inject your products with on Instagram vs. real life. This is what users are seeking and providing them with this brief escape can quickly convert to sales.

Let’s get a bit more technical about how you can make this happen. In order to learn how to use Instagram, you will have to get at least a little artistic and creative. Because the platform is photo based, it will require a good visual aesthetic on your part. Below you will find how to create a visual style guide that will make posting photos towards your branding goals much easier. A style guide is a set of rules or guidelines to follow for each post. A style guide functions as a great framework for keeping things consistent on your feed. They are present in all sorts of fields from web design to blogging and, yes, social media. Let’s dive into what your Instagram style guide should include.

Composition

Composition refers to the content of the photo. How will it look? What will it show? You can specify that you will only post photos of shirts against a solid background. Some accounts post pretty busy photos but they are consistent in their composition. It will depend on your style and photography skills. The composition should also define what should and shouldn’t serve as subjects in your photos. For instance, if you are only selling t-shirts, it’s going to be inconsistent for you to share a photo of coats, shoes or accessories. You can also specifically exclude items that you know don’t make sense for your account.

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Colors and Fonts

Having a color palette means that your photos will look a certain way. This shouldn’t limit you to posting photos that are only recolored to be fully yellow. In the season of autumn, for instance, it’s natural for many companies to be posting fall-themed images. They are usually orange, green and brown and involving natural settings. That’s one way to define color. The second way is a lot more creative. What if you only posted yellow photos? What if you only posted images of solid colored items? That is all up to you to define. As you consider this, be sure to take into account the feed as a whole, paying mind to the color tones and types of images you want to include between one photo and the next. What kind of atmosphere do you want to create in the feed?

You should also pick a font to use for your images. Every now and again you will post a photo with text in it. Don’t forget to specify the style of the font too. It’s most likely going to be the same font used on your website. Or not, you have the creative freedom to decide what is best for your brand!

Filters

A lot of accounts on Instagram look cohesive. Filters are a big part of it. A filter could mean posting only black and white photos. It can also mean tampering with a very complicated set of settings. With filters, you should have a clear idea of the end product you’re going for in your alterations. Filters affect a variety of characteristics on a photo. Lighting, contrast, and brightness are easily the three most common ones. Are you going to post bright photos or dark ones? Define it in your style guide.

Captions

Now, we are moving away from the photos themselves and onto the captions. Note that consistency in captioning is a good thing. Do your captions communicate something witty? Do they share a little tidbit of information about the item you’re showing off? Whatever the caption may be, start by defining the voice of your brand and then do your best to stick with it. Doing so will improve the quality of your posts.

Hashtags

The last thing on the list is hashtags. Consistently including hashtags in the description or comments section of your posts is a key strategy for boosting the engagement on your account. As users click a given hashtag they will be redirected to an entire feed with every post to utilize that same tag. To decide which tags are relevant to your brand, do a bit of research around Instagram. Check your competitors and click hashtags you might want to use in order to see who is and how else they are currently circulating. Are there any specific hashtags that you want each post to use over and over again? Are there hashtags that you don’t want to be used at all? For instance, it could be a competitor’s hashtag or something irrelevant and saturated like #l4l.

Building a Following Organically

Now that you have a good sense of what goes into a good post, it’s time to zoom out and think about the big picture. As you grow your feed, always keep the primary goal in mind: building a following to help generate more sales. This often takes a long term approach, and requires intention and strategy beyond each individual post. Three things worth paying attention to as you build a following organically are how often to post on Instagram, Instagrams to follow, and assessing who viewed your profile.

How Often to Post on Instagram

As mentioned above, in comparison to other marketing channels like Facebook, knowing how often to post on Instagram takes on its own unique strategy. Posting at least once a day is a good benchmark, but anything ranging from 4-5 a week or even a couple of posts a day is acceptable. Just be sure to keep it consistent, and maintain the quality of your posts even when attempting to post multiple times a day. Note that data suggests there isn’t really any limit in how often to post on Instagram, so it’s better to be posting more often than less. By the same token, posting too little can also diminish your presence in your audience’s newsfeed. Most Instagram marketing experts will agree that it’s all about finding that sweet spot in the middle. This could vary depending on your audience and the type of products you’re selling. A solid benchmark is to post once or twice a day.

Instagrams to Follow

Another way to grow your own following beyond the photos you post on your own account, is by following other accounts with audiences that might also be interested in your brand. One of the most straightforward ways of finding Instagrams to follow is by utilizing the ‘Discover’ section of the app. Other Instagrams to follow could include brands similar or complementary to yours. Sticking with our sunglasses example, you might want to grow your network by following beach clothing brands or influencers and famous people that might wear sunglasses like the ones you are selling. Being strategic about who you follow is also one of the best ways to siphon followers from your competitors by going to their accounts and adding some of their followers.

Especially when your business is still small, start building relationships with your audience by following back the accounts that follow you. In addition to simply following accounts, be sure to like and comment other profiles, too. Engagement is just as important, if not more so, than the initial act of following. Be patient and keep the practice of combing Instagram for the right accounts to feed your network on the site, and over time you will begin to see results.

Instagram: Who Viewed My Profile?

To keep track of the progress of growing your audience, it can be useful to monitor who is viewing your profile. This way you can see if the strategies you use to grow a following with the right audience are working. Apps like InstaView can help you with this, extrapolating data from the Instagram users who have viewed your account so that you can assess your progress integrating with the right audience for your shop. Knowing the proportion of people who view your profile in comparison to the number of followers you get can also be beneficial in determining whether or not you need to up your engagement in order to make more followers out of the people who are simply just viewing your profile.  

In addition to growing your following organically, you can also opt to create paid ads on Instagram. The ads will appear in your targeted audience’s newsfeed just as pictures and videos of the accounts they follow do. You can even make ads with multiple product photos, as this feature as recently available on the platform. Plus, you can have your ads appear in your audience’s Instagram stories queue. As mentioned above, all you need to get started with creating your paid ads on Instagram is a Facebook Ads account from which you can simply add the  channel from your Business Manager page. From here, things operate on the same system as Facebook ads.

How to Use Instagram for Business: Final Thoughts

In this article, you’ve gained new insight about which things to post on Instagram in conjunction with how to use Instagram for marketing. Now that you’ve finished reading this comprehensive guide, you’re ready to start using Instagram. You have the building blocks for deciding how to use Instagram for business, but learning anything new can be intimidating nonetheless. Be patient and give yourself the time you need to make your account into a major asset to your business. Start by getting comfortable using the platform and its settings, and then remember to be strategic in what you post and who you follow. In the end, knowing how to use Instagram effectively for your particular business is a matter of experimenting, and these guidelines are sure to keep you on track towards success.

New to Instagram marketing? If you have any comments, questions, or would like to share your experience using Instagram for your dropshipping business, feel free to share in the comments section, below!

  • #Worklife

    nice

  • DBZ Super World

    I currently use Instagram marketing and I haven’t been as effective doing it. I’m currently learning and this document certainly helps with my Shopify store at http://www.dbzsuperworld.com — thanks for the article.

  • I absolutely adore Oberlo and the help received to get started on my store. I started using instagram as soon as my shop opened (10 days ago) and have received a good amount so far. I would love to hear more about how to provide better shipping using Oberlo that will not make the price of the product extremely high. You find my Store at https://www.itsjustbiz.com
    –thanks for the extra support!