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05 Dec 2018
Instagram is becoming a much more powerful tool to be used to boost sales for online retailers. This article will explore the questions of how and why Instagram has become such an important marketing tool for online retailers. 
 
Read to the end of the article for some helpful tips on boosting sales using Instagram. By the end of the article, we guarantee you will have a comprehensive understanding of how to use Instagram to boost your online sales. 
 
Instagram – a numerical overview 
 
Anyone who doubts the power of Instagram just needs to consider the sheer volume of users it boasts. 
 
As of June 2018, Instagram has reached 1 billion monthly users, which is up from 800 million in late 2017. Interestingly, 41% of users globally, are in the 24 years old & younger category (statista.com). 
 
This exponential growth has fuelled a complete re-imagining of Instagram functionality. Central to this is how the platform is used by sellers to sell their products. 
 
 
Instagram evolving as a shopping platform 
 
Aware of its application for marketing purposes, Instagram is changing its functionality to make it easier for sellers to sell. 
 
As part of a larger e-commerce update, Instagram has just recently made it possible for items to be bought direct from videos featured on users’ feeds. This update also allows users to shop on business profiles more easily, by allowing them to save a “shopping collection” similar to a “basket” display on more conventional shopping platforms. 
 
This function can be used to gather all of the products a user is interested in buying and see them alongside each other, with information like price displayed for them to consider. Crucially, this allows shoppers to do what a lot of shoppers do – go away and think about the proposed purchase, then come back in their own time and make the purchase quickly with no fuss. 
 
With these important changes taking place, online retailers are asking “how can Instagram be used to boost sales?”. Read on for our helpful tips on achieving better sales using Instagram. 
 
 
8 tips to boost sales using Instagram
 
1. Take good pictures 
Instagram is a very visual platform, much more so than Facebook and Twitter. 
 
People want to engage with the visual representation of your brand as a means of understanding what your brand does and what you are selling. Good images make this process of understanding easier. Moreover, using images to sell removes the need for shoppers to read large swathes of information in order to understand the products being sold. For these channels of communication to be exploited to ensure better sales, attention-grabbing images are essential. As such the importance of good images cannot be understated.
 
So what does it take to create a good image? Creating powerful images is a creative process, so an important part of figuring out what it takes to create a powerful image that will boost sales potential and brand image is to investigate examples of images that other sellers have successfully used to attract users to their profiles. 
 
Ideally, your search for inspiration should include sellers of products that are similar to your own, so sellers of fashion products might want to search for the images produced by their competitors. This investigation will give you a springboard from which to create your own ideas about what images, colours and visuals will best appeal to the audience you are selling to. 
 
Taking good pictures requires a lot of attention to technical details like lighting. Pictures can be improved by choosing the best lighting to suit the context of the image, so natural light may be more appropriate for some images whereas indoor, artificial light may be more appropriate, depending on the requirements of the image. Experimentation with taking shots in differently lit environments allows for the image taker to compare and contrast the effects of the image. 
 
Good images start with a good camera, so choose the camera for the shoot wisely. Some Instagram users will even hire a professional photographer to get the best shots possible. If a professional photographer is not an option, then taking the time to experiment, to really understand how the camera works and using accessories like a tripod will all help to achieve greats shots. 
 
2. Post videos 
Videos can be uploaded easily on Instagram. They increase user engagement and are great conversation starters. 
 
Many successful products videos simply show how to use a product, for example for makeup products, a video can be especially useful to show how the products can be used to best effect. 
 
Videos that go a bit further than just simple “how-tos” for example by being funny will often be shared extensively on social media, so it is worth investing the time to create, and shoot a great video that tells a story that will be interesting to watch. 
 
If you are shooting your own video, the same tips for creating great images apply. In addition it is important to ensure that all video shot is steady. 
 
3. Multi-channel approach
There are multiple platforms with large amounts of social media following, all is which is ripe for making fresh connections that increase your brand recognition. 
 
Most successful brands have a presence on all social media outlets including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, so Instagram users need to be careful not to fall into the trap of devoting too much time to just one social media outlet. 
 
Posts and content created for Instagram, or other social media outlets can be recycled and should be shared via a multi-channel approach to reach social media users who don’t have, or have but don’t use Instagram.  
 
4. Competitions and challenges 
Creating and advertising a competition like “like this picture to win a prize” is a simple, but powerful means of building an Instagram profile. 
 
People who enter the competition will return to the Instagram profile again and again to check their progress and to check the final result. All of this increases brand awareness and brand recognition and this all helps to drive sales. 
 
5. Engage with users and start conversations 
User engagement is a key method of boosting sales using Instagram. If you are posting an image, it helps to post a blog with the image which asks questions of the viewer and invites them to share their views by commenting. 
 
Any comments posted should be replied to, with the aim of starting a conversation or, starting a conversation that other users may decide to get involved in also. 
 
6. If you don’t have time, hire an expert 
Using Instagram to build a brand image that will sell your products takes time and technical knowledge. Many startup businesses in particular will take the time to manage their own accounts, and amateurs can be highly successful at creating social media accounts that engage users and sell products. However, there is no shame in admitting that the world of Instagram is a complete mystery to you. If you do not have the time to invest in doing this yourself, you should consider outsourcing the management of your social media to a professional. 
 
7. Links
Whatever material you create for your marketing campaigns, you need to ensure your end goals are met i.e. that the material is not only interesting and enticing to read, but that it also sells your products. 
 
To increase brand recognition and promoting brand awareness, the insertion of a link that diverts the reader to your website is very common. It makes sure the reader can go back and get a complete look at the whole brand and the whole product range, if this is what they wish to do. 
 
8. Evaluate 
Whatever way you achieve your marketing goals by using Instagram, it is essential that you plan what you wish to achieve, then you honestly evaluate whether you have achieved what you set out to do and what you could have done differently or better. 
 
A basic form of planning might be “I plan to increase brand recognition by getting 1k followers for my brand or product in the next week”. Your evaluation plan might look like this “I will count the number of new followers for my brand after 7 days and think about how my campaign could have been more effective”. 
 
Evaluation requires discipline and honesty, but it is one that saves you money. If your plan to increase brand recognition fails, evaluation strategy means the difference between spending six weeks of marketing budget on a campaign that fails for six weeks, or one week of marketing budget on a campaign that fails for one week. 
 
 
Add Instagram to your online armory for a more successful sales strategy 
 
With its 1 billion users as of June 2018, Instagram is a growing force for online retailers everywhere, and as we have discussed in this article, its importance continues to grow every day. Online retailers who ignore Instagram are creating an ever-widening gap in their sales strategy.  
 
However, more tools are being added to Instagram to help retailers achieve their sales goals, including a whole new Instagram interface which deals with displaying products to users in an easy to access format. 
 
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