The latest installment in our social media for ecommerce series will focus on one of the most powerful visual channels: Instagram.
Instagram is hot property at the moment, as the network recently upgraded its facilities to include video posting. However, if you’re new to this social media platform, it’s wise to get the basics right before you start experimenting with its recently added capabilities.
Like Pinterest, Instagram gives ecommerce businesses the opportunity to showcase your brand through images. This provides a fantastic virtual shop window for showcasing products, along with an opportunity to communicate your character.
For example, the images you post on the site should tell a story – not just simply scream ‘sales’. Balance product photography with behind-the-scenes company shots, images that inspire you, or little moments that make life worth living. This will help shoppers buy into your brand, not just the items you sell.
While there’s no set ratio for how many product images you should post versus brand-building imagery, it’s advisable to create a posting plan to ensure the network is regularly updated, whatever it’s featuring.
Unlike Twitter and Facebook, which move incredibly quickly, the pace of posting is a little slower on Instagram. Aim to post every 2-3 days, as this should be sufficient to create interest without overwhelming your followers. It’s better to wait until you have something genuinely interesting to upload than post for the sake of it.
When you do post, it’s not just the subject of your photos that should provide variety. Instagram offers a number of filters that you can add to imagery to change their outlook. Many businesses fall into the trap of adding effects to all their content, but it’s actually more visually stimulating to alternate between filtered and ‘normal’ images.
It’s also important that every image is captioned, to both explain what’s happening and to support visuals with interesting and informative text. If you’re highlighting a product sold through your website, ensure the caption matches up with your online description.
If you’re struggling to increase your audience through imagery alone, there are a number of techniques you can turn to in order to boost interest. For example, a photo contest with a competition hashtag is a great way to engage new followers – particularly if you cross-promote it through your other social media channels.
You can also strategically use hashtags to post on trending subjects, and join in relevant topical conversations. By promoting your content within the visual storytelling community, you are more likely to gain interest among active Instagram users who enjoy exploring culturally interesting photos.
Finally, when you do feel ready to take social media engagement to the next level, experiment with Instagram’s new video offering. It’s crucial that these don’t become dry corporate clips, however; try to be creative or offer shoppers an insight they can’t gain elsewhere.
Like all social media networks, Instagram needs to support your business without losing its sense of brand personality. Therefore remember to have fun with your photos, videos and captions – the more ‘human’ your profile becomes, the more likely ecommerce shoppers are to engage with your business long-term.