With the changes to the Facebook algorithm, and decreased visibility for Pages, brands and businesses are necessarily looking at other social networks that will help them further engage with their fans online and build more business. And one of the tools that many brands are using with success is Instagram. Fun, fresh and visual, Instagram is a great tool to offer a “behind the scenes” look at your brand while engaging your followers to become part of the fun.
Many direct sales companies are beginning to use Instagram, some with great success. When used correctly, Instagram can promote greater brand recognition, resulting in click-throughs that are related to your ultimate conversion objectives of sales and recruiting.
So how are direct sellers using Instagram successfully? Here are some tips:
- Connect your Facebook Account to your Instagram account. Then, when you share images via Instagram, you can also share them on Facebook, increasing their reach. And then you can use them as part of advertising campaigns on Facebook for even greater visibility.
- Offer images that are a mix of product, opportunity, fun and relevance. Successful Instagram images must be images that people can relate to. One brand on Instagram invites their community to post photos of themselves wearing the brand’s clothing and using a specified hashtag. Then the brand reposts those images on its own Instagram (tagging those users) and Facebook accounts, as well as its website. It’s a great way to promote engagement and highlight the brand’s community. Others highlight product but in unique and clever ways (such as showing cute jewelry worn by staff in a picture that also includes someone’s adorable puppy.) Offer behind the scenes glimpses of new product launches before they’re launched, your hard-working customer service team, and on-the-road trips with your founders to visit consultants at opportunity meetings. And then also offer other photos that your audience will be into. For example, if you sell wellness products, share photos of healthy meals, beautiful hikes and runners at the local 5K.
- And speaking of images, keep those filters in mind. Trackmaven recently released a report that highlighted how Fortune 500 Companies are using Instagram. The study showed that the filter that caused photos to receive the most engagement was Mayfair, followed by none at all (#nofilter), and then Inkwell (black and white.) The filter that you choose to use on your brand’s photos can say a lot about you, so decide how you want your brand to be portrayed, and choose filters that represent your brand well.
- Use #Hashtags. Hashtags are simply words that include the # sign in front of them. When you use them on a social network like Instagram, you can search on them and see who else is using the same hashtag. For example, I am a big animal lover, and one of my favorite Instagram subjects is my dog, Sugar. When I post a photo of her, I do so with the hashtag #dogsofinstagram. When I use this hashtag and click on it using my mobile device, I can then see other adorable photos of dogs that others have included along with the photos I post. The Trackmaven study suggests that using 4-5 hashtags on your posts actually increases the engagement on your post. (Although using more than that gradually decreases engagement.)
- Don’t just shout. One of the reasons some brands don’t do well with Instagram is because they just post. But Instagram, like all social networks, is a community. So follow back the people that engage with you, as well as influencers in your space. Interact with their photos and videos as well. And give them ways to interact with you on Instagram (see #2).
- Plan ahead. While there is, of course, a certain “in the moment” flair to Instagram, as a brand you can certainly plan ahead. Instagram’s posting pace is slow enough at the moment that you don’t need to post every day. Instead, plan your posts strategically, and add them to your editorial calendar. If you’re planning a product launch, decide when to post teasers. If you’re prepping for convention, plan when you’ll “leak” a shot of goodies being stuffed into bags. Identify big moments in your organization, and plan the shots you want to take ahead of time. And think about video too. Instagram allows you to post up to 15 seconds of video, which can be a good way to highlight important brand moments such as opening convention, hitting a sales milestone as a company, launching a new catalog, etc.
- Photo contests. A great way to engage your fans can be photo contests, and you can use that user-generated content for other purposes. So invite your fans to post photos of themselves using your product, or dreaming about where they would use your product, or achieving some big goal because of your product, and have them post it to Instagram using a hashtag you specify. Use the best shots on your own accounts, on your website, in your marketing materials…everywhere! These are a great way to show the world how your community is excited about and invested in your brand.
- Optimize your profile. There are specific things you can do on your Instagram profile to optimize it. This Profile Optimization Guide is a great place to start. Make sure you include your website URL in your profile, and use your logo as your profile photo for your business account.
Do you use Instagram for your business? What results have you seen? Would love to read about your experiences in the comments below!