Welcome to our three part series on using Instagram to successfully grow your creative business. In order to use Instagram to increase sales, there are three things that you must consider: Community, Style, and Voice.
Does your biz have a large following on Instagram, but very low engagement? Or maybe you have a super engaged following that consists of your immediate family, your best friend, and that one weirdo who probably has a fake account?
You are in the right place.
Let's be honest, the reason you opened an Instagram account for your biz was to generate more sales. If you aren't doing that, then you aren't making the most of what Instagram has to offer. The truth is, it doesn't matter how many followers you have if they aren't the RIGHT kind of followers. That is, people who will buy your stuff and read your blog.
1. Follow the hashtag. :: Hashtags will be your number one resource for finding your community on Instagram. Which hashtags are used by your target customer? This will require a little investigation on your part. Grab a notebook and pencil to keep track of hashtags you discover along the way. For example, let's say you make hip baby clothes using organic cotton. I bet that a large portion of your market uses #tulababycarriers. Search that hashtag and start engaging. Oh, look! There's another good hashtag: #babywearing. And another: #carrythem. Write down whatever other hashtags you find that look promising. Seriously. Write them down. You will forget them later. Do a search on those. Engage. Repeat.
2. Leave a comment. :: For the love, don't ever write, "Nice pic! Check out my shop on Etsy. I follow back." Those kinds of comments will only get you an eye roll and maybe a "block user". There is nothing worse than a biz on Instagram that is generic and salesy. One of the reasons I recommend using a personal photo in your Instagram profile is because people are more willing to interact with a real, live person. Make sure your comments are specific. Here are some examples: "That pattern on your Tula is adorable." "Where did you find those amazing earrings?"
3. Post at optimal times. :: There is no "one size fits all". Plenty of infographics will suggest otherwise, but optimal times to post are different for every single brand. Let me repeat: It is different for every brand. If your target audience is stay at home moms, then your best time to post might be during afternoon nap time. There are plenty of free Instagram analytics tools out there that can help you discover times when your audience is most active and primed for engagement. There is no point in posting if no one is listening. One of my personal favorites is Iconosquare.
4. Always respond. :: Always. Unless you have 350k followers like designlovefest, you need to respond to the comments people leave. The best kind of response is one that keeps the conversation going. Be sure to tag the person you are writing to, otherwise they won't be notified that you replied. Take an interest in your followers because they are taking an interest in you. People are willing to pay a premium price for something handmade because of the personal connection they feel with the brand. You never know where a good conversation will lead.
This three part series is inspired by Susannah Brinkley's series on building a personal Instagram following. Thank you, Susannah!