6 Easy Ways to Strengthen Your Instagram Account to Increase Sales

by : 

Megy Karydes

November 7, 2016
Marketing Mondays - 6 Easy Ways to Strengthen Your Instagram Account to Increase Sales

January’s Marketing Monday articles were all about Instagram: Why Independent Retailers Need to Be on Instagram, Instagram 101, and How One Retailer Uses Instagram to Connect With Customers. Telling stories through Instagram isn’t just a smart marketing tool, it’s necessary if you want grow your customer base using this platform. So how does an independent retailer tell stories through Instagram?

Step 1: Pull out a calendar

Like any media outlet, you need a plan, which is usually done through the form of an editorial calendar—"ed cal" for short. Organizing your content via an ed cal makes this process a whole lot easier and effective. If you really want to maximize your marketing efforts, your ed cal should really include all of your marketing efforts, including other social media platforms, special events at your shop, email blasts, and more, but for the sake of this Marketing Monday exercise, let’s focus on just storytelling via Instagram.

Step 2: Start snapping photos

I recently tried this exercise with some retail clients to great success. Just start shooting with your smartphone or camera. Photograph what you love, both in your shop and outside of it. What are you most drawn to? This might help you create a focus and provide some direction on how you want your Instagram account to look. Do you love recipes or food shots and sell a lot of kitchen accessories or home décor? Then maybe that’s your focus. Do you sell mostly made-in-America products? Then maybe you’d like to incorporate some shots of American iconic destinations.

Step 3: Think of your story

Once you’ve thought about what kind of images are exciting to you, consider what you want people to feel when they think about your shop. What’s your story? What’s your shop’s story? Why do you exist? When you meet someone for the first time and they’ve never heard of your story, how do you describe it? Then harness all of this info because it’ll become part of your storytelling in image form.

Step 4: Plot your stories

On paper, create 7 columns (one for each day of the week). On the top of each column, create a focus for that day. We use Marketing Mondays because I love alliteration and it’s a great way to remember things easily. If you have things that help people meditate or be mindful, maybe Mondays can be Meditative Mondays, Wednesdays can be Wordless Wednesdays, and Fridays can be more open—something like Fun Fridays. The point is that by creating a focus for each day of the week (and it needn’t be alliteration), you’re helping solidify your story with your supporters and you become better at sharing images that are consistent with your story and brand.

Step 5: #Hashtags!

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make with Instagram is using too many hashtags or ones that are popular. You’d think it’d make sense to maximize your reach, but the opposite it true. You need to think of quality over quantity here. If you’re based in Chicago, you’d want to use #Chicago, right? Maybe. Or, instead, use #LincolnPark (a neighborhood in Chicago), which fewer people use, so when people look up Lincoln Park, you’ll have a better chance of someone finding you. Good luck trying to get discovered with the #Chicago hashtag!

Hashtags are like keywords for SEO on Google, so taking a moment to consider which ones to use can go a very long way since helps Instagram categorize and filter content.

Step 6: PROMOTE!

You’ve gone through all of this trouble and then you adopt an “If I build it, they will come” attitude. It doesn’t work that way. Aside from having the Instagram logo on your shop window, make sure to have the logo in other locations to remind customers that you have an account and to follow you. Place table tents in key spots throughout the store and call out (sparingly, please) “Instagram-worthy” shots. Do you have a great merchandising display that’s “Insta-worthy”? Subtly let customers know. Create your own shop’s hashtag and encourage customers to use it so you can find them and comment (thereby extending your reach through their accounts).

Check out the photo from KIND Snacks at the beginning of this post. It was designed simply as a communications tool for their customers to follow them on Instagram. You’ll notice their email/ad tells customers what they’ll find by following them, which gives them a reason to follow them (as opposed to a blanket and meaningless “follow us on Instagram!” or “we’re on Instagram!” message). At a minimum, you should also have your Instagram logo on your website and cross referenced on other social media sites, when appropriate.

Megy Karydes helps small businesses harness their marketing power. She’s also a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic’s CityLab, Midwest Living magazine and Chicago Tribune, among others. Find her at MegyKarydes.com.