Got a smart phone? Check. Got a business Insta account? Check? Want more pre-Christmas sales? Check, check, check.
If you’re running a product-based business (or even a service business), Instagram needs no introduction. You would already know that you can reach a billion people. And of that billion, 200 million visit a business profile every single day, and one-third of the most viewed Insta stories are from businesses.
But what you may not know is how to use this powerful platform to up your sales this month (and every month). And to be fair, Instagram can be as confusing as it is beautiful. So whether you’re just starting out or you’re doing OK but know you can do better, here are our top tips for using Insta to boost your pre-Christmas sales:
- Nail Your Content
Sales on Instagram are directly related to your audience size and how they have engaged with your content. And your audience size and their level of engagement is directly related to i) your audience discovering you (more on that below) ii) the quality of the posts you produce.
So how good are your posts? If you’ve got a decent following and some likes and shares, you’ll probably conclude that they’re OK. But the holiday period is the perfect time to make sure they’re more than just OK. Here’s how to up the ante on the quality of your posts:
- Stalk your competition: Do you have a competitor that’s got a bigger following than you? While you don’t want to copy them, checking out their most popular posts can be a great way to see what your audience like best. Take the time to do this and see if you can create a few similar ones yourself.
- Hashtag trends: Take a look at the hashtags you’re using. What’s trending? Do your posts stand out? Check out the most popular posts and create your own version.
- Add faces: Got a lot of product in your feed? Try to include some photos with faces instead. Research shows that images with faces increase engagement, because we’re all naturally hard-wired to want to interact with other people.
- Up your video game: If you’re not already using video in your Instagram feed, you should be. On average, videos receive 38% more engagement than image posts and double the amount of comments. Just like everything else on Instagram though, if you’re going to include a video, it needs to be top quality - but fortunately, there’s a tonne of apps and helpful tools to help you produce quality videos from your lounge room. Here’s a few to help you get started (or improve):
- A tripod and lighting: Even if you’re using your iPhone to shoot your video (this is totally fine), you’ll still need lighting and a tripod. You can get a lighting ring for your iPhone for as little as $12.95, and you can also grab an iPhone tripod for less than $20.
- Apple clips or Typito: After shooting your video, you’ll need to edit it. Thankfully, Apple offers you this option with Apple Clips. If you don’t have an iPhone though, there’s other inexpensive video editor apps you can use, such as Typito. Both of these apps are pretty easy to use, but it’s worth watching a few YouTube videos to brush up on features.
- Subtitles: Instagram automatically mutes the sound on videos, which means your audience won’t hear your video unless they turn on the sound (which they often don’t). To get around this, you can add the Vont app to add your own subtitles.
- Start using Instagram stories: The quality of your feed matters just as much as the quality of your stories! Thankfully though, stories don’t require professional production - they’re much more effective and indeed, designed, to be authentic. If you haven’t gotten started on stories yet or want to learn how to increase their effectiveness, Hubspot’s got an in-depth guide here.
Quality sales from Instagram starts with quality posts. Ensure you’re giving your audience what they need and want.
- Your Instagram Bio
If you want more sales this Christmas, you’ll most likely need more followers. And when you find them (or they find you), they need to know straight away who you are, what you do and most importantly: why shop with you?
Your bio should give them all of this information, plus make it easy to action. Here’s how to increase the effectiveness of your bio:
- Elicit an emotional response: It’s likely that your products are solving a problem for your customer. What problem? Use your bio to create an emotional response in your audience by mentioning the problem you’re solving. This could be as simple as ‘Kids clothes that survive spills and still look stylish.’’
- Have a strong call-to-action (CTA): After you elicit an emotional response, it’s critical to have a strong CTA. After all, this is what drives actual sales. Why should customers choose you and where should they go make their purchase? With this CTA, make sure you briefly detail your point of difference. For example, to continue from the above, your CTA could be: We create premium-quality baby and children’s clothes, discover for yourself via our website below.
- Make your bio searchable: Instagram works like Google in that Instagrammers can search via keywords. So if they do, you want your profile to show up! Make sure you include keywords relevant to your niche, for example, baby clothes, kids clothes, children’s clothes, etc. so your audience can find you.
- Create your own unique bio look: Instagram is all about standing out. Did you know that you can use different fonts on your Insta bio? It’s a great way to look a little different. Head to Lingojam or Sprezz Keyboard for fonts that impress.
- Help your audience find what they’ve come for: For many businesses, it makes sense to simply have your website address in your bio. But if you want your audience to be able to individually shop your posts, this is an option too. You can use tools such as Link Tree to direct users to different content, or you even try Later if you want landing pages that feature your exact content. If you want your audience to shop directly from your posts, you can also use the Instagram shoppable posts feature, which directs users to products on your website via your posts or stories.
Having the most optimised and unique bio will help your Christmas shoppers discover you and the products they’re looking for!
For businesses, hashtags are absolute marketing gold. They’re the best way to reach your audience and similarly, the best way to reach potential Christmas shoppers. Why are they the best? Because they’re free - you can literally reach 1 billion shoppers without having to spend a cent on paid advertising.
But not many brands are using hashtags correctly. Here’s how to lift your hashtag game to make more sales:
- Do your competitor and hashtag research: Just like with your content, from a hashtag perspective it’s critical to do your research. What hashtags are your competitors using? Which ones are getting the most engagement? You can find out either by searching your competitors or hashtags individually, or using apps such as Hashtracking which can analyse hashtags and show you what’s popular. Once you’ve discovered relevant hashtags, the next step is to see what posts are getting engagement. What do people expect from particular hashtags? Is it similar to what you’re posting? Use all of your research to discover the best hashtags for you.
- Find lesser-used hashtags: For any given hashtag, the goal is to be featured in the first nine posts. Why? Because if someone is searching a hashtag and you’re featured in the top nine, they can discover your post without even scrolling, so there’s a much higher chance they’ll see it. With lesser-used hashtags, it’s much easier to be featured in the top nine, so when doing your hashtag research, ensure you include multiple lesser-known hashtags.
- Use the right amount of hashtags: Instagram allows you to post up to 30 hashtags on any given post, but should you? While there’s no science to the ‘exact’ amount of hashtags you need, posting 30 can look a little spammy, and can be a lot for your audience to read. Yet posting less than 10 can also mean you could be missing out on valuable reach. For any given post, try for 20-25, and within this group, use a variety of popular and less popular hashtags, to maximise your reach.
- Test and learn...and then test and learn again: With Instagram, unfortunately brands don’t often go viral - results come after months, or years, of hard work. This hard work often comes by way of testing, iterating, and testing again until you’ve discovered the exact content, hashtags, posting times and copy for your content. So your testing needs to start from day one. With hashtags, test, test and test again. What hashtags work at certain times? What combination of hashtags work? Make sure you’re keeping a record of what works and what doesn’t so you can optimise later.
Get hashtagging now to make it into more of your audience’s stockings!
They say that Christmas is all about giving, and that’s never been truer when it comes to selling on Instagram. If you’ve never heard of the concept of S4S (Share for Share), this Christmas (and forever more) is when you need to get acquainted with it.
S4S is quite simple. It’s literally just you agreeing to share someone’s content (or even mention them in your post’s caption), in exchange for them sharing yours. S4S can give you access to hundreds, if not thousands of new followers, and as a result, can hugely increase sales for you. Here’s how to nail your S4S efforts:
- Reach out directly to others for S4S: When it comes to business, there’s nothing like the personal touch. One of the best ways to secure an S4S arrangement is to reach out directly - personally - to accounts that attract your audience. When you’re doing this, don’t rule out your competitors - they’re far more likely to be a source of a profitable partnership than they are to steal your followers.
- Join an S4S group: Another equally lucrative and more scalable way to get shoutouts on Instagram is to join an S4S group. There are thousands of different S4S groups with their own rules, but the basic premise is this: you all agree to like or comment on each other’s posts. Yet finding an S4S group in your niche can be a bit tricky. To track one down, try asking around larger accounts in your niche, looking for Instagram-related Facebook groups, or try this directory that’s hosted on Instagram-specific social media site Telegram.
- Try to get your own posts shared on S4S: When it comes to shoutouts, the Holy Grail is your product and a caption as this sends the clearest message to potential followers about what you do. Yet for certain brands, they may not be willing to feature you unless you fit their style, and even if you do, they may have rules about only featuring you for a certain amount of time. For this reason, when you do get a product and caption shoutout, make sure you have a clear call-to-action so followers can find you quickly.
- Invite people to follow your page: When you get featured in an S4S situation, make sure you invite your audience to follow you page, nothing more. Inviting them sign up or opt-in immediately means you lose your chance to engage them.
To boost sales this Christmas, give the gift of an S4S - and reap the benefits!
- Insta Copywriting
It’s undoubtedly true that Insta is a visual platform. But what you say also matters - a lot. After all, it’s (mostly) your words that will convert your audience from simply looking at a screen to making the actual purchase.
So without further ado, here’s how to convert followers into sales using clever Instagram copy this Christmas:
- Keep it consistent: People at large want to see brands as their friends - people they can relate to. And one thing that we come to expect from our friends is consistency. With your business on Instagram (and otherwise), the rules of engagement are no different - the way you talk and look on Instagram needs to match what you’re doing outside of it. You need a consistent tone of voice, and this should be created based on your audience - who are they? What do they expect? Should you be professional? Casual? Cheeky? Create a brand tone of voice and be consistent.
- Try things: Just because you’re being consistent, doesn’t mean you can’t try things! In fact, just like everything on Instagram, you need to test, iterate and test again until you find copy that best engages your audience. But what should you test? Anything! Everything! Don’t simply describe your post - create a backstory for it. Try a joke or ask your followers to do something. Test and learn until you discover what works, and then keep testing it.
- Always include a call -to-action (CTA): In the endless scroll that is Instagram, your followers need a reason to stop on you. The best way to do this is to ask them to! In every one of your posts, make sure you include a CTA. But to avoid being spammy, this CTA doesn’t have to be about purchasing every time. Invite them to like, comment, learn, discover more information on your blog - vary the message to increase engagement and, ultimately, sales.
- Structure your posts well: Do you have a limited-time only pre-Christmas sale? Or a product everyone simply needs in their stocking? If so, tell them that at the start of your post. Instagram allows up to 2,200 characters in a post, but usually, only the first few lines are available without pressing on ‘more.’ So make sure you put all essential information in those first few lines. In addition to that, make sure your posts are readable - if they’re interrupted by multiple emojis and hashtags, they can be distracting for users.
Your copy is the perfect complement for your posts this Christmas - make sure it converts by keeping it consistent, trying different things, including a CTA and structuring your posts correctly.
You can get more out of Insta!
If you’ve got a product business, or increasingly, even if you’ve got a service business, Instagram is your go-to platform for building and engaging with an audience, and getting them to notice your product enough to put it in their Christmas stocking. But like everything worth having, to be successful using Insta you will need to invest time and effort into getting it right. Follow the tips detailed here and you’ll be well on your way.