How to Use Instagram for your Ecommerce Business
How to Use Instagram for your Ecommerce Business
Instagram gives users a platform to edit photos on their mobile devices by adding various filters. Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has grown to over 90 million users each month, with 40 million photos being uploaded each day, as well as 8,500 likes and 1,000 comments per second. Three years after the launch of the platform, big name brands like Nike, Ralph Lauren, and Whole Foods have realized Instagram’s potential for their social media marketing. TrackMaven recently reported that 123 of the Fortune 500 companies have added their businesses to the world of Instagram. Likewise, Ecommerce businesses can benefit from joining Instagram to promote their brands.
Ecommerce businesses can increase their conversion rates by using the persuasive power of Instagram to build their brands. Before we delve into how the Fortune 500 companies used the social media app, we need to address the drive behind Instagram users and customers at large that make it so influential.
According to Zohra Shpari from PCWorld, the reason for the app’s popularity with users is its power to play with the imagination. “The images move the viewer one, two, or three steps away from reality, depending on the heaviness of the filter and blur.” Instagram’s purpose is to help people stay more connected through photos by sharing in moments as they happen. CEO of Instagram, Kevin Systrom, created the app to be “an instant telegram of sorts” and a “new means of communication.” Whatever the reason is, as to why people flock to Instagram, the secret formula is certainly working. As of September 8, 2013, Instagram has over 150 million users.
The rate of Fortune 500 companies adopting the platform in their social media marketing schemes has significantly increased in the past 2 years:
24.6% of the Fortune 500 companies have Instagram accounts, representing 123 accounts. Image Source: TrackMaven
The top 5 Fortune 500 companies with the most followers on Instagram:
- Nike – 2.5m Followers
- Starbucks – 1.6m Followers
- Foot Locker – 545k Followers
- Apple – 456k Followers
- Ralph Lauren – 424k Followers
We will take a look at each of the Instagram marketing strategies that each of these Fortune 500 companies are currently using. Then, we will pinpoint the techniques that can help ecommerce businesses to expand their social marketing reach:
Nike has posted 614 Photos and has 2.5 million followers. It uses videos and images of people or athletes pushing their limits and accomplishing great things in Nike gear. Each photo or video comes with an inspirational saying or quote, accompanied with Nike’s famous tag line: #justdoit.
Likewise, ecommerce companies can use Instagram to showcase their product being used to extremes. Businesses can inspire others through images of their customers using the product or showing what the product can do. Adding an inspirational quote adds more power to the picture. By selling the end result rather than the product, it becomes much more engaging. Finally, adding a hashtag with a short tag line is an excellent way to build a community around a brand, especially if the hashtag is inspirational like Nike’s. Track Maven reported that there is a strong correlation between the number of hashtags used in each post and the engagement with the content.
With 307 photos and videos, Starbucks uses artistic and creative imagery to play to the viewer’s senses. After looking at Starbucks’ Instagram pictures and videos, users can almost experience the coffee house environment, smells of freshly roasted beans, and taste the famous Frappuccino. Starbucks fans can engage with the brand by following the instructions at the top of the Instagram page: “Tag your coffee photos with #Starbucks!”
Encouraging viewers with a call to action in the Bio section of their Instagram page is a great way to engage users. Ecommerce stores can play into the 5 senses, just as Starbucks does, by using sounds in the videos and imagery to make the viewer feel a certain way.
Foot Locker has the highest number of Instagram photos on the Fortune 500. list, with 1,056 posts. Their Instagram is filled with collages of their shoes, from every which angle. The brand encourages their customers to take photos of themselves wearing their favorite kicks by using #kickstagram #TuesdayCruzday and @footlocker. Then, each Tuesday a winner is chosen and shared on their Instagram, Website, Facebook page, and some in store windows. FootLocker was also the first brand to use “click-to-follow” banner ads on mobile devices, which allowed customers to open the Instagram page instantly and follow the brand subsequently.
Using an ad campaign specifically on mobile devices for a mobily-based social media app is a great way to get more followers. The #kickstagram campaign obviously worked well, as it was first launched back in May 2012 and is still going strong. Also, keeping a constant influx of pictures is a strong way to keep momentum and engagement. Similar to Twitter, Instagram features photos in order of posting date and time, so users only see the most recent posts show up.
Apple only has 13 photos since launching on Instagram in May 2013, yet they have managed to get 457,029 followers. Their photos are all on the same white background, consistent with their store’s brand. The products are showcased with colorful images to stand out on the sleek Apple devices. Apple has chosen to use the platform as a way to introduce new product releases.
In Apple’s case using a hashtag with their brand name would not work. There are currently 3,377,342 posts on Instagram showing people eating apples, apple art, apple pies, with a bunch of iPads and Macs in the mix. Instead of following the crowds, Apple instead designed their Instagram to be used as an announcing platform for new products. The Instagram page almost looks like an ecommerce store itself.
Ralph Lauren posts daily as their strategy on Instagram. Their Instagram is very well-branded, with imagery that depicts a classic elegance. It showcases a mix of models wearing the clothing, furniture made by the brand, exotic locations, design inspiration, and photos from the runway. They also use their account to get people excited about new collections by mixing in behind the scenes pictures.
Ecommerce businesses can take pictures of “the making of” their products and mix in photos from the office. It helps customers to feel connected to the brand, rather than it being inaccessible. Also, businesses using Instagram should place a link to their website in their Bio to direct Instagram users to the ecommerce homepage. Having a mix of different types of images, rather than sticking to simply taking photos of the products, can actually help engagement. By doing so, online businesses can appeal to a larger crowd. Businesses should post relevant and engaging content on a regular basis.