Yes, Instagram has been a boon for brands — a self-promotion-safe space to showcase products and connect with consumers. Brands have been investing in adding Instagram followers.
But since this digital quasi-catalog is limited to photo and video sharing without click-throughs to ecommerce, Instagram’s ROI isn’t as clear as Facebook or Twitter.
How can brands convert likes and follows into visits and customers?
Here are three strategies to bring Instagrammers in stores, both digital and brick and mortar.
1. Make your Instagram followers feel like your inner circle
It’s no secret that a little incentive can go a long way in boosting sales. And when it comes to gaining social media traction, it’s no different — in fact, a June 2013 study from Syncapse.com discovered that while 49 percent of Americans like brands’ Facebook pages out of loyalty, an impressive 43 percent become a fan for coupons and deals.
The trick is finding the sweet spot of consumers who may initially follow your social media channels for a discount but will stick around because they support your product. Here’s where your Instagram followers come in — they’ve already expressed an interest in your brand, now all you have to do is motivate them to make a purchase.
One method: Tease out exclusive offers on your Instagram feed that can be redeemed online and in stores.
Not only will this strategy drive sales, it will also make your followers feel like they have the inside scoop, which will increase their good will toward your brand. Shopping site Haute Look frequently uses their Instagram feed to provide an early look at the next day’s sales, complete with the hashtag #HLsneakpeek.
Jewelry company Bauble Bar, which runs a weekly treasure hunt for marked down accessories with cryptic clues sent via email, regularly displays their discounted piece (no clue-cracking needed) on Instagram.
The result: Using Instagram as promotional real estate will remind your followers to get shopping — and to keep checking back for more steals.
2. Turn your store into a hot spot
It could be the filter effect, but Instagram has the ability to make almost anything look enviable. You’ve likely scrolled through your feed and wished you were at that glam dinner party or lavish vacation, too, so why not give your store that same “I want to go there” feel?
Brands that manage pop-up shops are already quite adept at promoting in-store events on Instagram — online retailer Piperlime, for instance, is constantly posting pictures of the yummy treats and well-styled mingling that define their pop-up parties.
Parent company Gap may have set the example — the brand frequently ‘grams events, such as an in-store concert, and also features newly styled store window mannequins. Think of it as your Field of Dreams approach: If you build it up, they will come.
3. Follow your fans’ lead
Chances are your products are out on Instagram — whether you have an account or not — thanks to your snap-happy customers.
Leveraging their legwork and using it on your brand’s page not only saves you time, it also implies a positive customer review and enhances your product with a visual example of how to use and enjoy it.
For instance, Ben & Jerry’s Instagram feed is almost entirely comprised of credited user photos, and your mouth is sure to water as you look through the different ways ‘grammers ate their ice cream. (Not to mention this harkens back to giving consumers that insider feel.)
Piperlime is again exemplary with their “Girls We <3” feature, which showcases influential fashion bloggers wearing their pieces — which, in turn, the fashionistas often regram to their followers. This strategy ups the covet factor of Piperlime’s products, plus consumers are more inclined to take photos in their new purchases in hopes they’ll be in the spotlight as well.
As brands start to grow a presence on Instagram the potential to convert a follow into a purchase will continue to increases. Brands will benefit from a larger opportunity to collect user generated content and repurpose it cross platform.
With visual platforms like instagram, content sharing is a two way street. The best way to get started is by learning how to communicate with images in the first place. Eventually you’ll have the power to frame the conversation to better reach your followers.