How to promote business on Instagram effectively

Julia Moore
In this article, we tell you about the most effective ways to promote your business on Instagram. When the online business account is ready, the production of goods or their purchase is established, legal issues are settled, and it’s time to start actively attracting customers. First of all, you have to identify the target audience. Then, decide the way how this audience will get to your account.
Reading time — 9 minutes

SFS

A free of charge and in most cases effective way is SFS — shoot out for shoot out. It's a friendly mutual promotion, when one user shares information about his/her friend and add a clickable link to friend's account.

How to:

  • Negotiate with other users directly. There is on crucial thing: target audience of these profiles have to be similar. Unlikely it will work if you, for instance, advertise manicure tools in the profile of building materials store. You can try it as it's free. The only one problem is how your audience treats this. 
  • A popular account is able to organize SFS independently. To announce its beginning, you need to make a post in the Instagram Feed and add the hashtag #sfs or #SFS. Those people who're ready to participate in that add a post and tag the organizer's profile who choose the most liked accounts and tag them in posts. In this case, participation in SFS doesn't guarantee mutual publication. It's a perfect way of promoting microblogs.
  • There is a bulk of publications with the SFS hashtag — more than 20 million. You can specify the target audience — for example, a business niche, a country, a city — using additional hashtags: #sfssport, #sfsusa, #sfsonlineshop and others.
It is better to choose from the list of search bar in Instagram, rather than coming up with new hashtags. So it is clear that there are publications, and you can see their number.

Targeted advertising

Targeted advertising includes the display of ads according to configured algorithms: for example, a specific post is seen by people of a certain age on a specific geolocation. You can set up views based on interests.

It's logical to assume that young parents will buy diapers and bottles, ballroom dancing shoes will be bought by the dancers, and school diaries will be bought by students or their moms and dads.

In these cases, the niches are very narrow. In situations where different people may be interested in the same category of goods, it is more difficult to determine the target audience. And it is especially challenging if you offer various categories of products. For example, anyone can be interested in lighting devices: a young family after moving, a schoolboy's mother, a student, a director of a large enterprise, a worker — everyone needs lamps.

Always segment the target audience, in other words, divide it into groups. The notion "well, everyone needs the product, so I configure the ad display for everyone" will not work. Children of 7-8 years old are also sitting on Instagram, and showing them advertising lamps means draining the budget.

You can collect a portrait of a target audience — the main characteristics of each segment: gender, age, interests, location and other data. For that, use special programs for analyzing followers in competitor communities. There are programs with advanced functions.

For example, Google Analytics collects the target audience according to the specified parameters and analyzes the effectiveness of posts. Your website analytics can also provide a lot of valuable information about your current audience, which you can use to learn more about your brand’s target demographic.

The next step is to analyze the needs of each segment of the target audience, which will help to close the product from the store, and use this information in advertising.

Tools for online business in Instagram:

  1. The ability to create a product catalog. Choosing the most appropriate type of advertising. For example, to promote online and offline events, there is a template with a "Buy a ticket" button. Attract attention to items from the catalog, it is better to use dynamic advertising. It shows the products that are most likely to arouse the interest of a particular user, taking into account his/her behavioral factors: which pages a person visits, what information user's looking for, which products he/she purchased earlier. 
  2. The ability to set the goal of an advertising campaign to increase the conversion of the store if it's located outside Instagram, or to increase sales in the catalog. 
  3. The choice of the target audience. You can show your ad both to follower or your potential customers. 
  4. Analytics of the effectiveness of ads.
  5. In addition to displaying products from the catalog, use the following types of posts to promote:
  • with information about new items;
  • with a story about the brand as a whole and its advantages;
  • with a story about promotions especially timed to any holidays or events;
  • write a post with a description and a link to a specific product specifically for the advertising campaign and add it to the Feed in advance.
It is better to keep reports on each advertising campaign both on the growth of followers and customers in general. This will allow you to determine the strength and weaknesses in the promotion of online business and get rid of errors.

There are two ways to keep records.

Manual. To do this, you will have to on a regular basis check all the data and compare with the previous one.

Automatic. For instance, the Mailchimp service allows you to automate all reports. With all the contact data collected in Mailchimp, you can start using those insights to make sure your marketing speaks to individual clients across marketing channels.

Native advertising and cooperating with bloggers

Many online stores have developed a customer base with the help of advertising from bloggers. This was done, for example, by the manufacturers of Mixit cosmetics and Foreo beauty gadgets.

The most popular format is native advertising, in which the blogger talks about the product naturally, as sharing with followers his/her experience.

Product placement is also popular. It's an unobtrusive mention of the brand in a photo or video without an emphasis on it. Advertising from millionaire bloggers will require significant financial investment. 

If the online store does not have large budgets, it is worth agreeing on cooperation with suitable nano- (1-10 000 subscribers) and micro-influencers (10-100 000). Read more about in our article how to find influencers in your niche

Moreover, advertisers don't have to limit themselves to Instagram only. There are quite a lot of influencers in other social networks, including YouTube. You can send video bloggers goods for unpacking and negotiate advertising.

If you order advertising from a blogger, it is vital to be extremely honest with the audience. As a rule, there are two options:

  1. The blogger has his/her own conditions under which he/she talks about the product. For example, influencer indicates that the ad or video is sponsored, which means that there can be no question of any native content. Moreover, now it is necessary to do this on many platforms: for example, YouTube can ban an account if you do not put the appropriate label when adding any type of advertising to a video. 
  2. The blogger works according to the technical task from the advertiser. Usually the task is the same, so very often you can see different bloggers in the same image, with the same product and delivering approximately the same speech.

It's advisable to unobtrusively comment on client posts with reviews of your product, thus reminding about yourself.

Communication with followers and clients

No doubt, the owners of any brand want to create and maintain an ideal reputation, bathe in cool reviews and receive a lot of orders every day. But in reality, we have to deal with negative comments, conflicts and controversial moments. Moreover, clients and followers often complain publicly.

Maintaining the loyalty of existing customers and, possibly, attracting new ones depends on how the store's representatives behave.

Don't delete negative comments, even if they are unfair. They need to be answered politely.

Firstly, this way followers will see that problems are being solved, and the store's employees don't stand aside if some kind of force majeure occurs.

Secondly, if the criticism isn't constructive and the sales manager is able to defend the reputation of the store, the other followers will be able to make the right conclusion by reading the entire dialogue, and not just the comment of one of the customers. And even worse — if this comment is then deleted, without answering it.

Third, if you behave incorrectly with clients, you can lose them. In some situations, this won't particularly affect the reputation and sales of the business, and in others it can be a significant blow. The client will start writing reviews, tell friends and acquaintances about the incident, so the rest of the followers will witness the conflict. This is a lottery where it's impossible to predict the effect on the business. We don't mention the fact that rudeness is an elementary manifestation of disrespect for the interlocutor and others.

You need to respond to messages as quickly as possible: there are a lot of stores, and the client may well buy the goods elsewhere. The customer doesn't care, and the store loses profit.

Participation in giveaways

One more way to get new followers is to sponsor giveaways. A well-promoted blogger or business profile conducts contests for prizes or money among followers. To participate, users must follow to the contest account and to all accounts in its following. This method allows profiles to quickly gain an audience, so that's what they pay for.

Information about the organization of giveaways is closed: it's usually published in WhatsApp chats, which can only be accessed by invitation. But there is another way. To become a giveaway sponsor, you can contact the managers of media personalities directly with a proposal for your candidacy.

Usually contacts are published in the account bio:

  • Some media people leave phone numbers and email of agents in their profile.
  • Others create separate emails for request agents for cooperation.
In giveaways, the contribution amount is quite high, and at the same time, such investments don't always pay off. Sometimes it's more profitable to hire an account promotion specialist for the same money.

In addition, giveaways don't have the best reputation due to unscrupulous organizers. For example, they can raise money, recruit followers, and not hold a prize draw or hold it formally: put a fake "follower" as the winner.

Bloggers or celebrities who have launched a giveaway on their own behalf may suffer from this. As a rule, they turn to managers who take on organizational issues and who can complete the action with the aforementioned deception.

However, if bloggers can still insure themselves against unscrupulous intermediaries, then sponsors aren't given any guarantees. Moreover, followers from giveaways, as a rule, massively unfollow at the end of the promotion. The Instagram feed perceives this as a decrease in the quality of content and the interest of the audience in it, as a result, it cuts the coverage. For an online business, this is fraught with sagging sales.

But if you conduct honest sweepstakes, organize contests, promotions and special offers to warm up the audience, client loyalty is likely to grow.

Let's recap

Online business on Instagram is quite a profitable niche, but the competition in it's rather high. For effective trading on this platform, you'll have to make every effort-starting from a full analysis of the niche and ending with work on the brand reputation. At the same time, it is important to remember that every mistake can be expensive.

What is your attitude to Giveaways? Share your opinion in the comments!