Category: Instagram Marketing

Instagram Marketing

How Three New Instagram Shopping Tools Could Help Marketers…

For years, millions of brands have flocked to Instagram to spread awareness to millennials, Gen Z, and members of other generations on the app.

And, at this point, Instagram marketing has proven to be a smart tactic. Currently, 90% of Instagram’s 1 billion-plus user base follows a Business page on the platform.

But, while Instagram has been a great place for brands to engage target audiences, it hasn’t always been easy for those companies to turn their followers into customers.

When the app launched, Instagram only allowed links in profile bios. Shortly after, the platform allowed users to place links in Stories — but only if they had a verified account or more than 10,000 followers. This meant that smaller or less-followed brands had to think strategically to get their Instagram audience to view product information, research the brand, and ultimately leave the Instagram app to buy products.

Things got easier for brands with the global launch of Instagram Shopping’s Shoppable posts in 2017. This was the first time standard feed-based posts or Story images could be linked to a brand’s Facebook product catalog. However, the feature still required Instagram users to leave the app to make a purchase.

But this summer, with the launch of Facebook Shops, Instagram Checkout, and Instagram Live Shopping, many of the friction points between discovering products on Instagram and buying them have been eliminated.

In this blog post, I’ll highlight the three free, new tools that brands can use to make sales directly from Instagram’s platform, as well as any brand requirements for using them.

3 New Instagram Shopping Tools to Know About

1. Facebook Shops

Technically, this tool was launched by Facebook, which owns Instagram. However, your Instagram followers won’t need a Facebook account to make purchases with this feature.

Facebook Shops, launched in May, enables brands to create online stores that link directly to a brand’s Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, or Facebook Business Page.

When creating a free Shop, brands can upload bulk or individual product listings with photos, prices, and descriptions; change the store’s button colors and text to make it consistent with their brand; and choose to have visitors buy products directly from the shop or through an integration with an ecommerce website they already use.

Facebook Shops can be created on Facebook Commerce Manager. To get started, you’ll need admin privileges to the Instagram Business or Facebook Business account you’ll be linking the Shop to — as well as admin privileges for your brand’s Facebook catalog.

Once a Shop is created, it can be linked directly to your Instagram Business profile. When this is done, an icon that says “View shop” will appear on your mobile profile under your bio. At this point, you can access Facebook Shops on desktop from Facebook Business profiles, but not from Instagram or WhatsApp desktop sites.

Here’s what the Shop experience looks like when an Instagram app user visits the account of Ink Meets Paper, a printing company which offers a Facebook Shop:

ink meets paper facebook and instagram shop

Facebook Shops, which is free to all businesses that fulfill the business page requirements noted above, could be a great option for small or medium-sized businesses that are interested in ecommerce but don’t have the time or bandwidth to create and promote a full ecommerce site around their brand.

To learn more about how Facebook Shops works and the background of why Facebook launched it, check out this post.

2. Instagram Checkout

For brands that want to sell a few select products on Instagram, or don’t have time to create a Facebook Business Page or catalog to open a Shop, Instagram also now offers an in-app Checkout experience that links to Instagram Shoppable posts.

Before 2020, several brands were already using Shoppable posts. These posts, which often highlighted an image of a product or experience, allowed users to tap the content to view it in an online catalog outside of the platform.

Instagram shoppable post

But, in March, Instagram launched a Checkout feature that allowed Shoppable purchases to happen directly in the app.

In an announcement, Instagram explained that it launched in-app Checkout to keep users on the platform when they were inspired to make a purchase.

Instagram also adds, “Businesses can truly leverage the full ecosystem of Instagram Shopping features to build experiences that drive awareness and transactions all in one place.

Currently, Checkout is free to brands through until at least 2021. However, there might be selling fees for businesses after that.

“We also want to help reduce the cost of doing business during this tough economic time, so we’re waiving selling fees for businesses that use Checkout on Instagram through the end of the year,” Instagram’s post said.

Now, when users click on a Shoppable post that links to the Checkout feature for the first time, they’ll be asked to give their name, billing information, and shipping address and can then click “Place Order” directly on Instagram. To further eliminate friction, users can set the app to remember purchasing information so they don’t need to submit it each time they place orders.

Instagram shopping post and store

Image Source

At this point, you might be wondering, “How is this different from Facebook Shops?”

Both tools similarly allow consumers to make purchases directly on Instagram. However, a Shop is a mini-online store where you can purchase one of many products listed by one brand. Meanwhile, Checkout allows consumers to buy a product they happen to see on an Instagram Shoppable post within their feed or a brand’s profile page.

Additionally, to use the Checkout feature, you’ll need to fulfill the same requirements as Facebook Shops, plus approval for Instagram Shopping.

Checkout might be a good option for your brand if you want to dabble in internet sales but don’t want to monitor how multiple products are selling in a wider shop. With Checkout, you can choose to sell one or two products within a few posts, and monitor your content for engagements and sales metrics.

3. Instagram Live Shopping

Aside from adding Checkout to posts within a feed, Instagram Live Shopping brings a similar purchasing experience to live content streamed on the app.

Essentially, Instagram Live Shopping lets brands or Instagram influencers present a small CTA for a product at the bottom of an Instagram Live stream. Below is an example where an influencer discusses a product live as its Checkout CTA is highlighted at the bottom of the screen:

Instagram live shopping content

Image Source

When an Instagram Live viewer sees the Checkout CTA and clicks “Add to Bag,” they can either save the order for later if they want to continue watching the stream, or they can purchase the product immediately via Checkout.

If a user places a product in their Instagram Bag, they can find it by going to the app’s Explore tab and tapping “Shop” in the top navigation. Fram the  Shop page, they can then tap the bag icon in the upper right corner to see carted products:

Instagram shopping tab of app

Because users who purchase items via Instagram Live Shopping will be directed to Instagram Checkout to finalize the purchase, brands will need to gain access to Instagram Checkout before using Live Shopping.

What to Keep in Mind When Selling Products on Instagram

At this point, you might be ready to sell your brand’s products using Instagram’s in-app shopping features. However, as you would with any new marketing or selling technique, you’ll want to keep a few key things in mind:

Your content strategy is still key.

While it might sound tempting to blast your followers with posts filled with product shots or basic promotional messaging, and hope that users click the Checkout button immediately, some audiences might not respond well to content that feels like a basic advertisement.

Remember, social media users see ads with product shots and bland descriptions daily. If your content doesn’t stand out above all the other promotional posts out there, your audiences might disengage from you, even if they like your brand.

Rather than posting basic images or videos of products linked to Checkout, consider going a step further. For example, you could air a live stream tutorial where an influencer discusses your product, or publish user-generated content such as customer testimonials. These types of content will show audiences more valuable details than a basic product shot, while also presenting how real people benefit your product. This could persuade them to click and buy your items much faster.

You’ll want to pick the right feature for your company.

While Shops will allow customers to buy a bunch of different products from you all at once, Checkout and Instagram Live Shopping allow you to zone in on specific items or services through your content. While Facebook Shops might be great for brands that can deliver multiple products at once and handle potential high demand, Checkout and Live Shopping could be beneficial for smaller businesses that are more comfortable highlighting one standalone product at a time.

Additionally, if you have a killer supply chain, tons of products to sell, and no time to make content, a Facebook Shop could help you move your inventory. Meanwhile, if you have a great content team, but only have a few key products to sell, you might want to create solid product marketing content paired with Instagram Checkout.

You’ll want to monitor your metrics, including revenue.

Although brands don’t need to pay for Facebook Shops, Checkout, or Live Shopping, time and effort will still go into creating and maintaining a Shop or content that highlights items sold in Checkout. Because of this, you’ll want to monitor the money and engagement-related metrics of each strategy you take on. While these metrics can help you learn what to do, and what not to do, they can also help you determine if these features are worth your team’s time.

If you’re considering an ecommerce strategy on Instagram or another online platform and don’t know where to start in your planning, bookmark our Ultimate Guide to Ecommerce. If you’re interested in learning how other brands shifted to ecommerce in 2020, check out this piece.

Instagram Marketing

How to Post on Instagram: A Step-by-Step Guide

With over 1 billion active users, Instagram is undoubtedly one of the most far-reaching social media networks you can use for marketing purposes.

Instagram has proven a viable advertising option for businesses today, and shows no signs of slowing down — in fact Instagram ad revenues will exceeded $20 billion in ad revenue in 2019, an exponential increase from 1.86 billion in just three years.

If you’re not already using Instagram for your business, you’re missing out on a ton of opportunity to grow brand awareness and reach a wide audience. Fortunately, adopting an Instagram strategy can be relatively easy with enough time and effort.

However, if you’ve never used the app, you might be daunted by the first question likely to cross your mind — How can I post my first image?

If you’re ready to post an image to Instagram, we’ve got you covered. Here, we’ve cultivated a quick-and-easy guide to posting on Instagram, to ensure you can begin attracting the attention of  your audience with Instagram marketing.

How to Post to Instagram

Posting to Instagram consistently can help businesses find resonance with their audience and grow better, but doing it right is just as important. Here’s how to post to your Instagram account step-by-step.

1. Tap the + icon at the bottom of your screen.

See that plus sign [+] in the image above? That’s your starting point. See that post from our culture account? That’s your end point. Click that plus sign and you’ll be ready for the next step, below.

2. Choose a photo or video from your library — or shoot one in the app.

Instagram will show you the photos already saved to your phone. Choose one of those to post. Alternatively, you can click “Photo” or “Video” in the bottom to take a photo or video within the Instagram app itself, if you don’t already have an image you want to use.

Once you choose an image, click “Next” in the top right.

Instagram Gallery Photo Picker

3. Crop the image.

You aren’t limited to just a square image on Instagram. You can actually share horizontal or vertical images as well. To get more of your image seen, pinch the screen of the photo you’ve selected on the Library screen.

Cropping Photo on Instagram by Pinching

However, while Instagram does allow vertical and horizontal options, the images still need to fit into some specific dimensions. So, you might still need to crop a tiny bit of your photo to get it to fit.

4. Try a carousel post.

Do you have multiple photos and want to highlight them all? Instagram allows you to do this with its carousel feature.

Instagram "Select Multiple" Feature for Carousel Posts

As you go to tap a photo or video, first tap the icon just above your photos to the right that looks like stacked squares. Once you tap this, you’ll see a number on the corner of every image or video you tap. This number notes where the content will show up in the carousel.

5. Pick a filter.

Instagram offers 24 filters — scroll to the right to peruse your options, and click on one to preview how it will look on your photo. (Take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Instagram Filters to learn more).

Instagram Filters

6. Edit your photo.

You can also click “Edit” at the bottom right to adjust contrast, brightness, etc.

Instagram Photo Editor

When you’re ready, click “Next” in the top right.

7. Type your caption.

Get creative and write a nice, interesting caption to go with your photo. Since text can help optimize your post in Instagram’s search, writing something can only benefit you.

Instagram-Caption

8. Use hashtags for post optimization.

With Instagram’s search feature, users can search by hashtags. So, you should make sure to write relevant hashtags in your caption. If someone does a search of a hashtag you placed in your caption, they might find your post as well as others that included the same one.

9. Tag friends.

Want your friend or their followers to see a photo that you posted of the two of you? Tag them!

On the post page, you can click “Tag People” to tag other Instagram accounts in your post. Alternatively, you can include their handle (or their username beginning with an @ symbol) in your caption.

10. Add your location.

If you’re on a fun vacation or at a neat event and you don’t feel like including that information in your caption, you can mark where you are in another way. On the post page, tap “Add Location” to put a location on your image (which makes it easier for people to find your post).

When you post an image or video with a location, it will show up between your name and the block of content on the feed.

11. Play with emojis.

Emojis are fun and can make your caption more eye catching. If you know of a few relevant emojis that could fit with your post, stick them in the caption area.

For example, if you’re posting a vacation photo, you could include a beach umbrella or a plane to show you flew somewhere.

Be sure not to go overboard and post emojis just for the sake of posting them. If you post a bowling emoji along with a photo of a beach, that obviously won’t make sense to people. Similarly, if you post 20 emojis that loosely relate to a post, you might just annoy your followers or come off as desperate.

12. Share the post on other social media platforms

Finally, if you want to share your content on your other, connected social media sites (like Facebook or Twitter), simply slide the bar from the left to the right.

When you’re ready to post, click “Share” in the top right.

Instagram-Share-Post

Instagram Saved Drafts

If you’re not ready to post right away, you can also save it to your Instagram Saved Drafts. Simply go back to the filtering and editing step, tap the back arrow in the top left, and select “Save Draft.”

13. Edit the post.

Typos happen to everyone! If you just posted something and notice a glaring spelling error, don’t panic. Simply tap the three dots that appear on the right across from your name, then tap “Edit.”

Instagram Post Edit Menu

Now that you know how to post to Instagram, you can begin creating content for the platform and connecting with your audience. If you’re a business or brand, you’ll want a solid strategy for earning engagement and awareness. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Instagram Marketing

How to Post to Instagram From Your Computer [6…

I’ll admit it: this post is incredibly timely for me.

I recently watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix, a docu-drama that explores the potentially addictive qualities of social media.

Considering I spend 3+ hours a day on Instagram, I was already all-too-familiar with the habit-forming nature of social media apps.

As a result of watching the film, I immediately deleted the Instagram app from my phone — but not my computer. I’m still allowing myself to check out friends’ posts, or post my own content, via my desktop. I just don’t want it within easy reach on my phone.

If you’d prefer to post your Instagram content from a computer, you’re in luck. Here, we’ll explore how you can post images and videos from your desktop computer.

Can I post to Instagram from my computer?

Yes, you can post to Instagram from your PC or Mac desktop, as well as a browser on your phone instead of in-app.

Instagram doesn’t offer an official desktop desktop version, however. The social platform is primarily meant to be consumed in-app, which means some features can be a little trickier from your computer.

Having said that, it’s absolutely possible to post to Instagram from your computer. There are a few different reasons you might want to do this — for one, if you work as your company’s social media manager, it might be easier to upload company posts and videos via your desktop, rather than having your smartphone open at work.

Plus, your company’s files might be more easily accessible via desktop than mobile. For instance, if you use Photoshop to edit company photos, it’s likely easier to click “Upload” from your desktop when you’re done editing, rather than sending that same photo or video to your personal phone.

Alternatively, perhaps you simply prefer the larger screen of desktop. Or, maybe you don’t have access to a smartphone so you can’t download the app on your phone.

Whatever the reason, don’t worry — there’s a solution for you. Let’s dive into that, next.

How do I post to Instagram from my computer? [PC and Mac]

How to Post a Photo on Chrome Browser

1. Go to https://www.instagram.com/ in your Chrome browser. Click on your Settings (click the three dots in the top right corner of your browser).

Instagram Account Credit: @Goodtomicha

2. Scroll down to “More Tools” in the drop-down menu, and then click “Developer Tools”.

find developer tools on google chrome copy

3. Click the “Toggle Device Toolbar” mobile button.

clicking on mobile toggle to change the desktop version to mobile instagram copy

4. Choose which mobile device you’d like on the drop-down menu, as well as how zoomed in you want to be. Then, refresh the page. Now, you’re seeing the mobile interface of Instagram from your browser.

changing responsive design on desktop so it resembles instagram on mobile copy

5. You can upload a Instagram post the same way you would via mobile — by clicking the “+” button:

clicking add post on desktop

Then, choose filters or other editing features like you would normally, then click “Next” in the top right of your screen:

instagram filters on desktop

Finally, add a caption, location, or tag people. When you’re ready, click “Share” in the top right of your screen.

typing a caption on my instagram post on desktop copy

How to Post a Photo on Safari Browser

1. Go to https://www.instagram.com/ in your Safari browser. Select “Safari” and then “Preferences” in your menu bar.

safari prefences drop-down menu2. Toggle over to “Advanced Features” and check the box that reads “Show develop menu in menu bar”.

safari advanced preferences copy

3. Click “Develop” in your menu bar and then scroll to “User Agent”. Choose which mobile device you’d like on the drop-down menu.

Screen Shot 2020-10-12 at 1.06.11 PM-min

4. Refresh the page. Now, you’re seeing the mobile interface of Instagram from your browser.

Screen Shot 2020-10-12 at 1.06.29 PM-min

(From here on, the instructions for posting an image to Instagram are the same as they are for the Chrome browser instructions, listed above. You can upload a Instagram post the same way you would via mobile — by clicking the “+” button, adding a filter or editing the photo, adding a location and caption, and clicking “Share” when you’re ready for your post to go live.)

How to Post a Video on Desktop

To upload a video to Instagram from your desktop, you’ll need to use a third-party service that offers social media scheduling software.

There are a few you might try, including the Flume App for Mac (Pro version is $20) or Lately Social ($14 per user per month for Agency plan).

For our purposes, I used Lately Social’s free personal plan to upload and post a video directly to my Instagram:

lately social tool dashboard

Of course, if you’re doing this regularly it might be worthwhile to explore all the social media scheduling tools at your disposal to choose the one best-suited for your business’ needs.

Instagram Marketing

Why You Shouldn’t Buy Instagram Followers (& What to…

You might know your Instagram content is good, but imagine how much better it will seem if it looks like 10,000 people agree.

Whether you’re trying to become a social media celebrity or simply looking to spread brand awareness on Instagram, it can seem tempting to take shortcuts wherever you can in order to expand your audience, including ‘buying’ Instagram followers.

Here, we’ve gone ahead and covered all the questions you might have about buying Instagram followers to give you a better idea of how it actually works. We’ve also explored the pros and cons, so you can decide for yourself if it’s a good move for your brand.

1,000 followers seems like a good deal for the price of a small Starbucks latte. But of course, if it really was that cheap and easy, everyone would be doing it. So what’s the catch? Is buying Instagram followers legal and safe for your business? Is it a worthwhile investment?

The main reason buying Instagram followers can prove to be a wasted investment is because the accounts you follow often aren’t real. 

Buying ‘Fake’ Instagram Followers

The vast majority of purchasable followers are either bots or inactive accounts. Here’s how it works:

Instagram Bots

As of 2018, Instagram may have as much as 95 million bots, which accounts for approximately 9.5% of its total user base. There are companies out there who have automated the process of creating bots so well that they can then sell these bots as followers. In some cases, the bots may even assume the identity of a real person, using stolen images and names. 

Depending on the service, these dummy accounts may even seem organic, running on automation to share and like content. Some can even be programmed to produce content. However, because they’re not real people, they will not have an organic-looking following to follower ratio. As a result, the engagement they do produce will have little impact.

Without real followers to engage with your content, your posts are essentially hidden from everyone except your inauthentic audience. Plus, your bot followers won’t discuss your brand in real life with friends or family, because, well … they don’t exist in real life (no offense, bots).

Inactive Accounts

However, not all fake followers are bots. There are some companies who sell followers that are genuine accounts.

In this situation, the accounts are created either because they’re managed by users whose only goal is to get followed in return or for the sole reason to offer this service. And while these followers might show early engagement, they’ll ultimately become a drain on your Instagram account’s performance metrics when their accounts go dormant.

After all, if their account was created for the sole purpose of fulfilling sponsorship requests, the real person behind the account has little reason to dwell on the newsfeed, interact with content, or purchase the goods and services being advertised. 

Without that interaction, your follower numbers are inflated with none of the value that organic followers would bring.

When you buy Instagram followers, you’re paying for a number alone. Engagement is not guaranteed, or even likely.

In addition to buying followers directly, you can also pay services to strategically follow other accounts on your behalf based on your preferences (location, hashtag usage, account type, and gender). Ideally, those followed accounts will then follow you back.

With this option, your followers are more likely to be real people, but engagement is still unlikely. Since you can’t even guarantee these accounts will follow you back, it’s a risky investment. Most accounts won’t follow you back, and even if they do, they probably aren’t going to be long-term, loyal, or active followers.

You’ll get early engagement that tapers off.

Purchased Instagram followers also provide no long-term value to your profile’s content. The followers you buy might give you views, likes, and comments early into acquiring them as a follower, but the attention they throw you now won’t be there later — when you start reporting on how your Instagram account is performing.

And how helpful, really, are 10,000 followers that don’t engage with you? Engagement is key to how Instagram’s algorithm displays posts to users. Without likes or comments, your post probably won’t show up on your audience’s newsfeeds, and it also won’t show up on any Explore Pages.

You could hurt your credibility.

Having a lot of followers could convince users to follow you organically, but it’s not a guarantee.

Remember the risks: these followers will probably never like or comment on a post, and if you’re caught with a ton of fake followers, you could ruin your credibility with your real audience.

Users might notice you don’t have a ton of engagement on your posts, which could deter them from following you. If you have 10,000 followers but only four likes per post, it won’t take people long to realize something is up.

Think of it this way: would you keep following an account if you saw that most of their “loyal audience” were inactive accounts or bots? I’m guessing not. It could seem deceitful, and lead you to believe the brand couldn’t get authentic followers through good content alone.

Bought Instagram followers can distort your performance metrics.

It’s practically impossible to measure how well your target audience is connecting with your brand if a high percentage of that audience isn’t real. How will you measure posts that do well with your real audience if those bots and inactive accounts skew the ratio?

If you don’t know how well your posts are doing or what your real audience thinks, you’ll never convert your Instagram followers into real customers. And isn’t that the point?

Ultimately, if you pay for Instagram followers, you aren’t paying for quality, real-life followers. You’re paying for a blank number. And since Instagram’s algorithm is largely tied to engagement, not followers, buying followers isn’t a long-term solution. In fact, it isn’t really a solution at all.

Take the time, energy, and money that you would’ve dedicated to buying followers, and focus instead on building genuine relationships with a real audience. If your content is engaging and authentic, your loyal followers will spread the word and engage with your brand without needing any bribes.

Instagram Identifies and Purges Fake Followers

Recently, Instagram has updated its terms of use to identify and remove inauthentic accounts from its platform. Instagram is removing any likes, follows, or comments from third-party apps that are designed to artificially grow accounts’ audiences. By buying followers, you violate Instagram’s community guidelines and it may trigger a reaction from Instagram moderators. 

Instagram is looking to maintain genuine interactions on its site, protecting real accounts and experiences. Fake or bought activity infringes upon this mission and might result in consequences, so it’s better to grow your audience organically.

Alternatives to Buying Instagram Followers

Instagram’s new algorithm rewards engagement more than follower count, displaying content similar to posts users engaged with in the past. In order to drive engagement, there are many different actions one can try on the platform to get in front of your ideal audience.

By using good Instagram marketing practices — whether you are building your personal brand or a company account — you can better reach the nearly 800 million monthly Instagram users and build an authentic audience. 

1. Make your account public.

First, make your account public so that users can see your profile and content. This way, you can grow your audience organically when your content pops up on users’ explore pages, attracting and delighting your target viewership. 

2. Give users a reason to follow you by publishing quality content.

Next, publish a variety of posts to your feed: you can post images, GIFs, videos, Boomerangs, quizzes on your story, how-tos, user-generated content, and so much more. Build trust and excitement among your followers by using high-quality photos, writing catchy captions, posting consistently, and keeping up a unique style overall to differentiate yourself from other accounts. Do your research on which hashtags generate a lot of buzz and which are aligned with your brand — hashtags can be a great way to reach new audiences if done correctly.

Depending on your brand personality, it can help to be funny or witty in your content. Having an acute awareness of how your brand is perceived and the trends going around Instagram will serve you when choosing content to post and how to interact with your Instagram community. 

3. Use Instagram to its fullest capability.

Lastly, utilize the many different channels on the platform, like Instagram Live, IGTV, Instagram Stories, or Shopping on Instagram. There are so many different ways to connect with users, and by driving engagement through these features, you can drive engagement and traffic organically and authentically.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

 
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