The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Marketing for Retailers and Brands

Want to increase your brand awareness and get engaging customers to boost sales? Instagram is a spectacular tool for retailers and businesses. Why?
We are here to show you 8 effective ways for online retailers and businesses to achieve these goals by using Instagram.
Why photos rule when it comes to marketing:
Photos make an emotional connection in a way that text cannot.
Photos make your company and brand more relatable.
Photos are fun and engaging.
Photos shared via Instagram are reaching a huge audience, thanks to steady user adoption.

Quick hits for Instagram marketing:

Determine what will engage your target market by asking: What do they want to see? How can I get them to engage with my photos? What will get them talking about my company? Develop a photo curation plan around the answers.

Consider only sharing some photos on Instagram, where you can even leak company secrets for added exclusivity. Make sure your photos are gorgeous – anything sub-par will dilute your brand – and be sure they include shots of your employees and office. By letting people into your work life, you will create strong connections.

Consider using unique hashtags as keywords to make your company and brand easily findable. Be sure to add them to all your posts.

Increase engagement levels by posting photos of you and your customer’s events, using geolocation, and adding a gamification element, like asking users to submit photos, come up with a creative caption for a photo, or solving a mystery about your photo.

8 Ways to Increase Sales using Instagram
1. Decide on what you want to do
By just starting and posting random pictures of random things won’t make you successful. You need to know from the beginning what it is you want to do and only focus on that one thing. Have a plan, it can be anything. But let it be something interesting, something part of a routine, something you will be able to share about in the following days.
2. Eye-catching pictures with high quality
You might not be a professional photographer, but keep in mind that picture quality is an important element of a good brand. If you are not good at taking pictures yourself, let someone else do it for you, or read some tips and tricks that can improve your skills.

Just a side note – don’t rely JUST on Instagram. When forming your social media strategy Instagram is a great mobile marketing tool, but it is not the only tool. By design, Instagram works best in conjunction with other sites. Especially visually friendly content sites like Pinterest, Tumblr, and Facebook, as these sites also offer the best viral impact for sharing and discussing photos. Instagram can be connected to other social networks very easily, so all of your friends on all of your different social networks will be able to view them.

3. Get involved with your Community
Such as any social media campaign, not only should you reply on your own pictures, but you should reach out by liking and commenting on others’ photos too – especially if they mention your product or brand. As we have seen before customer service through social media can be a great way to solve your customers’ problems.
Create contests, scavenger hunts, and other promotions that encourage your community to display your brand on their photo feed and on their other connected social media networks. Some companies use Instagram to inform consumers about their inside workings or to introduce new products. Engaging customers is probably the best bet a company has with Instagram.
If you really want to interact and engage with customers, Instagram is one of the best ways of doing it. This is the way to ensure followers will participate and they will continue to follow you. Ask them to post pictures of your product and see what the results are.

Follow uploads. It is important to keep an eye on what people upload to assure that you protect your brand. If bad uploads are found, then always respond calmly and helpfully and correct any misunderstanding.

Connect and share. Integrating Instagram with other networks is crucial. Start with Facebook, then move on to Twitter, maybe Flickr and Foursquare. This way you can take images and share them using hashtags on other networks. Proper SEO will bring in many views.

Let Your Community See Behind the Curtain

Often examples of companies and people doing great job marketing with Instagram have a few things in common. They’re active, they post interesting pictures, they engage their base, and they show people the world beyond the faces at the counter.
4. Geo-Tag Instagram Photos
The geo-tagging feature on Instagram was great even before the 3.0 update because on upload it gave the user the ability to transfer that location information to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and Foursquare all at the same time. After 3.0 users can still geotag and upload their content but now the Instagram app also incorporates a photo map on the user’s profiles displaying where the photo was taken. Geo-tagging involves your communities on multiple platforms at once. Using it can help you promote your event or your participation at an event in a great way. Beyond those – restaurants, retailers, and any other brand can promote their location and their products in use using and promoting geo-tagged Instagram photos.
For example, a restaurant can use Foursquare lists for their business. This encourages patrons to post Instagram pictures that are linked to Foursquare. This also notifies their patron’s friends of the restaurant and of their food presentation.
5. Attracts New Customers
As you build followers, more and more of them will begin to take interest in your projects. Over time, you will develop a growing list of potential customers. Don’t start a new Instagram account thinking your business will surge because that’s not going to happen. Instagram is fun, addictive and easy. Only with the time, you will build a loyal following. This will then open up valuable branding opportunities and possibly new sales.
6. Establish a posting pattern
When you run a blog, it is a good idea to get your readers used to a posting consistently and regularly. If you post daily for two weeks in a row, then for the following two you post three times, this inconsistency might not please your readers. They usually expect something from you. They don’t know exactly when it’s coming, but they know it is close. It is important to have consistency in posting, keep this in mind when you make your plan.

7. Create Your Hashtag and Engage People that Use it
Creating, using, promoting, and monitoring your hashtag has some great benefit People can easily find photos related to you or your brand. It is easier to determine who your fans are beyond the users that follow and like your photos.
It is easier to interact with your community and for your brand to be shared when you encourage the use of your own hashtags. Did you know when a user likes a photo on Instagram it appears in their News Feed on Facebook? And did you know if one of their friends clicks on that liked photo they immediately go to Instagram’s hosted picture and can see all of the comments and your hashtags? They can also share the photo from there as well; this is a great possibility for a virality.
8. Find the Perfect Timing
Simply Measured has a fantastic study into engagement with Instagram showing which tags, filters, and times have the greatest correlation to comments on photos. From their work, we can derive that the best time to post pictures for engagement is between 5-6pm.
Why wait? Learn how to market on Instagram, leverage this user-friendly platform and share photos of your business to the social network in one click. With Instagram, you can apply a series of filters to your photos, much like Photoshop, making them look artistic, engaging and frankly – turn yourself from an amateur photographer to a pro. So hurry up and take some fabulous pictures for your business and share it with all your potential customers now!