Battle Tested Tips: How to Use Instagram to Generate Sales

instagram ads

For many of its 400 million monthly active users, Instagram is used just a social media site for recreational purposes.

But, did you know that Instagram can be used as a powerful social media tool for business, too?

The problem, however, is that many people simply don’t know how to use a social media site like Instagram as part of a social media marketing strategy for their business.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at how you can begin to use Instagram marketing techniques in order to generate sales.

We’ll analyze three social media marketing tactics that you can put into action, right now, in order to turn your Instagram account into a profitable social media tool for business. And, a highly impressive sales channel.

Want to use Instagram as a sales channel? Here is the quick how to guide.

By the end of this post, you’ll be able to take what you’ve learned and use it to turn Instagram into a profitable social media tool as part of your social media marketing strategy.

Let’s get started! 

The importance of showcasing great images

Instagram is an image-centric social media platform.

On average, 80 million photos are shared everyday on the social media platform.

Instagrams heavy reliance on images is also the reason that 96% of fashion brands use the social media site.

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As a result, all of the social media marketing tips that we’re going to cover in this article are going to rely on you having high quality images at one point or another.

If you don’t have high quality Instagram photos, generating sales using Instagram marketing is going to be an uphill battle.

A battle that can be avoided.

There’s a lot to be said about generating high quality Instagram photos.

I’ve discussed the topic here and here.

The thing you must prioritize, above all else, is the resolution of the image.

This is relatively easy in our modern era of smartphones with high quality cameras

There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, but nobody likes to look at images on social media that are hard to make out.

Note: In most cases, Instagram photos that look organic, or user generated, tend to perform better than those that look as though they’ve been taken professionally.

That doesn’t mean that your organic photos can be low quality.

If you want some inspiration in terms of what Instagram photos work well on the social media platform, follow some of your competitors on Instagram (we’ll discuss this more later).

You might also want to take a look at some of the Instagram accounts you’re following at the moment, and question what it is about their images that keeps you engaged. Make a note of these aspects, and bear them in mind for your own social media marketing strategy. 

Instagram Ads

There are now over 200,000 advertisers on Instagram, of which 75% are outside of the US.

Because Facebook owns Instagram, you’ll need to go through the Facebook Ad creation tool to create an Instagram ad.

To do that, visit https://www.facebook.com/ads/manager, and go through the ad creation process.  

Select the ‘send people to your web site’ option.

You can, however, use Instagram for the following objectives, too.

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I’ve provided some in-depth social media marketing strategy tips here and here, in relation to how you can create ads using Facebook.

When you reach the section related to the format and creative of the ad, you’ll have the option of deciding if your ad is going to be shown on your Instagram feed.

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As you can see, there are several options.

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You just need to make sure that there is a ‘tick,’ next to the Instagram option.

If you want your ad to appear only on Instagram and nowhere else, then make sure that you untick all of the other options that are provided.

When setting up your ad on this page, you may be asked to link your Instagram account to your Facebook account.

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As you go about creating your ad, you should begin to see a preview.

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As with all types of content marketing, you’ll need to experiment in order to work out what works best on the social media platform.

That means trying out different image and text combinations as part of your social media marketing strategy.

Keep a close eye on the numbers, to see how well each of your ads are performing.

This will allow you to double down on ads that are working and stop the ones that are wasting money.

Once you get used to advertising with Instagram posts, you might want to experiment with different ad formats.

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You can try the carousel format, where more than one image can be present within your ad.  Or, you can try video ads.

It might even be a good idea to utilize such social media tools by combining your Facebook campaigns with your Instagram post campaigns.

MVMT watches managed to achieve a 20% lower cost per conversion, when running Instagram Ads alongside Facebook Ads.

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Organically build your fan base and then promote to them

Another way of generating sales with Instagram posts is to organically build a fanbase of engaged Instagram followers that you can later sell to.

If you want to build a fanbase of Instagram followers, you must first figure out what kind of content your target audience likes.

The best way to get this done is by researching the Instagrams users, profiles and popular hashtags who could lead to the kind of fanbase you’d like to build.

You can find useful profiles by searching a relevant keyword within the general Instagram feed.

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In doing so, you’ll see a number of profiles that you can investigate.

Check out their images, their content style and the types of descriptions that they use. You should also note their most used or popular hashtags for consideration for your own social media marketing strategy.

Pay special attention to the posts that have received the most likes and comments.

Take a look at multiple profiles and, after a while, you’ll most likely begin to develop a sense of what works well in relation to the audience you want to go after.

Make sure that you do all of this research using the mindset of a marketer.

If you do, you will be able to notice any subtle actions taken by the profiles you’re looking at.  The important profiles, for our purposes, are those designed to increase Instagram followers and engagement.  

You’re not going to copy what these other profiles are doing, but you are going to use them as inspiration.

Once you have a good sense of what works, you then need to create some content of your own.

It is important that you’re posting content consistently.

This will help to keep you top-of-mind, as well as assisting in the maintenance of a healthy discussion.

You’ll also want to make sure that you are engaging with anyone who follows your account or comments on your content.

Engagement is valued by those following your account. It lets them know that you care about their opinion and that you value their discussion on whatever you’ve posted.

You can also attract a fanbase by following the Instagram followers of your competitors.

Richard Lazazzera followed 100 of his competitors Instagram followers.  He then liked and commented on their posts. In doing so, he managed to earn a 34% follow back rate.

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The above stats show that the more time and effort that’s put into engaging with potential Instagram followers, the higher the followback rate will be – testament to the fact that engagement is key for delivering successful Instagram posts.

Once you begin to generate a small number of fans, you’ll then want to implement some of the strategies that I’ve discussed in this post, in order to bolster growth.  

Such tricks include arranging a ‘Shout for shout.’

This is where you network as an Instagram user and find people who are in a similar niche as you. You then cross promote each other, increasing the visibility of both profiles.

Once you begin to build a small community on the social media platform, you can then think about promoting some offers.

To do that, you could head over to Canva and design an image that lets people know that you’re running a promotion.  Then, put a link in the description.

If you’ve built enough goodwill with the fanbase (by posting good content and engaging with those who engage with you), you should be able to convert some sales.

Pay other people to promote you

You also have the option of paying other Instagram users to promote you.

There are two ways that you can go about this.

The first is paying influential Instagram users to promote your profile.

The second is paying influential Instagram users to promote a picture that you provide them with, including a description with a link.

The link will take people to an webpage where you have something for sale.

This was the strategy I used to generate $332,640 in 3 Months, using only Instagram posts.

If you want this strategy to work, you’ll need to find people who have large followings and then pay them to promote you.

When paying these people, I’ve found it to be most effective to buy only 2 hours worth of promotion.

This might sound like a short amount of time, but because of the nature of Instagram and the ‘one off’ spike in engagement that happens soon after a post, it works out very well.

On top of that, if you want to keep the images up for longer, it’s going to cost you more.

Keeping a post visible for a long time isn’t worth it, because Instagram posts tend to get less attention with age.

Here’s the image I used when promoting myself on Instagram.

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It’s important that you use strong content marketing images that have an organic feel to them, as that tends to resonate best with Instagram users.

Plus, I tested more ‘formal’ approaches and found that they didn’t provide the same results as the style of the image seen above.

When implementing a strategy like this, there are a few things that you need to remember.

One is that you need to make sure that the offer you’re looking to sell is, at least somewhat, optimized for conversions.

When I was using this technique, I was sending people to an optimised landing page that was hosting a somewhat optimised webinar.

I was already generating sales from this landing page and webinar.

Because of this, I was sure that there was a good chance of the offer converting if I sent some traffic to it from Instagram posts.

Sure, the conversion rates were low – around 2%.

But, I only spent $75,000 in order to generate the revenue figures mentioned.

If I was looking to promote a brand new landing page and webinar, this kind of content marketing traffic probably wouldn’t be my first stop.

Therefore, use other forms of traffic( like Facebook Ads) to create a converting offer.  Then, send Instagram post traffic once you know you have something that works.

You need to be willing to experiment.

Even though I worked with someone who does this for a living, I still had to experiment.

You’ll need to do the same, as even though best practices exist, you’ll never truly know what works until you put some of these content marketing steps into action.

That means providing different images and descriptions when reaching out to people.

You may even want to go after Instagram followers and influencers with varying audiences, to see how well your offer converts with another segment of the market.

It may also be a good idea to experiment with different offers too, as this can also affect conversions.

If you’re struggling to sell a high priced offer, why not offer a ‘trip-wire’ offer instead?  This will, at least, get people into your funnel.

You can then sell something high priced to these individuals after you have built some trust.

Finally, you need to pay attention to the numbers.

Keep a close eye on how much you’re spending and how much you’re making.

Make a special effort to track the types of profiles that are generating results for you.

If you find that certain profile types have content marketing aspects that are clearly performing better than others, question what it is about those profiles that makes them work.

Then, go out and find some other profiles that have some commonalities with those high performing profiles.  The key here is to put good money into what is working. 

Conclusion

Instagram can be a tricky medium to generate sales from.

What you’ll find, in most cases, is that generating sales from Instagram just requires a different style of thinking.

Mainly, you’ll need to understand the userbase on Instagram and the kind of content that resonates with them.

And that means that you’ll need to understand how to create compelling images.

Whether you buy ads, build up your profile organically or pay other people to promote you –  there’s plenty of ways to generate sales using the social media platform.

Give the tips I’ve mentioned a try and see if they work out well for you.

What have you experienced when it comes to generating sales with Instagram?

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