Perhaps it’s been a long day. Perhaps you’re on your way to work. Or maybe work is getting a little too boring. You probably turn to Instagram to find something interesting and funny, right?
Instagram is the distraction of choice for most people.
In fact, in a recent study from Facebook IQ and Ipsos Connect, lead researcher Vicki Molina-Estolano says:
People surveyed who use both platforms (Facebook and Instagram) more often agreed that Instagram surprises and delights them than Facebook
If people are on Instagram to see things that amaze and inspire them, wouldn’t the appearance of an ad make the user experience worse? No.
For example, WIRED reports that photographer Arnold Daniel had incredible success creating a call-to-action. He got $15,000 in orders from simply asking his Instagram followers to buy his pictures on his birthday.
Here are a few tips to help you sell on Instagram too.
1. Display isolated product photos, without a person.
Which approach works better—posting your product images only or posting a picture of someone holding the product?
Michael Thomason is a respected marketing analyst for Simply Measured. He analyzed the Simply Measured Q4 2014 Instagram Study and found that consumers actually prefer isolated product pictures, as opposed to humans holding or showing off the products.
Or let’s look at it from another angle. If I open Instagram and follow Kevin Hart (a popular comedian), it’s obvious I want to see more of him. And if I follow Justin Bieber, I’m basically in love with his music and want to see more of him, right? Yes.
But what if I follow something like leading fashion brand Lacoste? What do I hope to get from that company? Its products. Not the CMO, the employees, or a model hired for a photo shoot.
I know Lacoste is a company that sells something that interests me. So I follow it with the intent to see its products.
Here’s a typical product-only sample from Sigma Beauty, which is an international cosmetics company:
Of course, there are some products that require a person to be in the photo; otherwise they won’t present well.
If the picture only showed the dress, the product wouldn’t look as presentable as it does now. If you’re selling clothes on Instagram, you want to show people how beautiful they look on a real human.
2. Make your Instagram shoppable with a clear call to action.
With a shoppable Instagram, consumers can easily click a link in your bio and land on a product page. That page will show them your products just as you display them on Instagram.
Here’s how Shabby Apple—a leading women’s clothing brand—does it:
One great tip you can learn from Shabby Apple here is that they use a clear CTA: “Shop our Instagram feed.” This way, consumers understand they can easily shop what they see on the company’s Instagram feed without having to search the web for it.
Less stress equals higher profits.
3. Filters are great, but filter-free posts sell better on Instagram.
Social media scientist Dan Zarrella did some analysis on over 160,000 Instagram posts. He found that pictures without filters had the highest number of likes out of all the posts he examined. The one exception was the willow (black and white) filter, which got the most likes.
In other words, consumers prefer to see your real photos, rather than the ones you edited. They don’t like it when you appear to misrepresent your product. Here’s a typical no-filter post sample from Michael Kors, a leading sportswear fashion designer:
No filters at all-just the original picture. If the brand had used a filter, the image probably wouldn’t have gotten the 11.9k likes in less than 17 minutes after posting. At least, according to Dan Zanrella’s analysis, it wouldn’t have.
So the more filter-free posts you put on Instagram, the more engagement, Instagram traffic and leads you stand to gain.
4. User Generated Photos are important.
You can have promises that sound good. You can tell consumers that your products will make their mountains become valleys or make their problems melt like ice in the sun. But your customers will still want to see evidence from other consumers that your product really provides the solutions you’re promising.
And this is where User Generated Content (or consumer photos) comes in. Below is a typical sample from Vanity Planet. Vanity Planet is a fashion brand using Yotpo’s new visual commerce platform to integrate customers’ Instagram photos to their product pages:
According to a Search Engine Land survey, 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. So reviews alone can be enough to convince consumers to buy your product. However, when you display those reviews alongside user generated photos of your products, you engage customers better.
“We ran a survey of 1000 eCommerce shoppers and 77% said that authentic photos from customers affect their purchase decisions more than professional photos from stores do,” says Doug Baltman, who does Product Marketing at Yotpo.
5. Influencer marketing + Instagram sponsored Ads
84% of consumers say that they trust people they know over direct advertising, according to a Nielsen study. That is, they trust influencers that they follow more than they trust sponsored ads.
When sportswear fashion designer Michael Kors first ran an Instagram ad for a watch, it got 94,000 likes and some really ugly comments in the first few hours.
Those negative comments mostly came from Instagram users who never followed Michael Kors, but were seeing their ads. They got annoyed by the blatant, unrelated promotion and lashed back at the company through their public comments.
Sponsored ads can help you reach a large audience and create a lot of brand awareness. That is the point of them. But influencer marketing helps you to engage consumers more effectively. Even though it can’t reach all the users that sponsored ads can, it can help to cut down the negative backlash from advertising.
A mixture of both influencer marketing and sponsored ads is key to helping you achieve your desired advertising results on Instagram. Francis Trapp, CEO of Brandnew, puts it this way in a post on AdWeek: “The best strategy would be to use the best of both worlds to maximize results.”
Selling on Instagram in a Nutshell
With a community of over 500 million users, Instagram continues to be a highly engaging and effective marketing platform. Both large and small businesses can use the tips above to sell on it successfully.