3 steps to attract customers on Instagram

Don’t just gain followers. Gain customers on the visual platform by following this protocol.

People love to produce, consume and share images. That’s why Instagram has grown to over 500 million users in five years.

“Sixty percent of those users say they have heard or learned about a new product or service on Instagram,” says Ethan Arpi, who works in product marketing at Instagram.

Even better news for communicators is that 75 percent of users take action after being inspired by a post, Arpi says: “That could be anything from going to your website to learn more, to visiting your store or even marking a purchase.”

Here are three ways to attract more Instagram followers—and turn them into customers:

1. Pull the curtain back. “People don’t like super-glossy images or staged videos,” Arpi says. “They prefer authenticity and want to see how things are created.”

That’s why he recommends “behind-the-scenes” videos.

“Get creative,” he says. “Think about what happens out of public sight at your business that you can pull out and bring to life. A short clip from a factory floor is more compelling than a product shot.”

If you must post a product shot, don’t take it under fluorescent lights. “The best thing you can do is step outside,” Arpi says. “Natural light will elevate your game, especially if you wait until a little later in the day when the light isn’t as harsh.”

Register for PR Daily’s Oct. 20 webinar “Speak with Visuals: New Instagram Best Practices to Build Your Following” for tips from Instagram expert Jenn Herman and Instagram’s own Ethan Arpi.

2. Punch up your Instagram bio. The best bios tell users who you are and what you do, while showing off your personality and style.

“Don’t make your bio too stuffy or formal,” says social media consultant Jenn Herman. “Include emojis or symbols and try to tell a story that would encourage a newcomer to want to follow you.”

One common rookie Instagram mistake is including hashtags in your bio.

“While this is a common practice on Twitter, hashtags aren’t clickable in the bio,” Herman says. “Instagram doesn’t search your bio for keywords, so stuffing keywords and hashtags in the bio serves no valuable purpose.”

3. Upgrade to a business account. Instagram recently released business accounts, which are available to all users.

“I highly recommend PR pros upgrade their accounts to business profiles,” Herman says. “Having a business profile distinguishes you as a professional and also puts an awesome ‘contact’ button right there on your profile.”

The button enables potential customers to email or call you with just one click.

“I know a number of people who have closed significant sales using this feature,” Herman says. “Having a business account also gives you access to analytics right within your Instagram app, making it even easier to track what’s working for your brand on Instagram.”

Brian Pittman is a Ragan Communications consultant and webinar manager for PR Daily’s PR University. Ethan Arpi, who works in the Instagram products marketing division, and Jenn Herman, a top-ranking Instagram expert according to Social Media Examiner, will share more tips in PR University’s Oct. 20 webinar, Speak with Visuals: New Instagram Best Practices to Build Your Following.”

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