Instagram Marketing in 2021: What Ecommerce Marketers Need to Know

Date: 27 Aug 2021

Instagram is huge. Check out this BigCommerce in-depth Instagram marketing guide that outlines ways to market your brand on IG to drive help drives sales and awareness in 2021.

This blog was first published on the BigCommerce website.

Did Kevin Systrom, a self-taught coder, know his prototype Burbn would turn into a platform inspiring millions of people? Or that combining the terms instant and telegram would result in one of the most recognizable brand names in the world? 

burbn

It’s doubtful that in 2009 Systrom imagined that by 2020 76% of marketers would use the social media platform to reach their target audience. 

However, getting 25,000 downloads on the day Instagram launched in 2010 surely reaffirmed his decision to quit his job and go all in. And less than two years later, Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion in stock and cash. 

Since then, businesses have flocked to the platform to connect with and delight the ever-increasing user base. Although Instagram only had 50 million users in 2012, by 2020, this number grew to over one billion. 

Today, Instagram reports that over “200 million Instagrammers visit at least one business profile daily, and 60% of people say they discover new products on Instagram.” The social media app provides companies with multiple ways to reach fans and is an essential part of everyone’s social media marketing toolkit. 

Learn how to leverage Instagram to reach your target market, increase web traffic, and drive qualified lead generation using this guide. 

Instagram Marketing Is Beneficial for Your Business

Instagram marketing is how companies drive brand awareness, interact with fans, and introduce people to exciting services and products. 

To reach Instagram users, called Instagrammers, brands develop aesthetically pleasing content combined with compelling copy and searchable hashtags. 

With the social network’s prominence, both large and small business owners can benefit from using it. Instagram marketing gives your company an advantage by:  

  • Helping your target audience discover new products or services. 
  • Increasing website visits and generating interest in your brand.
  • Boosting sales with frictionless Shopping on Instagram experiences.

For instance, Facebook IQ reports that 44% of surveyed respondents said a brand’s Instagram content “can help them find new information about a product or service. Additionally, 41% said a brand’s content helps them research the product or service.”

With Shopping on Instagram, users can tap your post to see product descriptions, more images, and related store items. Plus, your posts show up under the Explore tab, meaning potential customers can find your brand. 

Getting Started With Instagram: Optimizing Your Business Profile

Your Instagram profile is the first step to building a successful Instagram channel and achieving the number of followers you’d like to have.  Your business account has 150 characters to capture attention, show value, and encourage people to engage. 

Start by creating an Instagram account with a username that’s the same as or similar to what you use on other social media platforms. Next, build a profile that’s memorable, easy to find, and gives Instagrammers a call-to-action (CTA).

1. Create a compelling bio.

Short doesn’t mean boring. Use your limited characters to share powerful yet straightforward words telling people precisely what you do and how you help them. 

For starters, look over your value proposition and branding documents to uncover the main thing you want Instagram followers to know. 

Write a few sentences tailored to your target audience. Now go back through and cross out every unnecessary word. Tweak your Instagram bio until it’s concise and memorable. 

Don’t be afraid to add a relevant emoji for a pop of fun, as Solo Stove does in its bio. 

Solo stove example

2. Add a keyword that is highly searched and matches your brand.

Like Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other social channels, Instagram helps users discover content using search terms. This isn’t the place to pack a bunch of searchable phrases. But it’s exactly the spot to insert one or two high-traffic keywords found during your website keyword research.

Why  is this especially important in 2021? Because Instagram is testing a new search feature which enables users to view profiles and content about their search subject. So, if you optimize your Instagram bio and create content around your core brand offerings, you have more likelihood than ever to be found by your target audience and to add new audience members. 

3. Add a CTA.

No bio is complete without telling people what to do next. Add a call-to-action and a clickable URL (also called a link in bio)  to drive traffic to your website, landing page, or shopping channel. 

Look at how Revelry uses down arrows and a simple CTA to increase click-throughs. 

Revelry example

4 Different Ways to Use Instagram

Creating a visual identity on Instagram involves more than sharing beautiful photos. It requires a purposeful Instagram marketing strategy, and increasingly, that strategy must include video content

Take advantage of the many ways to showcase your ecommerce products using: 

  • Hashtags
  • Stories
  • Ads
  • Shopping

People search or click on hashtags to discover new Instagram content.  They dive into ephemeral Instagram Stories to explore a brand’s personal side. And well-placed Instagram Ads help you attract new followers matching your audience demographics. 

Lastly, turning photos and videos into interactive shopping experiences give active users access to new products so they can shop now or bookmark your photos for later. 

Instagram Hashtags

People use their Instagram app to search for hashtags related to their interests. By using relevant Instagram hashtags, ecommerce companies can drive brand awareness and help people find their business profiles. 

For success, follow these Instagram hashtag best practices: 

  • Include a few hashtags in your main post, then put the rest in a comment. 
  • Choose high-quality hashtags with varying search volume levels.
  • Pick hashtags that your audience uses.
  • Evaluate hashtag quality by researching where and how the hashtags are used. 
  • Avoid using repetitive hashtags.
  • Review Instagram Insights to see how your tags perform. 

1. Branded hashtags.

Branded hashtags are essential to every business because they increase brand awareness. But that’s not all. With branded hashtags, you can build a community and help followers connect. Or encourage fans to post user-generated content (UGC) that’s easily found by searching your hashtag. 

Burrow placed a branded hashtag in its bio resulting in over 1,000 photos tagged by customers.

2. Contest hashtags.

Hosting a contest on Instagram is an excellent way to deliver goodwill and attract new followers. Every contest should include your branded hashtag. But, you can also add tags like: 

  • #contest
  • #contestgiveaway
  • #contestalert
  • #contestgram
  • #giveaway

3. Niche hashtags.

Niche hashtags are specific to your industry and your customer base. These are the terms your target audience searches for daily. It includes phrases like #selfcare or #fitnessguru. 

Hyphen uses niche hashtags in its Instagram posts to appeal to people wanting cozy, relaxing, and peaceful home decor.  

Hyphen example

4. Entertaining hashtags.

Entertaining hashtags or theme hashtags are a fun way to join in Instagram challenges or games. Share a meme or funny GIF with the right hashtags to skyrocket your engagement rate. Popular entertaining hashtags include #instadaily, #photooftheday, #goofymemes, and #motivationalmonday.

Ins and Outs of Instagram Stories

Instagram for Business says, “50% of people surveyed by Instagram say they have visited a website to buy a product or service as a result of seeing it in Stories,” suggesting that Instagram Stories are crucial to your marketing strategy. 

Instagram Stories show up at the top of the app when a user logs in. You can add vertical photos or up to 15 seconds of video. After 24 hours, your Instagram Story disappears. 

Although Instagram feeds are full of beautifully curated content, Stories give you a way to highlight the softer or personal side of your brand. 

Put your Stories to work for you by using these Instagram tips. 

1. Show off products in use.

According to Instagram, “58% of people surveyed by Instagram say they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories.” Leverage Stories by:

  • Helping fans imagine themselves using your products.
  • Sharing videos of people using your makeup or home decorating supplies.
  • Encouraging followers to swipe through your Story to compare before and after pictures.

2. Share moments from special events.

Invite Instagram users into your office, home, or special event by creating an Instagram Story. Doing so shows your brand’s personal side and welcomes people into your space. Instagram Stories work well for sharing outtakes from your office party or event highlights during a product launch. 

3. Showcase customer and follower content.

Stories are an excellent place to share user-generated content. After all, your fans trust their friends and value their testimonials about your products. Displaying real-life people wearing your clothes or trying on your makeup encourages others to trust your brand. 

4. Be authentic and go live.

Every time you live stream on Instagram, your followers may get a notification so they can tune in. Use Instagram Live to announce a new product or the winners of your latest giveaway. Or use the question sticker during a live question and answer session. Question stickers are a lot like a pop-up on your website, but way more fun. Fans tap the sticker and type a question, then you can respond in real-time. 

If Stories feel a little foreign to you, consider templates to help get you started. 

Instagram Ads: How do They Work?

Instagram Ads give you more ways to reach new potential followers. With Instagram, you can choose from Stories Ads, photo or video ads, and carousel or collection ads.  

Similar to other social channels, you can get started with ads by choosing your goal. Decide if you want to increase brand awareness, help Instagrammers learn more about your product, or boost conversions. 

Next, select your Instagram audience by choosing from a range of demographics and characteristics, including location or interests. Finally, pick your ad format. 

Your other option is to find a post that performed well in your feed and promote it to boost Instagram engagement.

Sell Through Instagram

Selling through Instagram is a fantastic way to create a seamless experience for users. Your Instagram account connects to Facebook so you can tag products from your catalog in your Instagram photos. 

With tagged photos, Instagrammers see an icon showing that your post is shoppable

buy on instagram example

People tap on a post to see information like the product’s price or name. Each tag they tap on shows extra information such as photos, product description, or even a link to your storefront product page. If you’ve enabled your Checkout on Instagram, customers can tap to add your product to their shopping bag.

Spearmint Baby uses Instagram to showcase various product collections from its ecommerce store. 

spearmint example 2

5 Steps in Creating a Great Instagram Marketing Strategy

Success on Instagram requires a targeted approach designed to win over, appeal to, and attract your audience. An Instagram marketing strategy gives you clear goals allowing you to take purposeful actions on a consistent schedule. By following these steps, you can design a plan to reach your target market.

1. Identify your goals for Instagram.

Your ecommerce business wants to increase brand awareness and revenue this quarter. Turn that into an Instagram goal by identifying the metrics you’ll track using analytics tools. 

For example, you may track follower growth or leads created from profile link clicks in your website and Instagram analytics. Your objective may be to increase new followers or boost lead generation by 25% in the first quarter. 

2. Recognize who is your Instagram target audience.

There’s no point in posting just to post. Create each Instagram post with your target audience in mind. Not what you want them to know or see. But what they want to see. Do this by learning when your audience is online, what devices they use, what other companies they follow, and what they expect from your brand.

3. Study what your competitors are doing.

Competitive research is integral to your Instagram strategy. By analyzing what your competition does and how their followers respond, you can identify gaps in their plan. Once you find ways to differentiate your business from theirs, you can take advantage of these marketing gaps to drive traffic to your Instagram channel.

4. Create a monthly editorial calendar.

Consistently is key to Instagram. Not only to satisfy your followers but to stay relevant in the Instagram algorithm. However, it’s nearly impossible to remain consistent if you don’t use an editorial calendar. With a good social media management tool, you can visually plan your feed ahead of time for optimal engagement.

5. Engage with your audience.

Instagram is a social platform, and interacting with your audience is the only way that you’ll genuinely grow your following and fan base. Engaging with your audience includes responding to comments and private messages. But, you should also like and comment on your follower’s posts. 

Tips About Instagram Marketing You Need to Know

Social media marketing doesn’t give you many quick wins. Instead, it’s a long game that you can master with a good strategy and calculated actions. Make your efforts count by using these Instagram marketing tips. 

1. Engage with every comment.

Each time a person comments, it signals to Instagram that your brand is relevant and worthy of showing up in your followers’ feeds. But replying to Instagram users’ comments shows fans that there’s a human behind your logo. 

Moreover, responding to comments helps keep the conversation going and encourages others to participate. 

2. Refine and learn from each tactic.

Not everything you try will work, especially in the beginning. But by continually reviewing your competition and developing insights from your Instagram and website analytics, you can find out what hits the spot. Get started by testing out various Instagram captions, hashtags, and post formats. 

3. Try different types of content.

Although Instagram began as a photo platform, it evolved to offer many forms of consumable and interactive content. From IGTV tutorials to Boomerang videos, mixing up different types of content keeps your feed fresh. Plus, don’t forget to use influencer marketing to reach engaged communities. 

Wrapping Up

Although there’s a lot to learn about Instagram, the key thing to remember is that consistency, interaction, and strategy are how you drive action. Posting beautiful content creates an aesthetically pleasing feed. But mixing it up with the more raw Instagram Stories shows your personal side while ads help you reach new people. 

Once you develop a regular posting cadence and repeatedly delight your followers, they’ll share more of your content, discover new products, and enjoy shopping your brand.

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