Instagram has been busy releasing all manner of new features in recent months. From IGTV to Instagram Live, contributor Gaurav Sharma breaks down how these tools can help boost engagement and sales from your local business’ audience.
As of June 2018, there are 1 billion monthly active Instagram users, and almost 25 million business profiles on Instagram. The number of active advertisers on Instagram is 2 million. With these kinds of numbers, it’s clear that Instagram has a lot of potential. And when used effectively, it can be a powerful platform to promote your local business.
Recently, Instagram introduced a raft of new features which can help you to promote your business. New features include IGTV, Instagram Live, Instagram Stories, and Instagram Shopping.
Are you wondering how these features can help you promote and boost your local business? You’re in the right place! Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to use these features to promote local businesses.
While a lot of the examples used below are of larger chains and brands using these features, I’m confident they can inspire local businesses to take similar approaches that highlight their own products and services in an engaging and creative way.
1. Instagram Live
Instagram Live allows businesses to broadcast video in real time. Instagram Live offers a huge opportunity for local businesses to boost their engagement and win the trust of their followers and customers.
A couple of innovative ways you can use Instagram Live are to showcase how your services or products work and showcase live tutorials.
Instagram Live videos can be up to one hour long, which which means you can make engaging and lengthy videos to talk about your services and products. You can also host an interview or an interactive Q&A session with a live audience. Why not take questions from a live audience and answer them? It will increase the engagement rate! When you’re organizing a live Q&A session, make sure you inform your followers in advance that it’s coming up so that they can get their questions ready.
Once you are Live, ask your audience to send their questions via the comment section present at the bottom of the mobile screen. This will make your Live session much more interactive and engaging. Your followers can also react to your Live videos by clicking on ‘like’ or ‘love’.
2. IGTV (Instagram TV)
Very recently Instagram announced and launched IGTV, which is a long-form video that can last anywhere between 15 seconds to 60 minutes. Bear in mind that only verified accounts can make videos up to 60 minutes long. For unverified Instagram accounts, the maximum video length is 10 minutes.
You can leverage IGTV to share some funny and engaging behind-the-scenes videos from an event, or you can simply give a tour of your workplace and introduce your hard-working team to your followers.
Because verified accounts can record videos up to 60 minutes, you could also share a pre-recorded webinar or product demonstration with your followers. Or you could use the feature to record an event you’re holding or attending. You can also leverage this feature to create and share your brand’s story to build a connection with your followers and promote your business.
IGTV is still a brand new feature, and as they’re testing the waters a little, advertising isn’t yet available, but it has a lot of potential for advertising and marketing, so it’s very possible that one day businesses will be able to increase their reach and traffic through this channel.
Similarly to YouTube, IGTV videos actually have their own URLs, which is a first for Instagram. This means that sharing and promoting videos after broadcast is much easier and more effective.
A good example of a business using IGTV to its fullest Everlane, an online clothing retailer headquartered in San Francisco, California that was already popular for their engaging Instagram Stories.
One of their most recent IGTV videos was an analysis of a Canadian Tuxedo. But what was so clever about this is that the brand saved time by stitching together some of their related Instagram Stories in order to create a longer IGTV video.
3. Instagram Shopping
This new Instagram feature is a real game-changer for local businesses, as it allows businesses to tag products in their standard Instagram posts. Once prospects click on the tagged item, they are then directed to the product detail page, which can provide more information about the product and push prospects to make a purchase.
You can use this feature to promote and sell more of your services and products. Gone are the days of “link in bio”!
Here are some simple ways you can use this new Instagram feature to promote your business and increase your sales.
Firstly, make your content/product easy to discover for your followers. After all, you can’t increase your sales if no-one knows your product exists! To improve your presence on Instagram and make your products discoverable, use as many relevant hashtags as possible.
Using the right hashtag can boost your engagement rate and increase your product visibility. So invest time in researching the best and most relevant trending hashtags to use for your products.
A good example of this is Magnolia Boutique, a store situated in Indianapolis. They witnessed an increase of 4% and 20% in traffic and Instagram revenue, respectively. They used relevant hashtags on their posts and made their products discoverable through Instagram Shopping.
Secondly, make sure to provide a seamless shopping and browsing experience to your prospects after they’ve clicked through to your website. Ideally, you want your potential customers to leave the app to complete the purchase (but there’s also no problem if they browse your site within the Instagram browser, as a sale is a sale).
A clever way of making the transition from Instagram post to website seamless is to create a similar look for your Instagram account and your website’s landing page. If your landing page is very different, then there are high chances that your prospects will leave your website assuming that they have visited the wrong website.
Banana Republic, for example, has the same kind of look for their Instagram page as well as their website. This won’t confuse their followers when they are switching from the app to the brand website. The first screenshot below is the brand’s Instagram page and the second screenshot is of their website.
4. Instagram Stories
Although this feature has been around for a while, it’s still worth mentioning here. The Instagram Stories feature allows you to share time-limited images and videos with your followers with stickers and text overlaid. Local businesses can leverage this Instagram feature to promote their business in a creative way that highlights personality in a way other formats struggle to. After all, as of June 2018, more than 400 million daily active Instagram users using Instagram Stories.
28 minutes is the average time that Instagram users spend on Instagram Stories. With the introduction of this new feature, Instagram opened up new opportunities for businesses. But how can a local business use Instagram Stories effectively?
You can use Instagram Stories to create buzz around your newly developed product or service just before the launch. This kind of a teaser will surely catch the attention of your loyal followers, and they will start spreading the word for you.
You can also use Instagram Stories to demonstrate your products, showcasing how they work under different circumstances. Short, yet helpful guides on how to use your product will help you promote it more effectively.
For example, Gap uses the Instagram Stories feature to promote their products and encourage prospects to visit their website.
You can also use Instagram Stories to give your followers a peek of what’s going on behind the scenes of your business. Dropping the curtain and sharing the working culture and traditions with your followers will help you to gain their trust.
For instance, Nordstrom Rack used Instagram Stories to give people a glance of what’s happening behind the scenes during one of their fashion shoots. It gave their followers an honest and uncensored look at the brand. It also helped make their followers feel like part of the fashion show.
Do you know other ways of using these new Instagram features to promote local businesses? If so, please share them with us in the comments.