When Instagram first popped onto the scene, it was like any other social platform: filled with selfies, photos of food, and pets.
Fast-forward to 2018 and Instagram’s transition from a simple photo sharing app to a full-on sales channel is nearly complete. Just look at some of their newest features! In the last year alone, Instagram has released dozens of new features for businesses, including paid partnership tools, shoppable Instagram posts, and new ways to drive traffic from Instagram Stories.
No matter what industry you work in, it pays to build a presence on Instagram. But if you really want to get ahead, you need to know the platform (and your audience!) inside and out, including what kinds of content resonate most, how to build an Instagram Stories strategy, and how to track your metrics and KPIs.
That’s where this guide comes in. In the next 13 chapters, we’ll walk you through:
But first, let’s take a look at why Instagram marketing is so effective for ecommerce businesses in particular.
We all know how great Instagram is for casually sharing photos and videos with our friends and family -- but it’s also an incredible channel for ecommerce marketing.
Well, an obvious reason is Instagram’s highly visual format. Because of this, the platform holds massive opportunities for ecommerce businesses looking to showcase their products. Whether through regular photos, videos, or Instagram Stories, millions of businesses have learned that building a visual presence on Instagram can hugely compliment their ecommerce marketing.
There’s also the fact that Instagram users are more engaged than your average social media users. And while trends seem to show that Instagram engagement is dropping (something we’ll talk about in the next chapter), the platform is still producing higher engagement for brands compared to than both Twitter and Facebook.
What makes the social platform so popular is that it’s basically Facebook boiled down to its single most engaging function: sharing visual media. Throw in some brilliant photo filters and you’ve got one of the biggest and most engaged online communities to date.
More than just engaged, Instagram users are also commonly online shoppers. According to a recent study, 72% of Instagram users report making a purchase decision after seeing something on Instagram, with the most popular categories being clothing, makeup, shoes, and jewelry.
This shopping mindset makes Instagram users the perfect audience because they’re high-intent and quick to convert.
Another reason Instagram is so great for ecommerce has to do with the platform itself. As we mentioned in the previous chapter, in the past year Instagram has introduced a ton of new tools that make it easier for businesses to turn followers into customers. Whether through links in Instagram Stories or shoppable Instagram posts, soon enough many of our online shopping experiences will start (and end) on Instagram.
All of this said, it would be a mistake to think that just because you don’t sell ecommerce products your business doesn’t belong on Instagram! Beyond its unique ability to move products, Instagram is also an incredible place for businesses to build brand awareness and connect with new audiences (and potential customers).
Of course, if you want to build an Instagram marketing strategy that really resonates with your target audience, you first need to understand how the Instagram algorithm works -- something we’ll be discussing in the next chapter.
Oh, the ever-mysterious Instagram algorithm. When Instagram first announced in 2016 that they were replacing the chronological feed with an algorithm, most people responded with a less-than-joyous reaction... And not much has changed since.
So why did Instagram make the switch from chronological to algorithm?
Well, it had to do with size. As Instagram grew in popularity, it became harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. In fact, according to Instagram, people missed an average of 70% of their feeds when it was chronological.
In light of this, Instagram created an algorithm that re-organized people’s feeds so they would theoretically see more content that was relevant to them.
Unfortunately, it also had some undesirable effects.
Whereas a chronological feed requires little-to-no guesswork (all you really have to worry about is posting when your audience is most active), algorithm-based feeds can be influenced by a ton of different factors -- like how much engagement a post gets or how long people spend viewing your posts.
And since Instagram is constantly updating the algorithm to improve user-experience and prioritize certain types of content, it can be difficult to know how to optimize your posts to get the most engagement and reach possible…
But it’s not impossible!
While we may not understand exactly what makes the Instagram algorithm tick, we do know 10 factors that determine how your post will perform in the Instagram algorithm (and how many people will see it!). Here they are below, ranked in terms of importance: