With big brands dominating Google, how do you [a small eCommerce brand] hold your own in the SERP?
As we’re all aware, backlinks are among the confirmed ranking signals in 2022 — a significant one, for that matter. Thanks to their implicit authority signals.
But does that mean the top search engine results will eventually be the sole domain of big brands with the financial muscle to invest in high-end content and backlink strategies?
For consumers, big brands hoarding up all the top results in the SERPs surely can’t be a good thing.
And it’s certainly not good for budding brands with great content, excellent service, and great value propositions.
It’s hard to outrank these guys, almost impossible.
Enters social media
Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook are all social media. But the way users interact with these platforms couldn’t be any different between brands.
In all honesty, Amazon sucks up all the top results on Google when people search for items to buy.
It doesn’t matter if you have a unique product. If no one knows about it, then that could only mean one thing — no one will be searching for it.
Therein lies the unignorable power of social media.
It allows you to reach customers wherever they are, grab their attention, and make them aware of your products or store.
It gives you the leverage to compete against faceless ecommerce giants like Amazon, eBay, etc.
Social media matters and should be part of every ecommerce digital marketing strategy.
And let’s not forget that no two social media networks are the same. So, where should you direct your attention?
How Is Instagram Marketing Key to Your Ecommerce Success?
There’s a reason business entrepreneurs and business owners love Instagram.
First, it’s because the platform boasts upwards of 1 billion monthly active users, with 90% following at least one business account.
You must have also noticed that Instagram is moving away from a photo app to a critical promotional tool for small and big businesses.
Instagram also allows you to know where your potential customers are. You can use this information to make these customers aware of your products and brand and, most importantly, encourage them to purchase.
Instagram marketing is also an excellent strategy to drive traffic to your ecommerce store and gain a competitive edge.
Not yet convinced?
Let’s look at a few statistical facts that prove Instagram marketing could be the key to your ecommerce success.
- 90% of Instagram users follow at least one brand
- 130 million Instagram users say they tap on at least one shopping post per month
- 200 million Instagram users say they visit at least one business profile per day
- 87% of Instagram users say influencers have influenced them to purchase something they wouldn’t have otherwise not have
- 11% of social media users say they shop on Instagram
- 70% of online shoppers and 75% of shopping mavens say they turn to Instagram for their shopping monthly
- 60% of the population say they have discovered a new product on Instagram
- 33% of the most viewed Instagram stories were from business accounts (not individual accounts)
As you can see, people now expect their favourite brand to be on social media. You’re missing out on a lot of marketing opportunities by not hopping into the Instagram bandwagon.
That said, building a solid presence on Instagram isn’t a cakewalk.
You must be strategic about it.
Below is a list of actionable Instagram marketing tips that’ll help you boost brand awareness, engage potential customers, and ultimately increase sales.
8 Actionable Instagram Marketing Tips for Your Ecommerce Business
#1. Discover Images that Work for Other Brands in Your Niche
People love consistency.
That’s why branding your images is critical to the success of your ecommerce business on Instagram.
For Instagram users, consistency equates to trust.
And when users trust your brand, they’re more likely to buy from you. So, how do you ensure consistency in your images?
- Create consistent visuals
- Have a colour scheme (when necessary)
- Use the same filter for all your images
- Use similar angles and composition in your photos
- Stick to one or two fonts
Before doing any of this, it helps to find the images that work for other brands in your niche.
Here’s how you can do it:
Step #1: Find 5-10 similar accounts in your niche and study their grid layout
Do they use a lot of whitespaces, or are their images tightly packed? What kind of filters do they use? Are their pictures light or dark?
For example, if your niche is fashion, you can look at the grid layout of fashion brands like Zara, H&M, and Forever21.
You want to list them all and note what they’re doing right.
Step #2: Analyse What’s Working for Them
Once you’ve visited their profiles, it’s time to start analysing what’s working for them.
The best way to do this is by looking at the images that have garnered the most interactions (likes, comments, and shares).
We suggest you make a Google doc or sheet and list all the elements working for each image.
It helps to take note of their branding, images, colour schemes, hashtags, and even the time they post.
This analysis will give you a good idea of what kind of images you should be posting on your own account.
For example, if you want to sell beauty products, study the images posted by established brands like Sephora, Elf Cosmetics, and L’Oréal.
From your analysis, you would’ve noticed that most of their images are well-lit with a solid backgournd. And they use similar filter settings for all their pictures.
The idea is to look around and find what’s working for other brands before you start posting your images.
Once you understand what kind of images work in your niche, it’ll be much easier for you to produce similar content for your followers.
You also want to go through their Insta stories and see what kind of content performs well with their audience.
For example, if you want to start an account that sells health supplements, study the stories posted by companies like GNC and Vitamin Shoppe.
You’ll notice that most of their stories are informative (i.e., tips on how to stay healthy, what supplements to take, etc.).
#3: Create Your Image Branding Guide
Still, on consistency, the next step is to create an image branding guide for your business.
This document will be a reference point for all the images you post on Instagram (and other social media platforms).
It should include information like:
- Colours schemes to use
- Image filters
- Angles and composition
- Type of content to post
- Hashtags to use
This guide will be handy when you start creating images for your account.
It’ll help you maintain a consistent look for all your visuals, making it easier for your followers to recognise your brand.
Plus, it’ll save you a lot of time in the long run.
Here’s an example of what your image branding guide could look like:
- Colours schemes to use: blues, greens, and whites
- Image filters: Mayfair and Valencia
- Angles and composition: focus on 1-3 products per image with a clean background
- Type of content to post: product photos, informational videos, behind-the-scenes images
- Hashtags to use: #healthylifestyle, #organic, #natural
Nike’s curated Instagram feed is the perfect example of consistent branding.
As you can see, all their images feature the same colour schemes, filters, angles, overlays, and even composition.
Every image is crisp, clean, and to the point. And they make it a point to post a mix of content (photos, videos, behind-the-scenes pictures, etc.) to keep their followers engaged.
As a brand, they mainly post on sports and fitness-related topics.
But they also post other things that evoke emotions like mental toughness and determination.
That is a great strategy to keep your followers engaged and coming back for more.
That’s what you should be aiming for with your own account.
Of course, you don’t have to be as restrictive as Nike.
But it’s important to have a general idea of the kind of images you want to post on your feed.
Maybelline Makeup’s Instagram feed has a similar approach, but they’ve tailored their content to appeal to a female audience.
Notice how their images mainly feature women with different skin tones and ethnicities.
It is a great way to show your target audience that anyone and everyone can use your products.
Branding Guide: Imagery
It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle and start posting random images that don’t fit with your brand.
To avoid this, create an image branding guide for your business. This document will be a reference point for all the images you post on Instagram (and other social media platforms).
Step #1: Sign up for a Free Canva account
If you want to create high-quality visuals for your brand, we recommend using Canva.
It’s a free online design platform that’s beloved by novice and professional designers alike.
Plus, it has a boatload of built-in templates that make it easy to create images from scratch (even if you’re not a design expert).
Step #2: Select the Social Media Graphics template (1080×1080)
Once you’re in Canva, select the “Social Media Graphics” template.
You want to name your image “Branding Guide for Instagram.
Here, you’ll create your reference guide for all the images you will post on your brand’s Instagram account.
Step #3: Use “Brand Guide” as the headline
As the headline, use something like “Brand Guide” or “Image Branding Guide.”
That will let you (and anyone else who sees this guide) know that it’s a reference for all your visuals.
Step #4: Choose the Fonts You’ll Use in Your Images
The next step is to select the fonts you want to use in your images and pair them correctly, as shown in the image above.
You want to choose fonts for:
- Your Title (something big, bold, and easy to read)
- Your subtitles
- Your Body Copy (something smaller, lighter, and easy to read
Branding Guide Part 2: Colours
Your colour palette should consist of 2-3 colours that work well together.
You can use a free online tool like Colours to help you find the perfect colours for your brand.
When selecting colours, make sure they align with the emotion you want your brand to evoke.
For example, use brighter colours if you want your brand to be seen as fun and approachable and dark colours if you want it to be seen as luxury or high-end.
Use a Google Chrome extension called ColourZilla to help you grab the hex codes for all the colours on your website.
Select the webpage of one of your brand’s products.
Click on the ColourZilla icon, then click on “Colour on This Page.”
Pick the primary colours you want to use for your brand guide, copy from Colourzilla and paste it into the Canva to the circle corresponding to each colour.
If you don’t have a website, no worries — you can still use ColourZilla to find colours that match the overall aesthetic of an Instagram feed of your choice.
If you don’t have a colour scheme set, try this free online tool, Coolors.
It generates random colour schemes that you can use for your brand.
You can click the spacebar to generate new combinations until you find one you like.
When you’ve found a colour palette you like, click on the “Save” icon to save it.
Remember to include the hex codes for each colour in your brand guide so you can reference it later.
#3. Engage and Convert Your Followers and Audience through Beautiful, Eye-Catching, and Inspirational Posts
Everyone loves a good inspirational quote.
But what if you took it one step further and created images with those quotes that are not only inspirational but also eye-catching and on-brand?
That’s where using Canva’s built-in templates comes in handy.
Using their pre-made templates, you can easily create beautiful quote images in just a few minutes.
And not just Canva, there are many other design tools like:
These tools provide a billion directions and possibilities to explore.
Each tool has something unique to offer regarding editing capabilities and design options.
So, if you want to get creative with your quote images, play around with a few different tools until you find one you love.
#4. Use Hashtags to Expand Your Reach
Hashtags are a great way to get your images in front of more people.
Instagram might be a social media platform, but it’s also a search engine.
But whereas Google and other search engines use keywords to index content, Instagram uses hashtags.
For example, someone looking for #quote might search for the hashtag #quotestoliveby.
If your image is tagged with that hashtag, it has a chance of showing up in their search results.
The more popular the hashtag, the more competitive it is.
Another excellent example is #Nike. As you can see, more than 100 million posts use the #Nike hashtag.
That means if you use this hashtag on one of your images, it will quickly be buried in a sea of other images.
So, while popular hashtags might get you more eyes on your images, they might not be the best option if you’re trying to build a following.
A better option would be to use less popular but relevant hashtags.
For example, if you sell quotes prints, you might use the hashtag #quoteprints.
This hashtag has been used on more than 18,000 posts, which is quite a significant number.
But it’s not so popular that your image will get lost in the shuffle.
Note that Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per post.
Buffer wrote an article that found posts with 11 hashtags or more got the most engagement.
But play around with different numbers of hashtags to see what works best for you and your audience.
I recommend using a mix of popular and less popular hashtags to strike the perfect balance.
To find the best hashtags for your business, try using a tool like Hashtagify.
Enter a relevant keyword, and the tool will generate a list of related hashtags.
You want to be careful enough not to use spammy hashtags, though.
Spammy hashtags are unrelated to your image or business, and they’re typically used to get more eyes on an image than anything else.
For example, the hashtag #followme is a spammy hashtag.
It’s not relevant to the image’s content and is often used by people looking to increase their follower count quickly.
Using spammy hashtags will only get you so far.
At some point, Instagram will catch on and Shadowban your account.
Shadowbanning is when Instagram limits the reach of your images without you knowing it.
Here’s how you find popular hashtags on Instagram:
Use the search bar on Instagram and type in a word or phrase related to your business.
For example, if you sell jewellery, you might type in “#jewellery.”
Instagram will then populate a list of related hashtags.
You can scroll through the list to see which ones are relevant to your business.
You can also use a hashtags tool like hashtagify.me, All Hashtag, or RiteTag.
Enter a word or phrase, and the tool will generate a list of related hashtags.
You can then choose which ones you want to use.
To find less popular hashtags, you can use the same process as above.
#5. Think Outside the Box
Your content doesn’t always have to be about your product.
In fact, some of the best content is actually about something else entirely.
For example, if you sell jewellery, you could post images of people wearing your jewellery.
But you could also post images of people who inspire you, quotes about strength or beauty, or even pictures of nature.
Your content must set you apart from the competition and give people a reason to follow you.
If all you post are images of your product, people will quickly get bored and unfollow you.
Take your hashtag research off Instagram and look at what’s popular on other social media sites, like Twitter and Tumblr.
You can also use Google Trends to see what’s currently trending.
Use these trends as inspiration for your content.
#6. Take Advantage of the People Shopping on Instagram
Take advantage of Instagram’s shopping features if you’re selling products on the platform.
After gaining traction on Instagram, you can now turn your posts into sales opportunities with the help of Planoly’s simplified social selling tool.
Instagram provides some powerful tools to help you sell your products, and you should take advantage of them:
- Shoppable posts/tap to shop with product tags
- Product detail pages
- Collections, shoppable catalogues from your profile
- Checkout on Instagram (in-app purchases)
These features make it easy for your followers to buy your products without leaving the app.
#7. Use Instagram Insights to Track Your Progress and Grow Your Following
Once you’ve been on Instagram for a while, you’ll want to start tracking your progress.
The best way to do this is through Instagram Insights.
Instagram Insights is a built-in analytics tool that lets you track your progress and see how your content performs.
Here are some of the things you should be tracking with Instagram insights:
- What post resonate best with your audience?
- When are people most active on your page? What are the demographics of your followers?
- Which of your posts get the most comments and likes? You can use this information to adjust your content strategy and ensure that you’re posting the right kind of content at the right time.
- How many followers are you gaining (or losing) over time?
One of the biggest advantages of setting up an Instagram business account instead of a personal account is that you get access to a ton of data neatly packaged in the Insights tab.
But you can still go deeper than that by looking at the following actionable data:
- Analysis: Gives you a fuller understanding of how people interact with your content.
- Content: Here, you can view the number of posts, stories, and promoted posts you’ve published in the last month or year, what days and times you get the most engagement, which filters you use most often, and what are your best-performing hashtags.
- Engagement: See your average engagement rate, top performers, weekly reach, and the number of likes, comments, shares, and views you’ve gotten on your posts.
- Community: This is where you can see your follower growth, demographics like age, gender, location, and even the times of day when they’re most active on Instagram. Get a detailed look at who follows you, who you follow, and the overall growth of your Instagram account.
#8. Stand Out from Brands Using Stock Images by Hiring a Photographer
Sounds expensive, right? But it doesn’t have to be.
There are several ways you can get high-quality, professional photos without breaking the bank.
One way is to hire a local photographer — it’s cheaper than you think.
Another option is to use a service like Snapped4U, which allows you to purchase high-quality photos taken by professional photographers at tourist attractions worldwide.
If you’re selling products on Instagram, your photos must look as professional and high-quality as possible.
Stock images are fine for some things, but if you want your brand to stand out, you need to use unique original photos.