“Do more social media.” <-- Okay, pet peeve time. I hate it when I search for small business marketing help and every. single. article I click on just tells me to “do more social media.”
You would seriously have to be living under a rock to not know about social media. Plus, if you're taking the time to google it, it's pretty obvious that you already know that social media is a big deal-- what you don't know is how to leverage the social media so that it is giving you results.
I have a love/hate relationship with social media, but I can't deny it's got some serious $$$ power for small business. Here are 5 REAL strategies that I have personally used to grow my Instagram business account for LittleHighbury:
1 | SHOW UP
But seriously. You can't be hit and miss on Instagram and expect consistent results. This one was so, so hard for me because you can’t always see the direct correlation between your consistent posts + sales (you know what I'm talking about, don't you?!). I would get super Instagram motivated and be consistent for 3-4 days and then slump my shoulders and give up when I didn’t see that spike in sales. The sales will come! Did you know it takes the average consumer 7x of seeing/hearing about your product before they’ll be motivated to make a purchase? Give them the opportunity to see your product over and over again!
I always recommend to start small-- if the thought of posting every single day gives you hives, then plan on 3x/week starting out. You'll find that it gets easier as time goes on, and you may even learn to enjoy it! You can always add more to your posting schedule later on.
BONUS TIP: Comment on EVERY comment you receive on your Instagram. Even if it’s just a simple “Thank you!” make sure you do it! It will show your fans that you appreciate them and also that you’re taking the time to read their comments— that you care!
2 | CREATE YOUR OWN HASHTAG
I love this one because overtime someone uses my hashtag I get super excited— they thought my product was worth it enough to tag it on Instagram (Insert happy dance here)! I use the simple #littlehighbury hashtag to encourage my customers to post pictures of their kiddos wearing our headbands and hats. Not only is this awesome FREE marketing (because now all their friends have seen your product, too!), but it builds their loyalty to your brand because they’ve shown that they’re already willing to make an effort by tagging you, so they’re invested in your success too (Your own instant cheerleaders!)
BONUS TIP: Use your own #hashtag to lead right into…
3 | USE YOUR AUDIENCE
It is SO overwhelming to think about posting 5x a week and having beautiful light-filled images each time. Nobody got time for that! So use your audience! If you are actively encouraging your audience to tag you in photos they post of using your product, you've already got a free stash of Instagram photos ready-to-use (talk about a time saver!)
I personally encourage all of my customers to tag any photos they post that feature my product in. I do this by simply leaving them a quick conversation on Etsy, following their purchase, asking them to do it. Seriously-- all you have to do is ask! We live in an age of over-sharing, so use it to your advantage!
BONUS TIP: Always, always make sure to ask permission to share a photo uploaded by one of your customers (or specify a specific hashtag that allows your customers to tag their photos for a chance to be featured). We’ve shared dozens of our customers photos and never had anyone say “no” yet, so don’t be afraid to ask! Plus, you just connected with a customer = fan for life!
4 | KNOW WHEN YOUR AUDIENCE IS ONLINE
Forget all of those fancy graphics about the best times to post on social media for each platform. Seriously. FORGET THEM. They do not apply to you or anyone else for that matter!
YOUR target market is different from everyone else, so your target market will probably be online at different times too. You can’t generalize this— find out what time works for you (I totally recommend Iconosquare— super cheap and super helpful for finding out when your target market is the most active) by posting on Instagram at different times of the day for a couple of weeks (at least). See what post times get the most engagement, what days of the week, and and then post at that schedule.
This is one of those things that a lot of trial + error will go into to figuring out what works for you, but you only have to figure it out once ;)
5 | HOST A GIVEAWAY (or even a loop giveaway!)
Or even host a loop giveaway! ;) Giving away free product? I get it— it’s hard! But it gets easier, I promise (once you start seeing results, you’ll be hooked)!!
Whenever I am having a slow day or feeling especially discouraged about a product flop or something, I find that hosting a giveaway not only increases followers, but it also increases sales.
I love hosting giveaways because it really helps me to see what my audience is engaging in and really responding too. If I see less entries than usual (assuming all of my other variables are the same— ie, posting time, quality of photography, etc.), then I can gather that maybe that product or design isn’t quite the perfect fit for my target audience— that maybe I should rethink the design or focus more on the best sellers. It’s an awesome way to gain insight to your audience without opening asking them for their opinions (although I definitely recommend doing that from time to time as well!)
BONUS TIP - Co-host a giveaway with another small business in your same niche! Make sure they have a product that shares a similar target market to yours, but isn’t the same. I would not recommend teaming up with your competition. First off, they’ll probably say no (if they’re smart!), but second off, you don’t want to send your loyal fans somewhere else! Keep them with you! If you sell baby headbands, then team up with someone that sells baby blankets. The combination of possibilities is endless!
BONUS BONUS TIP - Make sure it is SUPER simple to enter and that they are bringing in their friends. I usually have people tag as many friends as they like (each friend is an entry) so that I can get a bunch of new followers + people looking at my product.
6 | SEARCH HASHTAGS TO PINPOINT YOUR TARGET MARKET
Another hashtag tip (tired of them yet?! Ha ha!) — Search under “tags” in the Instagram search under terms you would imagine your target market to be using. For me, I sell baby headbands, so I search under terms like “baby bump,” “newborn,” “oneweekold,” etc. Then, scroll past the top posts and start liking it up with the photos in the “most recent” category. I like anywhere from 50-100 photos for each hashtag before going on to the next one.
Bonus tip: Add comments to the ones that you think could seriously be your target market customers. If you see photo that is the same vibe that your brand is, send them a personalized comment and let them know what you like about their photo. They’ll notice the extra effort and (hopefully) will check you out!
So there you have it— 6 of my top tips that I’ve found work AWESOME for product-based businesses. Do you have any tips that have worked for you? Share below— I love hearing about new strategy + marketing!