Are you on Instagram? You should be, according to Evan LePage over at Hubspot. In his rundown on what social media platform businesses should focus on by industry, the photo-sharing service was at the clear answer for retailers. Find out why below.
Retailers already love Instagram. The visual social network offers them an opportunity to showcase their products in a place where shots of clothing, electronics and other retail items are the norm. Retailers did not have to fight to fit in on Instagram quite as much as they did on Twitter or Facebook; their focus on products made the photo sharing app a much more natural fit. The mobile nature of Instagram also made the social network a much easier option for smaller retailers. People on Instagram are more ready to accept photos taken from a phone or taken on the fly than they are when they’re looking at your website for example. The acceptance of lower quality means there’s a lower barrier of entry of small brands.
So if most retailers are already on Instagram, why should they focus on the social network in 2015? For this, we turn to Ikea.
In June of last year, the furniture giant’s Russian branch partnered up with an ad agency for an Instagram campaign that blew the doors of traditional retail applications of the app. Ikea launched its new PS 2014 collection using Instagram as a website. Stay with me here. If you follow ikea_ps_2014 on your Instagram mobile app, you’ll see only 12 images. Twelve images don’t make for an active account, but this campaign is far more strategic. Six of the 12 photos represent categories of products, like benches and lights, with each item in the PS 2014 collection contained in the corresponding image. If you click on one of these images, you’ll notice that each of the products is ‘tagged.’ Clicking a tag will bring you to individual Instagram accounts for each lighting fixture, carpet or side table. Once there, you can see more photos of the product in question and get inspired on how to work it into your home decor. You can also click through to their actual website to buy it.
While this might sound complicated, it’s actually quite simple. Ikea turned Instagram into an interactive, mobile catalogue. Each product is showcased on its own account, where it can also be purchased. This innovative campaign took Instagram beyond the norm for retailers using the app. While so many businesses use Instagram to showcase their products, very few can actually say they tied their Instagram activity directly to sales. This is where retailers should focus in 2015.
Retailers should continue to highlight their products by regularly posting photos to Instagram. They should be active in joining popular hashtags and perhaps consider creating their own campaigns in order to encourage user-generated content (see Herschel Supply Co’s #WellTravelled campaign for inspiration). But all of your efforts should be tied back to your larger business goal of selling your product. Link to your online store in photo captions, and use links that are being tracked by Salesforce or another tool. This will allow you to see how many sales you’re generating through Instagram. It will also help you see what types of photos result in more sales. Consider offering people who participate in your Instagram campaigns discount codes. You can track the use of those codes to see if the campaigns drive sales as they drive brand awareness. Finally, keep your ear to the ground around Instagram advertising in 2015. As they begin to open up these tools to the public, they could present a fantastic opportunity to widen your Instagram audience.