Welcome to part two of our Instagram Plan. Last week we talked about why Instagram is a great addition to your marketing social media platform and what kind of content will attract an audience to your page. It is through this content that you will connect with not only students, but faculty, staff and alumni as well. Becoming an everyday part of their lives gives you the opportunity to turn those connections into sales. This week the focus will be on engaging your campus community and marketing your store events in a way that makes people excited to participate. The Top Ten Ways to Stand Out from the Crowd on Instagram: Part 2
- Community engagement
College environments are ripe with community. Students, parents, faculty, staff and alumni are all interested in what’s happening on campus and are potential followers who could be turned into customers. Think outside-the-box when posting photographs of people. Rather than all the same smiling-at-the-camera pictures, try something different. Around Valentine’s Day do a campus love stories series in conjunction with a sale on candy, flowers or romance novels. Ask people (not just students, anyone on campus and alumni) to share their stories about how they met and fell in love. Host a Halloween costume contest offering anyone who comes into the store dressed in a costume a discount on spiritwear if they share their most embarrassing Halloween moment. Think of unique ways to engage and share people’s stories. Not only will people want to follow, they’ll want to play along.
- Sales, sweepstakes and contests
Instagram is a great platform for promoting store sales. Share graphics and images, but not too many in a short period of time because it will come across as spam. Limit yourself to three posts in a single day about an event: one to inform them of the event, one to entice them to come and one to show them what they are missing. Offer promo codes or discounts for people who mention they saw the sale on Instagram. The goal is to bring people through the door because they feel like they are getting a special deal. Contests are also a great way to engage your audience. Run a photo contest and choose the winner based on the number of likes their picture receives. Not only will you get great content for your page, but the people who enter will share your post of their picture to get more likes which drives people to your page.
- Colorful, informative and professional graphics
Every image you post doesn’t need to be a photograph. In fact, in a sea of amazing photography, sometimes a well-executed graphic stands out better. If you have a promotion, campaign or just want to post an inspiring or humorous quote, make it count. The graphic should be visually appealing, easy to read and shouldn’t contain too much information. Most people scroll through Instagram on their phone. If you have a dense paragraph of information, they are going to keep scrolling. Keep your posts concise and don’t forget to include your web address on the graphic in case the image is “re-gramed”.
- Instagram stories
Instagram has created Stories. When you open the app on your phone, there is a line of circles across the top from various people that you currently follow. Each circle consists of videos, pictures or a mixture of the two. Followers can’t like or comment on the stories, but it gives you top of page placement. Having a big sale with a lot of discounted merchandise? This is the place for that. Rather than posting 10 individual pictures of sale items, put them all in the story and let your audience watch it. That way you can use one place to build excitement for all of your great deals without spamming your followers. Post one colorful graphic on your timeline to share information about your sale with those who didn’t watch the video. (Read about two stores who used Instagram to increase sales, Instagram: The Key to More Market Share? )
- Ask questions
Not sure what type of pictures your followers like best. Do they want to see campus, students or merchandise? Ask. Maybe your alumni are extremely active on your account and want to see pictures of their old hangouts. Maybe students would like to see more student takeovers. You don’t have to guess. Pay attention to the likes and interactions, but also go straight to the source. Most people love to give an opinion.
That brings us to the end of our top ten ways to make your Instagram account standout. Choose the posts you like doing best. Maybe you have access to a lot of student photographers. Hosting takeovers and doing occasional store marketing between them might work best for you. Or maybe, you are getting great results with your sale posts and humorous memes. If that’s the case, that’s what you should do. The most important part of any social media is that you are having fun with your account. That enthusiasm will come through and create results.
Good luck! We would love to hear from you about any marketing campaigns that your store has done.