Connecting in an Instant
Instagram can be a great marketing tool for your pet store, provided you are prepared to take full advantage of this growing social-media platform.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, with Instagram, it may be worth a lot more than that.
Many of the best-in-class pet retailers know that pictures tell a story in ways that words alone cannot, and these retailers are using consumers’ love for photos and videos to engage and connect as they build marketing programs on Instagram.
Is your pet store ready to do the same thing? Let’s start with some facts about why photos work on social media.
• 87% of the most shared posts from Facebook have a photo attached to them.
• 37% of people consider a business if they can connect with the picture post.
• 63% of people value the image more than product description or details.
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So, what is Instagram and why use it for your pet business?
Instagram is a creative social-media community focused on delivering messages via photos and video. It is a mobile social-media site that can be accessed via phones and tablets. It is not a desktop application, though there are tools to convert it on your computer, if you must.
The key to success on Instagram is all about the quality of the photo and the tools you use to share the message with followers. This makes Instagram unique from other social networks, as it allows both users and viewers to scroll images as works of art while telling a story. And users are loving it.
Currently, Instagram has 130 million active users and is growing rapidly. It has reached the same number of monthly users as Twitter, but in four fewer years. And Instagram is particularly popular with young consumers. In fact, 53 percent of all Internet users 18-29 use Instagram.
All this adds up to 16 billion photos uploaded so far, with more than 40 million going up daily as of December 2015.
Your pet business can use Instagram to reach new customers and generate sales in four key ways:
1. Post photos daily and use hashtags (#) that are relevant to your store, your customers and the pets you serve, as well as your local community and followers of your pages.
2. Post videos to help tell your story effectively. Instagram uses videos that are only 10-15 seconds long. You can use video app tools such as Flipgram and Boomerang (both are free) to make the videos stand out.
3. Run contests on your Instagram page to engage your current followers and draw in new followers.
4. Sell directly to your customers via Instagram using Instagram tools like2buy, Soldsie and Instaorders.
5 Tips for Success on Instagram
1. The key to success on Instagram is the type, quality and artistic expression of the photo you choose. Make sure you use pictures that are funny or inspiring and showcase store events to highlight the personality of your store—both the employees who work there and the customers who shop there. Don’t forget to use color in photos and change the filters you use to create a consistent look.
2. Use the hashtag effectively. Make sure to link companies and/or products in the post and include a short caption. Use five to eight hashtags per post, and keep them relevant and focused on your message and location. You can use up to 30 hashtags, but don’t go overboard.
3. Create contests for your Instagram followers to improve engagement and interaction. For example, in a “like” to win contest, you ask users to “like” an update, and all those who do so are entered to win a prize. Another option is a hashtag user generated contest, where you ask them to share a hashtag you create.
4. Offer specials to your Instagram followers to build loyalty in your community.
5. When your page has enough traction and you’re gaining followers and are getting lots of comment and shares, the next step will be to advertise and sell directly to customers on your Instagram page. As Facebook owns Instagram, advertising will become a key to use for your success. But you have to make sure that your page is working and worth following before jumping in and starting to advertise.
Getting started on Instagram is easy—and best of all, you can post directly to your Facebook page at the same time. Knowing that these two powerful companies are one and the same, you can expect that Instagram will keep adding features and benefits to grow the community during 2016 and beyond. This makes Instagram a powerful marketing opportunity for pet businesses of all size—what are you waiting for? j
Lynn Switanowski and her company Creative Business Consulting Group help retailers understand how to build, grow and sustain their businesses using todays’ powerful social media platforms. Switanowski and the CBCG team help business owners learn to harness the power of technology to connect with todays’ consumers and make more money while doing so.