How To Sell on Instagram

Dr. sc. comm. Olga Kazaka
lecturer at University of Latvia, partner at communication agency A.W.Olsen & Partners

Some days ago in Riga, there was a big conference dedicated to marketing on Instagram. A number of Latvian and international experts reported how to not only communicate, but also sell through this social media. Here are the major trends that were voiced.

1. Targeted advertising

It is not enough to be able to write texts, post beautiful photos and boost your post on some aggregate audience of women aged 24-35. Today, Instagram allows you to pointwise get the message across a specific audience. For example, a customer looked at the home page of a car dealer, after which he begins to see ads of the car of interest in social media. Organizations can lead the customer into a purchase decision step by step. Targeting and retargeting in social networks become an answer to the “mobile blindness”, about which traders began to worry about several years ago, having noticed that their sales in the checkout area had fallen. If earlier, customers, waiting for their turn, willingly supplemented their shopping carts with impulse purchases, now, visitors simply stick with their gadgets. Well, it is highly likely that nowadays customers find out about special offers available two steps away from them via social media.

2. Why you should not look at the tops of influencers 

Back in 2015, our agency A.W.Olsen & Partners was the first to attempt developing a rating of people who are popular on Instagram. And even at that time we realized that such tops are perfect for actualizing the issue as a whole, but not enough for making serious decisions related to influencer marketing. Therefore, if today you plan to develop cooperation with an Instagram celebrity, look not only at the number of his/her subscribers, but also from what region they are (for example, if you are an offline store in Riga, do you want to spend budgets on advertising in your profile which people from Russia or England read?), to what age category they belong, what is the ratio of men and women, how many bots and mass subscribers have the influencer, what is the audience engagement rate. It is also necessary to analyze the usual communication style of the chosen influencer, his/her experience with other brands. In the process of such an analysis, we often arrive at a completely different result than simply on the basis of the top. Practice shows that in some cases, cooperation with influencers who are less “large-scale” in terms of the number of subscribers, but focused on a specific topic and recognizable and respected in a certain community is even more effective for an organization.

3. Search for new forms of interaction 

Mutual advertising, not only in the profiles of influencers, but also in the profiles of other organizations, is another opportunity to get your message across. Find organizations with which you do not compete, while coinciding in the target audience, think up opportunities to jointly provide users with special offers, new experiences and emotions. Moreover, even employees and regular customers can also promote you on Instagram. Consider whether you are stimulating it sufficiently.

One of the goals with which people come to social networks is communication on topics important to them. We see that today on Instagram there are experts for every taste. From experienced mothers to astrologers and other professionals. They find their audience, create their community. Brands can also do this. Moreover, Instagram offers more and more tools to interact with the audience: Instastories, IGTV, the ability to specify the price of the product, as well as make an Instagram business card aiming of placing it in an offline environment, for example, in a store or on packaging.

Search and try new forms of interaction. For example, when several years ago we only came up with the concept of the Celebrity box project, the idea of which is that a unique set of products of different brands is available only to a small group of selected influencers, at first not everyone appreciated the idea. Only after we showed how the idea works, survived a number of attempts to copy it, and also received an award at an international competition, for many it became an understandable channel of communication.

Although the subject of the conference was the exact social media, it is becoming clearer that your business will not develop by Instagram alone. It is not only influencers by means of whom you can become noticeable and loved. Use other forms and channels of communication with target audiences, combine online and offline, think first of all about the message, and only then about what channels and in what forms to convey it to the right people.