I am sure by now you would have been totally aware that Instagram is a top social media platform for fashion, apparel and clothing brands. If not then it is time you became aware of the power of Instagram to help you market your clothing brand effectively.
No article on any social media platform would be complete with out a little intro of the platform itself. Instagram has over 400 million active users worldwide (as of 09/22/2015) with over 75 million daily users. This translates to over 20% of the internet users use Instagram!
In the US alone there are more than 77 million Instagram users – that is around 27% of the total US population! Of these, over 49% are female users. Instagram users generate over 3.5 billion likes per day!
Ok, I will stop with the numbers and statistics. I just want to illustrate the power and reach of Instagram. For Clothing and Fashion brands, Instagram is a must use channel because of the type of people hanging out there.
The general audience on Instagram are usually interested in fashion, lifestyle, beautiful photos and having fun. By building a loyal audience on Instagram and engaging with them properly, you will start seeing sales of your clothing or fashion items take off.
Here are some tips on marketing on Instagram:
TIP #1: CREATE A POWERFUL PROFILE
This is social media 101. On any channel, and more so on Instagram, you must ensure your profile is highly optimized. This means you need to think hard and long about the cover images, avatar and description about your brand. Always link to your website or your clothing ecommerce store in the bio. You can ask your followers to “Tag us with #yourbrandname so we can see your shots!” to create an extra level of engagement right in the bio. Here is an example of how Pendleton brand does it so well on their Instagram account.
TIP #2: TELL YOUR BRAND STORY
What ever you post on your Instagram account, always make sure that it is aligned with your brand story and communicates that in one way or another. If you want people associate a hipster lifestyle or West Coast cool and philosophy with your brand then all your posts must in some form or shape have that hipster element. Vans is a brand that does it well on Instagram as you can see in their posts below.
TIP #3: USE HASHTAGS
To make sure your brand is found by your target audience, each of your posts must not only have a witty and fun title or description, but also a decent amount of related hashtags. Unlike Twitter, you are not limited to character count on Instagram and so you can take your space with as many hashtags as you want. A word of caution though – do not overuse them.
Also, develop brand-specific hashtags for each of your items or collections and each time you post about that item or collection, use that hashtag along with others. If someone buys that item and posts on Instagram, they may be tempted to use the brand-specific hashtag or you can encourage them to do it. Hashtags can be one of the biggest mistakes with Instagram marketing. Here is an article that talks about fixing this problem.
Here are some great examples of hashtag usage.
TIP #4: BRAND YOUR PHOTOS
When posting your product or other photos, try and achieve a look and feel that is consistent throughout your Instagram updates. This could be achieved via consistent use of one or more filters. Or you could create a distinctive look that does not rely on the standard filters and add transparencies or such.
Here are a couple of examples.
TIP #5: POST PRODUCT VIDEOS
Video content gets a lot of engagement. Shoot short clips of your clothing items – either on their own or on models and post those video clips on Instagram. This will not only make your brand authentic but also create a strong connection with your audience.
Here are two examples of such videos:
TIP #6: GIVEAWAY CONTESTS
Giveaway contests are quite popular on Instagram and the return on investment is quite high. For a relatively low cost of the price of your product, you can get a lot of brand exposure. You can either give away your products directly or a gift card or coupon that can be used on your online store.
Make the contest fun and related to your brand and story. Perhaps it could be a poll or a mini quiz. Do not make it too complex. A great idea could be asking your followers to post a photo of them wearing your product and the best one gets a coupon to buy more stuff on your website. It could also be as simple as asking people to follow your profile and tagging 3 friends in the comments – as done by ShopJoyWorks below.
Here is an examples:
TIP #7: BEHIND THE SCENES UPDATES
A great way to engage your audience and make your brand look authentic is to post “behind the scenes” updates. These could be photos of your apparel design process or photos of your manufacturing process. It could even be photos of your stock and packaging process.
On a more personal level, you can post updates on your business, your staff and team, and your office or warehouse.
Here are a couple of examples:
TIP #8: CELEBRATE YOUR FOLLOWERS
Every week post updates thanking and mentioning your top followers. Find followers who are engaging with your brand the most and announce them. Follow their Instagram accounts and like their updates and post comments where ever appropriate.
Here are a couple of examples:
TIP #9: LEVERAGE TRENDS
Watch out for trends related to your brand story and the post updates that are witty and clever while relating to the trend. For example, for the ice bucket challenge trend, you could post an update with a photo of one of your clothing items perched on top of a bucket full of ice. You should post the updates using the trending hashtag.
Here are a couple of examples:
TIP #10: HELP OTHER BRANDS GET EXPOSURE
Do something that most other brands won’t do – help other brands in your sector get exposure on Instagram by sharing their updates. This does not necessarily mean your direct competitors but rather brands in your vertical. By mentioning and promoting other brands, they in turn will mention yours and it creates a networking effect.
On another front it also shows your target audience that you are a generous brand and are not afraid to talk about other brands.
Here are a couple of examples:
INSTAGRAM VS WEBSITE: WHICH ONE IS BETTER FOR BUSINESS PROMOTION?
SHOULD YOU CHOOSE RUNNING AN ONLINE STORE?
Many websites resort to online commerce as a way of monetization. If your business relies on selling goods or services, having an online shop is a must. The success of your venture largely depends on the eCommerce platform it runs on. A range of modern online commerce engines allows selecting an option to fit a specific business best.
For instance, WooCommerce will suit small retailers running WordPress-based online stores. Shopify will suit entrepreneurs seeking a hosted eCommerce solution. Meanwhile, PrestaShop will be a great fit for small and medium-sized businesses.
WEBSITE SHOULD HAVE BEST DESIGN
It goes without saying that a web store has to deliver the best design and functionality to make the customers convert. Using ready-made WooCommerce themes, Shopify themes or PrestaShop themes will be a wise decision if you’re building a web store on your own.
WEBSITE SHOULD BE ON BEST PLATFORM
If you haven’t chosen an optimum platform to suit your online business, take a closer look at Shopify. One of the reasons to choose it over other engines is TemplateMonster’s Shopify membership giving you an unprecedented chance to save up to 99% on Shopify themes.
Choosing one of the Shopify subscription plans allows you to get a fixed number of themes at a fixed price. For instance, with a 1-year subscription to a Bronze Plan, you get a total of 60 themes for only $228. This means you can test-drive of every theme suitable for your shop without any restrictions!
WEBSITE SHOULD BE EASY TO CUSTOMIZE
Pre-made eCommerce templates have thought-out layouts and are easy to customize. Also, they come supplied with a scope of features that can be added or removed when necessary. User experience is one of the factors that influence the purchasing decision.
Every customer has a ‘mental model’, a picture of what a typical shopping process should be like. Landing on a web store, customers bring their mental models, expecting their shopping experience to be effective and pleasant.
Having intuitive usability for an online store is crucial to allow handy navigation and fast discovery of the needed goods.
WEBSITE SHOULD HAVE GOOD SITE STRUCTURE
A typical e-shop has products arranged by types and categories. Product pages contain specific product descriptions, listing the specifications, prices, images and other information. Also, modern eCommerce platforms have the support of plugins and widgets, allowing them to throw in some extra functionality to improve the user experience. Customizable shopping carts, site-wide search, product filters, and various payment gateways are just a few examples.
All in all, a modern online store is a complex system with a potential for generating significant revenues. However, some small businesses resort to using Instagram as their primary marketing and sales platform. Can an Instagram business profile be as effective as a full-blown web store?
SHOULD YOU USE INSTAGRAM FOR BUSINESS PROMOTION?
Instagram has become so much more than a typical social network. According to official statistic, Instagram is used by over 700 million people each month, while 80% of users follow Instagram business profiles. The native Instagram Business Tools help entrepreneurs learn more about their audience and nurture their businesses accordingly.
This awesome toolkit helps businesses of any size gain recognition with their business profile find out more about followers and posts, and of course, advertise.
INSTAGRAM BUSINESS PROFILE
Potential clients will be able to see the needed information in a business profile and learn your business address and contact information. Also, within an Instagram app, you will get insights and analytics on the performance of specific posts, preferable posting times, and demographic breakdown of your followers. There is an option to promote already shared posts by including a ‘Learn More’ button to reach a new audience.
Take the Instagram stories feature, used by more than 150 million users on a daily basis. Incorporated with business insights feature, stories provide a great deal of valuable information first-hand. It will be possible for ventures using Instagram business profiles, to see the statistics on the reach, impressions, replies, and exits for an individual story within Business Tools. This will help to improve the quality of content, making it more relevant to the needs of your target audience.
Another opportunity provided to businesses by Instagram is the possibility to incorporate ads into the stories. Using a selective approach, ads in stories allow better targeting and reach capabilities to make your ads personally relevant to potential customers.
So, what is better – using an online store website or Instagram profile as your primary means for business promotion? It all depends on your social media marketing strategy.
Why should you stick to only one option? Use both!
In terms of SEO, a website gives you a possibility to rank in Google, Bing, or Yahoo to be found by those customers who don’t use Instagram. Undoubtedly, Instagram offers mind-blowing advertising possibilities, but is it that comfortable for doing shopping?
For sure, using a typical web store which allows filtering products by types and categories, as well as provides maximum product details is a lot more comfortable! On the other hand, an endorsed Instagram post can help in raising sales of a specific product or service.
As you see, the success of your online business will mainly depend on how you can combine both methods for your company specifically.
HOW TO CREATE THE PERFECT INSTAGRAM AD
With ads starting at 20 cents per click, the Instagram ad market is booming. In 2018, the app’s ad revenue is projected to exceed $6 billion. With brands rushing to cash in on the perceived high ROI of Instagram ads, you might find yourself in a pickle trying to stand out with your particular paid content.
In the face of such competition, every brand should be seeking ways to make every ad count. There’s a number of ways you can make your Instagram ad more appealing, so let’s take a closer look at the phenomenon and see what steps you can take to upgrade your Instagram ad mojo.
What makes an ad compelling? Surprisingly, it’s not how spectacular it is on its own, but its relevance to your target audience or, simply, being shown in the right place at the right time. To figure that out, you need to know two things – your target audience and what Insta ad options you have available to cater to that group. Assuming you’ve done your marketing research, we’ll skip the audience part and go straight into the ads and how to use them. Next, we’ll look at what elements of an Instagram ad work best and how you can implement it in your campaign.
TYPES OF ADS
I’ll start with a brief overview of the ad macrocosm to get us started with understanding the different purposes Instagram ads can be utilized for. Simply put, I’ll classify all the main types of ads on Instagram and explain what purpose each serves.
IMAGE OR VIDEO
The most obvious distinction in the types of Instagram ads is, of course, images versus video. Advertisement options on Instagram include single image ad, single video ad or a carousel – multiple scrollable images or video.
Depending on the type of content you want to include in your ad, you can either choose to go with a static image that showcases your brand or product or present an engaging video that tells a story in just a few seconds.
FEED OR STORIES
The next major category of Instagram ad types is differentiated according to the placement of your ad – it can show up in either your audience’s feeds or Stories. The main distinction is that in a Story your ad by default shows up for a limited amount of time before user is taken to the next Story, while a feed ad is before your audience’s eyes until they scroll past it.
The option to run the same ad in both locations is also available, but due to the size and overall vibe differences between these formats, we’d advise to run separate campaigns for each of the two placings.
NOW OR LATER
We saved the most crucial classification of Instagram ads (for our purposes, at least) for last – ads vary in regard to the timing of the action they require. Your content can be calling for immediate action or aimed to prompt eventual action in the future or, simply, NOW vs LATER.
This determines the tone and emotion of your ad – with a now-ad you are aiming to up the emotional temperature to inspire action, while a later-ad is targeting users’ ability to retain information in their long-term memory in order to recognize your brand or product upon subsequent encounters. A now-ad would typically urge users to buy, call, visit website or page, install app, sign up for an event, etc. A later-ad is often a brand awareness one – it promotes brand recognition and triggers buying behavior at a time when your target audience actually needs your product or service and is actively seeking out options.
MOST EFFECTIVE ELEMENTS OF AN AD
Now that we’ve learned about the key distinctions between various types of Instagram ads, let’s see what elements of such ads actually make them work.
GET TO THE POINT
Considering how little space and time your target audience is normally ready to dedicate to your ad, you can’t get to the point of your message fast enough. This might seem obvious, but having scrolled by numerous ads on my own Instafeed I can certify that most of them don’t even tell me what it is that they are advertising at least half of the time! Nondescript photo, long caption that gets cut off after the first handful of words or the first seconds of a video I have no idea why I should be watching are not going to get me even register your brand, let alone buy anything from you.
Sure, ig recommends using 1.91:1 format for your image ads but come on – scrolling past a vertical, or at least square image takes a second longer and gives you a chance of at least maybe being noticed for the useful information you (hopefully) provide for your carefully researched target demo.
By the time I scrolled to the bottom of this promoted post I was present enough to realize the shop was giving away free coffee. Should the ad have been a horizontal pic, I bet I would’ve been watching the next slime video on my feed faster than you can say “Ugh, ads.”
On Facebook and Instagram, people gaze at video 5 times longer than at static content. Video commands attention and conveys a message in just a few seconds, so you don’t have to include a long caption. “Video is something we’ve seen the most success with – whenever we use video content for ads, it blows up,” says social media guru and my colleague Oksana Danshyna, SMM manager at online graphic design tool Crello. “That’s why we’ve launched animated templates for social media last October and introduced huge updates just this month,” she says.
USE CUSTOMER CONTENT
Another cool tactic in Instaadvertising is using user-generated content (with permission) – it’s genuine and blends in. Buffer suggests this strategy as such content does not immediately scream “sponsored”. Though, to be fair, that’s exactly what the note right under the advertiser’s username says.
HAVE A REASON
Seeing how you are actually interrupting your audience’s experience with Instagram, at least try to bring actual value to them. Provide useful information (like times and dates of sales or upcoming events), host a giveaway or a contest, show ways to use your product that your customers might not have previously known about.
Here are a few extra tips you might find useful while preparing to run a perfect Instagram ad campaign.
EXCLUDE AUDIENCE YOU DON’T NEED
GetResponse provides an interesting insight into a campaign by online shopping hub Gilt, who excluded existing app users and current customers from their targeted advertisements – you are not only saving money you are not annoying the people you don’t need to annoy.
USE THE FACEBOOK INTERFACE
Although you can start a perfect Instagram ad campaign via the Instagram interface, using Facebook Ad Manager gives you a little more audience options that help set ad showing to only your very narrowly targeted audience – not only does this save your money, it reinforces our previous tip.
CHECK YOUR TEXT
Previously, Facebook had very strict text on ad image text rules which have since become laxer, yet an image you are using might not be shown to as many users if you include too much text. Interestingly, the algorithm is a bit unpredictable in terms of the size, location and letter count of the ads it deems “too wordy”.
Well-targeted perfect Instagram ad campaigns may seem like an affordable option for many businesses, but it’s essential to use promotional materials that will prop up your brand. Make sure your ad is worth the audience’s time and attention, be specific about what message you want to convey and try to be useful – promote a giveaway or share a promo code. If you want to naturally grab your demo’s attention without being tacky, just use vertical images or utilize video for your ads.
INSTANT BRANDING SUCCESS WITH INSTAGRAM
If it’s true that a picture can tell a thousand words, then wouldn’t it be nice to tell that story right away as it happens? This is the force behind the popular application of Instagram. This free app lets you post a picture immediately on the Internet after you take it. It is hugely successful now and it can contribute immensely to the branding of your product, service or company.
Launched in October 2010, Instagram is a sharing program for pictures which allows you to share your photos immediately through various social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. This service is instant as its name suggests and works well with mobile devices such as the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android phones.
Many people have fallen in love with Instagram particularly the way it can conveniently enhance your photos with the use of digital filters which improve contrast, brightness and color tone. The popularity of Instagram has convinced Facebook to purchase it for a billion dollars in cash and stock on April 2012.
Visual Storytelling for Branding Success
Even with its high profile acquisition by Facebook, Instagram remains a small and independent unit comprised of fifteen employees. Its success is primarily driven by its storytelling appeal. Ordinary people can instantly share their pictures online and the story behind this picture.
The focus of Instagram on storytelling is not limited to people. It can also benefit the brand of a business. Remember, the brand created by a business name is a story in itself. It tells people what the business is all about: the quality of its services and its commitment to customer care. Pictures that tell a story can help shape the perception of people about a brand. This is where Instagram can help in branding.
Let’s take the example of Burberry which has been using Instagram to market its brand. In a campaign called Art of the Trench, it invites people to post in Instagram their pictures of trench coats with their campaign hashtag #artofthetrench.
The marketing campaign of Burberry is interesting because it invites participation and collaboration with Internet users. When people are more involved in something, they care even more. Not only that, it creates awareness about the Burberry brand especially its trench coats.
Another example is the social rewards program called TopGuest which invites its users to post in Instagram their photos of the hotels where they are staying. If this is an affiliate hotel, the members of the TopGuest program can claim rewards for their Instagram photos.
Levi’s, Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, Sharpie and Threadless are some of the notable brands who have integrated Instagram in their marketing campaigns.
Harnessing Instagram for Your Business
Instagram is a free service which your business can use as an edge over the competition. After creating an Instagram account, you can link it with your other social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter.
With your existing contacts in Facebook and Twitter, you can tell your target market about your new Instagram functionality. To invite participation with consumers, you should think of various ways to make Instagram useful. Here are some ideas:
- Use Instagram as a means to post sneak peeks and behind the scenes photos. Whether you are creating a new film, product or event, you can use Instagram as a visual platform to provide instant updates to your friends or followers with a teaser.
- Instagram contests are a good way of involving your friends and followers so that they can get to know your brand better. You can invite them to post Instagram pictures about a certain theme or idea.
It is a good idea to make them post pictures coherent with your brand. This will make them think of ways to align their pictures with what your company is representing. Of course, it’s always a good idea to raise the stakes with attractive prizes and rewards.
- Make use of hashtags when you post Instagram photos related to your brand. This will make it easier for your brand to have its own category online for easier browsing especially in Twitter.
With the help of Instagram, a compelling photo with a captivating story can always improve the branding of your business.
Marketing on Instagram can be a very complex topic and these 10 tips are just scratching the surface. My intention with this post was to get you to start promoting your clothing brand on Instagram with some high impact strategies.
Marketing on any social media platform is a long game and you need patience and consistency to see results.