Though ecommerce has been more traditionally tied to Internet-based retailers like Amazon, the interplay between social media and consumer behaviour has made the definition of what constitutes an online retailer more nebulous. The ubiquity of small businesses online has created a digital space in which a greater number of people have influence over what others purchase. Though this digital space is still in its infancy, it is becoming evident that many traditional marketing strategies cannot be superimposed on this new commercial approach. As a way to guide through this problem, here is a brief business strategy for how to sell through one of the most prominent social media platforms: Instagram
Partnering With Influencers
Instagram has had the dual effect of giving celebrities an additional venue for their popularity, and providing a platform for new celebrities to germinate. This bevy of personalities is what drives traffic toward the site, and has in turn provided a significant marketing opportunity. Influencers (individuals with significant online reach and sway over public opinion) on Instagram are one such opportunity.
There are a few brief tactics to employ when utilizing influencer marketing. For one, the influencer you choose must fit within the context of what you are selling, all the while having at least a modicum of popularity. So for instance an influencer whose page centres on beautician products, even if popular would not be a wise choice for your business if its focus was real estate. Furthermore, it is of even more value if you can find an influencer who is both popular and able to generate significant conversion rates amongst their audience. This is loosely correlated with popularity, though it should be noted that some Instagram celebrities with mid-tier popularity are capable of generating higher conversion rates due to their ability to interact more with their audiences.
Once you find an influencer who meets all of the aforementioned demands, you can begin to discuss strategy. Though there are some businesses that would suit outright formal posts, it is often best to integrate your product subtly to your influencers social media account. For instance, if you are marketing a clothing line, an effective strategy would be for the influencer to wear the clothing themselves, and perhaps tag the name of your business in their post. The less contrived a method of advertising seems, the more likely it is to generate conversion.
Encouraging your customers to post photos of your product has a twofold effect. For one, the reach and impact a multitude of customers have can, if stacked correctly, be comparable to that of a successful influencer. Secondly, it provides prospective buyers a sense of social proof for your product. That is, it provides consumers with a sense of practical utility for the thing you are selling. Marketing products exclusively through those who have been paid to do so is not a strategy that works so well on Instagram, as it gives the impression of feeling too forced. Consumers will be more likely to buy if in addition to influencers, people who are not obligated to showcase a product are doing so.
Initiating incentive within users can be done in a few ways. A good way to generate enthusiasm for user photos is to write comments and responses in your Instagram posts with the express purpose of furthering a conversation. It would also be a wise move to engage with users who frequent your account, and whose opinions are largely constructive as they are more likely to generate content for you. Further incentive can be created by running semi-regular contests. Details may vary, but the basic structure of the contests should be that user photos coupled with hashtags of your product should be posted on interested users pages in exchange for the opportunity to win some physical good.
Ease Of Purchasing
Once you have established appropriate desire in your audiences, the next step is to help foster ease in the actual act of online purchasing. The death knell in ecommerce is a disruption of flow, as the more laborious the task of purchasing is for a consumer, the more impulse buyers and those with trepidation in their purchase will fall off, until you have only the most dedicated of buyers. This issue can be counteracted somewhat by the use of Shoppable Instagram.
Shoppable Instagram is an extension of the platform in which, as its name implies, allows you to buy items featured in display photos. It exists as a parallel site that you can link to in your Instagram bio, or for that matter in individual photo descriptions.
It would also be a smart move to, over a period of time display many photos of the same product. This would allow you to discover and analyse which photo generates the highest conversion rates, and then attempt to replicate photos like it for other products. The amount of photos you take of a product should be contingent on their overall conversion rate and popularity.
Though Instagram is a social media site often consigned to the millennial generation, its reach surpasses far more than any one age group. The increasing necessity of moving more and more commerce online has demanded of businesses the basic understanding of what users look for in social media. This is why it is required now more than ever to consider ecommerce strategies seriously, and to effectively engage with the changing business landscape.