As of June 2018, it was reported that Instagram had grown from 800 million monthly active users to 1 billion monthly active users. This means that one-seventh of the world’s population are actively spending time on Instagram thus providing entrepreneurs, small businesses and corporations with unlimited opportunities for growth and expansion.
As a small business owner or an entrepreneur who wants to build a profitable brand, you must find ways to become active on Instagram, connect with your target audience and take your slice of the pie. If you are yet to create your Instagram account, now is the time to do so and if you already created an account but are yet to make your first sale, this article will walk you through the specific steps you need to take.
As with every other platform either online or offline, the name you choose for your business matters.
The type of name determines how prospects and customers view your brand and the likelihood of wanting to do business with you.Seun Akinlotan
On Instagram, two types of names are required. First, is the name section and second, is the user name. For example, the name of our platform on Instagram is Onpoint Success while our username is @onpointsuccess
Your Instagram name should be the name of your business rather than your personal name. This is so that people can take your business more seriously. However, there’s a caveat to that. If you are just starting out and you’d like other users to know you are a real person, you can use your official name in the “name” area and then use your business name as your username.[Great Read: How to Develop a Profitable Business Model]
Another thing to bear in mind when choosing a username on Instagram is that the platform has a limit of 30 characters for the username. 30 characters are quite long so you should try your best to limit your username to 15 characters or less. Also, avoid underscore, hyphens or other special characters that might be confusing to prospects and buyers.
A great username name is an identity verifier and the type of name you choose goes a long way in determining whether people trust your brand or not. Your username is your first opportunity to create an impression, make sure it memorable.
The next piece of the puzzle is your profile picture. What does your profile picture have to do with making your first sale, you may ask? The answer is simple and that is everything!
Like your username, your choice of profile picture sends a message to anyone viewing it. It’s all about branding and perception and many times, people will decide to do business with you if they see that your profile picture is authentic, presentable and intentional.
That’s why at Onpoint Success, we advise our clients to use profile pictures that speak to the essence of their brands. Your profile picture speaks more than a thousand words, therefore, choose a picture that speaks without you having to defend it. If you can’t find a picture, you can also use a professional logo that speaks to the essence of your brand.
This is the area provided for a short description of what you do. It summarizes what your brand is all about and it’s your opportunity to write a compelling copy that tells your target audience you are truly ready for business.
One key thing to remember about your bio that will help you in making your first sale is that it must speak to the essence of what the user will benefit from choosing to do business with you. Therefore, in crafting your business bio, you must think of your target audience and how your business is the “long lost” solution they’ve been looking for.
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A great bio/description describes succinctly what the target audience will get and the top reason why they should patronize you.Seun Akinlotan
Also, in the bio section, fill out the information about your website, location and contact details. Give the user or target audience very little reasons to ask questions. Why? Most people are usually in a hurry and are impatient because they believe they have more than enough choices. Therefore, your bio area is almost the only opportunity you have to help users get closer to a buying decision.
If nothing in your bio makes the users “pause” in their tracks, then it’s hard to make a sale. Be intentional about crafting an exceptional bio and watch the sales roll in like a ball.
You might have heard or read that content is king. Right now, we can tell you for free that it is true. Content is indeed king and therefore you must pay homage if you are looking to make your first sale. Instagram content is in three parts namely the picture part and the caption part. These are explained in detail below.
The picture part
Unlike some other platforms like Twitter and Facebook, you cannot create a post on Instagram without posting a picture. The picture could be a regular picture of an item you sell or it could be graphic design. Whatever you choose to post, be sure that it’s eye-catching and attention-grabbing. One top reason why users fail to convert from leads to customers on Instagram is that many small businesses post pictures that are not “gram” worthy.[Great Read: 5 Top Reasons Why Customers Can’t Find Your Business]
To make your pictures gram-worthy, they should be taken by a professional photographer who understands branding. Not all photographers understand branding and if you try to hire photographers who do not understand branding, it’s as good as not hiring photographers at all.
Now, in the event that you are not financially buoyant and therefore cannot afford the services of a professional photographer, then you can think of collaborating with upcoming photographers for service exchange. This is a win-win situation for all involved.
If the option of collaboration seems not to be feasible for whatever reasons, you can use pictures from your cell phone in conjunction with other apps that can help you apply the right filters to make it presentable.
One great tip that you may find useful is that when you take pictures using your cell phone, natural lighting makes the images pop better. If you are do not like the idea of taking pictures or perhaps you run out of options, you can also use stock pictures.
Websites like Shutter Stock, Adobe Stock, Dreamstime, etc. gives you the option of purchasing stock photos that you can use from time to time. If you are short of funds, there are several websites like Pixabay, Pexels, Unsplash, etc. where you can get free stock photos.[Need business mentoring? Consider joining our group business mentoring platform. Click HERE for more details]
Once you sort out the photo part, another thing you might need to consider is the graphic design part. This is not really necessary if you sell goods. However, from time to time, you might need graphic designs to help you pass your message across. Platforms like Canva, PicsArt, Adobe Spark, etc. can help in cases like this.
The icing on the cake: In trying to make your first sale, consider adding videos of your products, explainer videos of your services or any other video that might help show your users that you are authentic and are ready for business.
The Caption Part
For each picture you post on Instagram, you’ll need a caption that describes what the picture is all about or the action you want the user to take. The good news is that with Instagram you do not have to write a long caption most of the time especially if your pictures already “spoke” more than a thousand word.
In writing an effective caption, think about the type of “voice” you want your brand to have. Do you prefer a personal voice with the use of “I” or your preference is a corporate voice with the use of “We”? It’s totally up to you to pick a choice. However, when you pick a choice, try to stick with it.
Another point that is worthy of note is the type of content you write in your captions. Be sure to have a variety of content that will show your target audience that you truly mean business. Examples of content you can post include:
- Behind the scene
- Product feature
- Product benefit
- Unique selling proposition
The “Look and Feel”
The look and feel of your Instagram account is another key piece of the whole puzzle. This is where a lot of budding entrepreneurs drop the ball yet wonder why they are not gaining traction.
Little things that seem inconsequential matters and that’s why you need to be intentional about the “look and feel” of your Instagram account.Seun Akinlotan
Ways you can be intentional include but not limited to creating a pattern that’s easily noticeable, using the same template and text font and sticking to your brand colors in your designs and filters.
If you have a beautiful Instagram account and no one knows about it then it’s as good as having no account. That’s why it’s important to develop a sound and proven strategy to help you drive traffic to your platform. There are two major ways you can drive traffic to your account and these are explained below.
If you are looking to make your first sale, one of the best things you can do is to drive traffic to your Instagram account organically. What is organic traffic? This is when people visit your account without you paying them to visit. How can you drive organic traffic? You can drive organic traffic by:
- Searching for relevant hashtags and then liking and commenting on the pictures that pop up under those hashtags
- Putting a link on your website directing users to your account
- Sharing your Instagram link on other platforms and asking people to visit
- Linking your Instagram platform to your email newsletters
- Hosting a giveaway and asking your followers to repost or tag their friends
- Tagging influencers who might then repost on their platforms
- Attending events and distributing your business cards which contains your Instagram information
- Sending emails and placing calls to prospects
This is when users visit your Instagram profile in response to an ad. This is very effective if you have a captivating picture, content and your ad is highly targeted. Targeted ads and campaigns can help you reach users you’d otherwise not have reached through your organic efforts. Another form of Inorganic traffic is influencer marketing whereby you pay an influencer who has a huge following in exchange for a mention about your business. When the followers of that influencer see the post, they then click through to visit your profile.
A Note of Caution: Be sure the influencer is a true influencer and that the followers of the influencer match the description of your target audience
Our Recommendation: You need a mix of both organic and inorganic methods to drive traffic to your profile.
To crown all your efforts with success on Instagram or any other platform, you need to be consistent. With consistency, you can convert prospects to customers easily.
When users visit your profile, they are looking for clues of authenticity and seriousness.Seun Akinlotan
If you do not post consistently or if your posts are far in between, then it shows people that you are not ready for business.
Also, a part of consistency includes how often you respond to comments and inquiries. Do not “post and ghost” or ignore comments on your post? Even if you’ve responded to the comments inbox, you still need to respond to public comments so users who are yet to become customers and who are not privy to the fact that you responded inbox will know that you take comments and inquiries seriously.
Overall: Making your first sale on Instagram is easy if you follow the steps and from the first sale, you will gain momentum such that when coupled with consistency, top-notch customer service and constant innovation and improvement, there’s nothing that can stop you from building a profitable brand.
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