Instagram has quickly turned into the favourite social network for many brands, as it seems to combine the appealing user experience with its recent business evolution.

With a highly engaged community of more than 400 million users and a powerful creative context, brands enjoy its popularity, but also its effectiveness.

What makes Instagram special?

Instagram is ideal for ecommerce brands, as it blends the creative and high-quality environment with the engaged audience that uses the social network as a source of inspiration, but also as the first step to their next purchasing decision.

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According to L2, Instagram has the highest browser-to-shopper conversion rate of all the social networks, while users are also more willing to interact with brands comparing to other platforms.

It’s the creativity, the passionate community, the easy and direct mobile access, along with the crucial support from Facebook that helped to make Instagram popular, making it today one of the most important social platforms, especially for ecommerce brands that want to reach new prospects, with the ultimate goal of converting them into loyal customers.

Instagram focuses on business

Instagram realised quite early the huge opportunity of turning the platform into a powerful business tool and that’s how we were introduced to Instagram advertising, a very effective solution for any brand looking to increase awareness, drive traffic, or boost downloads to a mobile app.

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What makes Instagram advertising effective is its integration with Facebook advertising, which means that advertisers can rely on Facebook’s power for equally (and even better) results on their campaigns.

As Facebook users tend to become ‘immune’ to advertising, Instagram users are still receptive to them, as they are still focusing on creativity and high quality, which makes them less intrusive to their feeds.

Relevance along with quality lead to impressive results and that’s what (Read more...) to an increased interest from brands to try out the new advertising model.

How to reach your goals with Instagram

Before starting with Instagram marketing, it’s important for a brand to have clear goals, in order to ensure that it applies the best techniques to reach them.

Instagram has created a detailed guide about the goals every campaign may have, ranging from website clicks to mass awareness, and it also includes the ad formats that would help each case on its platform.

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Whether it’s a photo, a video, or a carousel, every ad should be authentic, relevant, creative, and appealing in order to lead to an increased engagement and reach the brand’s goals faster.

Going beyond advertising

Instagram may also be effective without the need to create an ad, depending on the set goal, as it still offers the opportunity to engage and attract your audience in a way that it’s not always possible on other networks.

While Facebook pages struggle with the decrease in organic reach, brands are surprised to measure the response their posts have on Instagram, especially when they are consistently creative and impressive.

How can an ecommerce brand use Instagram then?

1. Create a community

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Vans has a highly engaged audience and its 4.6 million followers enjoy the feeling of being part of the Vans experience.

The brand maintains authentic and creative, an approach that turns a customer into a loyal ambassador.

2. Boost engagement

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It’s always a good idea to thank your audience, or encourage them to join a cause, a celebration, or a random call-to-action.

Gilt decided to celebrate Women’s Day by dedicating a post to all their female followers, encouraging users to even tag their own favourite strong women.

This common strategy is clever, as it shows the human side of the brand, while it’s building engagement with the tags. Beware, don’t beg for likes and tags for no apparent reason.

3. Tell a story

GAP decided to celebrate Women’s Day with a video, celebrating one of the women who work with the popular brand.

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The use of storytelling along with the message “every pair of jeans has a story” creates a powerful link between the people and the brand, with users appreciating such an emotional connection.

4. Showcase products

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It may be boring for an ecommerce brand to showcase its products on its feed, but a creative display can make it very appealing.

Asos certainly knows how to promote its products in an appealing and creative way, without being boring, but still, also without being unnoticed.

5. Experiment with creativity

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Instagram is all about being creative, so it’s never a bad idea to try out new concepts. Converse certainly managed to promote its product in a unique and impressive way at this post..

6. Behind the scenes

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People appreciate feeling included by a brand, especially when invited to have a peak backstage.

Whether it’s a big show, or simply a first look at a new collection, it’s still an exclusive part that a brand shares only with them, building trust between the two sides.

7. Give away products

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Brands occasionally feel the need to reward users for being loyal and engaged and this idea may lead to impressive results when performed at the right context and the right time.

8. Live coverage

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As with backstage content, users love feeling close to their favourite brands and the bond gets even stronger when it’s about a global audience.

When users can’t attend an event due to location or other restrictions, live coverage allows them to still feel included.

9. User-generated content

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It’s very common for brands to feature content of users with their products and the visual domination makes it even easier, as the users’ content may sometimes be impressive.

Users appreciate seeing their posts shared from their favourite brands and it simply leads to positive sentiments (and additional content).

10. Feature influencers

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Big brands heavily rely on popular influencers to showcase their products and promote the brand’s authority.

Nike and other major brands know how to feature big athletes on Instagram and the results in terms of reach, engagement and purchasing decisions are usually rewarding.

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David Roth, CEO of The Store, gives his introduction to the Mindshare Future of Retail Huddle. He stands at the front of a room full of people, next to a projector screen which reads 'The best of times, the worst of times', a reference to Charles Dickens.

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