Believe it or not, there was a time when phones didn’t double as cameras and when “selfies” (and selfie sticks!) weren’t a thing.
Of course, we’ve come a far way from then.
Today, most of our social interactions are infused with visuals – snapping a quick photo to text to a friend, posing at a bar for a selfie, or killing a few minutes scanning through newsfeeds filled with photos and videos.
The impact of the rise of visual content on social networks is most apparent on Instagram.
As a result, many brands are scrambling to understand how to best use Instagram benefits.
Instagram’s rise has been astronomical – and understandably so.
And Instagram is so huge because building a social network that connects people solely through visual elements is a powerful way to capture – and sustain – our attention.
Brands and marketers have raced to capitalize on the immense growth of the social platform and many are successfully learning how to sell on Instagram.
But the brands that excel in mastering social commerce trends like this know something that brands who flop don’t:
To build an Instagram marketing strategy, you need to understand why these graphics are so valuable and how to create the right images for Instagram.
You need to take full advantage of the power of Instagram photos, using them in marketing materials across channels.
Later, we’ll examine just why Instagram images are so powerful and the reasons they convert better than generic photos.
But first, let’s learn how Instagram photos can benefit word of mouth marketing and strategies for using these pictures in marketing channels.
Using Instagram on your site allows you to connect with customers across multiple channels and increase cross-channel engagement.
For example, let’s say you display photos from your Instagram account on your website. When a customer is browsing on your site, they may not follow you already on Instagram.
But when they see a gallery of Instagram photos, they can click though to see your account, start following you, and re-connect with you later.
Take a look at how Josie Maran Cosmetics uses a dedicated gallery of Instagram photos on their website to lead people to their Instagram.
Or, alternately, a follower browsing on Instagram may have never been to your website before. By setting up a Shoppable Instagram, followers can easily reach the Instagram shop version of your Instagram account, and click through to product pages.
Using Instagram photos allows you the opportunity to connect with customers where they are, while also taking advantage of the far higher Instagram engagement rate.
We’re all crunched for time, but using Instagram photos in your eCommerce marketing plan allows you to work smarter, not harder.
You already need a social marketing strategy, so why not repurpose those photos across channels and leverage them as marketing images on your site or in ads on Instagram?
This saves you the trouble of needing to create more content.
Another benefit of using Instagram pictures is that traffic that comes from these photos is super-engaged.
Instagram drives more engaged traffic than any other social channel. Research shows that when comparing time on site from various social channels, Instagram beats out other sites like Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Reddit, and more.
Instagram content drives more engaged traffic than other visual social content from YouTube or Pinterest.
Additionally, Instagram helps you engage with your audience on the social platform, increasing the chance that you can bring customers back for repeat purchases.
If someone buys from you and then follows you on Instagram, they’re likely to see your brand on a regular basis and purchase from you again.
And return customers are more valuable, accounting for nearly 33.3% of the overall money spent in eCommerce and spending nearly 3x more than regular shoppers.
If you don’t already have solid user-generated content marketing strategies to increase sales, it’s time to jump on board. It’s the single most effective way to grow relevant traffic and sales.
Instagram has the potential for user-generated content built in.
On Instagram, customers are constantly creating and sharing images of their own.
With their permission, you can use their images for your own marketing.
Below is an example of how Everlast uses customers’ Instagram photos in marketing to promote engagement among their community, build up their eCommerce branding on Instagram and off, and improve their visual marketing on site.
On their homepage, Everlast emphasizes the active lifestyle they want to associate with their brand by showcasing customer photos taken when customers use their products in the gym.
They collect the UGC Instagram photos by asking customers to hashtag photos with their brand name.
This means not only do you get free content, you also feature your customers (which makes them feel like a part of your brand), you also encourage future engagement by having customers submit photos on Instagram to you.
Plus, without tons of additional effort, you build up your brand’s presence on Instagram by attracting attention when customers’ followers see them hashtagging you in their photos.
You never want to invest already tight Instagram resources in content that won’t perform well. Luckily, on Instagram, you already have feedback about how your audience will react to content before you take up valuable real estate on your website or shell out money for Instagram ads.
Before choosing content for your Instagram UGC campaigns, you can measure the results of how it was received on Instagram.
This allows you to choose the photos that customers liked most on Instagram and then display them on your site, rather than guessing which product photos will perform best.
Instagram photos convert better than product photos or generic advertising photos because of the combination of very basic psychological principles.
First, let’s take a look at the difference between a generic photo and an Instagram photo. Below, find 2 examples of photos from clothing brand Gap.
In the first, a classic brand ad:
And in this example, an Instagram photo:
Which photo do you think drives more sales and builds more trust in customers?
The Instagram photo! Why?
Instagram pictures tend to be aspirational, meaning that they show us a peek into a life we’d like to lead.
People Instagram the best moments of their life: the most beautifully arranged meals, the perfect beach sunset, the awesome road trip up the California coast.
At the most basic level, Instagram pics convert because they’re aesthetically pleasing. Photos from Instagram are special – saying something has been “Instagrammed” means something.
People don’t just upload any random selfie to Instagram, they make sure that the photo is well arranged, with good lighting, and of course, the perfect filter.
In summary, on Instagram, there’s really well-made, visually aesthetic photos that show us things we wish we had and lives we wish we led.
But advertisements are also well-made and meant to make us want the items in them by putting them in the context of an enviable lifestyle.
So why do Instagram photos convert better?
Oftentimes, Instagram photos are created by customers and curated by brands. These customer-created Instagram pics convert because they build customer trust in potential shoppers’ online shopping experience.
In general, content from past buyers influences shoppers’ purchase decisions. But the combined effect of visual content outweighs text alone.
Although potential buyers love reading reviews, research shows that visual content — like photos and videos — is extremely influential when it comes to purchasing decisions.
Not only that, but customers want to see photos and videos specifically from past customers.
When compared with brand photos, shoppers vote for using customer photos to help them make purchasing decisions.
Want to understand how successful brands leverage Instagram photos on their website?
The most popular ways brands display Instagram photos on site is in a dedicated gallery, on their homepage, or on product pages.
The reason brands choose to use Instagram photos on site is because they add variety, with dynamic content that’s constantly changing.
Also, Instagram photos are much more authentic and lively than generic photos – they display a real peek into the life of the brand, instead of static product photos.
Gentleman Jon Shave Company pulls photos from their Instagram account and showcases them on their homepage.
As we mentioned above, Instagram photos are powerful because they’re aesthetically pleasing. Gent Jon chooses photos for his Instagram that align with his old-time, nostalgic branding.
Below, see how Gentleman Jon Shave Company showcases photos from the @GentJonShave Instagram to add a more personal touch to the site:
Braithwait also collects customer photos and combines these with photos from their Instagram to show in a dedicated gallery on site.
This is a perfect example of how you can connect multiple channels through Instagram photos, as Braithwait includes a button to go straight to their Instagram to see the photos.
Pura Vida is one brand that does a fabulous job of showing off customer photos across their site. One awesome example of how they use Instagram photos is on their product pages, where they display a gallery of photos of customers using the product.
It’s a super effective way to show a product in real life examples and instill trust in potential customers.
A lot of brands want to know how to sell on Instagram, and what are some of the most important Instagram marketing tips for businesses.
But they focus on the wrong questions: They want to know how to sell on Instagram, how to promote products on Instagram, or how to increase sales on Instagram.
The truth is, you’ll never succeed at selling on the platform if you don’t understand how to create and curate the right kind of photos.
Figuring out visual commerce on Instagram requires understanding the type of images that work on the platform.
So, what is the “right” kind of Instagram photo?
Well, there’s not a single answer.
You can take cues from these visual storytelling images to learn how to better create photos that communicate the message you want to portray, but ultimately, finding the right images for your consumer engagement strategy depends entirely on your audience.
And you may be surprised – sometimes, what you think will do well on Instagram will have completely opposite results.
It’s important to move quickly and change photos based on customer feedback.
There you have it – the top ways to sell more effectively on Instagram and off by using the power of Instagram photos to your advantage in all marketing materials.
A few of the top takeaways…
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