11 Surefire Ways to Promote your Brand and Boost Sales on Instagram

Why promote your brand on Instagram?

Home to around 1 billion people worldwide and approximately 500 million daily active users, Instagram turns 10 in 2020, and this social media app has changed the lives of many brands and individuals from a personal and professional standpoint.

According to Statista, more than 50% of the Instagram population worldwide is aged under 34 years or younger and 13.9% of global active users were women between the ages of 18-24. Refer to the statistics below.

SOURCE: Distribution of Instagram users worldwide as of October 2020, by age and gender.

But what makes Instagram such a powerful tool for marketers and business owners? The first logic that comes to mind is that brands must first promote to drive sales. It goes hand in hand.

This visual-sharing empire has become a source of income and sales channel for most businesses due to its user-friendly and interactive experience it offers or many independent businesses and corporations — small and large.

If you’re still not convinced, Instagram reports that 90% of accounts follow at least one brand on Instagram — and you’re going to want your brand to be included in that. Also, 83% of Instagram users discover new products and services, 81% do their research for a brand’s products and services and utilize the app for their purchase decisions as well, making it a good tool to support a brand’s marketing funnel.

So, fellow marketers and business owners, it’s time to re-evaluate how you intend to promote your business account and re-strategize to keep up with the app’s quick growth and updated features. Even if your tactics worked in the past, it might not necessarily work today, as competition is increasingly tight so brands have to come up with a variety of ways to stand out.

Don’t sweat it, in this blog, I will cover some valuable ways to help promote your brand/product and boost sales on Instagram. Hang on tight!

11 ways to promote your brand and boost sales on Instagram

1. Create/Use Quality Images 

As a marketer or brand, try to imagine yourself scrolling through the Instagram app for some inspiration. Among the line up of standard attractive posts, you will come across one that will captivate you.

A high-quality image that captures a strong message and experience will usually take your breath away and naturally inspire you.

Here are some tips to increase your brand engagement.

  • Express with high-quality images

For instance, you’re targeting a whole bunch of food enthusiasts with a penchant for all thing’s food-related like recipes, food culture, cooking videos, and the whole charm (I can relate! Can you?) and you know it reaches their eyes first before their palate and that they appreciate beautiful shots of food that look mouthwatering in its unique way. So, it’s always best to go for something that speaks to your audience and makes them drool. Like this.

SOURCE: Bonappetitmag Instagram

SOURCE: Bonappetitmag Instagram Spaghetti

Are you drooling yet? 

  • Well-crafted content and ideation play an integral role in enticing your audience to imagine the experience for themselves. Words are nothing without imagery and vice versa.
  • Natural lighting is your best friend.

The best images require patience and timing with natural sunlight such as shooting during sunset, sunrise, a cloudy or rainy day which makes nature the best filter. Check these mesmerizing images by Airbnb experiences. It makes you long for that next adventure, doesn’t it? It’s crazy how it makes you feel so close, yet so far. Imagine sleeping to that to that jaw-dropping view every day.

SOURCE: Yurt so good. Airbnb.

SOURCE: Airbnb Experience Nusa Penida clifftop treehouse.

Imagine waking up to that drop-dead gorgeous view every day or sipping a cup of coffee or reading a book on a hammock with that view. Instagram is where your imagination runs wild. 

  • Refrain from overexposure and always tap on the brightest area of your screen before taking a photo.
  • You don’t need to invest in a DSLR camera to capture beautiful moments.
  • Be creative with your angles and vantage points (whatever it takes to get an interesting point of view).
  • Rely on Instagram filters and editing tools such as Canva to customize your image, VSCO for image editing, or whichever photo-editing app suits your style. As long as it’s not overdone with effects and still delivers some form of authenticity. 

2. Run Instagram Giveaways & Contests

When your brand hosts contests and giveaways, it creates a spark and higher engagement between you and your audience. Most of all, you get to know your audience a little more and at the same time leave a memorable association with your brand.

It gives your brand more of a reason to be more involved, gain traction and followers, and establish a connection.

Here are some ideas you can incorporate into your contest.

  • Urge your audience to like, comment, and follow your account in order to participate in your contest.
  • Tag 10 people or more to increase the chances of winning.
  • Utilize your Instagram story option for quick contests and giveaway announcements.
  • Do a photo caption contest related to your brand. Most people enjoy showing their humor on social media. By posting a picture on your brand’s Instagram feed, you can urge your fans to comment on their captions below your post and create massive hype and user-generated content for your brand. Fans can win 2 tickets to watch the Lakers basketball match for instance. It works wonders!

The stronger the contest mechanic, the more solid your campaign will be.

A great example of a contest is by the brand QV Baby, with an objective to raise awareness and increase hype among parents. QV Baby acquired a digital marketing agency to run a contest campaign on Facebook and Instagram by urging the participants to take the most creative photos with QV Baby’s branded AR filters created by the agency and they will give away cash prizes and QV Baby products to the topmost creative participants.

The contest was a success reaching 589,000 people, generated 20,000 likes on social media, and garnered over 3,200 participants in the duration of 6 weeks! Check out their case study here.

Qv Baby - Social Media Management

Interested in creating an effective contest mechanic for your brand too? Let’s get in touch! 

3. Leverage on Video Content  

According to recent research, Instagram videos get 2X more engagement than any other type of posts. And to be honest, we kind of saw that one coming, it’s not really a surprise.

Video content is a must-have for all brands out there that want to stay relevant, interactive, and entertaining to their audience.

Video content may be more tedious to produce, but the engagement rate is so good for your brand exposure and the types of content that you can create can range from introducing the latest product range, instructional videos, reviews, tips and advice, and so much more you can share with your audience in an interactive way. Plus, you don’t necessarily have to start from scratch, you can always repurpose content that caters to your Instagram audience.

Get your audience’s attention with videos!

When creating a video for your brand, always keep in mind these pointers:

  • Make your video attention-grabbing! Short and concise is the way to go for the first few seconds of your video clip.
  • Include compelling captions to direct your audience to understand more as they read your content and view your video (the videos are on mute by default, so you must read about what you’re about to watch until you activate the sound.)
  • Strategize and plan what your goals are for producing this video. Is it to direct traffic to your website? Create more awareness? Generate more engagement?
  • Add a human element like behind-the-scenes footage or something personal like a company team-building event that has entertainment value to show how fun your company culture is.
  • Post product reviews or your products being used by your customers. That helps build trust.
  • Always apply the basic rules of photography when shooting your videos.

Here’s a cool example from one of our favorite make-up brands, Mac with a few popular influencers glowing with their #MACHolidayCollection.

SOURCE: MAC make-up video

4. Include a Storytelling Element/Experience

Most brands want to increase engagement and boost sales, but some brands are a little more obvious about it and it really shows because they don’t care about their customers enough to provide a memorable and meaningful experience. There’s no love, passion, and purpose behind their content — no meaning.

Remember when you were a child and your parents used to read you a bedtime story? Well, that kid is still in you and people like their minds to be stroked with a tale or two sometimes. We are all big babies inside!

Brands need to learn how to be creative and create meaning out of the ordinary. They must bring their content to life!

Instagram is an expressive lifestyle platform that revolves around a human being’s experiences, passions, adventures, and more. Brands that refuse to create quality content are killing the vibe and perhaps putting their own brand in jeopardy by not caring about their consumer’s inspirational needs. Tell a story, paint a picture, create magic out of the ordinary and you will be rewarded. It takes two to tango.

If you want user-generated content, then you must create something spectacular for your audience to shout about — give them a reason to connect.

For example, Airbnb experiences may just be about you paying for your stay, but Airbnb found a way to create value and hit all the soft notes in your body. Making you feel like you belong with Airbnb.

SOURCE: Airbnb experience video with meditation & healing host.

Another example would be Tiffany & Co promoting individual courage, strength, and optimism which is what the #TiffanyT1 collection is all about, bringing meaning beyond diamonds.

SOURCE: Tiffany & Co Storytelling.

5. Always Attend to Comments

Now, this is the part many brands take for granted and they don’t realize the impact it makes if you go that extra mile for your people.

Instagram users are confronted with great content on a daily basis and if they bothered to comment on your Instagram page, consider it as an achievement that your brand is getting some attention.

Always be respectful and appreciative when your customers reach out because many brands would kill to get that chance to build trust and relationships with their customers.

An exemplary brand that bothers with their social media marketing efforts would be Starbucks! Here’s how they respond to their fans.

SOURCE: Starbucks customer service Instagram.

And Family Mart Malaysia too, surprisingly! Many Malaysian brands focus on their social media marketing efforts on the surface level and tend to neglect aspects like customer service. So, if you want your brand to stand out, go the extra mile to please your customers.

SOURCE: Family Mart Malaysia customer service Instagram.

 6. Cross-promote your Instagram posts to other Social Sites

Just getting that one product shot or photo snapped requires many takes and effort. Why not leverage on cross-promoting your brand on other sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The wider the reach, the better for your brand awareness. Spread the love!

If you feel your Facebook and Twitter audience is a little different from Instagram and you feel your content needs to be repurposed, edit away!

By sharing your brand on other platforms as well, you get even more ROI by maximizing your content reach on social media.

At least all that effort for an impactful caption and photo has done some justice to your brand’s exposure.

7. Use Branded Hashtags

Hashtags seem so subtle, but the impact it creates is explosive. Brands of all sizes must create a hashtag for themselves. Hashtags are what keeps your campaign known to the world.

Every brand on social media, especially on Instagram must create a hashtag to encourage their audience to share and spread the word out there.

You can even dive deeper into hashtag analytics tools to analyze and track your hashtag campaign performance to find out if it’s relevant for your target audience or not to understand more about where to park your marketing budget and efforts as well.

There are many types of hashtags on Instagram, so you need to choose what resonates with your audience. Let’s get down to some of the types.

  • Niche Hashtags: These are very specific pointing at what you do and your industry, such as #contentstrategist #foodblogger
  • Products & Services: Basic keywords to describe your product and service, like #waterbottle
  • Festive Events: #Christmasday #Thanksgiving #publicholiday
  • Communities: #lupuswarriors #savetheplanet
  • Daily Hashtags: The most common workplace hashtag #Mondayblues
  • Emoji Hashtags: Anything to do with a word and an emoji-like #powerthrough😎
  • Branded Hashtags: This will come in the form of your brand name and is useful to help campaigns trend  like #Nikes #NikeAirmax #Adidas #yeezy

Here is a smart example of Nike with its #playinside campaign to reach people in their homes.

SOURCE: Nike reaches out to people and urges them to #playinside their homes during a pandemic.

8. Include a Link in Bio

In social media, tiny things like a link (which might not be noticeable at first glance) goes a long way by directing your audience to your website.

When brands are competing to stand out in such a visually dense platform like Instagram, they have to combine all the tiny aspects on their main page and stand out like a giraffe in a dazzle of zebras. Your goal is to have every aspect of your brand pop.

Instagram doesn’t allow links in posts for a reason so the best way to take advantage of that is to use a link in bio option so once users click on it, they will be diverted to your main website which is the main goal.

Here’s an example of a link included on your business page bio.

Brands including an Instagram link in Bio.

Once your Instagram account reaches 10,000 followers, Instagram will grant you a swipe up call-to-action on your Instagram stories, prompting the user to swipe up/see more and be taken to a page where they can shop directly, view your products, and etc.

Here are some simple steps on how to perform the swipe up / see more action button.

Step 1: Tap the camera icon or select an image from your library.

Step 2: Click on the chain lock icon.

Step 3: Add a call-to-action on your story, return, and post away!

Here’s how.

9. Collaborate with Relevant Influencers

SOURCE: Influencer Marketing effectiveness

 

According to research, 80% of marketers claim influencer marketing is effective and by collaborating with influencers, your brand will leverage on their page followers and get insane engagement too. It’s a win-win situation for both parties.

Another interesting fact is that 70% of teenagers trust influencers more than traditional celebrities, and 49% rely on influencers for product recommendations while 56% of them rely on their friends.

Always keep in mind that when choosing your influencers, they need to be relevant and actually have the potential to influence the people in their location/area, you have the budget to support your influencer campaign, and many other factors to consider before acquiring an influencer.

Here’s an example from Mac Cosmetics with their first K-Pop star, Lisa of Blackpink appointed as their Global Beauty Ambassador.

SOURCE: Mac Instagram Lisa of BK-Pop girl band, Blackpink.

10. Maximize Instagram Features

Where do we even start? Instagram is always keeping updated with the latest trends and features to accommodate the needs of brands and the audience’s demand for well, EVERYTHING.

Instagram’s that type of social media platform that is equipped with features and tools, it’s insane.

At the top of my mind, here’s a list of features that marketers/brands can experiment with to promote their brand or to boost sales.

  • Instastory / Insta video features that you can put on your feed post or the story option. It’s short and snappy and increases engagement so be sure to include a link to your Instastory.
  • Instagram Live videos are different because they are LIVE and in real-time. During a live video, followers receive push notifications about your brand going LIVE, able to comment, or react to your live video while its streaming and is a good way for brands to build authenticity and trust from their fans which are in favor of Instagram’s algorithm. As long as you keep people engaged, that’s what Instagram expects from business accounts.
  • IGTV are like stories but longer versions of it. It gives users the ability to share longer videos for up to an hour-long. This could be in a form of a TV series, make-up tutorial by a popular influencer, cooking shows by Jamie Oliver, and many more.
  • Story features are probably the easiest way to promote your brand within the 24-hour mark. Everyone checks stories because it’s quick and doesn’t require any form of commitment as in a proper caption and the whole works. Brands usually use this to create interaction and to build engagement through the form of polls, questions, and all things that will enable you to express your brand or update the audience.

Here’s an example of what Instagram can do to make your brand more interactive.

Instagram Dashboard.

 

11. Run Instagram Sponsored Ads

According to research by DataReportal, Instagram ads can potentially reach about 849 million users, now that’s a fact. So, if you’re unsure about why you should use Instagram, I suggest you get started on the platform with your Instagram ad campaigns. Check out the stats!

SOURCE: Social media advertising audiences indicate Instagram’s potential reach is 849 million worldwide.

Be sure to:

  • Keep your messages short, clear, and concise. Always include a call-to-action.
  • Research your audience. Know them to the core.
  • Understand your audience’s needs and pain points and provide them with solutions.
  • Engage with your people by doing some sponsored ads or promotion of your page/product.

Here’s an example of a sponsored ad discovered on an Instagram feed, which directs you to an E-commerce site to view products and make a purchase on the spot. From this, you can get an idea of how to create an Instagram ad for your brand.

Instagram sponsored ad buyer’s journey.

Once you master your audience’s lingo on Instagram and make the effort to customize ads/ effectively utilize the app’s features interactively and curate content specifically for your audience or a similarly potential crowd, you will be surprised about the magnitude Instagram can do for you and the fact that there are so many types of possibilities lie within a single app. Be smart with how you communicate your brand on Instagram.

Here’s how to promote your brand/product within the Instagram app.

Step 1: Go to a designated image you want to promote within Instagram and click on the bottom right button that says “Promote.”

Step 2: Add your website URL & Action button (CTA).

Step 3: Select your budget & duration of your promoted post (would be suitable for products & services, home goods, fashion goods, etc. Almost anything, if the content stays relevant).

Step 4: Review your promotion to see if it is relevant to your goals.

Let’s take a look below at the process.

How to do paid promotions on Instagram.

These Instagram promotions differ from ads as most brands use it to generate more awareness and engagement from success stories and posts. It helps build momentum.

In 2015, Instagram Ads first started and with the use of Facebook ads. So, now if you want to boost your brand or product, you have to go to Facebook to make that happen.

If you would like to boost your posts on Instagram, you’ll have to go through Facebook and select Instagram to boost your post on Instagram media.

Refer to the steps in the image for a clearer perspective on how a boosted post works.

(Insert Boost Post Steps)

Step 1:  Select a post that you want to boost.

Step 2: Select your ad category. For instance, campaigns.

Step 3: Choose your target audience and specify their age.

Step 4: You can check out your estimated daily results based on your ad budget.

Instagram Boost post via Facebook Ad System.

Boost post via Facebook ads system.

When to boost an Instagram post? Depends on what your business is hoping to achieve. If you want to boost your engagement and create more brand awareness, then boost posts is best to maximize your campaign reach. If you want to create other types of ads, go to the Facebook Ads Manager.

An Instagram ad will usually be used for a fresh new campaign, so the content is usually fresh out of the oven.

There is no fixed rule for brands on when you should promote, boost, and advertise, and it all depends on your social media goals too — it differs from one brand to another.

Instagram Marketing Case Studies

Adidas #MyNeoShoot Campaign

Adidas Neo was created in 2012 as a trendy line meant to target the youth. Seeing the rise of social media and the purchasing power of millennials, Adidas then launched the #MyNeoShoot social media campaign in 2015 to leverage the potential of Instagram by gathering both Influencers and normal users to create Adidas-inspired Instagram posts. Adidas then selected the most creative creators to model for a professional photoshoot and to share their branded content on social media.

The Objective

To boost awareness and increase Adidas’ social media following by creating an initiative that would appeal to Instagram’s highly engaged audience and to engage with the Adidas Neo brand ambassadors by getting Instagram users to be a part of this creative campaign.

The Strategy

To launch the campaign, Adidas selected Instagram’s most popular starlet, Selena Gomez, to send the message out to fans and followers (at the time, a good 86 a million followers) about the #MyNeoShoot contest. That is the power of leveraging on your influencers.

Adidas continued to keep the hype up by creating more buzz around the #MyNeoShoot by collaborating with relevant popular Instagram influencers to create REAL content using the campaign’s branded hashtag. 

Adidas encouraged Instagram users to post inspiring content using their hashtag #MyNeoShoot for a chance to win a spot as one of the 6 models for the campaign.

The rest of the Instagram community participated in the campaign by taking part in the voting process of the #MyNeoShoot by voting for their favorite contestants, outfits, and hairstyles worn for the branded posts.

The Results

The campaign results for the #MyNeoShoot model contest generated 12,000 entries and the branded hashtag #MyNeoShoot garnered over 71,000 mentions.

The Adidas Instagram page itself gained 41,000 followers as a result.

How Microsoft and National Geographic got 3.5 million Likes on International Women’s Day

To leverage on International Women’s day, Microsoft leveraged National Geographic’s wide reach in social media and with some famous photographers to create an Instagram marketing campaign. Here’s what led to this partnership’s success!

The Objective

 Microsoft wanted to build awareness and build a positive public image by creating a genuine and meaningful message to the world encouraging women to pursue jobs in STEM. And also, by leveraging on a trending worldwide event like International Women’s Day.

The Strategy

Microsoft’s social media efforts revolved around the idea of International Women’s day for their Instagram marketing campaign called “Make What’s Next.” The campaign was actually launched the year before for International Women’s day and Microsoft decided to resurrect the idea of it and tweak it a little by encouraging young girls to work in STEM-related industries such as Science, Technology, Engineering, And Math.

Other efforts included a 60-second TV ad, a career explorer tool, and a partnership with LinkedIn to provide a workshop available only in their stores and on Facebook Live on 18 March 2017.

As for the Instagram part of the campaign, a total of 30 photos were posted on 5 National Geographic’s Instagram channels such as @natgeo, @natgeotravel, @natgeoadventure, @natgeoyourshot, and @natgeochannel.

The photos were captured by popular photographers, mostly affiliated with National Geographic.

Each photo caption featured a story of a strong female scientist, adventurer, and lots more. Each photo caption Microsoft Mixer, empowering girls to rule the world, work in STEM, and be the ones to #MakeWhatsNext and also invited these women to attend a free workshop with some @natgeo personalities at their selected outlets.

The Result

As a result, Microsoft garnered 3.5 million likes on the 30 photos posted during International Women’s Day and about 115,000 likes per post and a reach of 91 million people that make up the total amount of followers across National Geographic’s 5 Instagram accounts with over 1000 content pieces of content on with #MakeWhat’sNext.

What really contributed to the success of Microsoft’s #MakeWhat’sNext campaign

  • Microsoft leveraged National Geographic’s existing social media reach and managed to get the #1 brand on social media by Sharablee based on followers and data. They reached an audience of 91 million.
  • Aligned campaign and impeccable timing with an International Holiday by planning ahead in line with International Women’s day and Microsoft was able to provide relevant content through hosting free workshops for women and the educational resources supplied.
  • The use of authentic / meaningful content and captivating quality imagery through their sponsored posts on Instagram featuring real stories of women, real experiences, and real faces was the element and driving force of the campaign. This campaign has enabled Microsoft to engage with their audiences on a more genuine level and build long term awareness and acceptance.

Here are some of the best examples from Microsoft’s Instagram marketing campaign that are crazy beautiful and rich in meaning that women #MakeWhat’sNext.

SOURCE: Photographer & marine biologist @Christina Bittermeier explores the clear waters of “cenote.”

SOURCE:  Photo by @amivitale in the incubator room at Bifengxia Panda conservation & research center in China with cub keeper Liu Juan.

Just makes you feel emotional and fuzzy inside right?

SOURCE: Photo by @Kitracahana of 28-year old Elinore Millstein taking a measurement for a science experiment she is conducting for the Gulkana Glacier in Alaska.

 

Conclusion

To wrap this up, I repeat Instagram is home to 1 billion people on the planet and has 500 million daily active users, or who knows more?

After walking you through some facts and statistics on what a powerhouse Instagram is, I am sure you’re not that surprised by now.

Instagram doesn’t portray itself as a marketing tool but it sure does have all the features meant for all angles of marketing — and it doesn’t matter how creative you are because Instagram has already designed the tools needed to move you towards that goal of yours.

11 surefire ways to promote your brand and boost sales on Instagram probably doesn’t do this dynamic app justice, you will need to dive in to see for yourself.

Not only does it melt hearts with its imagery, but the brands on it also make killer content you can’t forget and you’re still wondering why you keep scrolling and scrolling through or minding other people’s business and brands on the gram. It gets you hooked!

Marketing is all about trial and error to find what’s best for your brand, and it might take a few attempts, but the worst failure is not even trying.

Imagine targeting an audience of people fixated on your brand and Instagram crafts? Whatever concept, idea, or product you’re selling will most likely be SOLD on this platform because it provides you the tools to shed that light on your followers. To unleash the magic within your brand and make you look as good as you aim to look in the gram — or even better!

Instagram is not just a visual platform to scroll on. Behind every brand story or post lies a powerful message behind it. Instagram enables your brand to walk your talk.

Not sure if your brand walks the talk? Want to level up your Instagram marketing strategy? You can count on us!