How to Convert Those Instagram Followers Into Customers

How do you tap into Instagram's sea of untapped leads and convince and convert them into customers?

Instagram now has more than 600 million monthly active users worldwide–more than Twitter, Snapchat or LinkedIn.

According to a Forrester study, the booming platform has 10 times the engagements found on Facebook, and users tend to be more interested when redirected to websites compared with other platforms.

How do you tap into this sea of untapped leads and convince and convert them into customers who will readily buy from you, as well as refer friends and family?

Understand Instagram’s demographics and your customers

Before joining any social media platforms, the following questions should be asked and answered:

  • Can my target audience be found or reached on here?
  • Where and when are they usually active?

Despite more than 600 million MAUs and over 300 million daily active users, your target audience might not be on Instagram: 55 percent of Instagram users are 18 to 29 years old, 28 percent are 30 through 49 and the rest are split between 11 and 4 percent. Businesses targeting a demographic of under 50 have higher chances of succeeding on Instagram.

Armed with valuable information regarding Instagram’s audience, you understand what to create for your customers, what time they are most active and content they enjoy in order to finally convert them into customers or brand advocates.

Paid shoutouts

A budget should be allocated for Instagram marketing, and part of it should be spent on paid shoutouts. Paid shoutouts are an effective way of growing your following, increasing application downloads, boosting sales or promoting events and contests.

For full return on investment, find and partner with key influencers in your niche, and create ready images, captions and hashtags that align with both brands. Most influencers offer various packages for shoutouts, and you should select a package that generates full ROI.

To fully maximize your paid campaign, do the following:

  • Use tools such as INK361, Simply Measured and Iconosquare to find the appropriate time to post.
  • Ensure that the influencers post as planned and advertised.
  • Don’t buy from accounts that run multiple shoutouts regularly (their audiences are flooded).
  • Do not buy paid shoutouts for more than 24 hours, as engagement drops after this period.
  • Ask for deals in which your post can be the last for the day (that way you get more exposure).

For example, Neil Patel conducted an experiment with $57,000 to grow a personal brand on Instagram and, in the long run, he proved that out of all his marketing techniques, paid shoutouts from influencers (female models) yielded much better results.

Share for share

Share for share–or S4S, as some may call it–is the free version of paid shoutouts. Basically, S4S involves you posting another account’s content on your profile for them to gain more followers, while they reciprocate for you. To do this, you have to find similar accounts with audiences you want to reach.

To enact an S4S campaign, do the following:

  • Search for influencers or accounts in your niche with your target audience or similar.
  • Reach out via direct message and propose an S4S.
  • Once he or she accepts, choose a post from the other party that works with your audience.
  • Share the other party’s post with a clear call to action to follow that account and he or she will do the same.

Create and implement a content strategy

You must have heard this phrase before: “Content is king.” The same holds true for converting your Instagram audience into customers. The kinds of images or videos your post on your accounts can foster or break a relationship with your audience. Effective content builds trust, educates, entertains and inspire the audience.

To convert your following from fans into customers, a clear plan should be developed on how to educate the audience on your business and products. An effective content strategy for Instagram will contain an editorial calendar, themes for months, images and captions ready to be published.

Foundr magazine shares inspirational quotes on business and life for its audience, while Fashion Nova shares images of fashion outfits worn by models ready for sale and Benz Living posts images of different Mercedes-Benz cars showcasing their interior and performance. Each of these accounts has an established content strategy that aligns with the brand.

Your content strategy should contain what to post and when to post—such as cars on Wednesdays and Fridays every six hours—as well as a list of curated hashtags and captions to go with your content.

Use Instagram ads

According to an infographic from WebsiteBuilder, 70 percent of performance campaigns on Instagram generated statistically significant lifts for online conversion or mobile app installs. In another study, MMVT Watches saw a 20 percent lower cost per conversion when running Facebook and Instagram ads together instead of Facebook alone.

When running ads on Facebook, including Instagram in your Power Editor will help reduce cost per acquisition or install and generate almost three times higher return on ad budget.

When running image-based ads for your products, make sure the images are user-generated and will capture the audience’s attention more like case studies. In the words of Ezra Firestone, images and videos that showcase the benefit of the product are the best and highest converting photos for Instagram ads.

Bonus points

  • Use a customer-oriented biography.
  • Sprinkle your calls to action in images and captions. Ask questions, use “double-tap if you agree” and use “tag someone if … “
  • Leverage hashtags.

Pius Boachie is a freelance writer and inbound marketing consultant who works closely with business-to-consumer and business-to-business brands on providing content that gains social media attention and increases search-engine visibility. He shares actionable marketing ideas for businesses on his blog, Digimatic.