Instagram Q&A with Giftbeat

I'd love to know, do you use Instagram for your store? If so, please leave a comment below with your profile name, I'd love to follow you. If you don't use Instagram for your store, but are wondering if you need to be, this will be a very helpful blog post. I was asked by Joyce Washnik, the Editor of Giftbeat, to answer some questions about Instagram for an interview type article they recently published. I wanted to share it with you as I think it's becoming a very common question, which is should I be using Instagram to market?

Last year on Crystal Media TV I had an episode about Instagram, if you missed it I suggest you watch that as well as continue reading. You can click to watch it here.

I'd like to thank Giftbeat for allowing me to republish this to my audience. If you're a gift retailer, be sure to check them out at Giftbeat.com.

Let's dive in with this Q&A style article, about Instagram.

1) Should Instagram be on retailers' radar? Why?

Yes! But let me first state that I'm a believer in being on the number of social media platforms you can manage depending on your resources. If you're just starting out, just pick one or two to really own, then you can grow into other networks depending on where your audience is. If your audience is using Instagram, you'll want to be there.

You can also just use the platform to spice up photos by adding filters and boarders to pictures taken with your smartphone and share those photos on Facebook, Pinterest, in an email, on your website or on print materials. It helps make pictures prettier, like you're your own photographer!

Another reason it should be on retailer's radar is their customers might be posting content already from things they bought from their stores, or even posting while in-store shopping. This is one of many great things about social media is user-generated content. If a retailer uses Instagram for her store, she has a better chance to leverage this content and ask customers to post, which means additional store exposure for no additional cost.

2) How is Instagram different than the other social media sites? What makes it special/unique?

One thing that's great for independent retailers who don't have a lot of time is there isn't several functions to an Instagram profile. You can use it to add effects to a picture or video, and you can use it to network with other users. There's no event pages, email collection forms, cover photos, posting algorithms, etc., it's pretty straight forward which I think makes it easier to understand and use.

Also, majority of Instagram users are 18-28 with a large number of teenagers using the platform. You'll find this different from the demographics of Facebook or Pinterest; which  is larger and has more users in the age range of 34-55. If the younger audience is your demographic, I would strongly suggest exploring this as a marketing platform. Also keep in mind that these teens are our future, we can capture and connect with them now, and continue to build the relationship over time.

3) How do you see Instagram's importance growing in the future?

We're seeing retailers post an item on Instagram and instantly receive comments like, "How much?" "What sizes do you have?" "Does this come in any other colors?" Just last night I saw an independent retailer that I follow on Instagram post a video of new cowboy boots they just got in and people were ready to buy!

Fox and Fawn, a Brooklyn based boutique has proved Instagram Sales to be very successful. After they post an item, if one of their 3,200+ followers comments, "ring me up" their card on file will be charged and the item will be shipped directly to their home. After a year of launching Instagram sales, an average of 25% of Fox and Fawn's daily sales are made from the platform, and on bad-weather days, it could be as high as 40%! You can see their sale rules here.

4) What would you say to a retailer who hasn't explored Instagram yet?

I'd encourage them to have it on their radar and I'd stress the importance of having an outlet or two that they can really own. It's better to be strategically and consistently marketing on one social media platform than doing a little on a lot of platforms. I'd also tell her to create a marketing plan before jumping onto any social media platform. I feel with the ads platform that's being tested on Instagram, and the fact Facebook owns Instagram, it's absolutely worth exploring and I think it will be a larger part of retailer's marketing in the coming year.