Instagram marketing has firmly placed itself alongside other big social media sites in terms of its importance for business owners. Instagram is almost entirely visual, which makes it a great fit for many craft businesses, which are also often visual in nature.
If you haven't jumped on the Instagram bandwagon yet, and you're wondering if you should do it, and how you'll get started, here's your introduction to the social media site to help you make the right decisions for your own business.
For a while, I only had an Instagram account because my young teen son asked for his own account, and I wanted to be able to check in on what he was doing. Instagram skews quite young, and it seems to be one of the choice communication tools for teens.
I don't know if my son and his friends are typical, but I find their communication fascinating. They have little interest in Facebook, they don't email, and they rarely phone each other. They text, and they are on Instagram. On Instagram, they are not just commenting on each other's posts, but they are also posting in group private messages about homework and their social lives.
When my son was trying to think of a way to contact me to pick him up from a party, his first thought wasn't to text, email, or call me. His first thought was to send me an Instagram message.
If you're over 35, Instagram might not be on your radar, but if a lot of your customers are under 35, you need to be aware of Instagram.
If your customers are on Instagram, then, yes, you should seriously consider Instagram marketing for your business.
First, I want to back up a bit to cover a more general principle about promoting your business.
You should never put all of your eggs in one basket.
What I mean by that is, it is dangerous to rely solely on a single source of customers for your business. For example, if all of your customers come from Etsy, and you don't promote outside of that marketplace, your business is at the mercy of Etsy and any changes they might make. If all of your customers come from Facebook, again, your business exists at the whim of Facebook. If your account was shut down tomorrow, your business could be lost.
While it's time consuming, it is important to cultivate customers from a variety of sources to protect your business. Instagram could be another place to connect with those customers.
Are your customers on Instagram?
Instagram, in general, tends to be young, female, international, and mobile-based.
It is most popular among those under 29, and 90% of its users are under 35 (source). There are generally more female than male participants, but males are definitely there. Instagram does not skew as strongly female as Pinterest, for example.
One thing I really notice while scrolling through Instagram posts is that it attracts people from all over the world. Because photos are the main focus, language barriers aren't a big issue. In fact, the app has a handy translation tool, so I can write in English to my favorite ceramicist in Tokyo to tell her how spectacularly beautiful her work is. She can translate my comment to Japanese, read it, write back to me in Japanese, and I can translate her comment to English.
I've had a few fantastic conversations with craft artists around the world using the translation tool.
Finally, keep in mind, although you can access some features of Instagram on a computer, it's primarily a mobile app. Is your business mobile friendly?
If those fundamentals fit your target audience, Instagram marketing may be the right fit for your business. Want to dive deeper into Instagram data? You can find more Instagram demographic statistics here.
You can use that information to see how well Instagram users fit with your own target market.
To decide if Instagram is right for your business, you also need to consider your goals and whether Instagram can help you meet those goals.
Instagram is designed to keep people on Instagram. It is not designed to encourage people to click out of the app to other sites. This trait is made obvious in the fact that the only spot you can place a link on Instagram is in your bio. You cannot place active links in your comments.
If your goal is to get people directly on to your website or Etsy shop, Pinterest is a better bet than Instagram. However, if you look beyond simple click to your site, Instagram can still bring a lot of value.
First, it is quite easy to build a community on Instagram compared with other social media platforms, and you can do it without investing a huge amount of time. It takes some planning, research, and setup at the beginning, and occasional tweaking from time to time, but once you have a good system figured out, it doesn't have to take up a big part of your day. That's a big point in Instagram's favor. It is social media marketing that won't take over your life.
Instagram marketing is fantastic for building familiarity, trust, and connection within your niche. One fundamental marketing concept is that you need to connect with a potential customer multiple times (7 is the number you hear often) before they will buy.
Instagram provides those multiple connections. Followers see your images in their feeds repeatedly. Over time, you communicate a story about your brand and build familiarity. Building those connections within your business' niche is important.
Plus, Instagram appears to be making moves to make shopping within the app easier. If it does grow in that direction, you will be poised to take advantage of those developments if you've spent time now building your Instagram following.
You don't have to promote your craft business on all social media sites. There just isn't enough time in the day. So you need to choose wisely. To determine if committing time to Instagram marketing is right for your business, consider the following:
Are my target customers on Instagram?
Compare Instagram's demographic data with what you know about your own customer to look for matches.
Can Instagram help me meet my goals?
If you're interested in a platform that can help you build connection with potential customers, Instagram can do that. If you just want to see clicks to your shop, you won't see as much of that with Instagram as you would with other platforms.
Next, find out how to build your Instagram following organically, without spammy tricks that could put your account at risk.
Overall strategies for building your Instagram presence, plus the workflow I use to get everything done in a reasonable time frame
All about hashtags. Hashtags are so important, they deserve an article of their own. Here's how to grow your Instagram presence with the right hashtags.