Pictures are Worth 1,000 Experiences

Doubletaps and hashtags. Stories and tags. Influencers and followers. The advent and subsequent preeminence of Instagram has brought a whole new collection of vocabulary terms—not to mention marketing approaches—to the already overwhelming world of social media.
As retailers, manufacturers and businesses, it’s important to maintain a consistent brand message across all platforms and we want our social media, especially our Instagram, to accurately reflect the soul of our store. Admittedly, translating that message into Instagram-ese, especially in mind of trends and buzzwords and algorithms, can seem nigh on impossible.
The good news is that it’s not. Like anything in business and marketing, Instagram is a valuable tool that, once you’ve mastered the how-tos, can be used to grow your influence and even your profits.
 
“The old adage was that your storefront or your display window was the first impression to your customer, the new storefront is your social footprint with the highest trending social platform being Instagram,” explains Ryan McCarty, a partner in consumer research at The Mann Group. Your Instagram is quite often the first impression you give to new customers, and you should make sure it’s the right one. “But, just as with any tool, it can be used wrong, and when used wrong, may do more damage than good,” McCarty adds. An inaccurate portrayal of your brand on Instagram can  actually detract from your message or compromise your following.
That’s why McCarty identified the top three mistakes he sees retailers commit so that you can avoid them and refine your Instagram.
1.     Retailers sell too soon.
Now that the potential value of marketing on Instagram is common knowledge, it seems like a majority of posts on the platform are sponsored or sales-related. One way to stand out from the crowd is to include more community or spirit-driven posts. “Your customer is pitched deals and offers all day long,” McCarty points out. “If your Instagram posts are all about coming in to buy something, product releases or percent-off details, then your feed/store will get put in the same field as every other store that is trying to sell them something.” Instead, flesh out your feed with advice or education, cultural notes or other ideas of value. “Give them something, and when you doask, the rate of return will be much higher.”
2. Inauthentic photography.
Investing in high-quality photography of your store, events and products for Instagram may seem profligate, but it’s anything but. You want to accurately portray to your followers who you are, and you are not stock photography. You’re real people who work in a real place—that’s what your followers want to see. “Stock photography is seen now on Instagram as cheesy and gets passed,” McCarthy says. You’ll rise above the competition and remain memorable with authentic imagery.
3. A lack of hashtags or mentions.
“This is not doing something ‘wrong,’ it is just not taking advantage of the tools that can help your post gain more reach,” McCarthy explains. Hashtags, mentions and geotags are all easy ways to help a wider audience access your posts. Include hashtags or mentions of the groups you’d like to reach in your posts, tag the locations you’re posting about, and implement the hashtags that are trending in your community. By doing so, your post will appear in more searches, increasing your reach. 
Think you can skip the social media platform altogether or that it doesn’t make much of a difference? Think again. “You are not just a retailer anymore, you are an advertiser and a media source,” McCarthy says. “Using the channels in the right way will only contribute to your foot traffic and bottom line revenue.” Don’t let your old habits or reluctance to change get in the way of free marketing and increased profits.

We’ll catch you on the ‘gram.

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