So, you’ve decided to focus your passion for pets on a business that will serve pet owners and you’re all set to create an Instagram account…because that’s where the people are, right? But how do you reach those people and how do you convert them from a window shopper to a customer who will actually spend money on your products or services?
If you think that Instagram is where the pet owners and your potential customers are, you’re probably right. In 2020, Instagram was estimated to have more than 1.16 billion active Instagram users per month. With the increase in social media usage throughout the past year and more specifically during the “work from home,” COVID-19 pandemic, those numbers have shown steady increase. When it comes to business, there’s no shortage of potential customers out there…in fact, over 200 million users visit business profiles each day. Knowing this, the next thing you may be wondering is, “how do I reach those 200 million users and get them to spend money on my products and services?”
The short answer is that you need two key elements: followers and engagements, with engagements being the priority between the two.
First, you want a healthy number of followers. These are people who subscribe to your Instagram feed and receive updates. While the number of followers you have is important, it’s better to have quality followers than an enormous number of inactive followers. What I mean by this, is that you want followers who interact with you through your Instagram account.
This is where engagements come into play. Engagements are the likes, shares, comments, and clicks that your posts or content receive. Essentially, you want your followers to participate in engagements to increase profit. You also want the right kind of followers. Those followers who will promote your business through engagements or spend money on your product and services. Top quality followers will be active through engagements AND spend money. If the followers you have aren’t benefiting your business in one of these ways; they either fall within your target market or respond to your posts, it’s best to set them free to enjoy being inactive on other business accounts.
Now that we have that straight, it’s time to talk conversions. The way to convert those window shoppers to actual shoppers is through your Instagram engagement. There are several ways to approach engagement and the best way is what works for you but to get you started, I’m going to offer some tips.
Tip One: Post meaningful content that highlights your product or service. You’ve got AMAZING products or services, but no one will know about them if you don’t highlight them. Answer those questions your followers might have about what you want to sell. What products or services do you have to offer? Why do your followers need them? How will your products and services change their life for the better? Plus, remember what they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words!” That is especially true when it comes to social media. Keep your posts short, to the point, and sweeten them up with attractive images. If you don’t have images of pets using your products or services, you can use stock images of happy pets, friendly pets, adorable pets. Cuteness sells.
Tip Two: Instagram is a great place to tell your brand story. Stories draw people in, they inspire people and if told the right way, stories have the power to move those people who were “just looking,” to buy your product or service. Create captions that will speak to your passion for your business or specific products you want to focus on. Use photos and video that will capture your audience’s attention. Share your why. Why did you start this business? Why do you stand behind your products and services? Share stories of customers who have used your product or services with their pets, or any other content that will appeal to your audience visually and emotionally.
Tip Three: Build your brand image with a consistent theme and mood. The way to do this is to ask yourself, “if my audience were to describe my brand, how would I want them to describe it?” Your brand should reflect the kind of products and services you offer. If you’re selling toys for pets, you may want to focus on a playful or fun look. If you’re offering grooming and spa services to pamper pets and give their owners time to relax, you might go with more soothing neutral tones, using images that also reflect your products. Consistency with your style including colour scheme, theme, mood, and voice will help to create a unique look for your brand. You want your audience to be able to easily recognize your brand and to be drawn to it.
Tip Four: Know the best times to post. This one can be tricky but having a well-defined target audience is key. Who is your perfect customer? What gender and age are they? What is their lifestyle like? What are their other interests? By compiling this information, you can do the research to find out when these people are active on Instagram. You’ll also want to use social media management tools to measure which posts receive the highest engagements. Considering these factors, you now have some insight into the most popular times to post. It’s also important to be strategic about the number of photos or videos you post on a daily basis. One or two relevant posts is better than ten random posts. You want to be active, not annoying.
Tip Five: Put out a call-to-action with your posts. Most people genuinely want to be needed and like to help others. When it comes to your loyal customers, they’ll want to help you to promote your pet business. This is where your call-to-action comes in handy. Encouraging your audience to engage with your posts through likes, shares, comments, and clicks gives them the opportunity to help you, share products and services they love with their network which in turn, helps their network, and it gives your audience a sense of contribution or ownership when it comes to your business success. Your call-to-action can be presented in the form of a promotion; “Click here for a 10% discount on your next purchase,” for example. It could be a product give-away or contest; “Tag friends to be entered in our draw.” You can even appeal to your audience’s desire for fame, asking them to post pictures of themselves and their pets enjoying your products. These call-to-action approaches give your audience further incentive to engage with your posts rather than viewing a post and moving on.
Be Active in the Community. Another great way to improve your audience engagement is to be active in the Instagram community. Just as being friendly, approachable, and outgoing goes a long way towards making new friends in the real world, putting yourself out there on Instagram helps you to build followers and encourage engagements. By interacting with similar accounts, you can begin engaging their followers through posts, replies, and comments. Engage your own followers in discussion by asking questions, providing polls for input, and replying to your follower’s comments and direct messages in a timely manner. Timing the post of new images or video within the same timeframe as likes or comments you add to other people’s posts will help draw their attention to your recently posted content and provide opportunity for further engagement.