This is no surprise: leads and traffic sources vary widely in quality and source, as well as in cost and value.
For example, you may already know that there are plenty of paid traffic streams, but if you try to drive paid traffic to your site from low quality sources (non-relevant external blogs, cheap pop-up advertising schemes, etc.), you're not going to see a good return on your investment. On the other hand, if you curate and attract high-quality traffic, your conversion rate is going to be much higher.
However, if you're a small business on a shoestring budget, then you likely don't have the resources to experiment with PPC campaigns. In this scenario, it only makes sense to take advantage of the best modern digital marketing tactics, which everyone else turns to as well: social media marketing. Social media is a great way to grow an audience and drive traffic to your website, and you can do it all absolutely free.
But too many people only take advantage of Facebook and Twitter. At the beginning of the year, Instagram was ranked as the seventh most popular social media site by the number of active monthly users, which was 600 million per month. Plus, Instagram is better suited for visual content, but Instagram isn't as intuitive as Twitter or Facebook for small business marketers. So, let's take a look at some of the best Instagram marketing practices.
Reach Out to Influencers and Attempt to Network
You definitely want to try to reach out to influencers in your industry on Instagram in an attempt to network. Do note, however, that some influencers are superstars from various industries (like movie stars or singers) that will likely be unavailable to you. Big brands pay these types of individuals and influencers sponsorship fees in an effort to sell a product.
But that doesn't mean that you can tap into another influencer's audience or be featured on their website or Instagram account. Even a small mention, link to your account, or collaborative project could add a ton of credibility to your Instagram profile and help you establish a stronger social media following.
Don't expect to gain a seven-figure following overnight, but do note that networking with influencers is a great way to expedite your social media strategy.
But do realize that you need to do your due diligence before contacting a seemingly strong “influencer.” Some hucksters have purchased paid followings from dubious organizations to inflate their apparent scope of influence and in turn sell their influence to marketers for big bucks, but you can easily check to make sure their followers were naturally and organically acquired.
Incorporate Instagram Into Your Website and Ecommerce Sites
Whether you use WordPress, Shopify, or Magento, there's an Instagram plugin, tool, or widget that's available for free. You should already have implemented one of the many social media button plugins to make it easier for users to share your content, but you also need to add an Instagram plugin (but only if you're committed to staying active).
Some of the plugins are actually incredibly cutting edge, and will expand your ability to sell products and services. For example, some of the extensions and plugins include features that enable ecommerce websites to make sales through the Instagram app. At any rate, if you're active on Instagram, you need to weave Instagram plugins into your websites' functionality.
Take Full Advantage of Your Bio Text
Naturally, Instagram is an inherently visual social media site and doesn't have a ton of extra space for text, whereas social media platforms like Facebook include fields to describe just about every aspect of your life (name, age, education, school, current location, interests...the list goes on). For that reason, you need to maximize the effectiveness of the limited text you can write on Instagram, starting with your biography section.
One thing I've seen a lot of businesses do on Instagram is to include some sort of Call To Action in their bio. Not only does the Call To Action make the account more transparent by clearing identifying it as a business account, it also encourages visitors and viewers to sign up or join your following.
Promote Partner Accounts, and Encourage them to Do The Same
You'll also want to make sure that you're promoting partners' accounts and posts, but only if it makes sense. For example, you may not want to promote posts and accounts of people in the same industry as you. However, if you already have a working relationship with another user, marketer, or influencer, then it may be mutually beneficial and symbiotic to promote each other's accounts.
But in order for this to work, you need to have separate audiences overlap at least a little bit. For example, a restaurant that orders beer on tap from the local brewery might be able to promote their content, and vice versa. As long as the industries are adjacent and related yet not identical, you'll both be in a position to help each other out. Just make sure that you do honestly like and respect the product or service before putting your stamp of approval on it!
Instagram is still a force to be reckoned with and has well over 600 million active monthly users. I've seen tons of influencers and businesses capitalize on Instagram followings – the only caveat is that you need some sort of inherently visual content. For instance, I've seen tons of clothing brands sharing the latest fashion trends or restaurants posting pictures of their sumptuous food.
It's really another great source of traffic with a higher ROI than traditional advertising channels, especially if you do the work yourself. However, if you lack the skills to manage a social media marketing campaign, then it's time to reach out to a professional. Otherwise, you're missing out on loads of low-cost leads that could be used to grow your business.