Instagram: An Intro to Organic Social Media Marketing

Photo by Luke van Zyl on Unsplash

As you can imagine, there are a ton of ways to promote your product online. Social media might be the first thing you think of when you hear “digital marketing,” but email and media content are also valuable avenues for marketing. Depending on how you use these channels to promote your subscription box, results from social media marketing can be organic – that is, free – or paid.

Marketing on a budget? Cratejoy can show you how to promote your business with any level of funding.

Instagram, in particular, can seem a hard nut to crack. It’s up there with Facebook as one of the most popular social media platforms, so the opportunity there to grow your brand exposure and — hopefully — sales is huge. But that can also make it a little more nervewracking to take risks with your posts, because the impact (in either direction) could be significant.

Pro tip? Don’t be afraid. Instagram is the perfect place to show the faces of your business behind the scenes. The more you do it — in conjunction with strong product and lifestyle imagery — the more followers you’ll get.

On Instagram, you can post two different ways: through the standard feed or through Instagram Stories. Either way allows you to post images, video clips, or “carousel” (i.e. manual slideshow) ads. We recommend testing both formats — a lot — before deciding on how you’d like to set up any formal ads.

Instagram Stories

We can’t say it enough: take advantage of Instagram Stories. According to June 2018 data from Instagram, over 400 million users watch IG Stories daily! (And that number will have only gone up since then.) Stories are a series of “cards” (images or clips) that stay at the top of the Instagram feed for 24 hours before disappearing, unless you choose to “highlight” (save) the story to your profile. This format allows your posts to be more timely and playful! They could be especially useful for running a giveaway or featuring subscriber unboxings. You can’t post too much on Stories.

For that matter, try out polls on your Stories. This can be a fun, fast and easy way to utilize community feedback and engagement. Some subscribers may not be willing to fill out a complete survey, but a one-question poll on Instagram provides a lower barrier to entry and could net you feedback from leads, too. It shows you care about the subscriber experience and want to improve!

Experiment! Because Stories only last for 24 hours, it’s a more laid-back posting channel than the regular feed. In other words, your imagery doesn’t need to look as professional; have fun with it and try new things! See what works (and what doesn’t) to engage your audience.

Tips for Instagram Ads

  • Post often and familiarize yourself with your audience. Instagram Ads can cost different rates depending on the mobile format you use, so it’s good for that reason – among others – to know your audience. If you aren’t getting as many views on the video posts in your regular Instagram feed, for example, it may not be worth funneling the money into that ad type.
  • Know your objective. Do you want to convert leads, raise brand awareness, or get click-throughs to your Marketplace listing?
  • Make your ads look like “native” Instagram posts. Native advertising allows you to present the people behind the brand, which helps you connect with your followers.
  • Make your official ads “shoppable.” In the Instagram mobile app, you can include a “Shop Now” banner to the bottom of your ad. Tapping the banner will redirect the user to the product’s page on your online storefront, where they may follow through on their purchase. Recently, Instagram also introduced the ability to tag products in images, as well, so users can view the price before deciding to shop. (See our example below.)
  • Consider syncing your ads with Facebook. To create an Instagram business profile, you’ll have to link your business’s Facebook Page. This makes it easy to create ads for both platforms through the Facebook Ads Manager. There’s no real downside here; syncing ads cuts down on your time spent setting them up and definitely widens your brand’s reach! You can view analytics across channels in Ads Manager.
  • Promote your ads on a “Standard” schedule. This allows your ads to be shown at an even pace throughout the time period you select. It’s more cost-effective and consistent than the “Accelerated” scheduling option, which shows your ads as fast as possible.
  • A/B test your single-image ads. Did you know you can build six different ads using the same image? Well, the Facebook Ads Manager allows that. Test your ad copy and CTAs to optimize ads in the future.
  • If you can afford it, automate your product photography. See how Sparkle Hustle Grow did this and crushed the Instagram game in our case study. 

Examples of Strong Instagram Ads

Let’s take a look at an Instagram ad from local Austin bookstore Malvern Books:

You can tell this is an official advertisement, rather than a post from this bookstore, because it’s noted as “Sponsored.” However, it looks like a native post, up to its friendly caption. For someone who follows this bookstore on the site, it’s targeted perfectly; the user wouldn’t necessarily recognize this as a formal ad.

On the contrary, this is not actually an ad: it’s a native post. However, this functions like an ad for this Austin food magazine, using a gorgeous image to evoke the taste and texture of goat cheese for its foodie audience. Like in the previous example, it has a friendly caption that’s relevant to local audiences.

Torrid, a popular plus-size fashion chain, offers a classic example of a shoppable ad here. Instead of going with a carousel effect, the brand uses a trifold layout to showcase three very different (albeit complementary) looks you can craft with Torrid’s clothing. The likes offer social proof of Torrid’s success, and the caption offers both a value proposition and an incentive: cutting-edge styles for a discount.  

This slideshow video “ad” — actually a regular Instagram post — from Influenster, a mega-popular product review & influencer brand, does an excellent job showing off new products from a partner company. The stop-motion style of the video clip is cute and fun, while the carousel-style setup of the post inspires viewers to sign up for Influenster’s reviewer program. The bright colors and imagery leaves the user thinking, “Maybe I, too, could get free products for honest review!”

Want more tips? Check out our best practice guide to marketing on Instagram and get your first 1,000 followers ASAP.

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