Since its release in 2010, Instagram has been growing and evolving in wonderful (and sometimes strange) ways. Today, with more than 200 million monthly active users, Instagram has become a viable business tool for many creative entrepreneurs.
“The response [to my efforts to promote my painting tutorials on Instagram] has been very positive and I feel Instagram is a fantastic platform to advertise off of… It’s a wonderful way to connect and share, let alone build your identity.”
“I think that a lot of my followers wouldn’t have seen my process painting available on Gumroad if I hadn’t posted it on Instagram…Instagram is such a fast and visual medium that putting links to Gumroad tutorials is only natural and welcome.”
To help you make the most of Instagram, we’ve compiled 7 best practices for engaging your customers on the platform. These strategies and tips range from building your Instagram audience to promoting your work in the platform. Read on to learn how Dan, Victoria, and five other Gumroad creators use Instagram to connect with their audiences and to promote their work.
1) Post often
Post photos regularly to grab the attention of new and existing followers. Posting a photo daily is a good place to start. Just remember that Instagram is built around beautiful and creative photos. When in doubt, “quality over quantity” is a good guideline to keep in mind.
If you’re in need of inspiration for what to post, try having fun with a project based series of photos. For example, Victoria Ying started 7 Days of Color. Every day for four weeks, she posted a painting that was a different color of the rainbow. The project was a great way for Victoria to stay motivated and it gave her audience a story to follow.
“Project based posts are always a great way to get attention and build participation amongst your community! With #7daysofcolor I was shocked at how many other people started to participate in the project with me! It was so much fun and I felt like it was a great way to get connected to other artists.”
2) Post consistent content
Develop defining elements of your account. If you’re consistent with the content of your photos, the filters you use, and how you caption your photos, you’ll start to be seen as a leader in a particular area. Use hashtags to help users interested in your content focus discover your Instagram feed.
The Instagram feed of professional wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas consists entirely of breathtaking photos of wild animals, making it a great account to follow for anyone interested in wildlife or photography. To help users discover his photos, Will uses popular hashtags such as #nature and #safariphotos in his captions.
3) Deliver value to your followers through your posts
This value can be delivered in the form of inspiration or education. If you’re an athlete, post photos of your progress towards a fitness goal or post a video showing proper push-up form. If you’re an artist, give followers a glimpse of your artistic process or post a short how-to video.
Lina Saber, the creator behind bysaber (an Instagram account dedicated to all things health, skin, and nutrition), has gained a massive following by using photo captions and videos to share delicious recipes with her audience. Plus, because Lina’s followers see her account as a place to learn, she was able to very successfully launch a product, The 40-Day Skin Clearing Detox, on Instagram.
4) Post relevant content leading up to launch
Let your followers know about what you’re working on before it launches. Use Instagram posts to get your audience excited about what you’re working on. The goal is to convince your followers they want to buy your work ahead of time.
Blogger Abby Lewis used Instagram to periodically updated her followers on the status of her book Building a Framework: Everything I Learned My First Year of Blogging. A month before launch, Abby started by announcing a “secret project”. Throughout the following weeks, Abby shared additional information and posted progress photos. By launch day, Abby’s followers were excited to finally be able to purchase her book — and knew exactly when and how to do so.
5) Use descriptive photos and captions
Use pictures that highlight exactly what followers will get from your product. If you’re an author, show your book’s cover or use a photo of someone reading your book. If you’re a chef, post a photo of the cake that follower’s can bake if they buy your recipes. If you’re a filmmaker, use a still from a scene in your film. In your photo’s caption, be sure to include the essential details: product name, product price, and where to buy the product.
When sharing his painting tutorials on Instagram, Dan Luvisi uses Gumroad product page cover images. Dan’s photo captions include each tutorial’s name and price, as well as the URL of the product page.
6) Link directly to your work in your Instagram bio
Because the majority of Instagram traffic occurs on mobile devices, it’s especially important to make it as easy as possible for your followers to get from the Instagram post promoting your work to a page where they can actually buy your product. A great way to do this is by linking directly to your product page in your Instagram bio (since your bio is the only place where hyperlinks are allowed). If you choose to link to your website instead of directly to a product page, keep in mind that minimizing clicks is the best way to maximize conversion rates.
7) Use limited-time offers
Setting up offer codes can be a great way to thank your Instagram followers for their support of your work. They can also serve to encourage your followers to go through with a purchase on launch day, or be used to market your work and boost sales post launch.
Brandan Schieppati, founder of Rise Above Fitness, periodically sets up offer codes to give his followers discounts on particular training programs. Rather than promoting offers on launch day, Brandan uses offers to drive sales months after releasing his training programs.
That’s it for today. We hope to see you putting these strategies into practice on Instagram soon!