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March 9, 2016
Marketing  |  4 min read

Small Business Marketing Solutions: Promoting with Instagram

By Jennifer Gregory

It's a cliché, but a picture is worth a thousand words — especially in marketing.

Instagram is a free smartphone application that has become one of many social media related small business marketing solutions.  It lets users enhance photographs and publish them to social media networks, including Pinterest and Facebook. Companies that use Instagram to share photos with customers are finding it an especially effective tool for promoting new products.

Because you can take the photos from a smartphone and quickly share them with customers who may be following you, they can feel connected to events and happenings in real time.

Here are five tips for using Instagram to promote new products:

1.) Show the Product in Action

By sharing photos illustrating the many uses of a product, you can help customers see how the product could fit into their life. "People respond much more to 'real,' not stock, photos, and to pictures which show your products in use, rather than in 'catalog' form," says Philippa Gamse, author of 42 Rules for a Web Presence That Wins. "If you're promoting a new toy, for example, don't settle for a photo of the toy on its own; show children playing with it."

2.) Think Outside the Box

Since consumers are bombarded with advertisements throughout the day, your Instagram posting will have the most impact if it is not seen as a blatant advertisement. "Instead, use it as a behind-the-scenes platform that you would like to share with your biggest fans," says Amanda Torrey, assistant marketing director and designer at The Tyler Place Family Resort. "Show followers a sneak peek of your new product, take them into the kitchen of your restaurant and to the garden where you grow your produce, or show them the CEO’s office."

3.) Solicit Customer Feedback

Everyone loves to give their opinion, and your customers will feel more vested in a new product if they are asked for feedback. DealDecor, an international group-buying company for furniture, uses Instagram to gauge how much demand there is going to be for a new product. "We do flash sales where our products are only offered for two weeks. The more pins on Pinterest we get of an Instagram photo, the better idea we have about what products people want," says CEO Gregory Lok.

4.) Provide Context and a Call to Action

If you simply post a picture of a new dinner special, but don’t provide any details about the entrée, price or how long it will be offered, then your posting will not translate into sales. Along with a photo, list any enticing details about the product and be sure to tell your customers how to buy it, via either your website or a phone number. “When publishing a picture to Instagram, you can include the location tag, which is linked to your map app, so that people viewing the picture know exactly where your business is located," says Torrey.

5.) Encourage Participation

In addition to posting the photo on your Instagram account, be sure to share the picture on Facebook and Pinterest for maximum exposure. "Instagram's connection with Facebook means there are possible connections ... with very large groups of consumers, so getting 'fans' involved is key," Gamse says. Give your followers an incentive, such as a coupon or special offer, for sharing the photo with their friends.

Another way to use Instagram to get the word out about your new offerings is to hold a contest encouraging customers to post their own Instagram photos of the new product. For example, if your clothing boutique is carrying a line by a new designer, offer a deal to anyone who posts a photo of themselves wearing the clothes and giving ideas on how to accessorize and coordinate them.


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