Rock the Social Media Boat: Using Instagram to Promote Apparel
Are you running your own apparel business? Having any trouble building your brand? How do you prefer to get your name out there? If you haven't already started using Instagram, it's time to dive in and make that splash.
Instagram's platform is excellent for creating a "lookbook" of your line and pulling in the casual browsers that can turn into impulse buys and lazy-day sales. If you're still not sure how to pull it off, here are a few places you can put your focus.
Shoring Up Your Sales Strategy
Before you do anything else, you need to have a plan laid out for everything regarding posting your custom apparel online. How your posts should look, when you're going to post them, where you'll cross-post them to, and why you're posting them are all pieces that come into play in different ways. It's important to post on a regular basis, but you'll have to be careful not to spam your users, and if you're going to be posting one or two things a day, you'll need to have your buffer posts ready to go.
Instagram's setup means you'll have to take a different approach to marketing and selling, and the no-hyperlinks policy means you'll either have to look into an alternative way to set your sales up or make the setup work for you. One option, when it comes to sales and promotions, is focusing entirely on the images. If you can customize your clothes, you can customize your promotions. Include major information related to the sale in your image and use the caption to cover all possible details. If it's an Instagram-specific sale, you should also try to avoid using a hard-to-type coupon code, and make sure to advertise the sale elsewhere. Crossposting to other platforms can bring in sales and boost your follower count.
You can also use outside apps that assist with in-app shopping, or you can look into Instagram's own sales system, Instagram Shopping. Instagram is designed to keep users browsing through gorgeous pictures, not clicking links that take them off to other locations. Being as clear as you can in the post itself helps cut down on customer service issues and limits the number of potential buyers who might drop out due to complexity. Plan for your target audience. When are they usually online? What kinds of posts get their attention, and when? Certain events might appeal to them more than others, and when you know what interests them, you'll know when and where you should be advertising.
Prepare for Engagement
If you can figure out the optimal posting times for your specific audience, you'll have an easier time bringing them in, but there's more to customer interaction than that. When you give a customer personal attention, you're making them feel involved in your business. User-generated content can sometimes be more valuable than the posts you create yourself. It works as "social proof" and shows your target market that you're paying attention to what they say and do. Check the hashtags associated with your brand, and if you find an image featuring your custom t-shirts that you absolutely love, there's no harm in asking politely if you can feature it on your own account. Tag your new favourite Instagrammer in to help boost their account and use it as an opportunity to get people talking about your own designs.
Hashtags are another way to work that high engagement angle. Use them to track interest in your products and discover the tags people use alongside your main one. If you're seeing an uptick in the #sweetsixteen hashtag alongside the hashtag for your own Canadian t-shirt company, try coming up with some sample designs and putting them in the same hashtag. It's better not to over tag, but you can sneak a few extra in by turning regular words in your post into hashtags to make them seem a little more "organic."
Certain promotions, like custom tee giveaways, can also help increase social media attention and bring new followers in. Base your giveaways around popular topics for your followers or events that matter to them. Giveaways are a great instant boost for attention and popularity, and if you're smart about your follow-through, they can keep boosting hype even after the event has ended. Announce the giveaway winner via Instagram, and then follow up with them for some user-generated content. What kind of shirt did they decide on? Was it for a particular event? If you can attend an event, it's a great opportunity to get shots of your design out in the wild, but if you can't, ask users to tag you in their photos or pass some pictures along.
Go Pro with Your Instagram Skills
For those of you who are already social media superstars, take this opportunity to figure out how much Instagram is worth to you. How many of your sales are coming from your Instagram profile as opposed to your other advertising locations and social media accounts? If a large portion of your customer base lives on Instagram, it might be time to consider advertising there as well. You'll be able to use the data generated by these advertisements to track potential customers and find out what their interests are.
Not interested in advertising? There are plenty of other ways to level up your game.
• Be an early adopter: Use new features regularly to draw interest and attention to your brand.
• Go for easy engagement: Give users a quick way to interact with your content, like voting on a post about potential custom clothing colours with their favourite emoji.
• Call in the cavalry: When you put up something interesting, suggest that people tag their friends in the comments.
• Make yourself real: Going somewhere important? Planning an event? Tag your location and let people know what your company does for fun.
This year, take some time to appreciate social media for what it is: a whole new way to reach out and connect.