Believe it or not, there is more to Instagram than posting that great selfie or a picture of your mouth-watering dinner from last night. According to Nielsen, 46% of buyers check social media before making a purchase decision. And a 2015 study conducted by Simply Measured found that 59 percent of the world’s top brands are now active on Instagram. By following these simple guidelines, you can turn your photos into profit.

1. Host a photo contest
Photo contests are a great way to generate business on your Instagram because they engage followers by giving them an incentive. Travelocity’s #1wannago campaign is a great example. The campaign encouraged people to hashtag their photos with their dream destinations in the hopes of winning a grand prize trip. The campaign not only led to users creating free buzz for the company, but also increased Travelocity’s social impressions from 158 million to 200 million in three months and increased purchase consideration by 11 percent.

2. Get users to buy- and make it simple
Technology has made buying easier than ever. With apps such as ShopStyle.It and LikeToKnowIt, once you “like” a photo on Instagram, you are emailed a direct link to the page where you can purchase the product. Companies such as Nordstrom include reference numbers with each product they post, so that users can easily purchase items. Make sure your Instagram is tied into this trend so that your customers can purchase your products in just a few clicks.

3. Give your followers a behind-the-scenes tour
Make your Instagram followers feel special by keeping them in the know and giving them a look at your company’s culture. Hosting a launch party? Show your followers. Hired a new employee? Introduce them. This will not only humanize your brand, but will also build your follower’s trust.

4. Let your customers do your advertising for you
Companies such as GoPro set the Instagram bar high by posting high-quality, action-packed photos and videos filmed and uploaded directly by their customers. This type of user-generated content proved to be 20 percent more influential on purchasing decisions according to SocialBro.

Wondering if this type of marketing can work just as well for non-technology products? Just look at Sharpie, who used Instagram to share hand-drawn Sharpie artwork from fans racking up over 1,000 likes on each photo. You see, a picture really is worth a 1,000 words.

by: Rachel Sharpe

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