October 7, 2015

The image-centric social media platform celebrates its 5th birthday this week. Here’s how it can help you showcase your store and inventory.

As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. And Instagram proves that in spades, with the mix of photos, GIFs and videos that abound in users’ feeds. The platform, which was purchased by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012, boasts “300 million active users sharing 30 billion photos per month.”

Instagram hasn’t been a large advertising medium in the past, as Facebook has been slow to monetize it. But the company rolled out broader advertising opportunities in June that are changing that. It’s important for retailers to understand how to best engage their customers through this platform before using it. Here are some tips for effectively using this platform to showcase your business and products:

1. Be authentic.

This is the most critical component for any social media platform. Although promotions are necessary for your business, your customers need to feel connected to your brand first. “Emphasize experiences over your products,” says Business 2 Community’s Lucy Xu, and followers will be more likely to engage with marketing efforts down the line.

2. Give behind-the-scenes coverage.

Hosting a special event? Make followers feel like they’re part of the action with action photos like the one Ace Hardware took at one of its blogger workshops to showcase Amy Howard’s One Step Paint. https://instagram.com/p/8Qu6ABJh93/?taken-by=acehardware

3. Think beyond products.

Beauty shots look great on Instagram, but consider mixing things up with more lifestyle-oriented image. For example, this hidden bunny image from True Value may serve to subtly remind customers of why they want to shop at your store. https://instagram.com/p/5kaPYlKES8/?taken-by=truevalue

4. Regram customers’ photos.

What better way to make your store feel like a top destination for hardware supplies than by reposting actual images taken by shoppers in your store. Home Depot definitely makes sure you can picture yourself strolling through the aisle with kids in tow on a Saturday morning with this image. https://instagram.com/p/6dKbYsAF5T/?taken-by=homedepot

5. Provide specifics.

If you are using product-centric images, make sure to include enough details so that customers can easily find the product in your store. That can be done through profile links or, as Lowe’s did here, a product code embedded in the caption. https://instagram.com/p/7Q3CrVt-Cf/?taken-by=loweshomeimprovement

Be sure to follow National Hardware Show and Industry Edge on Instagram for more inspiration and ideas to fuel your feed as well.

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