Winning Followers and Making Sales on Instagram
Instagram is no joke in the MENA region. With over 60 million users located in the region — or about 10 percent of Instagram’s total users worldwide — building a successful account and store on Instagram can be your ticket to success. It’s important to realize you can’t treat Instagram like any other site or channel. Instagram is unique on the internet, and understanding what makes the platform different is essential to getting the most out of it.
It’s about the Instagram Experience
What makes Instagram so popular is that it’s an experience. For users, from the moment they pick up their phone and start scrolling through the app to the moment they close it, they feel as if their content has been curated to perfectly project their personalities. Instagram does this with the use of some smart algorithms highlighted in a report released earlier this year.
From the report, marketers need to know three important factors that guide how Instagram curates a user’s feed.
• Post Recency: It’s no longer about chronology the way it used to be, but “recency” is still a major factor in who sees what. Recent posts get a higher ranking than older posts, and rankings slowly fade the older a post gets.
• User-Page Interaction: The more a user interacts with your page, the higher your content will appear on their feed. Getting your audience to comment and like is absolutely critical.
• User-Industry Interaction: This is something you can’t control: how much the user interacts with pages that are similar to yours. As a cosmetics store, for example, you want your users to like and engage with other cosmetics stores and brands, as well.
Become a Part of That Experience
These factors and others are in place to help curate a user’s feed so it’s something they will enjoy. Things they like and things that are new are prioritized over other factors. This can make it difficult to get started on Instagram, but also how you get momentum once you get rolling on Instagram. One day you might have 50 followers, and the next you might have 5,000.
But how do you get that first 50?? Remember: it’s about the experience. No one wants to see a store obnoxiously selling goods and cluttering up their feed – that’s the way you anger potential customeres and ruin any opportunity to start a relationship with them.
Instead, aim to become a part of the positive Instagram experience. Generate content that users want to see and be a part of, and you’ll be winning followers and making sales in no time.
Encourage Community Growth
As you’re on the hunt for likes and comments, you need to convince your followers to engage and interact more directly with your posts through comments. Check out this post by Whole Foods.
This post works well in part because it starts off with a visually-pleasing image that users will want to engage with. Not only that, but it frames itself as a quick game by asking users to identify everything in the picture.
Respond to Your Comments and DMs
It’s been said before, but there is top value in responding to the comments and direct messages you get on your account. Not only does a reply show your customer that you actually care about developing a one-on-one relationship, regardless of whether they buy your products, but it also shows everyone else that you are willing to become a part of the community.
Once you prove that you’re here to be part of the experience and not just to profit off an audience, your followers will be more open to helping you grow. And you don’t need to wait for long, thoughtful comments or even angry complaints to send a reply. Even a simple emoji can get a reply — the point is to show that you’re there.
Join Community Hashtags
Community hashtags work for you in two ways: They give you an easy opportunity to do something alongside the rest of your community, and they increase the chance that customers will discover you. You manage to be fun, relevant and hip, while spreading content at the same time.
Partner with Influencers
Influencer marketing is powerful, nowhere more than in the Middle East. Influencers in MENA have found huge success on Instagram, making the region home to the highest paid social influencers in the world. Dubai-based make-up artist Huda Kattan charges brands $18,000 for a single post.
And marketers in the region pay that much because it works. One study found that in the UAE, over 40 percent of marketers expect to spend more than $10,000 for a single partnered influencer campaign. A single post or shout-out from a top influencer in your market can put millions of eyes immediately on your brand. So it’s no wonder marketers are spending top dollar for a single post.
Conclusion: Be Ready for the Long Haul
Successful Instagram marketing might be foreign to you. But it’s about joining a community, becoming a relevant voice and producing content that pleases, not manipulates. In other words, it’s about building trust — and trust requires patience.
Expect to spend months publishing high-quality content on your page before truly seeing results. When those results do come, you’ll see it was worth the time and effort.