May 26, 2014

As much fun as Instagram is for sharing photos and seeing other great images, it's also a very powerful tool for businesses. I was honored to be invited to recently host a webinar specifically on how to drive traffic with Instagram. The webinar was a big success and taught numerous business owners how to better utilize my favorite social media site to successfully drive traffic to their websites to grow their businesses.

My friend and fellow social media professional, Brooke Ballard, runs a wonderful company called B Squared Media. On top of all the amazing things she does every day, she also hosts some really awesome webinars to help business owners better find success using social media.

So when she asked me to present an Instagram webinar for her audience, I was excited to participate. We decided to focus on the challenge of driving traffic to your website using Instagram because we both know this is a challenge many people face.

I think we successfully showed the attendees that they can drive traffic with Instagram. It takes a little more work than it does on other sites, but the quality of traffic you get as a result is so worth it!

In the webinar, we covered the following information.

My personal Instagram story

I'm the first to admit I was a late adopter to Instagram. But as I used it more and learned more about its potential, I got hooked. And when I first started using Instagram I wasn't maximizing its potential for growing my business. But that's evolved over time and now I use it to regularly promote my business, my blog posts, and other information about my brand.

4 Reasons Instagram is so Important

If you've read any of my blog posts on Instagram, you already know why I believe it's so important. But I gave these four reasons in the webinar: Visual Marketing, Fastest Growing Social Media Platform (behind Google+), Your Audience IS on Instagram, and it Generates High Quality Leads

6 Factors to Create the Perfect Profile

We covered the 6 key factors that ensure your Instagram profile will successfully drive traffic to your site. You can also read my previous post on this topic for more details.

The first two factors to consider are you name and username. These are the only elements of your bio that Instagram looks at in search queries so make sure your name and username are representative of your business or brand.

The next two factors are your bio description and profile photo. You want these to be appealing and demonstrate the personality behind your brand. This is your "first impression" to connect with people.

The next, very important factor, is to make sure you have your website in the URL link in the bio - this is the only place on Instagram where you can have an active hyperlink.

Finally, you want your profile set to Public, not Private.

7 Ways to Generate Traffic

And, now the real reason we're all here! Here are the 7 ways to drive traffic with Instagram.

  1. Use the link in your bio effectively. This link should be used to send Instagram followers to the most ideal location. This can be a blog page, a home page, a product page, or a lead/landing page. To accurately track clicks, I also recommend you use a custom link (from bit.ly or other services). You need to direct people to this link in your bio in order to really drive traffic - use calls-to-action in your post captions inviting people to click on the link in your bio to get them where you want them to go.
  2. Use appealing images. You want to connect with Instagram users so make sure your images are top quality. They should show your products in an "atmosphere" not just as stand alone items. Use filters and tools to enhance images to blend in well with Instagram. Use a variety of images (behind the scenes, tips and advice, promotions and discounts, celebrations, etc.) to showcase your business.
  3. Use creative videos. Show the real side of your business and your personality through videos. You can use how-to videos, answer frequently asked questions, offer greetings, show celebrations, or use blooper reels even. Use these videos to connect with your audience and recommend they visit your website for more details or information.
  4. Use hashtags. The best way to generate exposure and get more engagement is to use hashtags on Instagram. Find hashtags relevant to your business or industry. Don't use too many - I recommend 5-10 per post. And mix in a variety of popular hashtags as well as less popular hashtags.
  5. Exclusive content. You want to make sure that the images and offers you showcase on Instagram aren't the same things you always promote on other social media sites. Otherwise, there's no reason for people to follow you on Instagram. Share images and videos that followers can only see on Instagram. Offer Instagram exclusive promotions and discounts.
  6. Be active and engaging. If you really want to grow an audience and create brand advocates, Instagram is the place to do that. But you have to be as equally open, engaging, and active with your audience. You want to like and comment on a lot of other people's posts. You want to share content regularly to show your commitment to your audience. When people respond to or comment on your posts, make sure you are engaging with and responding to them. Make sure to @mention them so they see your response. To increase engagement, ask questions and invite conversation through your image captions. And follow people! If you have hundreds or thousands of followers but only follow 10 people, you don't look very social.
  7. Have a strategy! Just like every other social media site, if you don't have a strategy on Instagram, you won't successfully drive traffic, nor will you see much success. You need to know your analytics and what works for your audience. I've repeatedly recommended Iconosquare (formerly Statigram) as a dashboard and comprehensive analytics tool. Beyond that, you need to know who your audience is, why they're on Instagram, and why you're on Instagram. Then figure out what you want to post and when you're going to post.

For more details on all this information, you can review the slides from the webinar presentation here:

So, yes, you can successfully drive traffic with Instagram. It takes a little more work than other sites, but I promise it's worth it! I've seen my business grow and love using Instagram to create a truly engaged audience.

Did you find this helpful? Please share:
  1. Personally I wish marketers would leave Instagram alone. And I say that as someone that blogs with marketing in mind. It’s the one social site that I just want to be social on and I think businesses look kinda lame on Instagram personally.

    The 7 tips to drive traffic are good, but I don’t see how most of them will drive traffic to your website.

    1. I totally understand how you feel, Scott. In fact, I wish more salesly sleazy marketers would stay away from all social media. But they don’t and they won’t. That’s why I’d rather work to educate people on how to use Instagram in a more organic way when marketing. I honestly believe it’s more about relationships and well crafted images than it is about “selling” via each post.
      That being said, those 7 steps are more about developing those “good” behaviors so that when you do direct people via a call-to-action, they are more likely to respond and engage. We covered a lot more tips and details in the live webinar on these methods.

    2. Scott’s got a good point about the type of experience Instagram users have come to know, and businesses who come off lame definitely don’t fit in with that idea. With that in mind, I know a few businesses doing it right.

      They use great photography, are creative, and most importantly- remain engaging. If you’d like to see a sample of my favorites, check out @threadless, @society6, and definitely @theonion.

      1. Thanks Aaron! I’m gonnna have to go check out those accounts. It is definitely about incorporating good photography and being well engaged with their audience.

  2. As much as I enjoyed reading it, I think the title is a bit misleading – except for the first point. There are great tips to strategically create a loyal and real Instagram following here, but they wouldn’t drive traffic – at least, directly.
    Thanks anyway, Jenn 🙂

    1. The points I mentioned were covered in much more detail in the webinar – including the suggestion to use blooper videos on Instagram but asking followers to visit your website to see the whole, real video. I didn’t cover all the details in this post, because then what’s the point of signing up for the live webinars? 😉
      I’m glad you enjoyed the article though!

  3. Those seven tips Jen are awesome but just like Behrouz mentioned in his comment I too don’t see how these steps will drive traffic to your website. I still find Instagram mysterious honestly. However, thanks a ton for putting these all up. I like your Slideshare presentation too.

    On the other note our blog layout looks almost the same 😉 I love Studiopress as well 😉

    Cheers!

    1. As I mentioned to Behrouz, there are plenty of ways that each of these steps can be used to drive traffic. I do share a lot of information here on my blog, but I also reserve high level tactics for webinars and training sessions. Therefore, I didn’t give specific examples of how each of these methods can drive traffic in this blog post – but in the live webinar we did cover detailed tactics that could be used to drive traffic. These included specific calls-to-action, various types of overlays on images, types of videos that invite people to visit your website and much more.
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post and the SlideShare notes too 🙂

  4. Interesting article and I’m glad I found something on the topic. But as far as driving traffic, why would you waste your time on Instagram when you have sites like Facebook, and even pinterest which are way more effective at driving traffic. I see Instagram as a way to brand your business or product. You basically have one outgoing link; if you had a huge fan base you probably would get a decent amount people clicking on it, but take that same Fanbase to Facebook, Instagram or even Twitter and it would blow this thing away. sorry if I sound negative, I just don’t see investing the time, as a matter fact I would invest time in Google plus over this because you can’t drive traffic. Just my opinion.

    1. Hi Ray! Thank you so much for your comment. Rather than ramble here, I’ve actually answered you directly in this Monday’s upcoming blog post. I hope you’ll check back here Monday morning (it goes live at 7:00 am PDT) for more of my thoughts in response.
      However, really quickly, if someone is only going to focus on one site, then Instagram may not be their best option. And even if they have multiple platforms, IG may still not be for them.
      But, if they are willing to invest their time into IG, they’ll find more active fan bases than any other site (15x more engaged than Facebook fans) and higher quality leads (average IG referral sales are over $65 – higher than any other social media site referral).
      Building relationships is key on IG and if a brand is willing to take the time to invest in those relationships, the rewards are beyond what many see on other social media sites.

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