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3 key Instagram blunders retailers should steer clear of

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3 key Instagram blunders retailers should steer clear of
Higor Torchia, Country Manager for Vend in the UK and EMEA

Instagram is fast becoming a hugely important sales channel for retailers – as a way to showcase your store and brand, market new products and promotions, and even tap into social selling. If you’re marketing on Instagram, chances are you’re in it because you want increase customer engagement, followers, and ultimately, revenue.

That’s why it’s important that brands constantly interact with their community and come up with creative ways to draw attention, likes, and even sales. But retailers also need to be careful with how they do this. Being too aggressive, or running Instagram initiatives without thinking them through can cost you your fans and reputation.

1. Using customer photos without permission

User-generated content is gold for brands, which is why you should make it habit to scour the Instagram universe for fan photos that you could use to promote your store. Once you find pictures that you’d like to use though, get consent from the people who originally posted the images to ensure that they’re ok with you using their photos. Failing to take this step can lead to upset customers and bad press.

What to do instead
You can avoid this Instagram faux pas simply by asking people’s permission before using their images. This can be as easy as commenting on the user’s post.

Another option is to create an official hashtag, and make it clear that users who tag their photos using the said hashtag are giving you consent to use the images.

And when you see customers who are constantly sharing great photos of your products, consider building a relationship with them. Reach out to these individuals directly, thank them for helping spread the word about your brand, and send them a token of appreciation (like gift cards). Doing so will not only score you extra points with the customer, but you’ll encourage them to keep generating content for your brand.

2. Failing to disclose sponsored content

Influencer marketing – the practice of collaborating with influential people within a community – is very common on Instagram. Doing this can help your brand tap into much wider audiences, and gain recognition and credibility. Usually, companies strike up agreements wherein the influencer posts something about the brand in exchange for products, free experiences, or even money.

There’s nothing wrong with influencer marketing. In fact, it can be an effective tactic to put yourself in front of a relevant audience. However, problems may arise if the people you team up with fail to disclose that they’re posting sponsored content. Followers will be quick to catch on, and will feel like your brand and the influencer are being dishonest, which can easily damage your reputation.

What to do instead
Be very transparent about sponsorship campaigns that you’re running with influencers. See to it that they fully disclose their relationship with your brand by tagging their posts with hashtags like “#ad” or “#sponsored”).

3. Purchasing fake followers

It’s understandable to want to grow your follower count as quickly as possible, but this process may take time. Strive to organically grow your Instagram presence by posting great content and connecting with your audience in relevant and creative ways.

Sure, this route takes work and you likely won’t get hundreds or thousands of followers overnight (unless you’re Taylor Swift). But if you do the legwork, you’ll find that the followers you gain are ones who are genuinely interested in your brand and are more likely to buy from you. Which means the effort you put in to each post will be far more likely to actually lead to a sale or customer.

Whatever you do, do not purchase followers. Social networks periodically crack down on fake accounts and the firms that sell them, so while buying followers might give you a nice follower count to look at, it’s likely it will be temporary.

What to do instead
Start by posting great-looking pictures. Invest in growing your photography skills, or hire someone who takes Instagram-worthy photos. Be sure to listen to your audience. What kinds of images do they want to see? How do they respond to different content types? Get the answers to these questions then incorporate them into your strategy.
Also, explore ways to engage with the community. Run contests, encourage user-generated content, or team up with relevant accounts.

There’s isn’t a one-size fits all Instagram strategy, as each retailer is different. The best way to figure Instagram out is to try different things and see what works.

By Higor Torchia, the Country Manager for retail software Vend

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