In 2010 Instagram launched as a social network for sharing photos. By now, the platform has grown into a central marketing tool for many companies - and also small retailers can greatly benefit from using it. Besides offering the opportunity present a brand or company itself and provide a look behind the scenes, Instagram is a valuable channel for direct interaction with existing and future customers.

Why Instagram?

Every day, 95 million pictures and videos are shared on Instagram, 1 billion people are active on the platform worldwide every month. Over 25 million of the registered accounts are registered as business users.

Many companies have found their way to Instagram over the past few years to present themselves and their products. Above all, to provide insights behind the scenes and interact with customers on a close and personal level. The majority of Instagram accounts is still made up by private users who share their personal memories and opinions. This is one of the main reasons why small retail companies can benefit from engaging on the social media platform.

Connect with customers beyond opening hours

Unlike retail chains, which often also have an online shop in addition to a large number of stores, retailers usually rely solely on direct contact with customers in the shop to complete sales. If this breaks away, for example because a store has to be temporarily closed, there is an immediate loss of income. The presence on social media platforms can have a positive effect in such situations and also increase the number of sales in general in the long term.

200 million Instagram users visit at least one business profile every day. 62% of users state that they have been more interested in a brand after viewing Instagram stories. Another 81% say that organic content on Instagram has had a positive impact on their purchasing decisions before.

Create personal shopping experiences without personal contact

Especially when buying products for the first time, many customers value extensive product descriptions and a holistic presentation. The traditional Trachten manufacturer Cocovero form Germany shows how this can also work outside of a traditional store through a combination of online advice and effectively used Instagram content.

CocoVero also uses the brand's own Instagram channel to present products. Customers who follow the brand there regularly receive inspiration and incentives to buy, even outside the regular online shop. The pictures, for example of employees from the flaghip store presenting individual Dirndls, seamlessly flow into the regular Instagram Feed of those following the brand or may even be displayed on the Explore Page for other users. This form of Instagram Marketing works without being obtrusive or looking too much like an advertisement but yet creates brand awareness. 

Instagram as a fast and personal communication channel

The Hamburg hotel and restaurant group east shows how direct and personal customer contact can work via Instagram. While updating a website often takes a lot of time and may require technical knowledge, an Instagram post with a suitable description is easily created and uploaded in just the blink of an eye.

Activate your Customer Community on Instagram

The easiest way to quickly reach your own customer community - provided you have contact info on your customers and they have agreed to the use of their data - is via email. A short message can be used to communicate key information such as the name of your Instagram account and an associated branded hashtag. When creating such an email and sending it out, always make sure to pay attention to the encryption of personal data and ideally create an e-mail distribution list. 

In Store

The most obvious way to draw the attention of customers to a new social media account are notifications in your own store. Ideally, where customers tend to spend a little more time, for example in changing rooms or near the cash register. A well-placed notice in the shop window is also a good option to reach potential customers who are strolling past outside of your opening hours.

Campaigns & Give-Aways

A particularly good way to increase the impact of the two approaches mentioned above is to link them to competitions. You can find a few examples of this in our blog post on Easter campaigns on Instagram.

Build up Reach in the long term
Post continuosly

Instagram operates on the basis of various algorithms that control which content is displayed to whom, when and where. Routine and consistent posting of content leads to a profile being classified as more relevant, which in turn leads to posts being displayed more prominently to followers. The Instagram feed is not arranged chronologically, but according to implied relevance to the respective user.

Interact with other Users

Commenting on other users' posts or simply tapping the "like" button draws attention to your account and increases its reach. More importantly, however, interacting with your own customers as a brand creates a personal relationship that often also has a positive effect on customer loyalty. In addition, the interaction with others can also lead to more interaction with your own posts in return, which also increases the relevance of your account for Instagram.

Prompt to share

Feed posts can easily be shared in Instagram Stories with reference to the account that has originally uploaded them. The sharing of content within Instagram can significantly increase the reach of this content and thereby contributes to new users seeing it, who might not have been aware of the products and services displayed yet.

The German Initiative Digitale Luftbrücke currently offers a range of free tips and guidelines for digital marketing beginners in retail. You will also be able to find our detailed whitepaper on Instagram Basics for small businesses, including examples and a checklist there soon.

More on the Topic:

Blogpost: How To Create an Instagram Business Account

Blogpost: 10 Tools for Creative Instagram Posts

Whitepaper: squarelovin Analytics