6 Ingenious Instagram Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Ecommerce Business Fast

6 Ingenious Instagram Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Ecommerce Business Fast

By Matthew Round

Yesterday I locked myself in a room and listened to hardstyle. It would give most people a headache, but the repetition helps me concentrate, weirdly.

After lots of brainstorming, research, coffee tea (what can I say, I’m British) and procrastination. Here it is: 6 Ingenious Instagram Marketing Strategies.

Getting noticed on Instagram is hard and it usually involves throwing cash at Influencers or Instagram ads. This is expensive, and frankly, I think it’s boring.

Of course, you could try to grow organically with just great photos and hashtags.

But you don’t want to.

That’s like mowing a lawn with just your fingers. In fact, 70% of Instagram users have less than 1,000 followers, and most do just this.

Purple Cow concept by Seth Godin for ecommerce
Like how contrasting colours and unique shapes grab our attention in a cluttered painting. In a busy world, only creative and unorthodox ideas executed by bold individuals produce quick results.

With this is mind, this list only contains exciting, novel and effective ideas.

Want to learn how to think of ingenious marketing strategies and PR stunts on your own? Then make sure you’re subscribed because you don’t miss out when we release the article soon.

1 - The Testimony Hijack Strategy

Testimonies are a proven link building tactic endorsed by SEO’s like Brian Dean and Rob Powell.

And now it’s common place to see testimonials being used in content marketing.

And for good reason:

63% of people trust testimonials completely or some-what compared with only 42% of consumers who trust social media advertisements.

Consumers trust testimonies more than traditional TV advertising.

Testimonies are the most effective way to get consumers to buy, with 69% of respondents stating they would take an action based on online testimonies.

Luxy Hair Instagram Testimonials
Luxy Hair uses testimonials on Instagram as part of their content marketing strategy

In fact, the most common Instagram post for medium sized brands like Luxy Hair are testimonials?

Why?

It works:

77% of shoppers prefer customer photos over professional ones when deciding to purchase

All of this means, when you create an engaging testimonial, brands are willing to post it all over their social media and website.

And the best part is, they tag you to prove you’re a real person.

Does it work?

Yes.

People who post a testimony on Luxy Hair increase their daily new followers by over 1300%. Not bad for a quick video and a few paragraphs.

And you can do even better.

Usually, customers are bad at marketing themselves in testimonials.

By being creative to pique interest it’s possible to gain 1000s of new followers using this method.

Now I know what you’re thinking:

“if I post a testimonial with my personal account it’s not going to promote my business”.

And that’s why we use the testimony hijacking strategy.

It’s really simple.

How the Testimony Hijack Strategy Works

Step 1: create a list of 20 indirect competitors

The best ones sell products that complement yours. For example, if I sold hair straighteners, I would add Luxy Hair to my list.

This gives you the opportunity to do some sneaky product placement:

Hi everyone, I’ve just bought a pair of Luxy Hair extensions and I’ve finished styling them with [your product] and they look fabulous…

Finding brands to hijack is easy.

I searched for “best fitness brands for women” and quickly discovered Women’s Best.

Google search for best fitness brands for women

Step 2: research

If you want to increase your chances of your testimony being shared, it’s essential to research.

  • Does the brand post testimonials? If not, you could sell the idea to them by explaining the benefits.
  • What’s the brands mission statement and value proposition?
  • What do the other testimonials have in common?
  • If possible, get the name and email of the person responsible for social media.

Step 3: choose who to hijack

Choose the best brand to hijack based on your research.

Step 4: get your hands on the product

If you own it, great.

If not:

  • See if any of your friends or family own it
  • Ask for one in exchange for a testimony. Usually this only works if you have a considerable following. But, it’s always worth a try.
  • Way up whether it’s worth purchasing. Check their returns policy too (if you know what I mean).

Step 5: create the testimony

Create an engaging, truthful testimony that the brand will love to share.

Tips:

  • Don’t forget to subtly mention your product or business (leave a comment below if you want some examples).
  • It’s best to show your face on camera. Did you know photos with faces get 35% more likes?
  • Smile

5. Contact them with a link to your video

Attach it to the email, or if it’s too big, upload it to Dropbox and include the link in the email .

Hi [name or brand], I’ve recently purchased your [product] and it’s a life saver.

I’ve never done this before, but I noticed you post testimonials and I wanted to let others know how it changed my life.

I would be happy if you would like to post this too.

You can check the video out here: [url to video]

Thanks again,

Matt

Step 6: they post your testimonial

If they are a good brand and they like the video, they will post it on multiple channels. They wouldn’t want to let down a brand advocate, would they?

Step 7: the day it goes live

Comment and engage on the post. This is a great opportunity to subtly advertise yourself and your product.

Step 8: if you don’t get a reply, send them a follow-up email a few days later

Did you like the Testimony Hijacking strategy? If you did, please consider sharing it.

2 - The Giveaway Syndicate Strategy

According to Wishpond, giveaways are still the fastest way to grow your audience. But you can do better, 5x better with the Giveaway Syndicate Strategy.

Before we explore the Syndicate Strategy, let’s take a look at how effective traditional giveaways are.

Check out the daily followers of Hydro Flask below and try and spot which month they launched a giveaway.

Hydroflask giveaway Instagram follower increase
Data provided by Social Blade

 

If you guessed December, you’d be right.

Hydroflask giveaway follower increase location
Data provided by Social Blade

From this giveaway they gained over 11,000 new followers, and post engagement during the giveaway increased by 143%.

Hydroflask giveaway instagram giveaway post screenshot
Hydro Flask Instagram giveaway post screenshot

Hopefully, you’re now sold on the effectiveness of giveaways. If not, please leave a comment telling me why - I’d love to learn about your experiences.

Let’s step it up a notch and explore how giveaways can be improved.

How the Giveaway Syndicate Strategy Works

You choose others brands to partner with for a mega giveaway.

Each brand provides a product for the giveaway, creating a prize bundle. Then the syndicate promotes the giveaway. And since a prize bundle is more desirable than a single prize, the giveaway is more effective at spreading organically.

Let’s presume you partner with 5 brands with 50k followers each. That gives the contest an additional reach of 250,000. A lot better than what you could have accomplished by yourself.

How the Giveaway Syndicate Strategy Works

Benefits

  • More reach
  • More engagement
  • Build business relationships

Step 1: create a list of 20 indirect competitors (or use your list from the previous strategy)

Let’s presume you sell gym wear; in this case a perfect partner would be an influential personal trainer. You could offer your clothing, and they could offer free access to their premium training videos or a personal training session.

Step 2: contact your potential partner(s)

Hi [name],

I’m the founder of [your company] and I’m wondering if you’d like to be part of a giveaway along with [number of other brands] reputable brands.

It’ll be a great opportunity for you to build your audience since the competition and your brand will be promoted to the other partners audiences totalling 300,000.

To enter the competition, we will expect individuals to follow each of the partners. We expect a 10% engagement rate; this means you’ll receive 25,000 additional followers and potential customers.

Each partner will supply a prize for the competition.

If you’re interested, let me know and I’ll send you more information through.

I look forward for your reply,

Matt

Example email. Adapt as necessary and personalise it to increase the response rate.

Step 3: hype up the giveaway a week in advance and then daily & urge your partners to do the same

Tips:

It’s important to think about your followers when choosing how many companies to partner up with. Are your followers really going to follow 10 brands? It all depends on how desirable the prize is. I recommend limiting your number of partners to 5 max.

Did you like the Giveaway Syndicate Strategy? If you did, click here to share this post.

3 – The Co-marketing Strategy

Co-marketing is a mutually beneficial arrangement where 2 or more brands work together to produce content, a product or host an event.

Red Bull have mastered it. They’ve partnered with GoPro, Aston Martin and countless others.

Benefits of co-marketing

  • Share the risk
  • Share resources and expertise
  • A further reach

In 2012 Red Bull partnered with GoPro to create Red Bull Stratos.

Red Bull Stratos was a world record attempt for the highest altitude jump.

The results of this partnership were impressive, and the stunt still benefits the two companies to this day, over 6 years later.

According to Social Bakers, Red Bull increased new YouTube subscribers from 2,142 subscribers per day before the jump to 87,801 on the day of the jump.

It also broke the YouTube record for the most viewers of a live event.

Red Bull Stratos Effect on YouTube Followers
Red Bull Stratos daily subscriber growth

Of course, Red Bull wasn’t interested in subscribers; they wanted to sell energy drinks.

And they did.

Stratos helped Red Bull sell an extra 1,000,000,000 cans in 2012. 

Red Bull Sales
Red Bull Cans Sold

Of course, this example is extreme because it got a lot of media coverage. Most collaborations get no external media coverage at all.

Yet from using their own audience and word-of-mouth, co-marketing can still get impressive results.

Let’s take a look at how you can use co-marketing for Instagram.

Co-marketing for Instagram

Co-marketing doesn’t need to be expensive or complex. Essentially, you use content to expose your brand to your partner’s audience and vice versa.

This strategy works well when you collaborate with an indirect competitor with a similar number of followers.

Benefits

  • Higher quality content because you share resources
  • Double the reach
  • Gain followers
  • Make sales

How it works

There are lots of ways you can use co-marketing for Instagram, and it doesn’t need to be as extravagant as Red Bull Stratos.

It can be as simple as working with your partner to take great photos of your complementary products in use.

For example, a store selling supplements called ABC Supplements could collaborate with an influential personal trainer to post short daily videos for a week.

The personal trainer could post workout videos and the store selling supplements could post about nutrition.

Then at the end, you include a call-to-action like “make sure you watch ABC supplements video to ensure you get the best results from this workout”.

How you can do it

Step 1: find another brand with the same or overlapping target audience

Think GoPro and Red Bull, Apple and Nike, BMW and Louis Vuitton

Step 2: define your goals

  • What do you want to achieve from this collaboration?
    • Is it to build your audience?
    • Sell your product?
  • List one primary goal along with 2 secondary goals.
Step 3: brainstorm some content ideas

Research their company to come up with ideas you think they’ll like

Step 4: contact your chosen partner

  • Sell them the idea
  • Don’t be pushy

And that’s all there is to it.

If you have any questions about this strategy make sure you leave them in the comments below.

4 – Coupon Partnership Strategy

There’s no disputing the power of coupons.

Here are just a few facts:

48% of consumers say they’re more likely to make a purchase sooner than normal to use an offer

41% of consumers say they’re more likely to seek out something to buy if they have an offer

38% of consumers say more likely to treat themselves to something they don’t need if they have a coupon

37% said a coupon makes them more likely to purchase more items than normal

28% of consumers say they’re likely to purchase a more expensive product than intended with a coupon

The normal boring approach is to send customers coupons on your email list when you want to boost sales.

But this wouldn’t be a Vysors article if we didn’t step it up a notch.

What if you could increase your sales and audience growth from coupons by 5x or even 10x?

This is where the coupon partnership comes in.

How the Coupon Partnership Strategy works

I think this is simplest and easiest strategy on this list. The best part is you can use this strategy with a small following.

Each brand creates 2 or more posts with a single character of a coupon code along with the characters position in the code.

Similar to the ones below:

Discount code post Instagram
Discount code post 1
Discount code post Instagram example 2
Discount code post 2

Each brand only posts one of the characters to begin with.

Then in the description, you explain that the other brands have also released a character and that your followers should keep checking back because the remaining characters will be released in the next few days.

Make sure you tell them the number of characters in the discount code, as well.

You can then add urgency to increase engagement by limiting the number of times the coupon code can be used – “only valid for the first 100 people”.

It’s important to add urgency so your audience follows each partner and continuously visits each profile so they don't miss out.

Then all the partners post the remaining characters over a period of your choice - about 2 days.

As soon as all the partners have posted their first character, you should continuously post stories, images and videos to engage your new audience.

As long as you position yourself as the linchpin of the partnership you can work with companies with more followers.

Just ensure your image is trustworthy, else brands won’t want to work with you.

Also make sure the brands you choose to work with are also trustworthy, else it'll be hard to convince the other brands to join the partnership.

Remember, it’s perfectly acceptable to break even with the offer you provide.

Think about your customer lifetime value when deciding on the offer.

To make it clear to the customer make sure all partners have the same offer e.g. use this coupon code for 50% off.

5 - Use your blog

It’s hard to grow organically on Instagram.

Unlike with other platforms like Facebook and Twitter, Instagram doesn’t allow users to share or retweet posts extending their reach beyond your audience.

This means you should actively promote your Instagram on other platforms.

A method that is often used to promote blogs can be easily altered to promote your Instagram and business.

For this strategy, you will create a blog post listing Instagram accounts in your niche. Such as 21 “Fitness Brands you need follow on Instagram”. And of course, include yourself on the list.

You then contact everyone you included on the list asking them to share it.

Hi Steve,

I’ve just featured you in a blog post called “21 Fitness Brands You Need to Follow On Instagram in 2019”.

You can check it out here:

I would love it if you shared it. If everyone on the list shared my post it would reach 1 million people and would hopefully get you followers in the process.

Thanks,

Matt

You can also contact people who have shared similar articles who you think will be interested and ask them to share it.

You can get thousands of shares with this approach.

Take a look at the table below:

Post TitlePublisherTotal Share Count
81 Black Male Photographers to Follow on InstagramTomayia Colvin Education12,800
17 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels To Follow On InstagramBuzzFeed10,600
21 Inspiring Fitness Girls To Follow On InstagramBazaar3,400
42 London Instagram accounts you need to follow in 2019Go London2,900

How to do it

List brands or influencers with the same target audience as your business.

For everyone on your list, research how many followers they have on various platforms. Notice we don’t include Instagram since it’s unlikely they will share our blog article there.

Create a table like this one:

BrandTwitterFacebook (including groups)OtherEngagement %
     

Then choose the brands/influencers with the highest engagement and following to include in your blog post. Remember to include yourself on the list near the top.

Use a tools like searchmy.bio and followerwonk to find relevant influencers with a large engaged audience.

followerwonk search for cooking screenshot
Use followerwonk to find influencers and brands on Twitter
Searchmy.bio screenshot
Use searchmybio to find influencers and brands on Instagram

Reach out to the influencers asking them to share your post. It’s ok to send a follow up email if they don’t reply.

If they don’t reply after that, you can replace them on the list.

You can then use tools like Buzzsumo to find people who shared other articles in your niche who you think will be interested in yours.

Then contact them to notify them of your post.

For more information check out The Ultimate Guide to Creating an Expert Roundup Post That Gets 1000s of Shares.

6 – The Omni-Channel Strategy

For this strategy you use omni-channel content marketing to drive traffic to your Instagram account.

When you browse social media, especially Facebook you will notice posts with thousands of shares, known as viral content.

Virality has been studied extensively and they all share the same traits.

The characteristics of viral posts:

  • Surprising
  • Intense
  • Positive
  • Interesting

Notice how all the characteristics are emotional. In other words, content becomes viral when it provokes a strong emotional response.

Checklist:

  • Invokes strong emotions
  • Makes sharers look good – social currency
  • Is cantered around popular or trending topics
  • It’s in a format that’s easily shared

By taking note of all the most shared posts you see on a daily basis, it becomes easier to spot patterns and think of your own ideas.

How the Omni-Channel Strategy works

For this strategy you are going to make content that is highly likely to get shared. You will then share this content on multiple channels.

Before starting it’s vital to spend time studying posts on social media with lots of shares.

I would also recommend looking at Reddit and filter posts by top posts of all time, 6 months and month.

This will help you identify common characteristics and what’s trending.

Make sure you’re subscribed to our email list, so you don’t miss out on our upcoming guide on the viral framework.

Here’s an idea for viral content I think would do well:

Your productIdeaHow it could be accomplished
Beard oilMan saved by his beard when falling off a roof

Lots of ways.

You could use a ladder to stand on, then place the bearded in-between a loose tile.

Then take up some strain so it looks realistic.

Position the camera so it’s static and take a photo of the man and ladder in frame.

Then move then move the man and ladder out of shot.

Now you can use photo-editing software like Adobe Photoshop to place the two photos on separate layers.

The image with the man and ladder on the top and then using the eraser tool to remove the ladder.

Alternatively, for better results:

You could use large Velcro strips to actually stick the man to the wall, again with his beard trapped.

Then film a video of him laughing and asking for help.

It’s important to make the video or photo look user submitted and not professional. Make it look real.

Then create a post like “Not only does beard oil make you look great. But it can also save your life”.

Why I think this is a good idea for viral content:

  • Invokes strong emotions – it’s shocking and amusing
  • Makes sharers look good – their friends will appreciate it because it’s entertaining and different
  • Is centered around popular or trending topics – beard oil is trending
  • It’s in a format that’s easily shared – a video or photo
  • Can be created in a day

You may even get media coverage when the press realises it’s a brand behind it.

Conclusion

When you try and grow a new business on Instagram it can be mundane and frustrating.

But it doesn’t need to be.

The best way to grow is by being the first to steal, adapt and implement proven growth strategies from other platforms and domains.

Good artists copy. Great artists steal.

Steve Jobs - supposedly attributed to Picasso

Maybe you’ve noticed the underlying concept in most of these strategies of creating mutually beneficial relationships.

I don’t think businesses collaborate enough. If you’re in a competitive market, forming a partnership to share expertise and resources will give both companies a considerable advantage.

How else could you promote an audience that your partner has spent considerable time and money building, for free.

Why not brain storm your own Instagram growth strategies now and post them in a comment below.

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