It's hard to believe that Instagram is more than ten years old. (It was founded in 2010.) In that time, it has become one of the most popular social media apps, with over a billion monthly active users. There's a good chance you're one of them.
Businesses of all sizes, from giant brands like Nike and Victoria's Secret to micro-entrepreneurs, side hustlers, and freelancers — all use the social media giant to promote and sell their products and services.
In fact, one third of all Instagram Stories come from business accounts, and 20% of these prompt direct messages from consumers. So, there's no question that Instagram is a powerhouse that savvy businesspeople can't afford to ignore.
But guess what? There are ways to boost sales made on Instagram substantially, and most of those selling on Instagram are unaware of them. Specifically, we're talking about using chat and SMS platform like Shout, and we'll explain why in just a moment.
First though, consider the fact that chat and SMS platforms allow you to connect with your followers (and therefore customers) in real time, send them automated messages, and track your results.
And when used in tandem with Instagram's built-in direct messaging system, it's like pouring rocket fuel and lighting a match on your ability to pitch services and build your network.
Did you know that 97% of text messages get read, and 90% get read within five minutes? In other words, your business can take off and reach heights that are difficult or impossible when using either platform alone. More than that, you can outpace competitors who don't take advantage of the strategies we will go over below.
Ask Your Instagram Followers to Subscribe to Texts
Both text messages and Instagram messages have very high open rates. However, Instagram messages come with a lot more distractions—each time you send a message, you risk your recipient getting lost in the barrage of content that greets them before they even get to your message. As such, encouraging your Instagram followers to subscribe to your text list can be very effective. Once they’re on the list, you can market to them in tons of fun and creative ways.
For example, you can use text messages to offer incentives for liking, following, or sharing Instagram posts. Of course, this increases engagement and can nudge Instagram's algorithm to boost your post's reach (which means even more people see it).
You can also send tailored messages to your subscribers about sales, new products, and much more once you’ve got their phone number. Sending messages this way increases the likelihood that they’ll act on the call to action, since there’s no algorithm regulating what they will or won’t see.
Promote a Giveaway via Text
Say you're running a sweepstakes or giveaway on Instagram. In that case, you can send a text to your list of subscribers with details about how to enter. This way, you guarantee that at least some of your audience is aware of the giveaway and will participate. This is another excellent way to increase engagement and get more people interested in your brand.
Automate Your Instagram Direct Message Responses
Keywords can be a great way to boost interaction with your customers or followers, but most people only use them for texting. Shout’s inbox integrates with Instagram’s inbox, meaning you can use all your same automations in your Instagram messages.
For example, let’s say you offer a drip campaign with lipstick tips and tricks. You can promote that drip campaign via text message OR Instagram message because Shout will let you send to both.
However, don't consider your job finished once someone texts in a keyword.
Instead, use that occasion to link followers and subscribers to information that they will find valuable, and will help them engage further with your brand. This could be your latest blog post, more details about the contest or prize, or even a different social account.
Give Text Subscribers Exclusive Access and Updates
Texts are a great way to keep your customers up-to-date on significant changes or updates about your business. Many brands use their text lists to offer exclusive discounts or early access.
For example, if you're getting ready to launch a whole new product line, you can announce on Instagram that text subscribers will get access to the new line ahead of everyone else. Include your keyword and text number in your Instagram post and Story so followers can subscribe right away.
Answer Questions Faster
If you've been in business for any length of time, you know that customer queries come in all shapes and sizes. And while many of them require your personal attention, others don't. That's where a text messaging platform like Shout can help.
With Shout’s integrated inbox and numerous automated tools, you can automate answers to any frequently asked questions (FAQs) you receive. All you must do is determine which keywords or key phrases trigger the responses. These automations will make it easier to resolve incoming questions faster. Plus, they free up your time so you can focus on more critical tasks.
The best part is that you can get your Instagram followers onto your SMS subscriber list simply by pointing out that they can get answers to their most pressing questions by doing so. That, in turn, can grow your Instagram sales!
However, remember that when messaging customers, it's important to sound like a real person, not a bot. This means personalizing your messages by including the recipient's name (which is easy to do with Shout), your signature or emojis in your responses, and making sure that your answers reflect the customer's individual concerns.
It's also important to follow up after each response to see if the customer has any additional questions. (You can use Shout to schedule those messages in advance, either via text or Instagram!) By taking these steps, you'll be able to create a more personalized messaging experience that will resonate with your customers and help build a stronger relationship with them.
You'd be surprised how many Instagram sellers suck at checking in with their customers and ensuring their audience feels heard and cared for.
Therefore, you can use Shout to make customer service your superpower, no matter what kind of interactions you have with your followers on Instagram.
A platform like Shout can help you schedule follow-ups so you can be sure to check in with customers and ensure they're satisfied with their purchases. This not only takes the pressure off of you to remember to follow up manually each time but also helps you keep track of your follow-ups. Of course, this helps ensure that none of your customers slip through the cracks.
The type of follow-up you send can vary depending on the original conversation. However, there are some general things to keep in mind:
- Ensure that customers understand that they're your top priority.
- Ask whether they have any additional questions or comments.
- Consider asking for general feedback through a chat-based survey.
Boost the Benefits of Instagram with Shout
Instagram can be a powerful tool for any eCommerce or service business. It helps you get the word out about your brand through posts, Stories, or Reels—and connect directly with users through direct messaging.
A business SMS messaging platform like Shout immediately complements these benefits.
With Shout, you can easily automate messages to welcome new followers, send promotional offers, or follow up after a purchase. You can also segment your target audience and send highly focused messages to different groups. When used with Instagram, you'll be able to promote your products better, convert more leads into customers, and make more money as a result.