How retailers can make the most of Instagram

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As social media platforms go, Instagram might be one of the trickiest, says Tom Harvey, co-founder of YesMore drinks marketing agency. It seems so easy - pics, followers, likes, shares - but this low barrier to entry hides a complex platform and some cunning algorithms that can require a more strategic approach. 

The first point you probably already know, is that Instagram is a visual platform that needs a large volume of quality content. But beyond that, what can drinks retailers do to make a success of their investment in this channel?

1. Behave like a human, not like a business. Humanise your tone of voice, show people in your photography and bring products to life with candid video that’s not over-thought or over-produced.

2. Give people a reason to follow you specifically. Instagram is not a product catalogue. It needs to offer real reasons for people to follow you. On what occasions should people drink the products you sell? What are the serves? Do you need to educate? Or inspire? What’s your USP as a retailer, and can you get that across in your posts?

3. Be engaged. Invest time in replying to comments on your posts, proactively commenting on influencers’ posts or stories, sharing content from the brands you stock and generally building up a community. If you have an engaged profile, Instagram’s algorithm will notice and you’re more likely to reach more people.

4. Instagram isn’t one social platform, it’s seven – so make sure you’re using the full functionality of the platform. You’ve got the Feed, Stories (plus Story Highlights), Reels, IGTV, Live, Guides, IG Shop - plus paid advertising, if you use it. So plan the resources and budget to trial all and see what works, but think smartly about collaborating with the drinks brands you stock to supply you with content too.

5. Try paid social ads to drive traffic. Develop a plan around this that grows awareness, then gets people to engage and finally (once “warm”) drives those engaged users to visit your website. Be smart and strategic with the plan, including pixel retargeting, and this can and will grow sales – especially as platforms move towards paid models. 

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