Instagram is redefining social commerce and the way DTC brands leverage social media for growing their business.
The Instagram app has over 2 billion monthly active users worldwide. The daily time spent on the app is almost 30 minutes and a whopping 500 million people consume Stories daily.
That’s why DTC brands heavily rely on Instagram marketing for generating more leads and sales and creating brand awareness.
We’ve compiled this guide, especially for DTC and Ecommerce brands that are just starting out with Instagram marketing.
Why should your business be on Instagram?
For DTC marketing, Instagram is by far the most preferred platform that offers the best visual posting options and drives a ton of engagement. In fact, it generates 4x more interactions than Facebook. This obviously makes it the preferred choice for DTC brands when it comes to marketing.
Here are some of the reasons why DTC Instagram marketing should be at the top of your to-do list.
1. Be found by your customers
There are high chances that your customers will search for your DTC business on the platform using your brand’s name or hashtags related to your business. Naturally, you want your brand to appear on these searches.
Not being found will eventually lead them to your competitors. Even if you are not very active on Instagram, you should create an account with your business name, contact information, and a few posts about your brand.
2. Build trust and relationships with your audience
Having a verified Instagram Business account is a signal that your brand is trustworthy, real, and transparent. Be it testimonials, product images, user-generated content, or even brand storytelling posts, ensure that you post consistently. This is the key to building trust and relationships with your audience on Instagram and to boost community engagement.
3. Drive targeted traffic to your business
The link in your bio can lead to your brand’s website, thereby driving traffic. Adding links to direct messages and Instagram Story links, engagement strategies like polls, giveaways, and contests are also effective ways to drive home huge traffic.
4. Monetize your Instagram account by selling products
Instagram allows you to sell products through the platform itself. You can share photos and videos that link to the products. For this, create a product catalog on your Facebook page from where Instagram sources the product information.
10 Best strategies for DTC Instagram marketing
Let’s make this clear: understanding the nuts and bolts of Instagram for your business is no easy task. You must learn the tactics and Ecommerce Instagram marketing strategies to succeed on this platform.
Here are the ten best Instagram marketing tactics that will get your DTC brand new followers, business, and sales every month.
1. Optimize your bio
Most businesses consider the bio as an afterthought. Adding hastily churned-out information about your company and filling out the account details doesn’t work.
Instead, consider your bio to be an important part of your profile that creates your brand’s first impression, conveys important business information, and attracts followers that have the potential to turn into paying customers.
You get 150 characters and an external link option. You can customize your username separately from your handle within an allocation of 30 more characters.
Here are tips to write an optimized bio that works for your DTC brand, the way toxin-free home goods, beauty, and wellness company Brandless does.
- Keep a memorable and short handle.
- Upload a professional branded picture.
- In the name field, include niche keywords of your industry, solutions you offer, and so on.
- Use a link in the bio tool to drive clicks and sales.
- Clearly state what your brand does and include a CTA.
- Add 3-5 highlights for Instagram Stories.
2. Be consistent with posting and messaging
An important aspect of your Instagram marketing strategy is to ensure that your content marketing strategy makes a real impact on your followers. Creating the right content, being consistent, and sending the right messaging are extremely important when it comes to DTC Instagram marketing strategy, and the same applies to TikTok marketing for Ecommerce.
Deciding what to post can be a challenge for new Ecommerce and DTC businesses as they can’t identify the topics that could be of interest to the customers. Sometimes they spread themselves too thin by writing on varied topics in their business.
You should identify three to five content pillars in your brand on which you consistently create content. This simplifies the content planning process.
Here are some pointers to ace content posting and messaging on Instagram:
- Have a regular posting schedule.
- Be consistent with content and engagement by responding to comments and direct messages.
- Be clear about who you are, how your products help, and who is your target audience.
- Always follow your brand style guidelines when creating content.
- Maintain your brand voice in your messaging through posts, videos, Reels, Stories, and comments.
For inspiration, the shoe brand Birdies Instagram content marketing strategy is spot-on. Their posts are a great mix of discounts, gifting guides, customer testimonials, and product launches.
3. Focus on Reels
In 2022 alone, 89% of marketers invested in short-form videos which demonstrates their popularity. It should come as no surprise that Instagram Reels is one of the best ways of growing your DTC Instagram account using your brand’s storytelling approach. In addition, even the current Instagram algorithm gives priority to Reels.
Reels are available on both iOS and Android smartphones that enable you to shoot, edit, and share bite-sized videos. Their sophisticated editing and video processing tools allow you to overlay music, alter the speed and even add special effects.
Some tips to create great Instagram Reels are:
- Make your Reels engaging by adding music, playing around with transitions, and incorporating text.
- You can even turn your photos into Reels.
- Experiment with different transition effects such as camera tap, motion magic, and the pan among many others.
- Add timed text, music, and voiceover to the Reels.
- Create a dual-framed reel for showcasing your before and after approach.
4. Add relevant hashtags
Virtually every social platform uses hashtags these days. Using relevant hashtags can spice up your DTC Instagram marketing efforts as they create instant engagement.
Many customers search for content based on hashtags.
If you create posts on trending topics, include the associated hashtags to make them easily searchable when people look for content around certain topics.
Finding trending hashtags is easy. Head over to the Instagram search bar to find the ones related to your business and create content around them.
Creating a branded hashtag that your brand and customers can search for improves your Instagram engagement rate as it offers free advertising and brings relevant traffic. This way, it becomes easy to search all the posts related to your brand.
To get the most out of your hashtags strategy, here are a few pointers:
- Use 5-10 hashtags that are a mix of small, medium, and large hashtags.
- Don't use the same hashtags repeatedly.
- Use only relevant and account-specific hashtags.
- If you are running an offer, sale, or giveaway, ask customers to share posts tagging your account with event-specific hashtags.
- They should be easy to remember.
Alternatively, you can take inspiration from the DTC footwear brand Rothy’s. They have mentioned the branded hashtag in their profile description.
Clicking on the hashtag takes you to 15,000+ posts by Rothy’s customers using the #thatsmorelikeit hashtag.
5. Collaborate with micro-influencers in your niche
Collaborating with the right industry influencer on the platform can be advantageous for your DTC brand. Being the most popular channel for displaying influencer campaigns, Instagram can explode your growth.
The first step is to partner with the right influencers whose audience is relevant to your brand’s offering. You will find many celebrity influencers endorsing products but a word of caution here: roping them in requires a larger budget that may not be feasible for small DTC and Ecommerce brands with limited budgets.
Here’s where micro-influencers come into the picture. They have a smaller but dedicated following and charge much less than celebrity influencers and are also much easier to work with. The engagement levels with their followers are also high.
Glossier is the best case study of a brand that used a microinfluencer marketing strategy on Instagram. Beauty influencers get invited to become ambassadors for the brand. Each influencer is given a promo code so that they can earn a percentage of every sale made through their code. The best part, 8% of their online sales are linked to Instagram microinfluencers.
6. Leverage User-Generated Content
Keeping your feed interesting by posting original and creative content can be a challenge, especially when you have to keep up with a regular posting schedule and a small team. That's where you can easily leverage user-generated content (UGC) to fill up your feed.
Your followers are already creating and sharing content about your business that you can incorporate into your feed. Instagram allows you to be tagged in, @mentioned or sent content
A major benefit of leveraging UGC in your DTC Instagram marketing strategy is that it is more validating and trustworthy for your audience as it is from your customer’s perspective.
A good idea is to create a branded hashtag and encourage your followers to share content related to your business, including photos under that hashtag. Then, you can easily collect and share the content in your feed.
Tip - Don’t forget to ask for permission before sharing UGC.
Chewy, the online retailer of pet care products has its Instagram account filled with cute UGC posts of dogs wearing Chewy products or playing with Chewy toys.
Going a step ahead, they add brand hashtags and popular hashtags to the UGC posts, to increase its visibility and credibility.
7. Use Instagram DMs
The most successful and trustworthy brands on Instagram reply to comments and direct messages (DMs) regularly.
All it takes to show you're a reliable and trustworthy brand is engaging with your audience, replying to comments even when they are negative or from dissatisfied customers, messages, and personally interacting with them via direct messages. This also boosts your engagement rate and encourages potential customers to communicate with you, paving the way for brand perception, and influencing purchase decisions.
Warby Parker, the DTC brand that sells prescription glasses and sunglasses is a great example of a brand that responds to comments and people asking questions about the products.
8. Timing and frequency
Posting the right content at the right time with the right frequency is critical for the maximum reach and engagement of your Instagram posts. That’s why you should create a regular posting schedule and be in their news feed regularly.
While there are several studies about the number of posts and the best times and days to post, the truth is that the timing and frequency depend on your industry.
If you are tempted to post more, then Instagram’s carousel posts feature lets you post multiple images in a slideshow format.
As a general rule, here is the ideal frequency and time to post that works for most brands.
- Frequency: Carousels (2-3 weekly), Single images (1-2 weekly), Reels (2-3 weekly), Stories (3-6 daily), and Lives (2-4 monthly)
Tip - To find the best time when your followers are active, check out Instagram Insights. Depending on your business and audience, your best days and times might differ from other businesses.
9. Instagram paid ads
Instagram ads offer the ideal opportunity to be noticed by the right audience and increase conversions as they provide many ad formats for different campaign objectives.
After seeing ads of businesses on the platform, 50% of people found those businesses more interesting.
They are the right vehicle to increase brand exposure and brand sentiment, drive targeted traffic, generate new leads and sales, as well as move the existing leads down the sales, funnel and towards conversion.
To get started with Instagram ads, you need to configure them right through Facebook’s Ads Manager. Ads on Instagram use Facebook’s demographic data to target a niche audience that serves the campaign goals. Since Facebook allows granular levels of targeting options, you can be sure that your Instagram ads will be super targeted.
Read more: A guide on PPC advertising for DTC brands.
10. Write amazing captions
Instagram captions are descriptions or explanations about Instagram images or videos you post. They allow you to share your brand voice and make your post memorable.
In your DTC Instagram marketing strategy, captions should include:
- Calls-to-action (CTA) - Such as clicking the link in the bio and asking for comments.
- Hashtags: these make the post searchable. Include brand-specific hashtags too.
- Tags: such as including a customer in your post adds social proof and can compel the customer to share it with their network.
The best way to have your Instagram presence felt is by being authentic and knowing how to connect with them.
Include descriptions about your items, share your company’s personality, and craft a compelling copy that encourages engagement. You can ask questions, post testimonials, or talk about featured products of your brand.
You get up to 2200 characters of space to create scroll-stopping captions and attract the right audience.
On the same lines as high-converting Facebook ad copies, to come up with captions that give the best results, you should A/B test them with different phrases, calls-to-action, and hashtags.
There you have it - the 10 compelling DTC Instagram growth-hacking tactics that can skyrocket your Ecommerce brand’s marketing strategy on the platform.
Instagram content format cheatsheet
To stay relevant to your current followers and attract new ones, posting the right kind of content is as important as creating a regular posting schedule.
Instagram offers a variety of different content formats that you can make on their platform. They have evolved over the years and range from single posts and carousel posts to videos.
Video content is an absolute necessity in your Instagram marketing strategy as 91% of Instagram users watch videos on a weekly basis. You get many options for video content like Reels, Live, Stories, and Instagram Videos.
Let’s break down each content format and learn quick tips to ace each Instagram content format.
1. Single posts
These are the photos and videos that businesses share and form the bulk of Instagram’s content. They appear in the followers’ feeds and have an excellent hashtag reach.
You can either choose a photo or video from your library or use the app to shoot. Instagram provides various editing options for your images. You can use hashtags, create captions, tag friends, add your location, and play with emojis in your posts.
2. Carousel posts
These posts are presented in a slideshow format and have a longer shelf life. You can share up to 10 slides in a single carousel post and each slide is your opportunity to hook the viewer to your content.
They are incredibly shareable and have the highest average engagement rate among the different content formats. You can include tips, videos, and educational resources. They are perfect for tutorials and storytelling.
3. Instagram Live
If you want to engage your audience in real-time with a ‘live broadcast’ type format, then Instagram Live is your content format that streams directly to your audience’s feed.
The cool thing about this format is that your Instagram Live Story shows up on top in your followers’ Story feed and they get a notification upon opening the app.
When to use Instagram Live for your DTC brand?
Whenever you are:
- Attending an event
- Have an urgent or timely update to give to your followers
- Hosting a class or workshop
- Taking live Q&As
This is a good tool for building deeper relationships with your audience.
These are the latest video content formats on Instagram that are basically 15-30 second immersive videos that you can create with Instagram’s camera or upload from the Photo Library.
With Reels, you can creatively express your brand story and personality as well as reach new audiences. They can include captions, hashtags, and product tags too. The recording in the app allows you to add many effects like timed text, AR filters, screen mode, and make an audio library accessible.
The audience loves to collaborate with the community and discover new products through Reels.
Instagram Stories are here to stay for more informal content. They are 15-second videos that have a lifespan of 24 hours, although they remain on the platform later too.
To make Stories interesting, you can add filters, emojis, tags, and stickers. You can record them within the app or upload them from the Photo Library.
Businesses can post direct links in Stories which is a goldmine for driving organic leads and conversions.
Once expired, you can save them to the Highlights section.
Best Tools for Instagram Marketing
As a busy DTC business owner and Ecommerce marketer, having an engaging social media marketing strategy is only one part of the many tasks you perform. The right Instagram marketing tools automate repetitive tasks, improve your productivity, and help you stay organized and consistent on the platform.
Let’s look at tools for Instagram marketing that simplify your job.
It is important to deep-dive into Instagram analytics to understand the insights, trends, and metrics of your content’s performance. The results help you understand and improve your Instagram marketing strategy.
Firstly, Instagram itself offers you insights into your brand’s performance.
Secondly, there are other analytics tools that collect your Instagram performance data and help you make sense of the numbers.
Some analytics tools that help you do this are IG insights, Socialblade, Instrack, and Hootsuite.
2. Video edits
Posting high-quality videos on Instagram is non-negotiable as the platform itself is a visual medium.
The three major advantages of creating professional-looking videos are:
- Growing your brand’s image,
- Generating leads by driving content back to your website, and
- Increasing sales.
You can use video editing tools such as CapCut, InShot, Kapwing, and VN editor as they give you many editing options.
Using hashtags in your content makes it searchable to the audience. Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per post, helping you see your own content from a broader perspective of what people are searching for on the platform. You should use them in every campaign, UGC, and post.
But how do you decide which hashtags can give you maximum exposure? The hashtag tools help you do this. They generate hashtags based on keywords, photos, videos, or links and help you stand out from the noise.
Some of the best Instagram hashtag tools are Flick.tech, All-hashtag, Keyhole, and SproutSocial.
If you want your videos and posts instant attention on Instagram, then include subtitles and captions in your videos through the many subtitles tools available. They help you to generate subtitles from videos quickly.
To make your videos impressive, choose the subtitles and captions tools from Caption sticker, CapCut, Veed.io, and Filmora.
Images that attract your followers’ attention and motivate them to click, like, and share your posts. For this, you have to get the image design right without investing too much time or money as Instagram posts have a short lifespan.
For making the images unique and introducing design elements in them, various tools are available that are loaded with templates, icons, and text styles. They simplify your design process and you can create professional-looking images for your brand.
Some of the best Instagram post design tools are Canva, Figma, Crello, and Gimp.
6. Stock videos
Your audience on Instagram needs cutting-edge videos that look unique and engaging. This requires a degree of precision with video editing.
That doesn’t mean you edit all your videos manually. There are videos, animations, and illustrations in every field that you can use to elevate your content strategy. There are many stock video websites and tools that let you edit videos easily.
Some stock video sites and tools that you should check out are Videvo, Pexels, Coverr, and Videezy.
To build engagement and be successful on Instagram, you have to follow a regular posting schedule. This can be cumbersome at some point if you try to post content at your identified times.
A great way to automate the posting of your content is to bulk schedule it in a short time with Instagram scheduling tools. You’ll also be able to plan, curate, and modify how your feed looks like. In other words, you’ll have better control of your feed and time.
Some great scheduling tools you can explore are Loomly, Hootsuite, Keyhole, and Buffer.
A carefully thought-out caption can generate engagement for your DTC brand but is a struggle for busy marketers. Thankfully, you have a variety of AI-based Instagram caption generator tools to create awesome captions for your posts and help you get more likes, comments, and followers.
Some good caption generator options are Copy.ai, Hemingway, Slick Write, Jasper.ai, and Wordcounter.
9. Stock images
Keeping your feed filled with high-quality content can be time-consuming. Visual posts work well on the platform but planning, shooting, and editing photography can take up a lot of time and money.
Fortunately, you can use the right stock photos for your feed. Several creative and unique photography websites are available that you can use for your Instagram account.
Some of these are Reshot, Photosonic Writesonic, Freepik, and Shutterstock.
These Instagram growth-hacking strategies will help you grow your DTC brand. Don’t worry if you are a seasoned DTC brand or are just starting out. With the right Instagram marketing strategy, your DTC business would start gaining traction, get noticed by potential customers, and start standing out.
Like all other social media marketing, Instagram marketing for DTC and Ecommerce might take time to show results. The key to success on Instagram is to post consistently, use the right hashtags, reply to comments, and more importantly measure the performance of your business on Instagram using the right tools.