Note: Recent events that concluded on the day of this post sparked this topic and stand as a testament that Instagram can indeed help you, a business owner, sell your product or service.
Last week I was casually browsing the hashtag category of #tikimugs on Instagram. One Tommy Bahama limited edition mug in particular caught my eye promoting me to tap “like” on the screen of my iPad with no further intentions. I then moved onto to another category of #manila because I was flying out to the Philippines on business the next day. As I scrolled through the results to see if there were any weekend activities and island hopping adventures that sparked my interest I suddenly came across the very same Tommy Bahama mug. In a serendipitous twist it seemed that the mug I was admiring was owned by someone in Manila. I then paid more attention to the rest of the hashtags posted with the photo and was delighted to see that #forsale was thrown in there too. The user included their contact information for interested parties. I emailed them, they replied, we met, and I’m now the proud owner a Tommy Bahama tiki mug while the seller is 450 pesos richer. Below is the moral of the story.
Use These 3 Hashtags on Instagram to Sell Products
People like to window shop. Instagram offers an excellent online outlet to do so in a manner that doesn’t feel like your being “sold” compared to other social sharing sites like Pinterest which now feels more like a catalogue. Users search a massive variety of goods and services every day on Instagram, even if they don’t realize they are near the point of purchase. I had no intention to shop for tiki mugs (I would have hit eBay otherwise), but with my guard down a well placed post caught my eye and had me mentally converting pesos to dollars within seconds. To get your product/service in front of the eyes of consumers on Instagram you need to use every hashtag variation of the item being pictured. If the seller only used the non-plural hashtag of #tikimug I would not have found it. Instead the seller included the singular, plural, and a wide range of other descriptors that would lead users to their post. You’ve got 30 hashtags to use to describe your product – go nuts. Think this advice only applies to small purchases? Think again. Everyone from car dealers to interior designers are using Instagram to solicit with wisely placed product hashtags.
Sure the mug caught my eye but it’s the location (#manila) that made the purchase more tangible. Users search location hashtags frequently to identify with the place they are in or where they are going soon. While it should obvious (take note if not) that the likes of Realtors and tour providers would use location hashtags anyone operating a local business and using Instagram to promote it should be a champion of hashtags related to their locale. Don’t just use the name of your city, use regional hashtag variations that are popular. For example Hawaiian real estate firm Hawaii-Life can take advantage of the popular #HawaiiLife, #HIlife or #808 (area code) hashtag to get found on Instagram. Take note that longtail hashtags that combine product AND location may not be as popular but they will convert users into customers better. Anyone searching for #HawaiiVacationCondos is likely in the market and is thus easier to sell to. Use a solid mix that includes product, location, and product/location when setting your hashtags.
The thing that sealed the deal allowing Mr. Tommy Bahama to join my collection was the #forsale hashtag. #ForSale delivers nearly three million results on Instagram and this number WILL rise exponentially in the near future. But don’t stop there. Attach your product to this hashtag (i.e. #JeepForSale), your location (i.e. #ForSaleVancouver), and product/location (i.e. #WaikikiBeachCondosForSale). Many variation hashtags are yet to exist but remember that no hashtag existed at all until someone started it. The ones that do, or adopt them early on, are the sellers that reap the benefits (customers).
Say what you will about the effectiveness of Instagram as a sales tool but the fact today is that two people separated by thousands of overseas miles were able to exchange a product for cash through a series of simple events that all started with a well placed hashtag.