Instagram can help you build and expand your brick and mortar business!  Seriously, you can use the power of Instagram to increase sales in your physical store or space like I did in my retail business.  Let’s talk about how I figured this out, how you can do it, and a few success stories we can emulate or learn from.

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SueB.Do is a product line of preppy jewelry and accessories representing the beauty and character of Cape Cod.  The items I choose to sell and share in my store are inspired by the coastal places where I have been happiest in my life: summers with family on the Cape, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket in particular. In my small seasonal store on the Cape I also realized I most like to hand-sell to customers who morph into friends.  After watching my teenage daughters on Instagram all the time, I thought I want those trendsetting eyeballs in my store.  They would love my product and have fun shopping in the eclectic space.

Interesting.  So, I took those three things; a special niche product, a personal sales experience, and the “sharability” of the fun had in the SueB.Do store, and created a story on Instagram.  By posting photos from my shop of customers and their purchases, challenging my sales staff to post and share, incentivizing the team, sharing behind the scenes pictures and using props to encourage visitor interaction from all over and more picture-taking, I created a visual story.  In order to build the new relationship with consumers around this, Instagram became the platform for the social experience that would eventually create buzz and drive traffic in my actual store. It worked.  People came to the Cape and started to seek out a piece of the store’s fun.

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I grew this retail business by 40% just by using Instagram to connect with my customers and potential clients in this way! Understanding that power, I now educate others on how to use Instagram for business.  And Retail is a major piece of that puzzle!

How can you do this for your business?

Let’s marry your physical retail space with an online story, to create a community, and eventually exciting new traffic and sales!

  1. Location location location. Use the GEOTAG feature all the time. This tag will tell people where your store is located in every post.
  2. Incorporate location based hashtags into your posts. People search location hashtags more than any other type.
  3. Search for other local businesses in the area that may have a similar customer base and make sure to interact with those people.
  4. Don’t post catalogue or web looking images. Show your products in their real form and in use. It is helpful to stock pile photos so you always have them handy and ready to go.
  5. Empower your employees to share on your behalf. Let them do this during working hours that are a bit slower. They likely have friends in the area that may align with your target market.
  6. Reward your team for sharing and give public kudos for the traction created.
  7. Remind your customers to follow you on Instagram verbally and by having your username visibly printed at checkout, on your window, or on bag stuffers.
  8. Give customers a push to share pictures of themselves using their new purchase out in the real world. Product in action and an excuse for a selfie. Win win for all.
  9. Challenge consumers and offer a prize to those that post the most relevant content or get the most likes for their posts with your product or store in it.
  10. Finally use a variety of content ideas like I did in my store to create value, add posts that garner the right attention socially, encourage sharing and promote word of mouth reach.

Case Studies:

  • Brandy Melville is the hottest teen retailer you’ve never heard of—unless you’re a tween or teen girl or the parent of one. The company has 45 stores in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, and it’s growing. It moved into an 8,000-square-foot space in New York City’s SoHo last year.
  • Brandy Melville doesn’t do any traditional advertising to accomplish this growth! The brand’s popularity is fed almost exclusively through social media buzz. It has 2.2 million followers on its main Instagram account @brandymelvilleusa, 65,000 followers on Twitter, 218,000 “likes” on Facebook and a strong board on Pinterest. This awareness and momentum drives the rest.

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  • Juicekeys is a Juice Bar and Health Boutique. And Instagram is helping this small business deliver on their mission to provide “Keys” to great health through their Raleigh, North Carolina storefront.
  • They are passionate about the synergies between nutrition, education, and leading an active lifestyle. Juicekeys is locally owned and operated by a brother-sister team striving to provide customers with tools to help them run towards greater health as efficiently and effectively as possible. All of this making for an amazing story and message to share on social that could drive traffic.
  • I have been working with Kelly and Chris to deliver on their message and belief of “Let food be thy medicine” since only November. Check out their Instagram account @juicekeys to see the beautiful account they have curated. Currently they are at 24,000 quality followers and growing.  That number has tripled in only 3 months!  Their photos are of the highest quality and use a variety of ways to deliver quality content to their followers – product beauty shots, get to know Kelly & Chris posts, tips & recipes, stories, local tie-ins and behind the scenes pics.
  • “I saw it on Instagram and want to buy it” is something they now hear often in the store!  I can’t wait to see more because they are on a roll and are truly driving sales by using simple Instagram for business tactics!

Telling your online story through Instagram is an amazing way to create the momentum for large and small business models alike.  You can be the next success story just by creating fun content, putting yourself and your brand out there in a big way and tying it all back to your store’s location location location.