You’ve taken the step to set up shop as a flea market / swap meet vendor, proudly opening your business within the marketplace. You have a great shop layout, you have signs posted, you’re working with the market manager to help draw in the shoppers – so what’s your next logical step? The answer, of course, is social media.
Many vendors have active Facebook accounts, connecting with friends and family, and many also use Twitter to get the word out about your market and your business, but if you haven’t tried your hand at Instagram, you may want to set aside a bit of time to figure out this social darling, since its heavy reliance on images and fun is tailor-made for the flea market and swap meet business.
Instagram, independently created in 2010, is a mobile photo-sharing app and social network. In 2012, Facebook took a look at their membership numbers and bought the company for a whopping $1billion. According to industry agency Omnicore, Instagram currently has 800 million active monthly users, with an eye-popping 500 million users who check out the app every day.
Instagram is all about photos and videos. App users can edit and post their images or brief videos; they can record live video, or build and record an Instagram story, a slideshow format that allows users to stitch together photos and videos into a cohesive visual show.
So how can you use Instagram for your business? Here are the basics:
Instagram can be accessed and viewed on a desktop, but to manage it properly, it really should be handled on a mobile device. Simply download the app onto your device of choice (it’s free in the Apple App Store and in Google Play). To get started, you can sign up for a new account with your email address, or using your existing Facebook account, link to a new Instagram account.
Tip: if you’re serious about tracking your Instagram posts for your business, you can convert your Instagram profile to a business account. This will allow you to access the built-in business analytics. To convert your account to a business account, you can connect via your business’s Facebook page. In Facebook, navigate to Settings and under Instagram, follow the prompts under the Switch to Business Profile menu choice.
With your Instagram account created, be sure to personalize your business’s profile. In the app, tap on the Profile tab, tap the Edit Your Profile button and add in your name, Instagram username and be sure to add in a profile picture – something that will be fun and remind people of your business. You can also add in a website, if you have one, and a short bio or description of you/your company.
Now you’re ready to get started.
From the app’s home page (your feed) you’ll see a never-ending stream of posts from the users you follow, or sponsored posts based on your interests and, eventually, your own posts.
The key to Instagram is interacting with other users. You will want to start by Following, Liking, Commenting, Tagging and Mentioning other users to let them know you’re in the game. As people see your posts, they will follow you back, and your businesses’ exposure will grow.
When you add a new post, Instagram allows you to add tags – connecting your post to other people you know who are following you, so that they can see your posts and interact with you. You can also use the twitter @handle to tag others, or use a hash tag (#). Hash tags can include letters and numbers – but not any non-numerical characters. Hash tags are a quick and relevant way for other users to find you, but be careful in using them as you want to make sure whatever you’re posting really does fit into the hash tag’s idea.
Tip: As you will be promoting your business, it’s a good idea to use geotagging – this adds your location to your photos when you post them so that people know when you’re at your booth taking awesome photos of the things you’re selling.
What’s Next? Anything you want.
Instagram posts are a place for personal creativity. Show off your store’s style by taking pictures of your products, or better yet, take pictures of your friends, family, employees or other shoppers using the products, or even playing around with them. Shoot a brief product demo video to show people how to use it, or what to do with it.
Don’t forget word of mouth advertising! Make a sign that you’re on Instagram and place it prominently in your space. Print up business cards or bags, or even napkins that include your Instagram handle, custom hash tags, and your website to connect with your shoppers and pick up new followers.
Tip: Remember that the only place you can share a live web link is in your profile, not in any post. Web links will not work if placed in a caption or photo comment, just in your profile.