Overview of Social Media for Ecommerce
Enter social media. According to an article by Smart Insights, more than 3 billion users globally have been active on social media in 2018. Smartphone use too, is ever on the rise.
Around 2.9 billion of these people access social media through a mobile device. Comparing these numbers to the 4 billion internet users worldwide, it’s clear that a significant percentage of the global population stays connected via mobile devices.
These same users are also interested in using social media as a way to connect to brands and, eventually, purchase their products—as long as they’re responsive, offer promotions, provide good information, and share great visuals.
One of the social media juggernauts is the Facebook-owned network Instagram. Originally gaining prominence as a photo-sharing app, constant development and the addition of new features has made it an industry unto itself.
By the end of last year, there were 25 million business accounts on Instagram alone, each vying for the attention of their audience within a platform that attracts 800 million monthly active users.
Users generally scroll through their feeds pretty quickly. While the old chronological way of presenting posts used to be a problem, Instagram’s algorithm still rewards users with relevant content.
The machine learning behind the platform prioritizes showing recent posts that gain traction with users according to their past Instagram browsing habits—which may mean their previous engagement with similar posts.
Knowing this, it’s crucial for brands to know the best time of day to post on Instagram and make sure their content doesn’t get swallowed up in the clutter.
More engagement equals visibility equals even more engagement. Follow this three-step loop to figure out when to post, what to post, and how to make it work for your brand.
Do your research
First things first. It’s always good to look at general industry benchmarks before pushing forward with your own customized strategy.
If this is your first time crafting an Instagram marketing plan, or even if you just want to take your current one to the next level with more data, there are many resources out there to guide you in figuring out your content and when to post it.
One of the most comprehensive resources we found is from social media management and analytics software Sprout Social.
Their data science team did an extensive study on their user base, a demographic that spans many different industries, and they wanted to know when their users were accessing social media.
Check out some of the insights they learned about the best time of day to post on Instagram:
- Sunday is the least engaging day for Instagram, so use this as a bit of breathing space in your content calendar.
- Tuesday to Friday at 9:00am to 6:00pm is a safe bet, as users check their phones when they get the chance throughout the weekday.
- If you want to get a bit more granular, post on Wednesdays at 3:00pm and Friday at 5:00pm.
- BUT no doubt the best weekday to post is on Thursday, with activity peaking at 5:00am, 11:00am, and 3:00 to 4:00pm.
Sounds simple enough, right? But these hours are just a starting point. Trends do tend to vary by industry as different audiences display different browsing behaviors.
Take consumer goods companies, for example. They need to know when their existing and potential customers are online and work with this information to maximize ecommerce conversions:
- Instead of Sundays, Mondays are the least engaging days—probably because the weekends are better for online shopping, not the start of the work week.
- Because of this, Saturdays at 11:00am and 1:00pm are the perfect time to post: just bracketing lunchtime.
- When it comes to engagement, though, Wednesdays are pretty good (get rid of that mid-week blues).
- Generally it’s safe to post every day—between 10:00am and 3:00pm.
Keep in mind that this research can only act as a general guide in the first few months. You must also do your own homework and familiarize yourself with your target audience.
Each business is different, and what works for one ecommerce company might not work for another. This mostly depends on what you sell, where you’re located, and your main target demographics.
Plan your strategy
Your planning starts with a content calendar. This calendar plots out your chosen dates and times to place your content. Experiment with different kinds of posts in different time slots. Also find out whether the type of post matters just as much as the times you post them.
Next, brainstorm different types of posts you think will attract your target audience because you know them best. It’s also a general rule to balance product photos with other types of images, such as lifestyle shots.
For a consumer goods ecommerce brand, followers are especially interested to know information on the latest product discounts, contests, and other sales promotions.
They might also appreciate seeing these products put into action—having an idea of what they’re used for, how to use them, and what kind of person they’re meant for. Be aspirational to this curious audience.
Instagram isn’t complete without captions too. Be very selective with your words since it’s very easy to overdo it! This limited space shows off your brand’s personality, so make sure that you speak the language of your target audience.
Execute the plan
Tools form a critical part of your execution. Some essential Instagram marketing tips highly suggest the use of scheduling tools. It’s notable that Instagram now allows third-party apps to schedule posts for them, a functionality that wasn’t available just a year before.
A popular choice is Coschedule, a tool that helps automate the process of uploading images and videos across all your social media accounts.
Not convinced? Long periods of inactivity mean followers don’t interact with you. When this happens, engagement drops and your performance on Instagram is ultimately affected.
It might also seem obvious but don’t forget the key feature that made Instagram boom in popularity in the first place: its focus on visuals.
Customize your brand’s own Instagram content on the go with Instasize. This app is available on iOS and Android and lets you edit your photos to fit the different types of content you need for your content calendar.
There are more than 50 tools you can use to to get both variation and consistency in your posts. These range from professionally-designed filters, colorful borders, creative text styles, and much more. You can also edit your videos and apply filters on them with this app.
It might be tempting to post at random times and deviate from the original plan. But take note that this won’t do much to provide insights. After execution comes the analysis of how effective your marketing strategy is.
To get this data, you must stick with your content plan long enough that you’ll be able to evaluate its results.
Analyze your results
Once you put your plan into action, it’s time to monitor how well it’s doing. At this point, the type of Instagram account you’re using matters.
Using a business account on Instagram gives you access to different features not available to regular users. These tools are especially tailored to give business users the best marketing experience on the site.
You can either create a totally new account or convert a previous public account to a business one—useful for those already maintaining their social media presence before the option was added.
The main advantage of a business profile is that it helps users connect to your brand easier. Instead of just a simple link in your profile, you also get to add a ‘contact’ button that, when pressed, lets people get directions to your location, learn your phone number, or get your official email address.
But of all the features that Instagram for business can offer, the highlight of this account type is definitely Instagram Insights.
This tool is Instagram’s built-in analytics options to help marketers overcome some of the most cited challenges to social media marketing: building a community of followers and tracking the results of that.
Being able to analyze what you did right and wrong is key to understanding your brand’s strengths and playing off of them in your posts.
And when it comes to the best time to post on Instagram, you’ll eventually realize that research on your industry’s best practices is good, but it’s not perfect. It’s completely possible to find an even better online marketing set up that works for you.
And for this end, Instagram Insights plays an invaluable role.
Understanding Instagram Insights
Here’s how it works. When accessing your analytics, check the Activity tab to find out overall engagement stats of how your business account is performing.
In this section, you can view a weekly summary of the user activity on your page:
Profile visits – the number of times someone clicked your username to get to your full profile.
Website clicks – the number of clicks the links you included in your page got clicked, including “get directions” as part of your “contact” options, and calls.
Taps – a graph showing how many total “taps” your posts and profile have accumulated over the week, broken down into the number of interactions you received per day.
Does your brand use Instagram Stories? Check out the Discovery section which lets you track how much reach and impressions you get.
Reach – an insight that shows the number of unique users that saw your Story. There is a bar graph over here that helps you visualize the days which you were seen the most.
Impressions – another crucial insight to how many times people viewed your Story.
Take note that data on Instagram Stories only appears within a certain time frame, so it pays to check this spot often if you’re fond of posting Stories.
Don’t forget to check the other tabs as well! It’s worth your while to explore Instagram Insights and identify which metrics mean the most for your business’ success.
Try checking engagement statistics of individual posts and arrange them by most seen, most engaging, and even by categories such as post type (photos, videos, carousels) and Instagram filter used.
Using these insights, you’ll be able to measure per week and per day a real-time count of the amount of interactions and reach you get.
Monitoring this regularly for a time period (let’s say, one month) and comparing the number of interactions you’ve had one week with previous ones provides the average total interactions for each day.
Once you have this data, go back to what you planned out for the execution stage of your Instagram content plan and ask the following questions:
- On what days did you post?
- What kind of content did you assign to each day?
- How do they compare to the amount of interactions recorded on your Insights page?
- Do you think there’s a correlation between post types and interactions?
- Is engagement and reach consistent, or do they peak on different days?
Customize your Instagram marketing plan
Monitor your analytics, create reports every month, and move towards creating an Instagram strategy truly your own. This is the final step of the three-part loop, and brings your efforts to posting at the best possible time into more custom territory.
Progress in this way and you’ll eventually find a sweet spot that ensures better interactions, better reach, and more interest in your site.
And when the time comes that you want to try something new, like a new type of post or a new campaign theme to plan your content plan around, loop around back to the first step and use your own reports as the research.
Social media marketing isn’t as easy as some may think it is, but the rewards for brands who take the time and effort to carve out their own space can be substantial.
Success lies in the balance of researching, creating content according to your research, and seeing whether what you’ve made is enough to sway people in your direction—and ultimately convert sales.