People who sell on Instagram are doing all the right things - and content marketers should take notice.

Compared to well-established social platforms like Facebook, Instagram is still sitting at the kid’s table. As Brafton reported, it’s a great supplement for social media marketing campaigns – but it has yet to prove its strength as a stand-alone tool in a strategist’s toolbox. It’s exclusively for sharing pictures and video, but some independent sellers have managed to squeeze some sales out of this limited set of features.¬†

Selling to an intimate audience

Like promoting your brand on traditional social media, selling on Instagram is easy to do competently and difficult to do extremely well. According to Digital Trends, Sellers typically take pictures of their wares and promote them to potential customers. There are unspoken rules for users to express interest, make payments and coordinate shipping, depending on the group. All of this takes place outside of normal ecommerce channels, so you might be wondering how this impacts content marketing.

Instagram sellers have adapted to their environment’s commercial constraints the same way that online marketers need to, and many of the same rules apply to both ecologies. Take the following lessons to heart to boost your content and improve customer engagement.

Live Twitter event hashtags keep conversations organized.

1. Know your space

People selling on Instagram use all kinds of hashtags to find the right audiences. There are basic ones, such as #forsale, but most experts have narrowed down their scope substantially to target the customers with the most potential to buy. In the same way, online marketing should avoid a scattershot approach and really hone in on the people who will yield the most conversions. Even major brands see the effectiveness of hashtags peter out after they add more than five, according to research by TrackMaven.

2. Use appropriate media

As Brafton noted in a recent article, smaller companies can forge closer bonds with their core audiences when they use media like video the same way: To give an in-depth view of items for sale. 

3. Coordinate with other channels

While the bulk of Instagram sellers’ interactions with customers takes place on one social platform, it’s really just the starting point for a commercial relationship. Merchants can quickly pivot to email or share their personal websites to stay in touch with frequent customers. Web marketing is no different. Social engagement might begin on Facebook or LinkedIn, but it will soon migrate to other social media channels, blogs or ecommerce storefronts.

4. Participate actively 

Most people don’t join Instagram to buy or sell things. However, after a user has become well-known in a digital circle, be it vintage clothing or used furniture, they’ve built up goodwill among customers and are actively engaged with the community. Social content that supports an SEO strategy should function the same way.

There are vast differences between an entire enterprise and a single person looking to sell items. Then again, the internet can be a great equalizer, which is why companies should be flexible when it comes to adjusting their content marketing strategies. Take a page out of an interesting digital subculture and tailor your content to the perfect audience.

Alex Butzbach is a Marketing Writer at Brafton. He studied Communications at Boston College, and after a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he entered the world of content marketing. When he isn't writing and researching, he can be found on a bike somewhere in Metro Boston.