The recent explosion in Instagram hype is capturing the attention of marketers everywhere. And much of that attention is focused on the money-generating opportunities of the platform. For example, eMarketer projects that next year, Instagram’s ad revenues will reach a new peak of $2.81 billion, with its mobile display advertising revenue even surpassing that of Google.
Parallel to the rise of Instagram’s own economy, there are also several tools, marketplaces, platforms and services rising alongside it to create a robust wider Instagram economic ecosystem. Harper’s Bazaar recently estimated that brands are already spending over $1 billion per year on sponsored Instagram posts, noting that influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers can easily find opportunities to land thousands of dollars per post in sponsorship fees.
Here are several tools and tactics that will help you make money from this formidable, emerging ecosystem.
1. Manage Your Community
A great tool called Crowdfire allows you manage your following on Instagram (Twitter too, by the way). See who has recently followed and unfollowed you, learn who’s no longer active on the network, discover commonly followed accounts among your followers and identify the profiles you follow that don’t follow you back. You can also use Crowdfire to learn who your most engaged fans are, so you know to interact with those people more often.
2. Monetize Influence with Merch
With Viralstyle, you can create merchandise and promote it to your Instagram following with minimal friction and investment. The branded T-shirts are printed on-demand, and orders are fulfilled and shipped by the platform. Using the platform’s design tools, you can create a custom product and make it e-commerce-ready in a matter of minutes. Plus, integrated marketing tools allow you to create social ads.
Take a look at this example from Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots. He uses ViralStyle to sell tee shirts to his Instagram fans, giving away autographed units as a raffle and driving cross-channel engagement by posting contest terms on Twitter.
3. Measure Your Contests
Running Instagram contests is a great way to boost user engagement, attract new followers and create a buzz around your brand. A rich analytics and contest management suite for Instagram, Iconosquare offers embeddable hashtag aggregation boards, moderation modules and engagement metrics. With your contest hashtag, and start and end dates entered, your contest is ready to go live. And once it’s over, you can drill down into performance details and even download a list of participants for follow-up engagement.
4. Curate and Embed User Generated Content
Utilizing user generated content is a powerful marketing tactic, largely because it helps prospective e-commerce customers see how past buyers have enjoyed products in real life. Yotpo allows you to solicit and curate content from users and embed their submissions for use in your marketing assets. The platform allows you to collect authentic photos from your customers, especially those shared on Instagram, to use alongside onsite reviews. You can showcase these collections on your website, your social media profiles and even in your ads, to boost your brand’s authenticity, trustworthiness, and social proof.
To add to its value proposition, Yotpo has recently rolled out an Instagram ad management tool. Much like its Facebook ads integration, you can use it to grow your following, or to advertise products and services with the power of user generated content integrated within the creative.
5. Buy and Sell Image Rights
The stock photo backlash is real, and Instagram’s economy might be the gateway to viable solutions to that problem. One of several rising marketplaces of its kind, Lobster allows marketers to find and source images taken by community members. Photographers on Lobster can sell the rights to use their content, and businesses have the option to purchase a subscription, so they have access to the images in the marketplace whenever they need them.
6. Schedule Your Posts
Instagram is all about real-time posting and engagement for the most part, but not every marketer is able to be active at the same time as our audiences. The announcement that the platform’s feed is switching to algorithmic curation underlines the need for targeted scheduling.
Consider using Later to schedule posts from all devices. It allows logins for multiple team members, supports multiple Instagram accounts, and even offers reposting capabilities.
7. Sponsor Buyable Product Imagery
With Stylinity, you can find Instagram influencers interested in modeling your products as ecommerce-integrated, user generated content that gets distributed to their followers. The company’s “Shoppable Content Management System” works across several social networks, and marketplace members can follow the brands they love to learn about new opportunities, called “Looks.”
8. Buy Sponsored Posts
Using TapInfluence, brands can team up with top Instagrammers to create sponsored posts to share with their audience on a fully automated basis. Advertisers can use the platform’s proprietary tools to find influencer matches, automate work flows and promote content. The TapExchange module supports cost per engagement metrics and advanced audience targeting.
Today there are tools to enable virtually any Instagram-based marketing opportunity you can think of. Whether you need to schedule activity in advance, growth hack your community of followers or sponsor posts from popular and eager Instagrammers, there’s probably a product out there to make it happen, and to make you money in the process.