Instagram, popular among Millenials, has been around since 2010. App downloads have steadily increased as many join the ranks of posting “prettier” photos using Instagram’s amazing filters.

Businesses, on the other hand, especially small businesses, haven’t quite mastered using this platform to effectively communicate and build a community.

Instagram builds trust. People buy from people they know, like, and trust. Salespeople can let buyers get to know, like and trust them through their posts.
brett davis instagram

A Salesperson can build trust with Instragram

Meet Brett Davis, salesman with Capital Ford. He has 3,799 followers on Instagram.

“I try to use it as an outreach to familiarize strangers with myself and with Capital Ford’s specialty inventory that grabs attention of car enthusiasts looking for niche cars and trucks. I want to make an impression and footprint to show that I am a genuine car enthusiast, not just another car ‘shark’ salesman,” says Brett Davis, salesman at Capital Ford.

When the typical car buyer stops by an auto lot shopping for a car or truck, their defense is up to the stereotypical aggressive sales person, which can make the interaction awkward.

“In contrast, when someone comes in because of a specific post I have made about a car, they feel more comfortable with me, as if I’m a friend of a friend, rather than a stranger. I believe social media makes it a better and easier sales experience for both parties because there is less to no defensive barrier right from the beginning.

My goal is to make everyone feel like they have a friend who can help them get the car they want, free from the “normal” hassle.”

Follow Brett Davis @brettd_svt #buyfrombrett

Let your posts sell your products and services for you

cloth and paperMeet Ashley Reynolds, owner of Cloth and Paper, LLC, an organizational and lifestyle ecommerce business. Ashley started the online retail business about 6 months ago and has 7,878 Instagram followers.

There are 3 key factors to Ashley’s success building her community and getting sales of her products from Instagram posts:

  • Targeted Hashtags
  • Consistent, Quality Posts
  • Providing value instead of “selling”

Targeted Hashtags are like using keywords and phrases your target audience would use.

Before even starting her business, Ashley watched what words, phrases, and hashtags her target audience was using. She joined groups that had organizational-type members and started compiling a list of hashtags those members were already using.

Once Ashley launched her business, she incorporated those hashtags in all her posts to attract the “best” audience. Instagram allows up to 20 hashtags per post, and Ashley recommends using as many hashtags as you can.

Don’t just use hashtags around your product or service, think buyer persona. What would one of your buyer personas be searching for? Ashley’s buyer persona is interested in buying luxury items, such as Louis Vitton, so she makes a point of adding in hashtags #louisvitton and #luxury.

Consistent, quality posts.

Develop your signature look. When people are searching on hashtags, you want your photos to stand out from the crowd. Style your photos differently and have a consistent look so people will know that’s your brand.

Aesthetically pleasing, high quality photos with good light composition will get you the most views. Today’s iPhones and Android phones have good enough cameras, combine with additional photo editing apps, that turn your smartphone photos into professional quality images sure to capture more eyeballs.

Ashley recommends these photo editing apps that make her images take on that professional photographer quality.

  1. Afterlight. Upload photo into this app to adjust the contrast, brightness, saturation, crop, and add a border.
  2. Snapseed. For more vibrant colors, add camera filters that control brightness and exposure

Now that Ashley has developed her signature look and knows which settings to use for her business, editing a photo takes only 3 minutes. Ashley suggests playing with these apps to determine what your signature look should be.

Providing value instead of “selling”

In Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, he talks about providing value instead of pushing your product or service and “selling” on social media. But how does a business owner know they are “providing value”?

“When I posted about an item and mentioned it was $14.99, “get it now”, I made no sales. But when I showed myself using a product or using a nice photo of it, I sold more.”

That lesson taught her using those “buy now” calls to action turned her audience off.

Instead what worked for her were creating a sense of uniqueness, the allure of limited edition, and scarcity. She used “coming soon”, didn’t post if an item would be restocked nor when the release date was, and let the photos tell the story. By not posting a price, people were more likely to leave a comment, ask questions, and send email inquiries.

Instagram can be a terrific way to build your email list. By providing customers with a feeling of exclusivity, they are more likely to sign up for her newsletter. Give followers a reason to sign up and be “in the know” before everyone else, such as when an item is about to be released, or providing a special promo code.

How are you judging that what you are posting is providing value?

“By the likes, comments and questions asked from the audience,” says Ashley.

If a post gets no response from the audience such as comments or likes; was the content clear, and were the “best” hashtags used?

To learn more about Ashley and Cloth & Paper, follow @cloth_and_paper or visit

Looking for Instagram ideas to grow your sales? Let’s talk.