How to turn Instagram likes into sales - SOAK Shakes & Co.

Instagram is now one of the leading social networks, boasting a high engagement rate and growing all the time. With the dominance of Facebook and Twitter, sometimes it can get overlooked - but being visual, it's perfect for brands, and can be a super-smart way to market your business and connect with your customers.

One brand that we absolutely love on Instagram is SOAK Shakes & Co. They use their Instagram as an opportunity to give customers a peek into startup life, get potential customers (and existing ones) excited about their products, and to tap into the thriving UK health-food scene. We asked co-founders Roxy & Emma a few questions about how you can use Instagram to supercharge your social offering.

How much time do you put into your Instagram posts – are they quite spontaneous, or do you have a strategy?

We do have a strategy (product education, visualising brand values, lifestyle positioning, etc.), but many of our posts are spontaneous reactions to what else is happening in the world. We find how it matters to us, and shape our messaging around that.

What opportunities have arisen from your Instagram?

Partnerships with other startups, finding (and being found by) new potential stockists, ‘meeting’ customers and getting direct feedback, introductions to the foodie community, and collaborations with bloggers and press.

How does engagement on your Instagram compare to your other social channels?

We see more immediate and emotive engagement on Instagram than on any other social platform. If it’s a great shot, posted at a relevant time of day and tagged correctly, we’ll see likes grow by the second. Engagement is largely organic on Instagram (i.e. only selective brands are able to advertise currently), and truly global: we have an audience from all around the world who engage with our posts at various times of the day.

Facebook, in comparison, is far more location and proximity targeted. With their paid model, organic reach is virtually dead now, so in order to target potential customers in an area of London and near our stockists, we need to put spend behind our posts (anywhere from £5 per post).

Twitter enables us to have more conversations with brands, bloggers, partners, stockists and customers throughout the day. In that way, engagement is more one-on-one and focused through conversations, rather than RTs and favourites on a tweet.

How have you built your following?

Simply by following likeminded people and brands, and targeting potential customers directly using hashtags such as #dairyfree, #socialenterprise, etc.

What do you find are the most popular types of posts?

Photos of our shakes ‘in the wild’ (on the shelves, outside shops we’re stocked at, traveling in London, etc.) do well. Peanut Butter + Banana and Cacao + Chilli in particular seem to grab peoples’ attention.

Behind-the-scenes photos — such as snaps of our new branding or the wooden sign we had made recently — get a lot of interest. We love giving people a glimpse into the daily goings-on of start-up life!

We also try to take shots of our shakes in everyday situations that people are able to relate to. From enjoying a shake at work, to starting Sunday with a good book and granola with our fresh cashew milk.

Have you seen direct sales from your Instagram, or has it been more useful as an overall brand-building tool?

We’ve had people email us saying they found us on Instagram and would like to buy our shakes directly, but mostly we use it as a brand-building and product-awareness tool.

As a lifestyle brand, Instagram is fundamental in allowing us to project our personality and build a visual narrative. One of the great things about Instagram is its interface: allowing anyone who sees our page for the first time to scroll down and get a sense of our story: where we’ve come from, how we’ve grown and where we are today.

What are your tips for getting the most out of Instagram?

  • Define your brand purpose and personality, and ensure that each post meets the visions you have for your company.
  • Be consistent — don’t use a different filter for each shot, or borders on some shots and not others. Define your style and story you want to convey and embrace that.
  • Only post high quality photos and make sure your caption is typo-free and well thought out.
  • Follow relevant people and don’t be afraid to interact with their posts. You are more likely to get engagement if you are an active user.

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