A question that comes up quite a bit in my communities is about the effectiveness and “worth-it-ness” of paid features on Instagram accounts that will post about your items or shop.
In my discussions with other sellers, I have heard mixed reviews on their experiences with different accounts. The summary is as follows: some saw increased follows – but they were primarily other makers, many reported no increase in sales, and one person I spoke to reported a positive experience and would do a paid feature through a feature account again. Full disclosure: I personally have never paid for an instagram feature. However, I do run a Feature account on Instagram, but all features are free.
Related post: What Actually Counts as Good Exposure for Handmade
There is no way to say “all feature accounts” are good or bad. There are many and they should be treated as unique and should be researched with your product, goals and audience in mind. The point of this post is to give you suggestions for what to consider while you are researching so that you might find the best feature account fit OR discover you might be better off with another means of promotion.
Here are 3 key things I suggest you consider before paying for a feature on any feature account:
Look at the ratio of followers to likes and comments. Just because an account has a lot of followers doesn’t mean you will necessarily see a good ROI or have a fabulous experience. An account should get 2% -ish likes to number of followers on average. Will every post get the same engagement? No. But as an example, an account with 100,000 followers should get about 2,000 likes per photo… give or take a couple hundred. So look at the most recent posts to get an idea of the engagement. Also look for comments and interactions. (2% is a pretty standard conversion rate for a lot of things online.)
Look at the followers on the account. Do they look like real people with real accounts? Or do they look like spammy accounts and fake profiles? You want to be featured where your ideal audience will see it. Numbers don’t matter as much as presence + quality of the audience. Who is present here? Is the audience full of your ideal buyer? Here’s a hint: probably not. How could it be? Feature accounts do not have the cohesion or consistency that an influencer account or blogger would have. They feature a variety of items that have only one thing in common: they are handmade. So, yes, there might be some die hard handmade fans, but most people will have stronger connection to an account that presents them with things they can relate to over and over.
Many times feature accounts have audiences comprised largely of people just like you: other sellers. This isn’t a bad thing, but it’s something to consider. While fellow handmade sellers make some of the best buyers, they might not necessarily be the audience you are trying to reach. Again, it really depends on your goals and motives.
Backlinks + SEO
When you are featured on a blog or even a Facebook page, you get an active link directly back to your shop from within the post. Such is not the case with Instagram features. Further, with a blog post, you get the good juju of the back link / link authority AND it’s like a gift that keeps on giving if the blog is active and engaged. An Instagram post does not have the staying power or search-friendliness that a blog post does.
The lifespan of an Instagram post is like… 2 hours. Especially now with Instagram’s algorithm changes you are looking at AT MOST 12-16 hours of “lime light” and even that is pushing it. A blog post can peak over the course of an entire week and can be promoted over and over to experience steady traffic for weeks or months. A blog post can be pinned or shared – an act that is much more natural and expected than would be on an Instagram post. (Seriously when was the last time you pinned someone else’s Instagram post? And when was the last time you pinned a blog post? … Exactly.)
Do your research, ask other shops that have had recent features on the accounts you are considering if they wouldn’t mind sharing their experiences with you.
Consider if your marketing dollars might be better spent working with an influencer or brand ambassador who can created longer lasting, more shareable content with direct, enduring links.
In some cases you might have to “see it to believe it” so to say and just try it out. It’s not life changing money in most cases, so you might feel inclined to give it a go to say you tried it.
Related post: How to Turn Browsers into Buyers