Instagram shoutouts are a simple but promising way to promote a dropshipping store. We have been using it since 2016 and we still get great results! In this step-by-step complete guide you’ll learn how to effectively use this advertising method.
There are several channels allowing to promote your drop shipping business on the Internet. The most efficient and popular ones, as we know, are social networks, and especially Instagram.
According to American independent researches, Instagram prompts and inspires a user to get interested and engaged in something to a much greater degree than Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.
Instagram gives you the opportunity to place official paid advertisements in the Feed or Stories. For such ads, you can choose your target audience and select a really narrow segment – it’s even possible to use people’s personal interests as the basis for the segmentation. Plus, you can place an active button under such ads: the button will redirect users to your company site, or initiate the app download. For targeting, information from connected Facebook accounts is used. It helps to show ads only to the interested users. However, much like the majority of ads, sponsored posts on Instagram annoy users because they are shown forcibly.
One more disadvantage of official paid ads is that users mostly ignore them and scroll them down without reading. As a result, you lose your potential customers.
An alternative option of direct advertising on Instagram is shoutouts. These are paid posts in popular bloggers’ accounts that are somehow related to your store theme. They don’t look like ads at all – that’s why users actively like them, make reposts and leave comments. Your account becomes more popular, sales increase, and users become more loyal to your store.
For one store, we order 2-3 shoutouts per day getting 7-10 orders from each. The math is simple here – you spend, for example, $20 and get $250 of the net profit.
Therefore, shoutouts are a cool commercial tool to promote your drop shipping store. Get ready – you’re going to learn how to use them right!
What should you do to order a Insta shoutout?
1. Decide whether your niche is fine for promoting on Instagram
2. Create an Instagram account for your store
3. Choose items to promote
4. Find nice accounts for shoutout placement
5. Order a shoutout
6. Prepare info for this shoutout
7. Duplicate it in your store’s Instagram
8. Analyze the results
Now let’s take a closer look at each step. As an illustration we’ve chosen our drop shipping store with phone cases.
Step 1. Is your niche suitable for promotion on Instagram?
We know that, all in all, Instagram is very convenient for products promotion, but we want you to get REALLY great results. That’s why we ask you to pay a little bit more attention to the following aspects.
Decide whether your niche is suitable for Instagram advertising or not. Try to figure out what is your target audience. What’s the age of these people? Do they use this social media platform? What are their interests and peculiarities? Are they ready to spontaneously buy something? If after answering these questions you understand that Instagram is a fine channel for your store promotion, don’t hesitate to start advertising there.
Don’t feel bad if Instagram isn’t suitable for your store. Anyway, there’s always room for experiments – and shoutouts is a good and cheap way to find out whether it’s really worth making ads in bloggers’ accounts.
Step 2. Create your store’s account on Instagram
To fill your account, use entertaining content related to your store theme. It can be some nice photos, humor, quotes or anything that relates to your products. Add copies with CTAs (call-to-actions) to the pics. Place some hashtags that would draw the attention of your prospective customers.
For example: “Like and Share! Visit us!” #phonecase #iphonecase #samsungcase
In addition, use commercial content that reflects your store product range. Such posts contain a product picture, its title, price and a CTA (“check out site”, “learn more”, “tag a friend” and so on). You can also write about your worldwide free shipping service, your guarantees, and payment service providers.
To automatically fill our Instagram accounts with both commercial and entertaining contents, we use Social Rabbit Plugin.
Step 3. Choose items or a category to promote on Instagram
To pick products to advertise we make a little research – we try to find and analyze items that our audience could be interested in. For this purpose, we use AliExpress, Pinterest and Ebay.
First of all, we take a look at how many times this product was bought on AliExpress. Let’s say, we want to create an ad about cat-themed phone cases. We make a search request “cat phone case”, choose “Orders” filter and voila – here we see the best-selling phone cases with cats.
It is also important to look through customers’ reviews on this product and check the seller’s rating. Lots of positive reviews are a sign of a high-quality product.
Pay attention to delivery time as well. Try to choose items with fast delivery since it will help you avoid complaints and refunds.
We search for the most popular pins with cat phone cases on Pinterest.
On Ebay we make a search request “cat phone case” and take a look which ones were bought most often.
Having figured out what product is the most popular on AliExpress, Ebay and Pinterest, check whether you have one in your store. If you haven’t, add it there and prepare a perfect product page that would be really attractive to customers.
If you want to advertise not a single product but a whole category, analyze the group of products on this theme.
The method of analysis described above is great for the start. However, you can choose an alternative one – searching not for best-sellers but for new products.
You make a search request “cat phone case” and choose “Newest” as a filter. Shown products in the list are not insanely popular and, in some cases, they were never yet bought… But the main point is a seller’s high rating.
Nevertheless, you can add a new item from low-rating seller – just keep in mind that there’s a chance he can let you down in the future.
To learn what items you should probably advertise, analyze items that are gaining popularity on Pinterest or Instagram. This method takes more time than the previous one but it can work best of all.
All bestsellers at our sites were found upon the use of these two methods.
Step 4. How to find Instagram accounts for placing shoutouts
So, you’ve chosen an item or a category to promote. Now it’s time to find and select bloggers’ Instagram accounts to place your ads.
If we want to advertise a cat phone case, we should understand whether these accounts are attractive for our target audience. Try to figure out what accounts your potential customers follow, make a list of their interests for future reference.
For example, the phone case with kittens we’ve chosen can be advertised to young women who love cats, cute things and kawaii style. So, we will find accounts using words “cats”, “cute”, “kawaii”.
Type these words one by one in the Instagram search box.
So, we found lots of accounts related to cats. Now we need to check each of them – it really won’t take a lot of time. Now, evaluate each account by the following criteria:
1. General info about profile
Check the language of an account. If your webstore was made for English speakers and you want to make all ads in English, there’s no sense in placing ads in accounts in Turkish. You can conduct an experiment and order a shoutout in Turkish account, but it’s really better to promote products in accounts in your target audience native language.
2. Number and quality of followers
Select accounts with more than 100,000 Instagram followers.
You may find lots of million-plus accounts, but this number doesn’t mean that you’ll greatly benefit from placing your shoutouts there. It is very likely that owner of such an account will demand lots of money for an ad.
For instance, we were once searching for shoutout Instagram accounts to advertise kitchen utensils and came across one million-plus account that set a $250 price for a shoutout. So, we realized that even if we pay such money for an ad, it won’t pay off and won’t let us get any profit.
If you’re just beginning to use Instagram shoutouts, we recommend you to choose accounts with 100,000-500,000 followers. After a while, you can start looking for smaller accounts. Sometimes ones with 50,000 real followers can generate even greater profit.
When you analyze large accounts, don’t neglect their followers quality. Check several accounts of people who leave comments. If there are no posts and it has a strange account name like “dollymolly345”, it is more than likely that the blogger bought comments to increase engagement and, therefore, get more profit from his ads.
3. Quality of the content and number of promotional posts
Look through account posts. Does this account resonate with your store? Is it suitable for advertising the product you’ve chosen? Estimate how many promotional materials are placed there, on what niches and products. If a blogger publishes lots of diverse ads about absolutely different products – he definitely doesn’t think about his account content quality and cares only about money. Accounts littered with ads are not appealing to customers at all.
4. Quality of engagement
Engagement on Instagram means users reaction to account contents. So, it is necessary to check to what degree the account you’ve chosen is interesting for its followers.
Take a look at several posts in the account, note the percentage of the followers who react to the posts. Define the percentage of likes against the number of followers – it should be more than 10%.
If an account has 100,000 followers with only 200-300 likes on posts – there’s a high chance that this account is not attractive for users or the blogger used the mass following. (It is automated increasing of followers number, the majority of which are bots. Instagram doesn’t allow to use this method and can ban this account.)
It is necessary to note that, because of Instagram Smart Feed, users see photos only from accounts they constantly interact with – like, read, comment. So, a user doesn’t see a content he or she isn’t interested in.
However, a number of likes on Instagram really can’t be the most important basic characteristic when you try to evaluate some account effectiveness or explore Instagram as a promotional tool. But why? Actually, because we never can be sure what part of the content motivated a user to double tap.
Comments, on the contrary, are a more trustworthy characteristic. It takes some time to leave a comment, so, if a user does that, we can be sure they are really engaged.
Every time you search for an account for a shoutout, estimate it by these four criteria. It takes only a few minutes but brings really great results. If you see that an account is artificially big or “dead” – don’t order a shoutout there and do that on other nice and active accounts.
TIP: As time goes by, you’ll need to find new accounts since followers of a particular account can be easily fed up with your ads – and that’s natural. Searching for new accounts and ordering shoutouts from new bloggers is the formula of success.
Step 5. Order a shoutout in some blogger’s account
So, you’ve found a well-trusted account to promote your product… But how to ask for a shoutout on Instagram?
Actually, it’s simple. Just write a message to the account’s owner using Direct Messages section. Ask if he or she makes shoutouts, and suggest contacting you.
We write such a text:
Hello! My name is Kate. Your account is really awesome! Are you interested in paid shoutouts? If yes, could you, please, let me know your prices so we could discuss the details? I can make the shoutouts for you in my account as well. Thank you in advance for your reply!
In addition, you can send him or her an e-mail if an email address is presented in the bio. Sometimes we write both a direct message on Instagram and an email – in this case, you increase the chance to get a response.
We would like to warn you that not all of the bloggers agree to place shoutouts, some of them even don’t answer our messages. The more bloggers you write to, the higher is the probability to find someone for cooperation.
TIP: create a table to fill with accounts you wrote to. Mark the ones who answered and the ones who didn’t.
Which shoutout details should you discuss?
Instagram shoutout prices depend on a niche and may vary from $10 to $50 for every 100,000 followers. Sometimes a blogger charges up – don’t hesitate to haggle over the price and suggest your terms. If a price seems too high, try to find another account with a reasonable price.
2. Placement format
It is important to discuss what info a blogger should post for you. A standard set is a product image, a caption and a link to a product or some category in an account profile.
Don’t forget to talk through the way a blogger will receive all your info – via Direct Messages or email.
After you had a talk about the price and a placement format, ask a blogger about his preferable payment service provider. We usually favor to pay via PayPal – it’s the most convenient method for us!
If a blogger has a PayPal account, we ask to send us their email address. If they don’t have one, we suggest our product as a payment – they often agree. But you can discuss with bloggers any method of payment convenient for you.
Usually, we pay for a shoutout right before its placement and discuss payment time with a blogger in advance.
If you do use PayPal for paying for Instagram shoutouts and cooperate with a blogger for the first time, it’s better to send a payment using such function as “Pay for goods or services”. In this case, PayPal will charge a fee for a blogger. Actually, they are always not satisfied with it – that’s why we add from 10% to 20% to the payment to provide a blogger with a full sum. The advantage of this method of payment is that you can always make a refund if a blogger turns out to be dishonest.
If it’s not the first time you’re cooperating with this blogger and they have never let you down, it is possible to send them payments via “Send money to friends or family” (in new functionality of PayPal – “Send payment for your online purchases”). Now it’s you who is charged a fee, and it is much more difficult to make a refund.
4. Duration of your shoutout
Usually, a shoutout duration is 24 hours, but you can ask for only 12 hours with a discount.
5. Day of week
We buy Instagram shoutouts every day. The best days for them are Saturday, Sunday and Monday. This is the time when people buy online more actively – that’s why we order more shoutouts on these days to involve as much potential customers as possible.
TIP: Bloggers themselves can share some useful info about their account as Instagram gives the opportunity to analyse followers. So, just ask a blogger to send you the statistics on the account – you’ll see his followers’ sex, gender, geographic location and peak activity time. Use this data wisely and you will clearly know who’s going to see your ad.
6. Blogger’s timezone
It’s better to place shoutouts when blogger’s followers are at the peak of activity. Shoutout duration has to cover the time when your audience is at the peak of activity, too, and is ready to buy your product.
For example, if you want to attract buyers from the USA, there’s no sense in placing a shoutout at 9 am on Monday. The best time, in this case, would be from 12 pm to 12 am EST.
It is important to find out in which country or in which time zone bloggers live. We often stay in tune with their clocks – it helps them not to make mistakes when creating and placing shoutouts for us.
TIP: be as polite as possible to avoid conflicts. We have been working with lots of bloggers for a good deal of time, and, of course, something goes wrong during communication from time to time, but we always try to quickly find a solution and save good vibes. Such an approach will result in an increasing number of bloggers to cooperate with for a long time.
Step 6. Prepare info for making an ad
So, a blogger agreed to place a shoutout, you’ve discussed the right day and time. Now you should prepare some info – but what to say in a shoutout on Instagram? So, usually, it includes a product picture, a short but informative caption inspiring to buy your item, hashtags, and a link to this product of some category.
Let’s analyze all these elements:
1. Product picture
Think through the way of your product presentation. You can make a single picture of this product, or a collage with different products, or product variations. You can place the info about free worldwide shipping in the picture as well. All in all, place there anything you see fit.
For instance, this is a single pic of our product:
An example of a product variations collage:
An example of a product picture for Stories (1080x1920px):
An example of the pics for Instagram carousel (function allowing to place several photos in one post to swipe right):
You can also ask a blogger to place a video or a video presentation as a shoutout. You can search for it on the Internet.
Use any video editor or an app in your phone to create a video presentation with your product photos. Keep in mind that video format should meet Instagram requirements.
Frankly speaking, we don’t use video shoutouts so often since it really takes a while to make them. However, video content is gaining popularity now and it is more viral. If you have an opportunity to create video shoutouts, don’t hesitate to do that!
It should be short but insightful. Take a look at text examples we usually use.
As a rule, the text contains the product name, advantages of buying from our store, and a reference to our Instagram profile. It is vital to include a call-to-action – to tag a friend, to follow a link, etc.
If you make a shoutout advertising some product category, make sure the caption is suitable for all the products in this category.
Add several related hashtags to make this post viral – now it will be seen not only by the blogger’s followers but by everybody who searches for posts using these hashtags.
4. Link to the product or product category
Don’t make a too long product link. You can use Google Shortener to make it (you’ll be surprised!) shorter.
But actually, we don’t use it very often – we think it’s better to place a link containing your shop’s name since it inspires more trust in users.
Having prepared all the info, send it to the blogger via direct messages or email.
TIP: If you advertise some group of your products, make sure they appear in the first positions in the category ranked by popularity.
Step 7. Duplicate this post in your store’s Instagram account and answer all the comments
We do it before a blogger places a shoutout in his account. After he does that, we keep an eye on the comments under our post and under the shoutout, and answer them – it helps to stimulate purchases.
To increase buyers’ interest in your product, you can use this trick:
Create several Instagram accounts under different names and use them to leave comments under the shoutout. Write that you’ve bought this product, you’re satisfied with the quality and the delivery was fast. Such comments will definitely inspire other users to buy your product.
TIP: When you already have a base of accounts you work with, create a shoutout schedule for each week and book shoutouts in advance.
The way we do it:
Each Monday, we make an approximate shoutout schedule for the following week keeping in mind when and from which blogger it’s better to order a paid ad. Then we start writing to the bloggers to book a day and time for shoutouts. After they accept suggested terms, we decide the day of payment. Sometimes bloggers ask us to pay in advance – we do that only if we already know this particular blogger as a responsible and diligent person.
We advise you to make such schedule and to book dates in advance since lots of online shops already use shoutouts for the promotion of their goods.
Step 8. Analyze the results!
Placing shoutouts leads to increases in sales, boost of your site’s traffic, and organic growth of the Instagram account of your store.
Obviously, the very first source of info about your sales is the “Orders” tab in AliDropship Plugin section on your site. Here you will see how many purchases were made and how many carts were abandoned.
To trace numbers of orders from each shoutout, you can use UTM-marks for creating every link a blogger will put in his bio. If your goals at Google Analytics are set, you’ll be able to check how many visitors added the product to a cart, how many visitors reached “Proceed to Pay”, and how many purchases were made.
Create an individual link for each blogger.
Actually, we experiment with such links and not always place links with UTM-marks because, as I previously mentioned, a link containing your shop’s name inspires more users’ trust.
However, a link without a UTM-mark doesn’t make it possible to trace a source of sales and analyze the efficiency of the account where your shoutout was placed.
Having ordered a shoutout, make sure there’s a boost of traffic on your site. It is a sign that the account followers found your offer interesting.
If there’s a boost of traffic on your site but no change in the amount of purchases or addings to cart, it means that unfortunately, your offer lacks something. Try to make a shoutout in this account once again and analyze the results.
If there’s no boost of traffic at all, we can conclude that the account from which you ordered a shoutout is not effective enough or, probably, you’ve chosen wrong time for the placement.
So, analyze, analyze and analyze once again! Make several shoutouts about different products in different accounts. Try to diversify your ads, make them attractive and catchy. Think about your potential customers, offer something interesting to them and your success will not be long in coming!