Every Wednesday I participate in a Twitter Chat hosted by Altitude Summit called, #altchat. It is a great place to meet fellow creatives embarking on their own personal journey to success. This is where I first crossed paths with the talented social media guru Caitlin Bacher of Little Farm Media. I then later joined her private facebook group, Social Media for Creatives, where I shared details of Light Rust's recent Instagram Auction. It seemed like a topic other people didn't know much about so Caitlin asked me to write a guest blog post on Little Farm Media. I thought you all would be able to gain some knowledge from it as well so I have decided to share it on our blog too.
I recently hosted an Insta-Auction for my company Light Rust Studio. Though I have participated in several auctions run by others, this was my first time as the host. Just as with trying anything new, I reflected on lessons learned afterward and I’d like to share those with you so that you can host a successful Instagram Auction too!
There has been a steady rise in the number of companies selling products directly on Instagram. I find the social media platform to be a very interesting platform for this, and it makes sense considering both the popularity of the app and also the opportunity it affords web-based companies to interact with their customers throughout the purchasing process. Instagram lets companies become a person or persona that people want to be a part of and relate to. When used thoughtfully, Instagram can help a smaller company generate a lot of interest and sales.
1. Planning :: The biggest part of an Insta-Auction is the planning stage. Planning months in advance can save you from a lot of unnecessary stress when it comes to auction time. When scheduling when to hold your auction, think about times of the year when people are in a buying mood for your particular items. We chose Christmas time for our hand painted mugs since we felt that their aesthetic coincided with the season of cozying up by the fire to enjoy some hot cocoa. Christmas time is also a high traffic time for sales to begin with.
2. Meaning :: One of the most important things for an auction is for it to have some meaning behind it. Whether it’s teaming up with a charity so that some of the profits go to something good or raising awareness about a new product, it’s important for the auction to have a story. Do not just pull any product you have and auction it because you think you’ll get more money for it. There needs to be substance behind the auction if you expect people to be willing to bid—and even outbid others!
3. Products :: You’re not only selling a product but also an idea why that product makes sense to be sold auction style. Audiences want you to sell authentic limited addition items and one-of-a-kind pieces. Give your followers a reason to bid on the item. If you put out something your fans can buy somewhere else, they most likely will do just that.
4. Pricing :: Look around for similar items and make sure you stay in that pricing range. Do not overprice items solely in hopes for higher bids. In fact, I recommend starting the bidding at slightly under the item’s true price so you can appeal to a wider audience and pull that first bidder in. When considering an item’s price, think about how much you paid to make the item, what it would cost in a regular shop, and how much it is creatively worth.
5. Auction Times :: In addition to planning for the right time of the year, you also have to think about the day-to-day timing of your posts. I have seen successful auctions work two different ways: 1) Posting all the items at the same time, and 2) posting the items over a period of a week. I chose to post mine over a period of a week so my followers would consistently be reminded that the auction was happening. One thing I did learn was that I should have staggered the ending date of each product’s auction to allow people bidding on multiple items the ability to focus on each more directly.
6. Account :: Some companies choose to have a separate, auction-specific Instagram account to direct their followers to. I would only recommend this route if you plan on hosting a lot of auctions or flash sales so that you don’t clutter up your primary account. Otherwise, stick to the same account where your followers are already hanging out. There is no need to add an extra step if it isn’t necessary.
7. Advertising :: Do at least a small amount of advertising for your auction. Get your followers across all social media platforms excited and ready to bid so when the day comes they know what to expect. I invested in some Facebook advertising to get some new people involved as well, but you can even go the free route by making your own ads to post across platforms to guide people to your Instagram. I strongly recommend writing a blog post about the precise rules, products, and timing for your auction so you can direct people to read more about it there rather than constantly writing lengthy posts. This also helps on Twitter where you have limitations on the length of your posts.