How Niche and Regulated Industries Can Market on Instagram
Social media remains one of the top marketing channels out there, with good reason. To date, more than 3.5 billion people worldwide use social media daily. That’s half nearly half of the world’s total population. As a business tool, social media provides unparalleled reach. It also provides opportunities for personalization, brand recognition, and — thanks to Instagram’s recent Shopping feature — a one-stop-shop marketplace to sell and promote your products.
In an exciting turn of events, niche and regulated industries like cannabis are also starting to establish a presence on mainstream platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and even TikTok. It’s a far departure from the shadowy depths of the dark web where they once resided.
As a video-sharing app, Instagram offers a unique chance for industries to benefit from the visual aspect of social media. However, many regulated industries aren’t approved by the guidelines of mainstream social media apps. So, how do niche businesses overcome these hurdles so they can spread the word about their products and scale their company, all while abiding by strict social media guidelines?
The Top Industries You Cannot Promote on Instagram
Some items on the growing list of things you can’t sell or promote on Instagram may seem like no-brainers. For instance, Instagram’s Community Guidelines state that it doesn’t allow the support or praise of terrorism, organized crime, or hate groups. Offering sexual services or selling firearms and drugs are also prohibited.
But these guidelines are often black and white, overzealously cutting out any posts that toe the line. Where does that leave controversial public figures or businesses that offer products like CBD, medical marijuana, or adult diapers?
This restriction creates confusion for some. If cannabis is steadily becoming legal throughout the US, why is it still illegal on social media? That’s because cannabis and its more widely accepted sibling, CBD, are still illegal on a federal level. According to Facebook and Instagram, cannabis or CBD social advocacy is allowed, but not the promotion, sale, or use of illicit drugs.
The most challenging aspect of alcohol marketing is ensuring that brand messaging reaches an appropriately aged audience. Because such a thing is hard to regulate and social media can be very influential, platforms like Instagram require these accounts to implement age-gating tools and refrain from deliberate posts about the sale and consumption of alcohol.
It may be hard to believe, but even certain brands serving the personal health industry, such as companies offering condoms, must post with caution. Adult diapers, which are predicted to reach $24.2 billion in market value by 2026, are also on the list. As in the alcohol industry, these brands must settle for posts about the lifestyle, target audience, and benefits without advertising the products themselves.
Despite their rising popularity, posts about these digital dollars typically get flagged by Instagram. Why? Cryptocurrency is a concept most people still struggle to understand, but an increasing number of companies are advertising it on social media. Pair that with rampant endorsements by potentially fake accounts, and you have a recipe for scam central.
As a recent Facebook rule states, it “prohibits financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices,” including cryptocurrencies. Similarly, Instagram requires that crypto-promoting companies tread lightly or don’t post at all.
Social media is a platform rife with far-reaching influence, for better and for worse, and the widespread sharing of incorrect or fabricated information can be outright dangerous. Because of this, even politicians must tread lightly when posting about their campaigns, beliefs, and daily operations.
Social Media Roadblocks Your Niche Business May Face (and How to Overcome Them)
When posting content about regulated industries, navigating Instagram payment gateways can get a little challenging. But don’t let it discourage your marketing efforts. The best way to keep your posts from being muted — or, even worse, your account being suspended or deactivated — is to first familiarize yourself with the platform’s rules and guidelines before you start, then develop your marketing strategy accordingly.
Promoting Your Page
As a niche business, this is perhaps the most challenging roadblock to overcome. Primarily if you sell a product that is considered taboo. You may find that you must choose your words carefully or that you can’t take advantage of features like Instagram Shopping. Here are a few things that must be carefully avoided while promoting your page:
- No reference to prices, discounts, or sales
- No “for sale” posts
- No product menu posts
- No images explicitly showing prohibited products
- No clearly stated links to your website
With so many restrictions, promotion may sound like an impossible task. Consider alternative social media approaches, such as promoting a lifestyle rather than a specific product. This can still create brand recognition among audiences that resonate with your message.
It may be difficult to accurately measure your social media impact because, thanks to tiptoeing around guidelines, you cannot rely on click-throughs to your website or conversions from sales posts. Instead, try tying your concept of success to overall visibility. Measure your presence by growth in followers, reach, impressions, and engagement.
How to Market and Sell Niche Items on Instagram
Trite as it may sound, the first thing you need when marketing or selling your niche brand on Instagram is patience. In fact, this applies to any business on social media, whether or not they’re operating in a regulated industry. Contrary to popular belief, growing your company’s social media presence doesn’t happen overnight, even when you have a well-rounded marketing strategy in your arsenal.
Sometimes it can take months before you see measurable growth. Other times, you may need to tweak your initial marketing approach to yield results. Marketing is an art, not a science, and campaigns often require fine-tuning. If you aren’t seeing results, don’t throw in the towel. Instead, objectively evaluate your current marketing efforts, and make smart changes from there.
Use Hashtags Strategically
Hashtags can be a valuable tool for building brand awareness and exposure. Even for businesses selling regulated products, you can still tag your way into popular searches or onto Instagram’s discovery page if you play your cards right.
Instead of only trying to piggyback off the most popular hashtags, diversify your approach by using a combination of some popular and some highly specific hashtags. This can get your posts exposure with the right audience, and allows you to establish branding by creating tags associated only with your brand.
Find Ways to Boost User Engagement
Building community is a tricky venture for any business, in any industry. However, there are a few ways to market and sell your regulated items while still operating within Instagram’s guidelines.
For example, one effective, low-effort way to grow your followers and boost user engagement is to host a giveaway or a contest. Of course, if your product is regulated or illegal in some areas, it doesn’t make a good prize — give away something like branded merchandise, instead. Also make sure that you list one of the requirements for entry as following and sharing your post, as this will immediately spread awareness to a whole new pool of users. Businesses often use this strategy to increase their follower count and attract new leads.
Other simple ways to boost engagement include asking questions in your posts to stir up a conversation — especially if there is a social cause or movement attached to your industry — or adding a poll in your next Instagram story.
Diversify Your Content
When promoting niche or regulated products, you want to draw attention to your account without focusing too much on the products themselves. The last thing you want is to catch the attention of Instagram’s content monitors. A clever way to find balance is to diversify your content, both in type and topic. Try posting a variety of photos, videos, and infographics tied to the aspirational lifestyle your audience craves.
Audiences also love learning about the faces behind the brand, so consider showing off your employees, highlighting testimonials, or posting humanizing founder stories.
Add a CTA to Your Instagram Bio
When social media users become curious about your brand, they naturally gravitate toward your profile for more information. So one of the easiest ways to drive traffic to your website — and hopefully, convert sales — is to include a website or landing page link in your Instagram bio.
Although you can’t talk explicitly about your products, you can indirectly invite followers to your site, using language like “to learn more, visit us here.” This guides them to your site without any potentially restricted sales tactics. There is even the option to strategically use Instagram landing pages, incorporating elements like videos and testimonials to turn followers into customers.
Hire a Marketing Team
Because social media is casual by reputation, it often doesn’t occur to businesses to get professional marketers involved in their social media efforts. But trying to navigate the rules and restrictions associated with Instagram payment gateways can be difficult and time-consuming. There are many nuances involved in adhering to strict social media guidelines while growing your business. Instead of pulling your hair out, hire a marketing agency to help.
Our social media marketing team at Joseph Studios is more than happy to leverage our expertise to help you develop and implement a marketing strategy that removes the stress and hassle of promoting your regulated products.
Use Social Media to Improve Your Customer Service
Using social media to improve your customer service can, by association, improve your social media marketing efforts. Social media is designed to be a two-way communication channel where brands and customers come together.
However, there is a perilous disconnect. Most companies use social media only for promotion, while 90% of customers use it to communicate directly with brands. When you receive complaints and questions, be sure to address them as quickly as possible. As you continuously interact with followers, you begin to earn their trust and encourage them to reach out. This ultimately leads to you earning their business, and the interest of other users in their network.
Try Behind the Scenes Content
With niche businesses, word of mouth is your best friend. It can promote your company in ways that other marketing strategies cannot. And one excellent way to get people talking is to have engaging behind-the-scenes content. Instagram’s Stories feature comes in clutch here, as you can creatively introduce your team or give insight into your process. More than 200 million people use the Stories feature, including many businesses. Part of the marketing genius of using Stories is that each one you post has a 24-hour time limit, creating a fear of missing out among your audience. If they don’t watch it now, they might miss something important. This FOMO can keep them exploring content for hours, so make sure some of that content is yours.
Invest in Link Tree
For many businesses that sell items in regulated industries, sites like Link Tree are an excellent alternative for Instagram’s payment gateways. Through a hyperlink pasted in your profile bio, your followers gain access to all the links they need, from your website URL to product pages, discount codes, newsletter sign-ups, and even payment processing.
It’s impossible to ignore the marketing power of social media, but finding an effective way to promote and grow your business while following Instagram’s restrictive community guidelines can be a head-scratcher.
If marketing your niche business on social media seems like an uphill struggle, why not work with a digital marketing agency to achieve effective strategies? Joseph Studios offers customized marketing solutions in a subscription-based service. Our social media team builds your campaign from a foundation of data intelligence and influence marketing to stealthily engage your target audience and grow your business, no matter the niche or regulated industry.
For more information about Joseph Studios or a quote for the services we offer, don’t hesitate. Get in touch with our team today.