If you’re wondering whether your brand should be actively selling products on Instagram, consider this: more than 130 million users tap on Instagram Shopping posts each month.
Instagram Shopping is a feature that allows brands to sell products directly to the platform’s 1 billion global users. Upon its launch in March 2017, Instagram said it wanted to “create something that was less transactional and more immersive” and that made “mobile shopping feel just like shopping.” Brands like Kate Spade New York, J.Crew and Warby Parker are just a few of the names that have signed on since then.
More recently, Instagram added a checkout feature so its users can buy products without even leaving the app. According to ecommerce platform Sellfy, Instagram Shopping is a valuable tool for brands because it helps consumers discover new products. Data from Instagram parent Facebook backs this up: A survey found 81% of consumers use Instagram to research products and services.
For more information on advertising on Instagram:
Here are 15 tips for how brands can make the most of their presence with selling on Instagram:
Instagram itself recommends creating posts on a recurring schedule so users grow accustomed to looking at your products on a regular basis. Sellfy agrees consistency is key to getting noticed on Instagram. “The more your content stands out on a consistent basis, the higher the chances of building a loyal customer base that brings in sales,” Sellfy said.
Create At Least 9 Posts
Nine is the magic number of shoppable posts in order to activate the Shop tab on your profile. This, marketing software firm HubSpot said, helps group shoppable posts under a single tab, which makes it easier for consumers to find and, of course, buy.
Figure Out Your Brand Aesthetic on Instagram
Much like your brand has certain attributes offline, you’ll want to ensure your Instagram feed has a complementary look and feel. Social media management platform Hootsuite says your Instagram aesthetic should be consistent with assets like your website, ads and packaging.
That means investing some time in figuring out the right aesthetic to ensure a cohesive experience for users. Sellfy says this includes color scheme, filters, fonts and even brand voice for captions.
“Having a consistent aesthetic on Instagram will help you improve your brand recognition and establish your identity,” Hootsuite added. “It also helps customers scrolling through their feed or browsing the Explore tab to recognize your posts at a glance … It can also help you differentiate your brand [from competitors].”
Use URLs In Your Bio – And Change Accordingly
Your Instagram bio is the only place you can include a link, which Sellfy says you should absolutely do in order to connect with new customers and encourage them to visit your website.
But don’t just use the same old link. “Whenever you have a new post with a product you’d like to promote, make sure the website in the bio corresponds to it,” Sellfy says. “Followers won’t always search for the correct link manually, so it’s a good idea to make sure you always update it.”
Post Good Images
It sounds obvious, but it’s good to remember Instagram is a visual platform and so “striking visuals,” as Hootsuite calls them, are most likely to stand out in the sea of images users are scrolling through.
This means not only taking quality images and uploading photos and videos that meet the right specifications, but constantly seeking out new sources of inspiration — and even researching photo trends, Hootsuite says.
Another tip for selling on Instagram is to create tutorials to demonstrate how consumers can use your products. This, Hootsuite says, helps show products in action — and reports say they are the most popular type of video content on Instagram. Sellfy agreed, adding quizzes and Q&As to the list, which also help increase engagement.
Incorporate the Right Hashtags
Hashtags are another way that brands can help customers quickly discover products on Instagram. Sellfy recommends using a hashtag generator to find relevant examples, as well as creating your own branded hashtag. “They can also help you land on the Explore page, which has a special Shop tab and is visited by more than 50% of Instagram users each month,” Hootsuite said.
But Hootsuite warned, don’t go overboard with hashtags. Instagram limits you to 30 hashtags per post, but even that is probably overkill. You don’t want your caption to look like an indecipherable chunk of never-ending text. Instead, social media management firm Buffer has found interaction is highest on posts with 11 hashtags, so that’s a good number to aim for.
Use User-Generated Content
One of the most authentic forms of content comes from users themselves: User-generated content (UGC). Plus, HubSpot noted, Millennials trust UGC more than other types of content, so it’s an ideal format for shoppable posts. Hootsuite agrees UGC is a “huge asset” for product promotion.
“Not only do these posts provide new, real images of your photos in action, they also boost your credibility,” Hootsuite says.
However, always make sure that you ask for users’ permission before sharing their photos and videos of your products. Instagram etiquette dictates you send a DM with a cordial request asking the creator if your brand can repost their work. Research has shown 65% of users grant permission in just 24 hours.
Work With Influencers
Another way to appeal to Instagram users is by partnering with the users they trust and tapping into influencer marketing. “An Instagram influencer’s stamp of approval goes a long way and is a great strategy to drive sales from your Instagram shoppable posts,” HubSpot says.
You’ll want to find influencers who not only have loyal followers, but values that align with your own. Influencer marketing platforms like SocialBakers, BlogMint and TapInfluence can help narrow the field. But also remember you shouldn’t necessarily discount micro-influencers just because they don’t have Kardashian-size audiences. In fact, research from influencer marketing platform Markerly found influencers with 10,000 to 100,000 followers offer the best mix of engagement and reach.
Post Behind-The-Scenes Content
Everyone loves a good peek behind the curtain and Instagram users are no exception.
Instagram recommends showing users how products are made as a way to forge connections with new potential customers. Possible examples include scenes from the design or manufacturing process, as well as highlighting specific tools or parts that contribute to the whole. You could also consider showcasing the employees who bring these products to life.
Post Product Variety – And Post Products More Than Once
Instagram suggests brands use the platform to show consumers all available colors, sizes and materials of a given product.
In addition, Sellfy says to post products multiple times to ensure consumers become familiar with what you have to offer.
Instagram says to add the question sticker to your Stories in order to invite users to learn more about your products and feel more confident buying them. These stickers allow brands (and individual users) to ask their followers questions and they can be placed anywhere you want in a given story. When followers want to reply, they simply tap the sticker — and they can do so multiple times. It’s a great way for not only users to get to know their friends better, but for brands to do the same with their fans and, of course, build relationships.
For more information on using Instagram Stories:
According to a separate post from Hootsuite about successful Instagram marketing campaigns, offering promo codes when selling on Instagram is a “surefire way to drive sales.” Brands can promote codes directly in their shoppable posts to make them easy to find. These exclusive offers are another way brands can grow loyalty and engagement.
And, of course, when selling on Instagram, you’ll want to measure your performance by monitoring data on how many people viewed product information or clicked through to a product page.
“This information is super helpful in [determining] what type of products (and product tags) resonate with your Instagram followers, or where there might be a disconnect in the buyer’s journey,” HubSpot said. “As with all of your social media marketing efforts, performance data should be measured to see what drove the best results (and why), and then used to inform future posts.” Instagram offers its own insights, but you can also consider social media monitoring platforms like Brandwatch, Union Metrics or Iconosquare.
After you get your feet wet with shoppable content and start to figure out what works and what doesn’t, you’ll want to keep experimenting with images, copy and tags, HubSpot says.
“No matter what type of products you sell, delving into your Instagram analytics allows you to understand your audience’s wants, improves your content, and ultimately helps you drive more traffic and sales,” HubSpot added.
Now You’re Ready to Sell On Instagram
Instagram is a visual platform where consumers seek to be inspired. As a result, a brand’s best move is to focus on creating engaging content users can’t help but notice while scrolling through their feeds.
But, Sellfy says, the best way to capitalize selling on Instagram is to actually tap into other social platforms as well. By promoting offers in other channels like Facebook or Pinterest, you’re able to tap into the power of omnichannel marketing to boost awareness, reinforce brand values, and, of course, drive sales.
“Spread awareness on your Facebook Page and Twitter profile, including email lists. Let your followers know what’s going on,” the platform says. “This won’t just increase sales but will also build you up as a trustworthy and powerful brand.”
For some more social media resources:
Last updated on August 16th, 2022.