Actionable tips, community conversations, and marketing inspiration.

How to Get Started With Selling on Instagram

Shae Henrie

Content Strategist @ AdRoll

Even though Instagram has officially started to sunset most of its shopping tools, it’s still a powerful tool for brands and businesses to connect with and sell to customers. If you’re an ecommerce that wants to leverage your brand’s photos and videos to drive sales, becoming an Instagram seller offers several incredible benefits. 

Why should your business consider actively selling on Instagram? For starters, the platform reaches more than 1 billion global users. In addition, there’s already a solid proof of concept: brands like Kate Spade New York, J.Crew, and Warby Parker have enthusiastically embraced available features.

This includes Instagram’s addition of a checkout feature that lets users buy products without even leaving the app. According to e-commerce 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.

As it turns out, learning how to sell a product on Instagram is an essential piece of the marketing puzzle. Let’s walk through the best ways to get started.

How to Sell on Instagram

Instagram is a valuable platform for ecommerce businesses because it taps into the power of visuals. Companies that thrive as Instagram sellers do so because they present their products in an engaging, attractive way. This focus on aesthetics allows businesses to build strong brand identities, in turn driving customer loyalty.

How can companies leverage Instagram’s tools? Your ecommerce business can greatly benefit from Instagram if you:

  1. Take the time to set up your profile for selling.

  2. Plan and create visually appealing content.

  3. Build a following through engagement, collaboration, and hashtag use.

  4. Use available shopping features to streamline customer purchases.

Step 1: Setting Up Your Instagram Profile for Selling

Before you sell your first item, you’ll need to complete the set-up process for Instagram Shopping. Start by ensuring that selling on Instagram makes sense for your brand. You’ll need to check the platform’s Commerce Eligibility Requirements to make sure you can comply with those policies. In addition, you should take the following steps:

  1. Ensure your business has its own website and domain. The Instagram shop must use product listings that are available for direct purchase on your website.

  2. Make sure your business operates in supported markets.

  3. Convert your Instagram account to a business or creator one. Connect it to a Facebook page if you plan to sell on both platforms.

  4. Facebook Business Manager accounts are a requirement to use Commerce Manager. They let you manage ads, pages, and anyone who might be working on them.

Beyond these steps, make sure you choose a memorable username and profile picture for your brand. Write a compelling bio that mentions your products, and don’t forget to add a link to your website or online store in the bio.

Step 2: Creating Visually Appealing Content

Instagram’s focus on visual content makes focusing on aesthetics mandatory. Luckily, there are plenty of tools and tactics at your disposal to create this content. Easy-to-use, web-based graphic design tools like Canva or Adobe Photoshop Express allow you to make graphics quickly, and filters give high-quality photos an extra dimension. But they’re not the only things you should focus on.

Quality content that drives impressions and sales can take many forms, but the most successful brands integrate a mix of the following content types:

  • Product demos and “how-to” content

  • Behind-the-scenes glimpses

  • User-generated content that positively showcases your brand

  • Professional photographs of new products and models

Even if you’re operating on a tight budget, there are still plenty of ways to create professional-looking photographs. Use techniques like flat lays to show all variations of a product and invest in solid backdrops and lighting.

Step 3: Building a Following as an Instagram Seller

The best way to build a brand as an Instagram seller is to do the following:

  • Create good content that people want to see.

  • Engage with people who comment, like, or share your content.

  • Use hashtag engagement to seek out opportunities to connect with potential customers.

Step 4: Using Instagram's Shopping Features

Once your Instagram shop profile is properly configured, it’s time to add your product catalog and start promoting your wares. Tag your products in posts, Instagram stories, and Reels. Link your existing product catalog in Commerce Manager using services like Shopify, BigCommerce, or other supported partner platforms.

15 Tips for Selling on Instagram

In addition to the basics of setting up your profile for Instagram selling, it’s important to develop the habits and best practices to help your account thrive. The following 15 tips can help any brand become a seasoned Instagram seller.

 1. Post regularly

Instagram recommends creating posts on a recurring schedule so users grow accustomed to looking at your products on a regular basis. That means creating a consistent rotation of static posts, stories, and Reels. 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.

2. Create at least 9 posts

How many posts do you need to begin with? 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.

3. 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 brand identity on Instagram 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. 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].”

4. Use URLs in your bio – and change accordingly

Your Instagram bio is the only place you can include a link, and you should absolutely do so 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. Followers won’t always search for the correct link manually, so it’s a good idea to make sure you always update it.

One way to ensure links are always updated is to create a “master” link from services like Linktree or Beacons. This allows you to keep the link in your bio consistent while adding details to a landing page.

5. Post quality images

It sounds obvious, but 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.

In addition to creating quality images and uploading photos and videos that meet the right specifications, you should constantly seek out new sources of inspiration — including researching photo trends, Hootsuite says.

6. Create tutorials

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. Adding quizzes and Q&As to the list, which also help increase engagement.

7. Incorporate the right hashtags

Hashtags are another way that brands can help customers quickly discover products on Instagram. Use 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.

8. 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.

9. 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. Just 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.

10. 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 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.

11. 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. 

Remember to post products multiple times to ensure consumers become familiar with what you have to offer.

12. Encourage engagement

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. 

13. Offer promotions

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.  

14. Use analytics

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.

Using your analytics, you can determine what products resonate with your followers. You may also find some products that are falling short. Use data to drive your strategy. Don't forget to look at both paid and organic efforts. Using one to inform the other is a quick and easy way to implement creative and messaging that you know works.

15. Keep experimenting

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 pictures, tags, and captions.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Your Instagram selling strategy is just as unique as your business is!

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.

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.”

Let AdRoll Help Guide Your Instagram Strategy

Double tap on more Instagram conversions and ROI! AdRoll simplifies paid advertising by streamlining your digital campaigns across Instagram, other popular social media channels, the web, and email. Check out our Instagram ads tool to get started.

Instagram Selling FAQs

How much does it cost to sell on Instagram?

There are no fees associated with selling on Instagram. Your budget is yours to decide.

Can you sell directly on Instagram?

You can sell directly on Instagram with Instagram Direct or with the Shop platform.

How does selling on Instagram work?

Selling on Instagram requires you to create a business profile. You can then tag products in your photos, Reels, and stories.

How do I accept payment on Instagram?

You’ll need to set up a business account to accept payments in Instagram Direct. You will need to link your existing e-commerce platform with Meta’s Commerce Manager tools.

Do I need a website to sell on Instagram?

Yes. Instagram requires you to have a website and domain.

What are the requirements to sell on Instagram?

You must have a website domain, adhere to the Commerce Eligibility Requirements, and operate in a supported market. You must also have a Business Manager account to set up your shop in Commerce Manager.

Can small businesses sell on Instagram?

Yes! Small and large businesses alike sell on Instagram.

Is selling on Instagram worth it?

For many businesses, selling on Instagram can help drive additional volume. But it’s hard work! 

Does Instagram take a cut of sales?

Instagram does not take a cut of sales. Other e-commerce platforms may charge fees, however.

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