23 Sep 2021 By By Alice Davies
There are now around 1 billion active users on Instagram. Considering there are almost 8 billion people worldwide, this is a substantial amount. What exactly does that mean for brands?
Well, with such a huge audience to tap into, it means you can reach your customers where they’re browsing, as well as get in front of new audiences. Think of Instagram as the largest shopping mall / centre you’ve ever been to, but one that never shuts, is always adding new stores, and has a plethora of customers who never get bored shopping.
In this guide, we’ll go through exactly what Instagram Shopping is, how it works alongside your eCommerce store, and how to successfully sell on the platform. Let’s shop!
Similar to your eCommerce store, Instagram Shopping is a platform where you can sell your products online, through the social media app.
Users of the app browse as normal and if a post appeals to them, they can click and learn about the products featured on the post. If they want to purchase, they can do this right on Instagram, or choose to go through to your website.
However, Instagram is infamous for not allowing links within post content, which is why it’s so important to have Instagram Shopping set up, if you’re looking to tag products on posts and sell directly via the platform.
There are plenty of great features available on Instagram Shopping to make it as simple as possible for your followers (and beyond) to buy safely and securely. Let’s go through these features now.
According to Business of Apps, Instagram accounts for 30% of Facebook’s total social media revenue - and that figure isn’t slowing down. This is partly due to the great range of features available and that they keep releasing more and more at startling rates. The more features and options available, the easier it is for consumers to stay on the app and purchase - boosting your business’ products.
There are a number of Instagram features that are currently available in the US, such as ‘Checkout on Instagram’. This feature is set to become commonplace at some point in the future - we just don’t know when!
Shoppable Instagram posts enable consumers to see a product they like, click the image to find out more, then purchase. You can tag more than one product on your post, as well as displaying discounts.
You want to be able to provide your customers with everything they need in one post - which is why the Shopping Tag and tagging influencers is so important.
Not only does this mean they can instantly buy the product they’re interested in, but it also means they may engage with the influencer you’ve tagged. Following them means they’re likely to see your products across at least two profiles, making them more likely to engage and purchase.
Influencers can also tag products in their own posts to allow their followers the opportunity to buy from you. Seeing products on ‘real’ human beings, makes consumers more likely to purchase, as they either find that influencer relatable or trustworthy.
Instagram Stories are an engaging way to promote your products, as well as interact with your audience (we’re thinking polls).
Recently, Instagram has changed their ‘swipe up’ feature to allow profiles to include a link on their Stories, providing the user with a new way to click through and view the product they’re interested in.
Advertising on Instagram is nothing new, but you can now advertise your Instagram Shop on Instagram - makes sense! You can either boost or sponsor a Shoppable post that you’ve already posted, or promote a specific product through Ads Manager. Instagram Ads are also a great way to push sign-ups to email newsletters.
These are a great way to showcase your products, with an image, description, and pricing. The images featured are the products tagged. When the checkout feature becomes available for everyone, your product detail pages will allow people to simply click and buy.
If you have groups of products you wish to showcase or feature via Instagram Shopping, you can do this through Collections. They’re a great way to give consumers different choices from the product they were originally interested in - perhaps even prompting them to buy more than one product.
As with all platforms and marketing channels, there are certain sectors that work better than others. This is no different for Instagram Shopping. Take a look at the list below to see which are the best sectors and industries for Instagram Shopping.
Fashion and jewellery
Beauty, hair, and makeup
Home and interior design
Fitness and health
You may already have an Instagram account that you’re looking to utilise for your business. However, a personal account won’t provide you with the same benefits and features as a Business or Creator account, so before you can set up Instagram Shopping, you need to ensure you have one or the other. This is easily achieved within the Settings section on Instagram. It’s free to change your Instagram account over to a business one, so don’t worry about extra fees.
You’ll need to sell physical products in order to take advantage of Instagram Shopping. Alongside this, you should also check if your business is located in an eligible region to be supported by Instagram. If you already have an eCommerce store, you need to own that website in order to sell on Instagram.
Yes, you will need a Facebook page in order to sell on Instagram Shopping. Luckily, if you don’t have one already, setting up a Facebook page is quick and painless - and also means you have another avenue to utilise to market to consumers.
Luckily for Shopify or BigCommerce users, integrating an existing product catalogue is pretty straightforward when it comes to Instagram Shopping. Don’t worry if you don’t use a certified eCommerce platform however - uploading your product catalogue into Facebook Business Manager is also relatively easy. You’ll need to add the products manually, with the correct image (500 x 500px), with a name, description, and any other details you think are relevant. The more information the better, as this will help from an SEO perspective.
Now you’ve uploaded all your products, you’ll need to submit your account for review with the powers that be at Instagram and Facebook. There’s no set time limit with how long these things take, but if everything is in order, this shouldn’t take much longer than a couple of days. However, always bear in mind that it could take up to a week (or more), so don’t hold your breath! You can check the status of your review within the Settings section on Instagram.
You’ll want to ensure that your Instagram states exactly what your business sells. This doesn’t mean it has to be boring - you can use this as another opportunity to showcase your brand’s personality and set the tone for what consumers can expect from you.
Top tip: If you’re already using Shopify or BigCommerce for your business, you can connect your Instagram Shopping feed automatically. This makes the whole process just that little bit easier - and gets you selling on Instagram quicker.
So you’ve got your Instagram Shopping set up and you’re feeling confident about consumers being able to buy with ease from you. But before you can do that, you need to attract them. Let’s take a look at how you can best do this.
Professional product photography and well designed images are a great way to capture the attention of your audience. Although it can be an expensive initial investment to get product photography, it’s worth it in the long run. If you can’t stretch your marketing budget for a graphic designer right now, there are plenty of tools out there that can help you design pretty effective images, such as Canva.
Make your audience feel special. Bespoke Instagram discount codes are a great way to make Instagram users feel as if they’re getting something exclusive and may be more likely to make the purchase then and there, without going away and thinking about it.
Utilising hashtags on your organic posts is vital, but it’s even more important on your Shopping posts. You want to reach individuals who are following or clicking on hashtags relevant to your industry and the products you sell. You could miss out on vital traffic if you’re not including these hashtags in your product posts.
Again, this doesn’t just apply to Instagram Shopping, but for your Instagram feed as a whole. Creating an aesthetic, whether that’s based on colour, filter, or tone, can attract the right audience. Consumers are more likely to recognise your products based on your aesthetic as well. This can be tricky to maintain, however, so think long and hard about how you’d like your brand to be perceived.
Video content really is king at the moment (think Instagram Reels and TikTok). It’s also especially important for products, showcasing how to use them or how clothing looks on a real person. Your audience will appreciate this, as it creates more trust from them, as well as being more likely to buy something.
User-generated content, or UGC, is an ideal way to showcase your product through real buyers, as well as rub the egos of your customers. Encourage your customers to tag you in their stories or posts - you could even create a relevant hashtag that allows you to follow your products across Instagram. This works especially well when you’re not just relying on influencers either, but real-life customers who paid for and used your product. And don’t forget, UGC is completely free.
Let’s talk about influencers. It’s been proven time and again that working with influencers and online content curators is a successful way to promote your products. However, it can be a lengthy process to research and contact the right ones - you don’t want to be working with just anyone. The partnership needs to be right and having a long-standing relationship with an influencer is better than just a flash in the pan post. Influencers have worked hard to create their own follower base, people who trust their recommendations and reviews. Make sure they match your brand’s ethos and values before you choose to work with them.
Once you have established that relationship, influencers will be able to tag your products, making it even easier for their followers to purchase from you.
The Instagram Ad platform has always been a great way to promote your brand - but with Instagram Shopping now set up, you can create ads that target your audience, keep them on Instagram, direct them to your profile, and encourage them to buy.
As we’ve seen above, Instagram Shopping opens up a whole new network and channel for promoting your products, so let’s have a look at the real benefits below.
Instagram has around 1 billion active users on the platform. Although not all of these users will be your target audience, it does mean that a good segment of them will be interested in your products - you just need to reach them. Luckily with all the tools and tips above, you should be able to do this with relevant ease.
Not only will Instagram Shopping allow you to sell your products effectively, it also provides you with yet another channel to generate brand awareness. Consumers who may never have discovered you through organic means, may now find you on their Explore page or via an ad. Working with influencers to promote your feed as well, means you’re generating brand awareness to an even bigger audience.
The customer journey and experience via Instagram Shopping is really quite seamless. It’s also a great way to engage with your audience, as you’re providing them with all the information they need in a post. This means they’re more likely to like, comment, and share your content. You can also feature and promote UGC, making consumers more likely to tag you in their own posts - reaching a wider audience.
From start to finish with Instagram Shopping, the experience is seamless, for both consumers and businesses. We expect to see the platform go from strength to strength within the next few years, with even more features for businesses to take advantage of. It’s a great platform to complement your eCommerce site, helping you tap into a wider audience and get direct sales.
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