Oh, Instagram! The promised land of thousands of likes and easily-acquired stardom.
Don’t be mistaken – Instagram still is all those wonderful things. But it has also become a major player in the e-commerce field. Sell on Instagram – and the world becomes your oyster.
Selling through Instagram is a common reality among the modern entrepreneurs. And considering the data, it is not at all surprising, why the choice falls exactly on this platform.
With 800 million users, Instagram is the 3rd most popular social networking platform in the world. More than 200 million Instagrammers visit at least one business profile a day. 60% of them do it to discover new products. Need we say more?
So if you’ve wanted to hop on that Instagram wagon, wait no further. Here’s how to start selling your product in 9 easy steps:
1. PICK A CATEGORY THAT SELLS
Instagram is a social platform that focuses on visual media. So it will be easier to sell products that have a strong visual identity.
Most popular ideas of what to sell on Instagram are:
- Beauty products
- Food & beverages
- Home goods & decor
- Outdoor & sporting goods
For digital product ideas, some of the most popular choices are:
- Graphic design
Other successful categories include electronics, services, and online courses.
Already have a product? Great!
Don’t worry if it does not fall into the categories mentioned above. If you’ve got strong passion about what you’re selling (and most likely you do, because – well, you created the business!), you’ll be fine.
The important part here – creating a compelling story and engaging content to make the followers notice and buy your product.
- The narrower your niche, the easier it will be for you to build your audience, hence sell your product. So instead of thinking “Toys,” think “Plush toys for Cornish Rex cats”.
2. CREATE A BUSINESS PROFILE
A business profile on Instagram is like an interactive business card. It provides a better marketing experience for you as the business owner, while helping the customers connect to your business.
Compared to the personal Instagram profile, it offers a bunch of practical features, such as:
- You’ll be able to add valuable information to your profile (business address, website, contact information, phone number, etc.).
- Instagram Insights to learn more about followers and well-performing posts.
- Post promotions to drive business objectives.
HERE’S HOW TO DO IT:
- First, you’ll need an active business Page on Facebook. If you don’t have a Facebook Page yet, we covered how to create it in our previous article.
- Connect the Facebook Page to your Instagram account:
- Go to your profile and press the “Options” button – the three dots – in the top right corner.
- Then tap “Switch to Business Profile.
- Select the Facebook Page you’d like to associate with your business profile.
- Choose a category for your profile. This will help people understand what your business is about.
- On the “Set Up Your Business Profile” page, review your business’s contact information. Make any changes you find necessary.
Tap “Done,” and there you have it! Your business profile is ready to bring in loyal customers.
3. PRODUCE ENGAGING CONTENT
With nearly 1 billion people in the whole world scrolling through endless heaps of Instagram photos, how do you make them notice your product?
First, you’ve got to nail your content.
This might be a more of an indirect means of selling. But trust us – quality content builds your brand’s identity. When your content stands out on a consistent basis, the higher the chances of building a loyal follower/customer base and bringing in those sales.
HERE’S HOW TO DO IT:
- Use quality photos/videos. No grainy images or shaky videos, please. Your content, as well as your profile picture, should be visually appealing and reflect your brand’s main message. Instead of still photos of your products, show action – for example, someone using your product. This will make your profile and your brand appear more dynamic.
- Maximize your Instagram bio. It takes less than two-tenths of a second for an online visitor to form an impression of your account. So yep, this little piece of text requires some thought. Here are a few suggestions to create an appealing bio:
- Include a link to your website (this part is so important that we’ll return to it a bit later as well)
- Use emojis to space out the text
- Describe your skills
- Use hashtags. Don’t overcrowd your text though. Use tags that are most relevant to your product to make it more discoverable. To find other tags popular in your niche, use generators like HashtagsForLife, TagBlender, or AllHashtag.
- Incorporate social proof. User-generated content is a very powerful tool that’s not only about putting your customer front and center. 92% of people would rather trust a recommendation from another person than branded content. Showing that customers are using your product, wearing your t-shirts, or coming to your classes will not only build trust and authenticity. It will provide your followers with a story and a community they want to be a part of.
- Stay in touch with your followers. Here’s the big 3 – answer their questions, respond to comments, address complaints. By engaging with your followers, you’ll build a strong relationship with them. In return, customers are more likely to come back for repeat purchases.
- Choose a color palette. It’s recommended to pick three to four colors that appear in the content and stick to those. This will help distinguish a specific theme for your profile and establish the brand’s visual identity. There are many photo editing apps that can help you with this.
4. UTILIZE THE URL IN THE BIO
The truth is – Instagram does not want you encouraging your followers to switch to another platform. That’s why you won’t find any appropriate place to put tappable links in photo captions.
There’s only one spot in the whole wide Instagram to put a clickable, external link. And that’s the URL section in your bio.
Whenever a new customer finds you on Instagram, they’re likely to go to your bio page and see your link. So having it up there at all times will add traffic directly to your online shop.
What’s more – selling on Instagram without a website is possible (and super easy). Just create your Sellfy shop, and you’re good to go.
HERE’S HOW TO USE THE URL IN YOUR BIO:
- Edit the URL link in your profile. This can be the website of your Sellfy shop, your online course, a link to your e-products, anything. Shorten the link if it’s too long with Bitly, Google shortener, or others.
- Refer your followers to the link. You might have heard the phrase “link in bio,” right? Well, better start using it in the captions of your posts. This will motivate people Instagrammers to take action and actually visit your page.
- Change the link accordingly. Whenever you’ve got a new post with a product you’d like to promote, make sure the website in the bio corresponds to it. The Internet people are pretty impatient and will not search for the correct link of your product manually.
- Include a call-to-action in your bio. Just above the URL link, write something that will entice your profile viewers to explore your website. Like “Shop now“ or “Follow the link to get new toys for your crazy Cornish”. People need a little bit of pushing, and this will do the trick.
5. ADD LINKS TO INSTAGRAM STORIES
With 300 million daily users worldwide, Instagram Stories is a feature that’s not only made for funny filters. It’s a great way to grow business and stay engaged with your followers on a more frequent and personal basis.
- You can capture the products in action
- You can promote special offers
- You can showcase new items
- You can show behind-the-scenes how the products were made
But there’s more. Since 2017, business profile owners with 10 000 followers or more can add links to Instagram Stories. In the Stories feed, it will look like your regular Instagram Story, but with a “See More” button at the bottom.
Adding a link to the Instagram Story is a huge trend. It can help brands, publishers – anyone who wants to sell anything, really – drive traffic much faster.
HERE’S HOW TO DO IT:
- Take a photo or video in the Instagram Stories window or use a picture from your camera roll just like you normally would.
- Click on the chain icon to add a link to your Story. It’s located on the top right side of the screen.
- Enter the destination URL and tap the checkmark when you’re done.
- Encourage your viewers. The “See More” button isn’t that noticeable, so add arrows, stickers, text boxes to make sure everyone notices the link and “swipes up.”
Instagram previously let only verified accounts add hyperlinks to Instagram Stories and then made the feature available for more regular folk. Could they be lowering the bar yet again?
Don’t count on it. As Instagram’s product manager Nathan Sharp said, it does not necessarily mean that the feature will be rolled out to all Instagrammers.
- Inform your customers. Let the followers know exactly what you’re linking to. Is it your newest product that’s only available on your Sellfy shop? A new blog post? Write that in the Story so that people know what they’re clicking on.
6. USE INSTAGRAM ADVERTISING
Having trouble finding the right people to see your products? It’s time for some Instagram advertising.
Creating an Instagram advertising campaign means you’ll be posting sponsored content on the Instagram platform to reach a larger and more targeted audience.
You can decide:
- How much you want to spend on your ad
- Where you’d like the ad to be seen
- How long you want it to run on the platform
You can choose a specific objective for your campaign. Will it be brand awareness to make people notice your brand? Or reach – for accessing the maximum number of people? Perhaps app installs to do exactly that – send Instagrammers to the store to purchase your app? Choose an objective that suits the needs of your brand.
As to the format of Instagram ads, there are several types.
HERE ARE YOUR OPTIONS:
- Photo ads. The simplest type of ad in terms of visual needs – it’s one simple photo in landscape or square format.
- Video ads. A video up to 60 seconds in length in landscape or square format.
- Carousel ads. A set of 2-10 photos and/or videos that the user can swipe through.
- Slideshow ads. This type of ad appears as if in the form of video but is, in fact, a series of still images that play as a slideshow.
- Stories ads. The newest type of Instagram ads. Can be used with photo, as well as video format.
- Do research. Before creating your own Instagram ad, explore your competitors. Seeing what kind of ads they are running will help you pick the right format to stand out from the crowd.
7. USE SHOPPING ON INSTAGRAM
A relatively new feature, Shopping on Instagram offers businesses an immersive storefront to tag the best products directly in the posts. This way you give your customers access to pricing and product details.
However, research reveals that in the first week the feature was launched in the UK, big-name retailers such as Asos and Zara were a bit hesitant to use it.
Truth be told, we’re a bit surprised. Because here’s why Shopping on Instagram is great:
- Customers can explore your products with a single tap
- You can tag up to 5 products per image or 20 products per carousel
- Customers can tap “Shop now” to take them directly to your website for purchase
At the moment, the Shopping on Instagram feature is available for online businesses based in 44 countries. To set it up, you’ll need to:
Making your Instagram posts shoppable can be a bit tricky since the feature hasn’t been around for long. So here’s a helpful guide that should guide you through the process step by step.
- Aim for the big 9. Create at least nine shopping posts to activate the Shop tab. This button lets your audience view all tagged products in a post.
8. USE INSTAGRAM SELLING TOOLS
What if Shopping on Instagram is not available in your country? Or you’re just looking for a variety of ways to improve your Instagram business?
This is where Instagram selling tools come into play.
Instagram selling tools are third party companies that offer software to make your feed shoppable. These tools help to monetize your channel in creative ways – like through commenting or with hashtags, etc. All you’ve got to do is choose what floats your customers’ boat.
HERE ARE YOUR OPTIONS:
- Storefront link in the bio. If you’re not using Shopping on Instagram, this is the way to go. You can build a shoppable storefront with the help of another app. It will create a link to a shoppable page that has the same design of your Instagram feed. This site, however, will allow customers to tap the images for direct links to the products they are interested in and lead them to your e-commerce platform. Use apps such as Like2Buy by Curalate or Have2HaveIt.
- Selling via commenting. Purchasing an item can be as easy as commenting on a post. An example of comment buying selling tools is Soldsy. Install the app and upload product images through the Soldsie dashboard. This turns your images into shoppable Instagram posts. Users can then purchase them directly by commenting “sold” and adding any necessary information like size or color of the product. A similar app is Spreesy. Here, the customers need to leave their email in the comment section to receive a secure checkout link.
- Selling via #hashtags. Apps that provide selling with the help of hashtags use the same bio-URL-to-storefront method. But here – users can add a dedicated hashtag that makes it easier for users to search for buyable content. Add the hashtag of the particular app to your description so that it flags that your content can be bought. Use apps such as Inselly or Boost.
- Selling via affiliate links. Some apps are not only useful for the business, but offer an opportunity for affiliate relationships with other companies. This is the case of Liketoknow.It – an extremely popular app among the blogger community. It embeds product credits with an affiliate link. As soon as users “like” a photo on Instagram, they will receive an email that lists the items in the post. When somebody buys the products your posts feature, you get a commission.
- Let people know your profile is shoppable. Don’t expect that Instagrammers will magically know they can buy the products seen in your posts. Publish a photo or a series of stories letting your followers know they can shop on your profile and keep reminding them once in a while.
9. REACH OUT TO INFLUENCERS
Instagram collaborations play an essential role in the social media strategies. Consumers don’t trust traditional advertising – instead, they trust real people.
And so we’ve come to influencer marketing, the fastest-growing online customer-acquisition channel.
In influencer marketing, a business teams up with an influencer to represent their product. Who can be an influencer? Well, basically anyone with a large web and social media presence. A person in fashion, a food blogger, a respected marketing professional, you name it.
Last year alone, 84% of marketers planned to work with an influencer in 2018.
And here’s why you should, too:
- Influencer marketing helps target your audience. Your content is placed right in front of social users that are already interested in your niche.
- It builds consumer trust. Brand credibility and industry reputation are extremely important in reaching those sales goals.
- It’s much cheaper than traditional media.
- Bypassing adblocks. Social media posts don’t get blocked, so even those 615 million devices which use adblock will see your message.
HERE’S HOW TO DO IT:
- Identify an Instagrammer that resonates with your target audience. Find someone in a similar niche to yours who would trust in your product. Keep in mind your campaign’s goals and list the required traits.
- Develop a schedule. How many posts do you expect the influencer to post? Will it be a series of posts? Plan an influencer marketing calendar so that it’s easy to follow.
- Establish a deal. Top influencers like Kim Kardashian earn up to 250K for a single post. But it does not have to be financial compensation. Talk it through with the influencer what he or she expects from your deal, so you’re both on the same page.
- Size doesn’t matter. Don’t stress it if you cannot afford to pay someone with 500K followers hundreds or thousands of dollars per post. Working with micro-influencers can be almost seven times more effective than working with influencers with larger followings.
THE POWER OF MANY
To sum it up, the engagement Instagram can provide to your business is enormous. And if you aren’t already using it, you’re making a huge mistake.
But don’t assume that leaving it all on Instagram’s shoulders will do the trick.
The best way to sell on Instagram is to cross-promote on other social media platforms whenever possible. Spread awareness on your Facebook page and Twitter profile, as well as on email lists. Let your followers know what’s going on.
This will not only increase the results of the sales but build your image as a trustworthy and powerful brand.
Kristine writes about a range of topics, including productivity, life hacks, e-commerce, and tech. Always on the search for the next best ASMR video.