Instagram: the promised land of thousands of likes and influencer stardom. Selling through Instagram is common among modern entrepreneurs.
Considering the data, it isn’t surprising why the choice falls on this platform:
With 1 billion monthly active users, Instagram is the 6th most popular social networking platform in the world.
According to Statista, more than 200 million Instagrammers visit at least one Business Profile daily. 60% of them do it to discover new products and 90% of accounts follow a business on Instagram.
It has clearly become a major player in the e-commerce field. Sell on Instagram and the world becomes your oyster!
So if you’ve wanted to jump in on the Instagram trend for a while, wait no further. Read on to find out how to start selling in 9 easy steps.
1. Pick a product or niche that sells
Instagram is a social media platform with a heavy focus on all things visual. According to Instagram, people come to the platform to be inspired and to find things they care about. So it’ll be easier to sell products that have a strong visual appeal or aesthetic.
Here are some trending digital product ideas:
- Graphic design
Trending physical product ideas:
- Apparel (t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats)
- Accessories and DYI (stickers, phone cases, jewelry)
- Beauty products (makeup)
- Home goods and decor (wall art, mugs)
- Outdoor and sporting goods (joggers, hoodies, bags, leggings)
Other Instagram business ideas:
- Services and coaching
- Online courses and workshops
- Instagram influencer (beauty, food, health and fitness, travel, art, photography)
Already have a product or niche? Great! Don’t worry if it doesn’t fall into one of the ideas mentioned above. If you have a strong passion for what you’re selling, you’ll be fine.
If you’ve yet to find a niche, feel free to have a look at our article on the top 11 highly profitable Instagram niches for 2020.
The narrower your niche, the easier it’ll be for you to build your audience and sell your product. So, instead of thinking “Toys,” think “Plush toys for Cornish Rex cats”. But, the most important thing is to keep creating engaging content and a compelling story to make the followers buy your product.
2. Set up an Instagram Business Account
A business profile on Instagram is like an interactive business card. It provides a better marketing experience for you as the business owner. It also helps customers connect to your business.
Compared to the personal Instagram profile, it offers a bunch of free business features, such as:
- Adding 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
So, if you already have an Instagram profile, here’s how to quickly switch to an Instagram Business Account:
- Go to your Instagram profile and tap the three horizontal lines in the upper right corner.
- Then, tap Settings and Account.
- Tap Switch to Professional Account and then Business.
- Once you’ve switched, you’ll be able to add details to your profile (like contact information and business category).
- Simply tap Done after you’ve added your details.
Optionally, you can also choose whether you want to display or hide your contact information and business category:
- Tap Edit Profile and go to Profile Display under Public Business Information.
- Choose whether you want to display or hide your contact info and category.
- Tap Done.
If you also have a Facebook Page associated with your business, you can connect it to your Instagram Business Account:
- Tap Edit Profile.
- Tap Page under Public Business Information.
- Select a Facebook Page to connect to your Instagram account (or create a new one if you don’t have a page). Keep in mind that only one page can be connected to your business account.
If you’re still unsure about switching, here are some of the benefits of having an Instagram Business Account:
- Not only will you be able to access business features, but you’ll also be able to understand who’s engaging with your business.
- You’ll be able to connect two of the most popular platforms—Instagram and Facebook—if you already have a Facebook Page connected to your business. This means that it’ll be easier to use all of the available features across the Facebook family of apps.
- It increases your social media presence so you can truly become recognized as a business.
- It gives people more information about your business: your products, services, etc.
- Apart from adding details such as business category or contact information, you can also add location and store hours.
- You’ll be able to get real-time metrics on how your content performs.
3. Create engaging Instagram content
With nearly 1 billion people in the world scrolling through endless heaps of Instagram content, how do you make them notice your product?
The key to getting noticed is consistency and high-quality content.
Quality content builds your brand’s identity and professional image. The more your content stands out on a consistent basis, the higher the chances of building a loyal customer base that brings in sales.
For some inspiration, take a look at how creatively Gamvae announced her Sellfy store launch to her Instagram followers:
Here’s how to increase engagement on Instagram:
- Choose a distinct theme or aesthetic. This can range from having a color theme (using lightroom presets or filters) to a specific font or brand voice in your content. There are many photo editing apps that can help you with this. Even Instagram has stated that users should decide on a cohesive look for their accounts.
- Create quality photos and videos. Avoid grainy images or shaky videos. Your content and profile picture should be visually appealing to reflect your brand’s main message. Consider showing more action (e.g. someone using your product). Gifs or videos will make your profile appear more dynamic.
- Enhance your content with creative tools. Use IG apps like Layout, Boomerang or Hyperlapse. You can also use the carousel feature to add multiple photos or videos in one ad without having to make separate posts. If you browse the App Store, you’ll be able to find more apps for enhancing your content.
- Come up with tutorials, quizzes, and Q&A polls. Gamify your content with something fun and creative. For instance, you can post this-or-that templates in your Instagram Stories and ask people to tag you when they use your templates—this is a great way to increase engagement.
- Write captivating captions and stay in touch with your followers. Answer their questions, respond to comments, and address complaints. You’ll build a strong relationship when you interact with followers—customers are more likely to come back for repeat purchases.
4. Utilize the URL in the Instagram profile bio
There’s only one spot where you can add a clickable external link—the URL section in your Instagram profile 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 encourage traffic to your online shop.
For tips on how to set up a shop, follow Sellfy’s guide and you’re good to go.
Here’s how to add and utilize the URL in your Instagram profile bio:
- Edit the URL link in your profile. This can be the website of your Sellfy shop, your online course, a link to your products—anything. Shorten the link if it’s too long with Bitly or Google URL shortener.
- 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 to take action and actually visit your page.
- Change the link accordingly. 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.
Did you know that you can also share multiple links in posts? With Linkin.bio, you can get more traffic from Instagram to your website or Sellfy store.
It takes less than two-tenths of a second for an online visitor to form an impression of your account. So, this little piece of text requires some thought.
Here’s how to maximize your Instagram bio:
- Include a link to your website
- Use emojis to space out the text
- Describe your skills or role as a business owner
- Include a call-to-action (e.g. “Shop now“ or “Follow the link to get … ”)
5. Get the most out of Instagram Stories
With 500 million daily users worldwide, Instagram Stories is a great feature to help you grow your business and stay engaged with your followers on a more frequent basis.
Here’s what you can do with Instagram Stories:
- Capture the products in action
- Promote special offers
- Showcase new products
- Go behind the scenes to show how the products are made
Since 2017, business profile owners with 10,000+ followers or a verified account can add links to their Instagram Stories. In the Stories feed, it will look like your regular Instagram Story, but with a “Swipe Up” feature at the bottom.
Adding links to your Instagram Stories is a huge trend that has increased traffic for many marketers and businesses.
Since Instagram is a mobile app, you need to make sure that your store is 100% mobile-friendly. There are many e-commerce platforms out there, but not every single one of them is optimized for selling on Instagram Stories. However, the good news is that Sellfy is.
Here’s how to add links to Instagram Stories:
- Take a photo or video in the Instagram Stories window, or use a picture from your camera roll.
- Click on the chain icon to add a link to your Story (it’s located on the upper right corner of the screen).
- Enter the destination URL and tap the checkmark when you’re done.
Once you’ve published your Stories with links, don’t forget to:
- Inform your customers. Let the followers know exactly what you’re linking to. Is it your latest product available on your Sellfy store? Or a new blog post? Write that in the Story so that people know what they’re clicking on.
- Encourage your viewers. The “See More” button isn’t that noticeable, so add arrows, stickers, or text boxes to make sure people will be able to see the link.
6. Get the most out of Instagram advertising
If you’ve been struggling with getting more traffic, it’s time for some Instagram advertising.
Creating an Instagram ad 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 should 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? Or will you send Instagrammers to a store to purchase your app? Choose an objective that will help you achieve your business goal.
As for Instagram ads, there are several.
Consider utilizing one of the following Instagram ads:
- Photo ads. According to Statista, photo ads are considered the most effective advertising format on Instagram. It’s the easiest type of ad to use—just add a simple photo in landscape or square format.
- Video ads. A video up to 120 seconds long in landscape or square format.
- Stories ads. 500M+ accounts use Stories daily in either image or video format.
- Carousel ads. A set of 2-10 photos or videos that the user can swipe through in a single ad.
- Collection ads. Lets your customers browse and discover a collection of your products in image and video format.
- Ads in Explore. 200M+ users turn to Instagram’s Explore page on a daily basis—use this to your advantage and extend your ads feed to Explore audiences.
- Slideshow ads. This type of ad appears as if in the form of a video but is, in fact, a series of still images that play as a slideshow.
Two of the easiest ways to create Instagram ads are:
- Tap “Promote” under the posts on your Instagram profile.
- Use the ad manager on your Facebook Page.
Before you start creating ads, don’t forget to perform market research. Explore your competitors to see what kind of ads they’re running—this will help you choose the right format so you can stand out from the crowd.
To find out more about Instagram advertising, head over to our blog post on 33 real ways how you can monetize your Instagram account in 2020.
7. Use Instagram Shopping
A relatively new feature, Instagram Shopping offers businesses an immersive storefront to tag products directly in the posts. This way you give your customers access to pricing and product details.
However, research has also revealed that when the feature was first launched in the UK, big-name retailers such as Asos and Zara were hesitant to use it.
Truth be told, we’re a bit surprised because here’s why Instagram Shopping is great:
- Customers can explore your products with a single tap
- Your posts can be shared on Explore and reach new people
- You can tag up to 5 products per image or 20 products per carousel
- Customers can tap “Shop now” to visit your website and complete their purchase
- View the Insights tab to see how you’re performing
Here’s how to get started with Instagram Shopping:
- Create an online store to sell physical goods (make sure your business is located in a supported market).
- Convert to an Instagram Business Account and connect it to your Facebook Page (ensure that your business complies with Instagram’s commerce policies).
- Connect your Instagram account to a Facebook catalogue by using the Catalogue Manager (you can also connect to an existing one) or Facebook Partner.
- Go to your Instagram profile’s settings, tap Business, and then Instagram Shopping.
- Follow the steps and submit your account for review (this can take a few days).
Once you’ve set it up, you can start using Instagram Shopping. It’s surprisingly simple—all you need to do is tap “Tag Products” when you create a post or Instagram Story.
To drive more engagement with Instagram Shopping, you can:
- Create your first post and activate a Shop tab on your profile
- Complement the visuals with different text colors in product stickers
- Announce sales and product launches
- Add more than one product in your posts, but don’t overuse the feature
Another new Instagram feature is Checkout. This in-app addition ensures that your customers won’t have to navigate to the browser to buy something.
It makes the Instagram Shopping experience better as customers will be able to:
- Enter their payment details without leaving Instagram
- Keep track of their purchase and receive order status notifications within the app
- Choose product size or color by tapping the “Checkout on Instagram” button in a shopping post
- Pay with Mastercard, American Express, Visa, PayPal or Discover
And, furthermore, their payment details will remain protected in one place.
8. Use Instagram selling tools
If Instagram Shopping isn’t available in your country, you can still use Instagram selling tools to grow your business.
These are third-party tools that offer software to make your feed shoppable. These tools help you monetize your channel in creative ways.
All you have to do is pick an option:
- Adding a storefront link in the bio to a shoppable page with the same design as your Instagram feed. Use apps such as Like2Buy by Curalate or Have2HaveIt.
- Commenting. Turn your product images into shoppable Instagram posts with Soldsie. Users can purchase by commenting “sold” or adding information like product size or color. A similar app is Spreesy where customers need to leave their email in the comment section to receive a secure checkout link.
- Hashtags. Use Inselly or Boost to add a dedicated hashtag in your description so users can find your shoppable content.
- Affiliate links. Liketoknow.it embeds product credits with an affiliate link so that users who like your photo will receive an email with a list of shoppable items in the post. When somebody buys a featured product, you get a commission.
Other actionable ways to increase sales on Instagram:
- Post your product multiple times. Advertise multiple times to ensure that new followers become familiar with your products.
- Incorporate social proof. User-generated content (UGC) is a very powerful tool—92% of people would rather trust a recommendation from another person than a brand. Customers showcasing your products builds trust and authenticity and provides your followers with a community to be a part of.
- Create a branded hashtag. One of the best examples is #muhoov. This Estonian clothing business grew rapidly when they began using their own hashtag to spread brand awareness.
- Use relevant hashtags that are relevant to your product to make it easier for customers to find your business. To find tags popular in your niche, use generators like HashtagsForLife, TagBlender, or AllHashtag.
- Use upselling. If you have a Sellfy store you can use the built-in upselling tool to offer exclusive deals or add a related products section. To find out more, head over to our article about upselling with Sellfy.
9. Reach out to influencers
Instagram collaborations play an essential role in social media strategies. Consumers don’t trust traditional advertising anymore, they trust real people.
This is where influencer marketing becomes relevant. It’s the fastest-growing online customer-acquisition method.
What is influencer marketing?
To put it simply, it is when a brand, business, or entrepreneur teams up with an influencer to represent their product. Who can be an influencer? Basically, anyone with a large social media presence.
Here’s why you should use influencer marketing:
- It targets your audience. Your content is placed right in front of social media users who are already interested in your niche.
- It builds consumer trust. Brand credibility and industry reputation are extremely important in reaching sales goals.
- It’s cheaper than traditional media.
- It bypasses adblock. Social media posts don’t get blocked, so even those 615 million devices that use adblock will see your message.
Here’s how to reach out to influencers:
- Identify an Instagram influencer who resonates with your target audience. Find someone in a similar niche to yours who’d have faith in your product.
- Develop a schedule. How many posts do you expect the influencer to put out there? Will it be a series of posts? Create an influencer marketing calendar so that it’ll be easy to follow.
- Establish a deal. Top influencers like Kim Kardashian earn up to 250K for a single post. But it doesn’t have to be financial compensation. Talk about deal expectations with the influencer to make sure you’re both on the same page.
- Keep in mind that working with micro-influencers can be almost seven times more effective than working with influencers who have larger followings.
The power of many
The revenue you can earn via Instagram is enormous. If you aren’t already using it, you’re missing out. 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, including email lists. Let your followers know what’s going on.
This won’t just increase sales but will also build you up 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.