Using Instagram for ecommerce

Posted on Thu, May 31, 2018 in Digital Marketing, eCommerce, by Mike Grill

Instagram was a tricky social platform to sell on for a long time as most of its users were young and the platform itself did not lend itself to selling very readily. However, a lot has changed in the past 5 years and now Instagram not only embraces brands that use it, it helps them with sponsored posts (advertising), and now stores. Fortunately, setting up a store on Instagram is about as easy as setting up a personal account. Even better, engaging with your market and followers is now easier than ever with only a picture and a caption.

Utilizing Instagram for ecommerce

In order to tag your products in Instagram, you first need to push your inventory to your Facebook profile, which you can either keep visible or hide from your Facebook audience. In a couple weeks, those products will be available for tagging.

An Instagram account with un-shoppable products is a lot like a 404 error. Think of it this way: you’ve spent tons of time and energy producing a visually appealing, non-salesy, and stylized post that features your products heavily. At this point, potential customers are engaged! They are locked into that image and now they simply want to click through it and get to your store where they can purchase the product or products. Without that link to your store, you lose sales.

The most important piece of advice if you want to sell on Instagram is to use the app on your phone. It is primarily, almost exclusively, consumed by mobile users and that experience simply does not translate to the desktop.

Setting Up your Instagram Store

First things first, download the app to your phone and upload your inventory to your Facebook page, which you should also use to authenticate your Instagram account. Once your accounts are set up and linked to each other, the rest is a relative breeze.

  • Upload a photo of your product or featuring your product as you normally would
  • The major difference is that now you can tag your product in the image
  • This tag links through Facebook directly back to your product listing page on your site
  • Share the post

It is truly that easy to make your Instagram photos shoppable. Granted, you have done a ton of work to get your ecommerce site up and running and the same with your Facebook page, but if you want to utilize Instagram, it is easy.

Advantages of Shoppable Instagram Posts

The Fall of 2017 saw a handful of brands beta testing Instagram’s shopping features. Across the board, these brands saw huge increases in revenue, traffic, and Instagram sales. Not only is the social platform an incredible way to engage with customers, but those engaged customers are more likely to buy.

Instagram was created as a way for users to share images, but even more than that, users are able to create and share stylized representations and stories of their lives. In this day and age, consumers are looking for more than just products, they want the makers of those products to resonate with their own stories. Think of a brand like Patagonia. Not only do they have incredibly engaged customers, but their customers also remain loyal as the company remains transparent about its goals for the environment. Almost every single product in the Patagonia catalog has a story that goes with it, whether it was the extremes of climate that the testers went to, or the decades of development that have gone into a product, or the product accompanying a customer to the ends of the earth. The brand itself is engaging and this translates extremely well to Instagram where beautiful, serendipitous images lend themselves extremely well to the platform as well as to their customer’s ideas of themselves.

Now, not every brand is Patagonia, but every brand has a way to engage with its customers. After all, your customers bought your product for a reason. Showing products in the wild - as it were - goes well beyond the product images on your ecommerce store. The product tags also refer back to the ecommerce store in case more product specific images are needed.

Community Engagement

The other massive windfall for Instagram’s ecommerce capabilities is the community aspect. Hashtags allow your customers to create their own sub-community where they share and exchange images of themselves using your products. This sharing is pretty much the best advertising because #1) it’s free, #2) it is an already engaged community, and #3) it connects your brand with more images of your products in lifestyle photography that is completely user generated!

Engaged users are much more likely to convert, especially in ecommerce. With Instagram, it is now easier than ever to engage with your customers in a visually appealing and stylistic way that both inspires more engagement and inspires more sales. Tagging your products is not just a good way to generate more sales, it is imperative to avoid losing customers for life.

If you have any questions about how to best utilize Instagram or any other social platform for your business, contact our expert ecommerce team!

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