If you didn’t know this already, you can now use your favorite photo-based social media app to drive a ton of traffic to your store and have fun doing it (you gotta love technology)!
In fact, if you’re not using Instagram shopping, you’re most likely leaving a lot of money on the table.
If you’re based in the US, you can even take direct payment on the app itself without the customer ever having to leave Instagram.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty of payments, let’s run through how you get this all set up. Then, I’m going to walk you through 11 ways you can promote your Instagram shop and dramatically increase your sales.
Myself and my family are based in Phuket, Thailand, so this was the first challenge I ran into when I first tried to set up Instagram Shopping. We weren’t eligible!
Thankfully Instagram has extended their supported marketplaces extensively since then so Thailand is now included as are many other countries.
You can check if your country is eligible here.
Secondly, you must have an Instagram business or creator account to qualify for Instagram Shopping. A personal account won’t cut it.
Thankfully, this is super easy to do!
Simply go to your Instagram profile and tap Settings. Select “Account,” then “Switch to Professional Account.”
Then, click through the prompts to select a category and enter more details, like your contact information.
Click Done, and that’s all there is to it!
As I’m sure you’re aware, Instagram is now part of Facebook, so to create your store on Instagram, you need to set up your Facebook shop first via their commerce manager.
A few more steps are required than creating your Instagram business account, but again, if you can tie your shoelaces, you can set up a Facebook Shop.
In fact, I timed myself doing this from scratch and it took all of five minutes!
To set up a Facebook shop on your business page, simply:
1. Go to the Create Your Shop page, then click “Next”
2. Select a Checkout Method.
You can decide whether you want customers to go to your website to complete a purchase, or make the purchase without leaving Facebook or Instagram (provided your business is based in the US). You can also choose to let customers checkout informally by messaging you on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.
3. On the next pages, follow the prompts to connect your shop to your Facebook Page (or create an entirely new Facebook Page if you don’t have one) and your Facebook business manager account.
The Add Products section lets you create a catalog for your products. Or, you can choose an existing one. Note that you can only use one catalog for your shop, and you can’t change it later—so decide carefully!
4. Once you’ve made your selections, review everything you’ve entered, agree to the Seller Agreement, and select “Finish Setup.”
Boom! Your Commerce Manager account is created and your shop is ready for products and publishing!
With your brand new Facebook shop ready to go, you now need to fill it with your cool products.
Hopefully, unlike me when I launched my ecommerce store, you’ll have slightly less than the 187 products I attempted to launch with!
If you have less than 50 products Facebook advises adding manually, but you can also use a spreadsheet or a data pixel to make the job easier.
If you have more than one store connected to Facebook, you’ll need to confirm which one. To do this, head to your Instagram account and business profile settings. Tap “Business,” then “Shopping” (if you don’t see the Instagram shop tab, that means your account is still waiting to be approved for Instagram Shopping).
In the Shopping menu, you should see the product catalog you created in your Facebook shop. Select it, then click “Done.”
Now you can start tagging, promoting, and letting the world know you exist!
For your products to show on your Instagram Shop, you’ll need to start tagging them with Instagram shopping tags.
Start by uploading a photo of the item as if you’re going to make a normal Instagram post. Add a caption as usual, and then tap “Tag Products.”
Tap on the photo and search for the right product in your catalog. Select the one you want, tap “Done,” and you’re ready to share your brand new Instagram shopping post!
Before we get into the truly exciting part of promoting your shop and Instagram posts, I just wanted to touch on Instagram Checkout, what it is, and more importantly, whether you should use it.
Instagram Checkout is only available in the US, so if you’re from anywhere else in the world you can move straight on to the next section.
Here’s how it works: with IG Checkout, users can buy products from brands with Instagram shops without leaving the app.
If your business uses this feature, you can create Instagram shopping posts where viewers can complete a transaction within the Instagram app itself directly from the Instagram posts. Cool, huh?
This feature can be extremely useful, since making the transaction process as easy as possible will encourage maximum conversion rates. However, it’s not always for everyone.
For instance, keep in mind that Instagram does charge a transaction fee of 5% per shipment (or a flat fee of $0.40 for shipments of $8.00 or less). And if you’re hoping to drive traffic to your own site, you may not want to let customers stay on Instagram for the entire purchase process.
So in the end, it’s up to you and your goals whether you choose to use Instagram Checkout or not. But it’s a handy feature for those who use it!
Yes! My favorite part. You’ve got the technical stuff out of the way; now it’s time to get the word out there and draw customers in to your Instagram shop.
Let’s start with the obvious one. Hashtags are big news on Instagram. To ensure your shopping posts get in front of your ideal target market, you’ll need to use the very best hashtags that are most relevant to your product and your audience.
You can find hashtags a few ways:
- Research related hashtags. Manually type what you think are obvious hashtags into the search bar, then select “tags” from the dropdown menu. Analyze the results that pop up. What top hashtags are related to your hashtag? Do they show any creative ways to engage with your audience?
- Look at what your competitors are using. Brands with a similar audience and/or product will have a few top-performing posts; see what hashtags they used and try a few of them for yourself!
- Find out what hashtags your audience is using. What is your target audience interested in? Creep on a few of your followers’ posts to find out their interests and what niche topics they follow. Of course, only use the hashtags that fit your content; using wildly random hashtags never did anyone any favors.
It goes without saying, but Instagram is a visual platform. You literally have seconds to grab a scroller’s attention and it’s your job to make them stop and look.
Plus, you want to ensure you’re showcasing how amazing your products are—and it’s the visuals you produce that will ensure that happens.
Here are some examples of super creative Instagram shopping product images that undoubtedly grab the viewers’ instant attention:
As you can see, these Instagram shops focus on using bright colors and intriguing images that draw the eye.
Videos are where it’s at these days, in fact, it’s estimated that the average person watches 100 minutes of video daily.
There is no better way to showcase your product than by actually demonstrating it in action!
Thanks to the clever techies who keep dreaming up more ways to make our lives infinitely easier, there are a multitude of super cool video apps to make this process fun and engaging.
Some of my favorites include:
- Video Guru: A video maker for YouTube that lets you merge clips seamlessly into one video, add music, and trim videos like a pro.
- iMovie: An easy and powerful app for Apple users. You can import clips and stitch them together easily, overlay your logo and/or text, and add a soundtrack—all from your phone!
- MoviePro: A user-friendly app that’s great for video editing and has several options for file storage and sharing.
And here are some examples of some amazing product videos which I hope will give you some inspiration.
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Did you know you can actually sell on a livestream? Thanks, Instagram!
I’m from the UK, and as a kid, we’d regularly head to the Sunday market where the local butchers and grocers would stand on the back of their trucks selling their wares. It was a case of “he who shouts loudest and can engage the crowd sells the most!”
It’s not so different nowadays, except instead of getting in front of a few hundred people in the local park on a Sunday morning, you can potentially be seen by millions from all over the world, 24/7.
Make this work for you!
Host regular lives to showcase your products and your Instagram shop, talk to customers, answer questions, educate, or entertain.
If you sell fair trade coffee, or handmade jewelry, perhaps you want to talk about how or where your products are made.
Or if you sell a more complex or technical item—like a crockpot or bluetooth speaker—perhaps you run a regular Q&A with customers about your products or the brand behind them.
Perhaps your products have an educational element to them and you regularly host workshops or tutorials. For example, if you sell yoga mats, you might do regular live yoga classes. Or if you sell crystal healing bottles, you could give regular crystal workshops.
Think outside of the box here!
Make a list of ways you could connect with your ideal target market through entertaining, informational or educational lives—all the while showcasing your products and using Instagram Shopping so people can buy, right there and then.
Don’t just tag a product and hope people will click. Make it obvious and make it easy.
Be creative with images and add a little arrow pointing to the ’Shop’ icon.
Add product tags to carousel images to give direct instructions on how people can purchase from your Instagram Shop.
Tell your visitor what to do in the captions.
Give them the option to click the icon, or click the link in your Bio or go to a specific hashtag where they can see all your products.
You can even add a call to action gently guiding them to your main site.
Be as creative as you need to be to make it easy for people to click and shop on your Instagram shopping posts.
Influencer marketing is a huge strategy all on its own, but the main premise is that you find influencers who share your ideal target market and see if you can strike up a relationship.
Can you send them a demo product from your range, for them to use and review if they like it?
Perhaps you can pay them to talk about and promote your product.
Here are some great examples of effective influencer campaigns:
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In this partnership, Influencer Danielle Bernstein (@weworewhat) included FIJI water bottles in her posts about getting in shape, reminding her followers that it’s important to stay hydrated when reaching for fitness goals. FIJI water saw this as an opportunity to reach a common audience with a common goal.
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Tom’s of Maine, a natural toiletry brand, partnered with micro-influencer Rachel Ibbison to post fun, down-to-earth posts about health-conscious products. She then encouraged her followers to post their own related stories, which caused a massive snowball effect for Toms of Maine that reached millions of viewers!
How can you get your customers to generate content showcasing your brand and products?
One business who has this concept baked into their brand is ‘Live a Great Story.’ Starting as a sticker company, the premise is that you purchase the stickers & take photos of yourself ‘living a great story’ from wherever you might be in the world.
They now sell T-shirts, bags, and other merchandise using the most powerful form of marketing in the world: word of mouth!
Other great examples of user generated content include:
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Aerie: The clothing brand used the hashtag #AerieReal to encourage customers to post unedited photos of themselves in a swimsuit to combat the overuse of photo editing in marketing. For every user-generated photo with the hashtag, Aerie donates $1 to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). This campaign raises awareness of a social issue while creating good buzz about your company. Win-win!
Starbucks: This genius UGC strategy asks fans to post creative pics of a seasonal Starbucks red cup with the hashtag #RedCupContest, offering a prize to the winner. It’s a fun way to celebrate the season—and generate more sales, since their audience had to buy a red cup to participate.
Instagram Shopping from Creators is an initiative by Instagram which allows influencers to tag their favorite brands with links directly back to your Instagram shop.
It doesn’t get any better than this!
Someone with a large following who just happens to be your ideal target market, tags your product directly from their image, chatting about how amazing it is in their captions.
Their audience clicks the link, goes directly to your Instagram shop & buys based on the fact their favorite influencer uses or recommends it!
We all know about the Oprah effect or the Meghan effect. This is it on a slightly smaller scale.
Just because everything’s happening on Instagram does not mean you can’t build your own list of interested parties.
Run a contest, offer a discount coupon, or give away a free digital product that complements your brand.
Build a database of people interested in your niche, and nurture them via regular emails showcasing your informational/educational content (and of course your products)!
An example of a brand who does this incredibly well is Boom by Cindy Joseph.
The brand empowers older women while selling their products. Unfortunately Cindy passed away in 2018, but her brand lives on through her business partner, Ezra Firestone.
If you sign up for the 10% off coupon or to become a member of the Boom club, you’ll start to receive valuable emails all about looking after your skin & being proud of your age.
Of course, one of the most obvious ways to attract people to your Instagram shop is by paying for traffic.
I decided to leave this option to the end, because if you’re like many small businesses, you may prefer to try out all organic options first.
But if you have decent profit margins and solid conversion rates on your product pages, it’s likely you can run ad campaigns to drive traffic to your Instagram Shop.
This is of course one of the fastest ways to test your products, sales pages, and funnels, giving you almost instant feedback on what works and what doesn’t.
Just be careful not to lose your shirt.
For a great resource when starting out with paid advertising, check out Hootsuite’s helpful 5-step guide to using Instagram ads.
It’s common marketing wisdom that it costs far more to gain a new customer than to keep the ones you have.
So don’t take your existing audience for granted!
Engage with your community. Talk to them as real people; ask for feedback, suggestions, and questions.
And don’t forget to respond! Reply to comments, DMs, emails, and customer service queries quickly and efficiently.
Word of mouth is the strongest marketing tool there is, so focus not only on the sale, but the experience your customer will have once they’ve purchased.
Social media marketing has evolved constantly over the last few years, and odds are good that it’ll keep changing for as long as social media exists.
That’s good news for small business owners!
Now, you’ve got even more opportunities to get your products out there for the world to see, and if you’re based in the US, your audience can even shop for your products without leaving their favorite social media app!
All it takes is a Facebook shop and the click of a few buttons to upload and tag your products.
Then, you’ll want to utilize a few best practices to engage and delight your audience, like hashtags, high-quality images and video content, and socially-savvy campaigns that partner with influencers, other brands, and users themselves. And as always, don’t forget to engage with your audience to keep them coming back!
If you’re not already using Instagram shopping, what are you waiting for?