Since Instagram’s inception back in October 2010, approximately one billion monthly users have introduced the social media platform into their daily ritual. Facebook purchased the visually focused online community in 2012 for $1 billion. And it’s progressively metamorphosed into a multipurpose tool serving businesses and consumers alike.
As of April 2020, the United States topped the list of countries with the largest Instagram audience.
With 500 million people viewing Instagram stories daily, opportunities for retailers to connect with consumers and sell products on Instagram are boundless.
“Social media creates kinship between companies and customers, and kinship equals purchase intent,” says Jay Baer, host of the award-winning podcast Social Pros and founder of Convince & Convert. As a social media platform with multiple features, Instagram has grown into a catalyst for consumer engagement and an instrument for digital commerce success.
Learn more about how you can sell and profit on Instagram.
Why Sell on Instagram?
According to data from Omnicore Agency, 37% of adults in the United States use Instagram, constituting the most significant number of Instagram users on the planet, but the app has users around the globe. In April 2020, Statista published a list of the countries with the highest Instagram audience size:
- U.S. (120 million)
- India (88 million)
- Brazil (82 million)
- Indonesia (64 million)
- Russia (46 million)
- Turkey (39 million)
- Japan (31 million)
- Mexico (26 million)
- U.K. (25 million)
- Germany (22 million)
- Italy (21 million)
- France (19 million)
The benefits of selling on Instagram shouldn’t be overlooked by business owners who want to optimize their sales funnel and expand their reach. With so many people logging in to the photo- and video-sharing platform every single day, there’s no wonder why businesses are capitalizing on an opportunity to capture target markets using smartphone devices.
1. Connect with a new demographic.
According to HootSuite, as many as 928.5 million people are reachable through Instagram advertising. What’s more, 90% of Instagram users are believed to follow at least one business account. Knowledge of demographics can improve your ability to structure an effective, powerful Instagram marketing strategy that converts to leads and, ultimately, sales revenue.
Regardless of the age group a business targets, Instagram boasts a diverse user base, making this tool a must-have for any entrepreneur or brand. Pew Research Center surveyed the age demographic of Instagram users in the U.S., and the results show the percentage of the population that has used the platform by age group:
- Ages 18–24: 75%
- Ages 25–29: 57%
- Ages 30–49: 47%
- Ages 50–64: 23%
- Ages 65 and over: 8%
2. Truly engage with customers.
Engagement is key to keeping your audience interested in what you’re posting and selling on Instagram. According to Brand Watch, brand engagement on Instagram is 10x better than Facebook, 54x better than Pinterest, and 84x better than Twitter.
Remember, the following you have isn’t what defines your business; it’s the degree of engagement you’re capable of producing. You can do this through your uploaded images, Instagram stories, and videos featured on your page and highlights reel.
Consistency is key to getting your audience’s attention and keeping them coming back for more. Instagram helps you keep your audience engaged through stories, hashtags and branded hashtags, and images. Use these tools properly, and engaged consumers will share your content, leading to an increased audience and more potential conversions.
3. Build brand awareness and familiarity.
Instagram is ideal for demonstrating brand goals, visions, and accomplishments while building a reputation and recognizable personality. Based on the results of a survey commissioned by Facebook IQ, 78% of Instagram users consider brands on Instagram as popular, whereas 77% see them as being creative, 76% as entertaining, and 72% as devoted to building community. What’s more, 83% of Instagram users utilize the platform to discover new products and services, 81% use it to research beforehand, and 80% make a buying decision.
Sure, the content you write on your blog can contribute immensely to establishing a strong brand presence in the online world, but have you considered the sheer power of including relevant captions with your Instagram posts?
Instagram campaigns can go viral overnight, thus giving businesses a powerful platform for sharing brand-focused content. Combining visual imagery with content is a fantastic way to show what your brand is all about.
What Does Selling on Instagram Actually Look Like?
The rise of Instagram influencers — people who promote branded goods and services to their loyal audiences — tells us that selling on Instagram can be a highly profitable venture. Instagram harbors immense potential as a sales and ecommerce tool.
Instagram ad revenue is predicted to account for 30% of the social media giant’s revenue by the end of 2020. It’s understandable why so many brands utilize Instagram to lure in potential customers. Let’s discover some of the main tactics that can help you turn over a healthy profit and retain returning customers.
1. Product photos and promotions.
Online shopping is convenient for both the buyer and seller. However, Instagram lacks a physical element, so you need to make sure your photo game is on point if you want to turn everyday social media window shoppers into customers.
Consistent posting breeds credibility, but not if you’re uploading poor quality images. Invest in a high quality camera or hire a professional photographer to capture your product photos.
2. Customer photos and user-generated content (UGC).
Are you aware that approximately 90% of consumers trust UGC to sway their buying decisions? A report published by Business Wire shows that 85% of buyers are more influenced by UGC — which comes in the form of text, images, videos, and reviews — than they are after viewing brand-created content.
An effective technique for strengthening brand credibility and establishing trust, UGC presents business owners with a way to have authentic content created on their behalf.
Brands are sharing this type of content through numerous marketing channels, but Instagram has become the leading platform for sharing UGC. Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to view UGC, as opposed to brand-created content. This up-and-coming method of attracting new customers is serving big businesses around the world.
GoPro is a prime example — the American technology company regularly offers prize or cash giveaways in exchange for killer content from everyday people using their GoPro goods.
3. Instagram shopping.
In 2019, the prospect of selling on Instagram became very real for brands around the globe when the Shopping Checkout feature was introduced. This granted business owners the opportunity to transform their feed into a shoppable ecommerce outlet.
You can get involved with Instagram Shopping by opening the app, navigating to the settings section on your profile, clicking on business, and shopping. Next, simply choose a product catalog and link it with your professional account. Keep in mind that the Instagram sale option is open only to those who have already been accepted in the social media program.
Many brands are also taking this opportunity to work with influencers who post images of themselves using, wearing, and trying a company’s product. Anyone interested in a product can click on the item tag featured in the branded content on the explore page to make a swift purchase.
9 Steps for Successfully Selling on Instagram
Instagram is more than 10 years old, and since its inception, it has gone from a photo-sharing site to a digital shopping mall. This new sales channel has got businesses like Burrow, Larq, Bon Bon Bon, Bliss World, and Skullcandy reaping the rewards.
Follow these steps to achieve the success many others have found before you:
1. Optimize your Instagram business profile.
Your bio is what potential Instagram followers first see when they click on your page, and if they don’t like what they’re reading, chances are they won’t follow you. Don’t forget to make your Instagram name memorable. You may also want to consider putting some hashtags in your Instagram bio as a way of attracting a broader audience.
Here’s how to optimize your profile to sell on Instagram:
- Profile photo: Aside from your Instagram name, your profile photo is the first image that draws people’s attention. Since account holders are limited to the confines of a cropped circular space in which their picture can be added, you must make sure the image or logo is big enough to be understood clearly. If your business name is long, you may need to shorten it or abbreviate it to fit within the Instagram profile photo circle. Alternatively, if you’re the leader of a business or the face of a brand, upload a quality headshot.
- Well-crafted bio: All Instagram bios are limited to 150 words, so the company information you provide should be straight to the point. For example, your niche. This is something that people will want to know from the minute they click on your page since it influences whether or not they follow you or purchase anything from you. Consider including a quote and some emojis to reflect your brand personality, too.
- Link to your online store: You can easily drive heaps of traffic to your website, blog, video subscription service, or online ecommerce store when you include the link in your Instagram bio. Since more people are selling on Instagram, it’s becoming increasingly common for marketers to place a link beneath their Instagram photo that transports web users to an online store. A call-to-action (CTA) and a link can do wonders for your business.
2. Use Instagram ads to reach your target audience.
Instagram took things one step further in 2015 when it introduced Instagram ads. Marketers jumped for joy once they discovered that this advertising system would enable them to tap into the social media platform’s one billion monthly users across a variety of content segments and categories. According to Retail Touchpoints, 72% of Instagram users have purchased a product after seeing it on the app, which is perfect for driving engagement and profits.
3. Create Instagram stories with product links.
To use the incredibly useful ‘Swipe-Up’ feature on Instagram, you must have a business account with over 10,000 followers. Don’t worry if you lack followers at the current time because regularly posting will solve that problem. As a result, you can start attracting a targeted and responsive audience.
Jasper’s Boutique is regularly using Instagram stories to drive traffic and sell products:
4. Build a “shoppable” Instagram feed.
Shoppable media gives eligible businesses the ability to tag products in their posts. Make sure you have a business profile and updated version of the app to build a shoppable Instagram feed. You’ll contribute as a business manager admin, as well as have a product catalog that’s linked to a Facebook store. Only physical goods can be sold — no services.
Mirror these practices and monitor rates of engagement to determine what will work for your business model. Remember to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and create images that demonstrate how your products can be integrated into their daily lifestyle. Focus on showing your audience how your product looks, how it’s used, and who uses it specifically.
5. Offer Instagram-only promotions.
By offering your audience a discount code, coupon, or giveaway exclusively through Instagram, you create a portal for sales. Plus, since the promotion is solely on Instagram, your customers are sure to feel special. This, in turn, attracts more people to follow your profile. After all, with Instagram-only promotions, you’ll be rewarding your followers for, well, following you.
Once you start promoting your goods on Instagram, ads are featured in the Feed, Stories, and Explore tab of app users. Health and beauty brand Bliss has benefited from this technique, as shown below:
6. Establish partnerships with Instagram influencers.
As many as 500,000 influencers are believed to be active on Instagram. When you consider the fact that 80% of marketers see influencers as a valuable addition to their campaigns, it’s clear that this method of selling on Instagram holds some serious money-making potential. Seeking out influencers with a lot of followers will help you to gain traction quickly for your ecommerce business, something that Skullcandy has pulled off.
A report published by Influencer Marketing Hub in 2018 notes how 92% of all marketers consider influencer marketing to be an effective strategy that returns $18 for every dollar invested. This strategy for selling on Instagram is highly focused and relevant (without being pushy) because influencers frequently post and share with their audience. Since they trust them, they’ll also trust you.
7. Use the right hashtags.
A decade ago, little was known about hashtags and the effect they would have on ecommerce business owners around the world. Now, marketers can’t live without them. Ideal for finding out what competitors are doing, hashtags can encourage audience interactions, attract more followers, and drive engagement through the roof. Simply Measured noticed a 12.6% increase in participation among posts that had at least one hashtag.
Larq has mastered this, with the self-cleaning water bottle company using the hashtag #drinkbrilliantly to filter its content.
8. Nail the caption.
Now is your chance to tell a story and evoke emotion among your audience. Take this opportunity to share your company’s message to inform followers about the visions behind the brand, as well as share any success or milestones you may have achieved along the way.
When writing an Instagram caption, seek attention by asking questions and nudging followers to tag a friend in the comments. Some people prefer short bursts of text, but you can also create an impact by writing informative paragraphs as Bon Bon Bon has done.
9. Use Instagram to launch a contest.
Why not prompt existing followers to tag others for a chance to win a prize or a discount on your products? Contests can draw attention to your brand and products, which can substantially increase overall conversions. Some popular competition ideas for Instagram include:
- Like and comment to win.
- Photo caption contest.
- Trivia contest.
- Best picture or story wins.
Promote the contest on your story, and, if you have a business profile, include a link to your website for entry submissions. It’s a great tactic for getting more backlinks to your site.
Note: Make sure you abide by Instagram’s promotion guidelines, which must state that your competition is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by, or associated with Instagram.
You Need These Tools to Sell on Instagram
Just as a mechanic wouldn’t go to the garage without his toolbox, you should take advantage of the many tools at your disposal when selling on Instagram. There are numerous tools that you can utilize to sell on Instagram to increase your online presence and sales; here are some of our favorites:
1. Shop Social.
Shop Social is a unique tool that enables merchants to transform their feed into a shoppable gallery, from which they can boost conversion rates and sell efficiently. No coding skills or software are required to use Shop Social, which is equipped with an admin panel to monitor performance and click-through rates.
InstaOrders is a free service. Simply sign in to your Instagram account and your images will be imported to the InstaOrders platform immediately. Once synced, you can set prices for your shoppable content, share the content, and begin accepting orders. Payment methods include PayPal or Cash On Delivery.
Want to see a 30% increase in engagement for your shoppable posts on Instagram? If so, give Soldsie a try. Retailers who sign up for Soldsie receive a “Have2Have.it” link that transports Instagram users directly from their profile to a shoppable gallery of products.
The best thing about this tool is that you can sell on Instagram by simply pasting the link into your bio or social media comments and captions for direct traffic. Moreover, customers can preorder items while you enjoy the convenience of managing product inventory, orders, emails, and customer data through the app.
The Postcart method is in the name — an Instagram “post” that features a shopping “cart.” With just a single click, Postcarts can be shared with your preferred social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. When a customer purchases items directly, you’ll receive an instant notification. Payments for completed transactions are released monthly through Postcart.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that you have to spend a lot of money to succeed when you sell on Instagram. Developing a sales-boosting Instagram storefront is a straightforward process, especially if you have already garnered lots of followers. In this case, all you have to do is engage with your audience. So, what are you waiting for? Convert to a business profile today and turn those followers into customers!