With Instagram surpassing 1 billion monthly active users worldwide, and over 400 million people using Instagram Stories on a daily basis, Instagram offers ample marketing opportunities for ecommerce brands, retail shops, and small businesses to reach their customers.
Now with Shopping on Instagram, connecting your online store to your Instagram account, the social media site has developed into a thriving marketplace for brands to connect with consumers.
But incorporating Shopping on Instagram into your marketing still requires some creativity. There are many ways you can go about it, after all. So, let’s take a look at examples of how some of the world’s top ecommerce brands are using Shopping on Instagram to drive sales and growth.
Why use Shopping on Instagram?
Shopping on Instagram is quickly becoming the preferred way for consumers to not only learn about new brands and products on Instagram, but also purchase them in just a few simple steps.
In fact, 80% of Instagram users follow a business account, making the expansion of shopping on Instagram more effective than ever for merchants to tag products in their posts and simplify the entire buyer journey from discovery to checkout.
From major brands to mom-and-pop shops, businesses around the world are driving proven results with Shopping on Instagram.
Sell more with shopping on Instagram
Start tagging products in your posts and stories to turn engagement into purchases with the shopping on Instagram sales channel.Learn more
Getting started with Shopping on Instagram
First things first, in order to get started with selling your products on Instagram, make sure:
- Your business sells physical goods that comply with Instagram's commerce policies.
- Your Instagram account is converted to a business profile.
- Your Instagram business profile is associated with a Facebook catalog. See this full guide from Instagram on creating your Facebook catalog with your Instagram business profile.
If you’re a Shopify merchant, here’s a complete rundown of everything you’ll need to get started.
Once you’ve taken care of the step-by-step details above, you should be all set to start selling your products on Instagram.
4 tools to drive organic sales from Instagram
Before we dive into specific examples of how top brands use Shopping on Instagram, let’s quickly outline the four main tools you can use together to drive organic sales from Instagram:
- Product Tags in Posts: In a nutshell, product tags on Instagram are similar to tagging other users in your posts, except you’re tagging your products. This allows shoppers to click on your tags and quickly shop your catalog of products.
- Product Stickers in Stories: With Product Stickers in Stories, ecommerce brands can tag specific products in Stories, just like you can with standard product tags in posts.
- The Shop tab on your profile: The Shop tab is where your profile visitors can find all the products you’ve tagged in your Instagram posts, including the content that features them.
- Swipe-up Links in Stories: While not a feature of Shopping on Instagram, swipe-up links are a great tool for driving traffic to specific landing pages directly from Stories. Previously only available to verified accounts, all business Instagram accounts with 10,000 or more followers can now add links to Instagram Stories.
How brands use Shopping on Instagram in posts
Due to the highly visual nature of Instagram, Shopping on Instagram’s product tags are a natural fit for various ecommerce merchants across several industries and verticals.
With that said, many brands struggle to create a compelling aesthetic in their Instagram posts, making it difficult to sell their products in a crowded ecommerce landscape. Here are our three biggest takeaways for making the most out of your Shopping on Instagram posts.
1. Create high-quality product photos
Brands today cannot afford to post poor quality product photos to Instagram (or any other channels). But don’t worry, today’s smartphone cameras are often more than enough to take high-quality product photos if you’re on a limited budget.
For example, Beardbrand uses flat-lay product shots to showcase fan favorites, adding product tags for each individual item
But let’s take a look at the three elements that make Beardbrand’s product image “high quality”:
- Backdrop: Use a black, white, or light gray backdrop behind your product to give your photographs a clean and consistent look across multiple products.
- Table: Utilize a table so that your product sits higher, which will make it easier for you to photograph your product during the photoshoot.
- Light: The most budget-friendly option is natural window light. Set up your product and equipment near a large window to allow for ample light in your frame. If natural light is not available, use a larger lamp or renting a softbox-type lighting kit and remember that “white” light is optimal for capturing products.
With multiple products featured in one photo, you can tag each one separately to let interested shoppers learn more about what they’re interested in.
It may seem like a lot of work up front in order to capture quality product photos, but it’ll make a huge impact on sales in the long run. Remember: You’re creating assets that you can repurpose and reuse over time.
Of course, staged product images aren’t the only way to crush it with Shopping on Instagram.
2. Showcase your products as part of a lifestyle
If you’re looking to lean into the visual nature of Instagram, there’s no better way than to show your product in action. That’ll help shoppers to actually visualize themselves using your product and take the next step in the buying process.
Herschel Supply Co is one of the best in the business at helping shoppers imagine a lifestyle with their product.
What makes this Shopping on Instagram strategy so effective is that, instead of using a call to action like ‘Shop’ or ‘Buy’ in their product photos, they simply share stories from real individuals who love their products. They even tag the people in the posts!
But even if you don’t have the time or resources to create high quality product images of your own, there’s still another way to make your Instagram account stand out.
3. Curate user-generated content
If people are buying and enjoying your product, chances are they’re posting about it on social media. User-generated content is a great way to fill your feed with quality content while still taking advantage of the various shopping on Instagram features.
One of my favorite examples of user generated content done right is from inkbox Tattoos. With more than one million followers on Instagram alone, they’re the poster child for how effective UGC can be for brands.
inkbox Tattoos has grown by more than 500,000 followers in 2018 alone and are showing no signs of slowing down.
This is even more so with the introduction of Instagram’s new Shopping Tab within the Explore page.
Instagram first began testing a shopping feature in November 2016, rolling it out globally in March of last year. Now with the addition of the Shopping Tab to Explore, Instagram’s algorithm selects items it believes users will be interested in. Here’s what it looks like:
In a recent earnings call, Facebook said that 90 million people a month tap posts to reveal shopping tags. The Shopping Tab is another huge step to embrace ecommerce for the social media giant.
Many brands have come to see social media as the gateway that allows them to connect authentically with audience members one-on-one. With user-generated content, brands give real users the opportunity to tell real stories—something that is often hard to achieve with traditional brand-generated content.
How brands use Shopping on Instagram in Stories
Instagram Stories has seen rapid growth in adoption and usage among consumers around the globe, with more than 400 million accounts using Stories daily. Believe it or not, one-third of the most-viewed Stories are from brand accounts.
With the expansion of Shopping on Instagram into Stories (and even the Explore page), brands now have even more ways to get their products and services directly in front of eager buyers.
1. Educate or entertain your audience (don’t just sell)
One of the biggest strengths of Instagram Stories content is the fact that it’s less curated and more human due to its ephemeral nature. In other words, where the Instagram Feed is typically a brand’s best content, Stories are much more raw and unfiltered.
Educating or entertaining your audience, instead of going directly for the sale, will ensure that your content fits well within the Stories narrative as well as offer your audience a compelling reason to find out more about your product or service.
While Product Stickers can promote your specific products, you can also use swipe-up links instead (if you have more than 10k followers) to surface your content or other key webpages.
Parachute, for example, does an incredible job of creating educational content around what might seem like a mundane topic: sheets and bedding. They encourage their followers to “swipe up” if they’d like to learn more after posting a series of interesting stats and figures.
The Stories link then leads shoppers to a landing page with more tips on bedding, several products, as well as an email popup to entice newsletter signups.
Parachute proves that you can still sell your products effectively while simultaneously improving the lives of your followers.
2. Use video to showcase your product
Did you know that, after watching a video, 64% of social media users are more likely to purchase a product online? Or that 15-25% of Stories viewers swipe up to follow a link and engage directly with a brand’s website?
Needless to say, video should be an integral part of your Shopping on Instagram strategy.
Letterfolk, for example, does a great job of using video in their Stories. From product demonstrations to live Q&A, the Letterfolk team knows exactly how to take advantage of this compelling format.
The best video content tells stories that connect on a deep level with the viewer. The better you tell stories about your brand or product, the more likely your viewers are going to understand what your company is offering and what it can do for them. And, in turn, the more likely they’ll be to buy.
Best of all, you can add product stickers or swipe-up links to your video Stories to drive sales, and even feature them permanently in your Highlights to surface them to new profile visitors.
3. Experiment with Product Stickers in Stories
As you’ve probably gathered by now, Instagram Stories are an effective way for brands to showcase and promote their products in engaging ways. But up until recently, Stories were somewhat limited in terms of directly selling products and driving traffic.
That all changed with the recent launch of Product Stickers in Stories. With Product Stickers, ecommerce brands and businesses are no longer limited to trying to get their followers to “swipe up” to shop.
Users can tap on Product Stickers to learn more about the featured product, and then tap again to be taken directly to the product page to purchase.
Clothing company Madewell 1937, for example, uses Product Stickers in Stories to visually showcase their newest line of clothing.
Key takeaways from how top brands use Instagram
As I mentioned in the beginning, with more than 80% of Instagram users following a business account, the expansion of Shopping on Instagram offers an unmatched opportunity for merchants to tag products in their posts and simplify the entire buyer journey from discovery to checkout.
Before you dive into Shopping on Instagram and start promoting your product or service across the platform, it’s important to keep these 3 key takeaways in mind.
1. Quality is crucial
Everything from your product photos to the way you describe your product in the captions is an integral part of the buyer process. People make snap judgments about your brand in a matter of seconds and so it’s important to consider all of the factors.
2. Help shoppers visualize
While there are endless ways to use Shopping on Instagram to market your product, perhaps the most compelling way is to help potential customers imagine what life would be like with your product. In other words, your Instagram content shouldn’t focus on the features of your product, your ads should focus on what people can do with your product or how it will enrich their lives.
3. Embrace video
Video marketing is here to stay, and it will play a big part in the success of your Instagram content. People are more likely to take action (such as clicking or purchasing) after watching a video compared to content containing a photo or link.
How are you using Shopping on Instagram?
Shopping on Instagram is only just the beginning for merchants looking to boost product sales. As more and more consumers get used to this exciting new shopping frontier, it’s up to your brand to deliver your products where customers are spending a majority of their time: social media.