Instagram Shopping is now the preferred way for consumers to learn about new brands and products on the platform, as well as purchase them in just a few simple steps. If merchants don't want to be left behind they need to board the train of selling on Instagram.
Ninety percent of Instagram users follow a business account, making Instagram Shopping an effective way for merchants to tag products in their posts, open an online storefront, and simplify the entire buyer journey, from discovery to checkout.
Learn how to set up Instagram Shopping step-by-step and sell products on social media in this beginner guide.
How to sell on Instagram
How to sell on Instagram: 8 effective tips
- Partner with influencers
- Run Instagram ads
- Use product tags
- Publish reels
- Curate user generated content
- Use the right hashtags
- Use video to showcase your product
- Automate customer support with DMs
Before we dive into specific examples of how top brands use Instagram Shopping, let’s quickly outline the main tools you can use together to drive organic sales from Instagram:
Shoppable Posts. In a nutshell, Shoppable Posts lets you add product tags to your content so people can buy directly from them. 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 Instagram Stories. With product stickers, 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.
Collections. Product collections allow you to customize your shop with an editorial point of view by curating products into themes to help tell your brand story.
Instagram checkout. With Instagram checkout, shoppers can buy directly from your Instagram Shop (for US businesses only). Shop Pay will automatically show for the customer, providing a faster and easier way for them to check out.
1. Partner with influencers
It’s safe to say that instagram influencer marketing can help you sell on Instagram. Instagram influencers are people who’ve built a reputation—and a $16.4 billion industry—around a certain niche on the platform. They work as brand ambassadors for your small business, sharing your products with their target audience in exchange for money, free products, or exposure.
Influencers can impact buying habits because of their authority in a particular industry. In the example above, @lizarch, a yoga influencer with 57,000 followers, promotes a giveaway for Savhera. The essential oil brand partnered with Liz because her audience trusts her suggestions and what she promotes.
The school of thought is that influencers are wildly expensive, as though every brand is paying Kim Kardashian $1 million to promote their products. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Nano-influencers and micro-influencers tend to get higher engagement rates. My best influencers have been people that are genuinely interested in the product and eager to share it with their followers.
With the rise of nano-influencers (accounts with less than 5,000 followers) and micro-influencers (between 5,000 and 20,000 followers), smaller brands can now work with influencers at a reasonable price and make more sales on Instagram.
Instagram is also making it easier for people to shop inspiring looks from influencers and creators that they love without needing to leave Instagram.
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2. Run Instagram ads
Instagram is now a place where people go to shop. Instagram’s research shows that 84% of people want to discover new products on the platform. With mobile sales projected to reach $552.28 billion by the end of 2024 in the US, Instagram launched shoppable ads to capitalize on mobile commerce.
Shoppable Instagram ads are your standard Instagram ad but with product tags. When someone is interested in your promoted product, they can go directly to a product detail page to learn more. If you’re a US business, you can run ads with Instagram checkout too, so people can purchase directly in-app.
These ads run in feed or Explore using single image, carousel, or video formats from your product catalog. They work just like regular Instagram ads: you build them in Ads Manager and can show to a custom audience or lookalike audience to find new potential customers.
3. Use product tags
The path from discovery to purchase is not linear on Instagram. As your customers are discovering your products via Instagram, product tags give your customers the ability to make a purchase directly within the app or learn more about the product via your website at the moment of discovery.
Shopping tags let businesses tag their products across Instagram so people can easily shop wherever they find joy in the app. You can tag feed posts, Stories, and Reels. If you’re a business with checkout-enabled shopping, you can also tag Live feeds.
If your goal is to get your product in front of more customers, tagged products have the opportunity to be highlighted on Instagram’s Explore and Shop tab.
When someone tags a product in their post, business owners will receive a notification. You can view all tagged content on your profile and control who tags products by managing product tag preferences in your settings.
Instagram says 1.6 million people tag at least one brand each week on the social media platform. Using product tags can help expand product awareness and drive potential customers to your products.
4. Publish Reels
Reels let your business create and publish videos up to 60 seconds long. It’s easy to get creative with easy-to-use text, AR filters, and audio to tell your brand’s story. Reels can also appear on the Explore page where anyone on Instagram can see them.
The coolest part? You can tag products in your Reels, so that when someone views your Reels they can easily access the products or collections mentioned in it.
5. 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 Instagram feed with quality content while still taking advantage of the various Instagram Shopping features.
One of my favorite examples of user-generated content done right is from Inkbox Tattoos. With more than one and a half million Instagram followers, it’s the poster child for how effective UGC can be for brands. This is even more so with the introduction of Instagram’s Shop tab on the home screen.
Now, with the addition of the Shop tab to Explore, Instagram’s algorithm selects items it believes users will be interested in. Here’s what it looks like:
DTC brand Vuori also began testing Instagram Shopping in 2020. Nikki Sakelliou, the company’s VP of brand, reported being hesitant at first about tagging posts in their feed. The brand publishes a lot of user-generated content to showcase its products on real people and keep its feed authentic. Roughly half of Vuori’s posts are now shoppable and highlight one product at a time.
Many brands have come to see social media marketing as the gateway that lets them connect authentically with audience members one on one. With user-generated content, brands give users the opportunity to tell real and oftentimes relatable stories—something that is hard to achieve with traditional brand-generated content.
6. Use the right hashtags
Instagram hashtags are a way to build brand awareness and connect your content to a specific topic or conversation. Hashtags make your shoppable content discoverable on Instagram and help it reach more people. When you publish a shoppable post with a hashtag, it shows up in the feed with a shopping bag icon. This tells browsers that an item in your post is available to buy.
If you already have a good idea of hashtags that work well for your brand, consider using them on your Shoppable Posts. You can go broad with a hashtag like #style or #fashion, or be a little more specific (i.e., #earringsaddict) and connect with a more targeted audience.
7. 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? Needless to say, video should be an integral part of your Instagram marketing strategy.
Letterfolk, for example, does a great job of using video in its 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 to your video Stories to drive sales and can even feature them permanently in your Highlights to surface them to new profile visitors.
Best practices for video content include:
- Short duration. If you’re creating a video ad, make it between six and 10 seconds.
- Design for Sound Off, in case someone is listening without sound.
- Frame your story. Use vertical (4:5, 2:3, and 9:16) and square videos to format for mobile.
8. Automate customer support through DMs
With over one billion users and counting, it’s no surprise that Instagram can help you reach new customers. Instagram Shopping features give creators and retailers the ability to manage an entire sales funnel right inside the app.
The rise of sales interactions through the platform means more customer support requests coming through your DMs. The influx of messages can be overwhelming for any account owner or support team. Fortunately, there are automation tools like ManyChat that can help you provide quick responses to customers and sell more online.
For example, you can automate responses to common questions using features like Keywords or Quick Replies in ManyChat’s flow builder. This helps:
- Solve customer issues quickly
- Assign messages to different support team members
- See past conversations with customers and take corrective action
- Automate replies
- Convert more shoppers from Instagram Shops
Learn more by reading ManyChat’s post about its Key Instagram Automation Features.
How to set up Instagram Shopping
Set up Instagram Shopping with Shopify
Selling on Instagram with an ecommerce platform like Shopify is simple. When you connect your online store to the Facebook sales channel, your Shopify products automatically sync to Instagram so you can create ads and Shoppable Posts easily.
You can use Shopify to create, track, and manage your ad campaigns and orders with Instagram, as well as customize your Shop and bring the look and feel of your Shopify store to it.
Before you start selling on Instagram, you’ll need to make sure you’ve set up a Facebook business page and have products in your Facebook catalog.
From there, use the following steps:
- From your Shopify admin, click Facebook under Sales channels in the left menu bar.
- Click Set up to start in the Instagram Shopping section.
- Connect the required Facebook accounts to the Facebook sales channel.
- Review and accept the terms and conditions, then click Request approval.
It takes 24 to 48 hours for Facebook to review your products. Note that this works if you’re on the Shopify Basic plan or above.
When you use Shopify to sell on Instagram and Facebook, there are apps and integrations that connect your inventory, marketing, customer, and Instagram (and Facebook) sales metrics into a central database. Sync your product catalog, discover and promote the most popular product features, and create your ad campaigns, all within Shopify.
Start selling your products on Instagram
Shopify comes with powerful tools that help you list, promote and sell products on Facebook and Instagram. Create product collections, showcase your brand and products, and make sales on Facebook and Instagram from one place.Start selling on Instagram
Set up Instagram Shopping natively
First things first. To be able to sell your products on Instagram, make sure:
- Your personal account is converted to an Instagram business account
- Your business sells physical goods that comply with Instagram’s commerce policies
- Your Instagram business profile is associated with a Facebook catalog in Business Manager (See Instagram’s step-by-step guide on creating your Facebook catalog with your Instagram business profile.)
Once you’ve taken care of the step-by-step details above, you're ready to start selling your physical products on Instagram.
Open up your Instagram app and head to your profile. Tap to open the menu in the upper right corner and tap Settings. Select Business, then tap the Set Up Instagram Shopping link.
You can also create your shop through Meta Business Manager.
Set up a product catalog
To sell products through Instagram, you’ll need to connect your Instagram account to a catalog. Start by logging in to your Meta Commerce Manager. Commerce Manager is a feature within Facebook Business Manager that lets you set up a Facebook Shop.
Once in Commerce Manager, click + Add catalog.
Then choose the catalog type you’ll create. If you’re an online retailer, you’ll want to create an ecommerce catalog.
Then you’ll need to upload your inventory. If you’re selling a small amount of products, you can manually upload product information to your catalog. Or, you can connect a Partner Platform like Shopify to automatically import your items.
If you choose to upload products manually, here’s the product info you’ll need to include:
- 500 x 500 pixel image(s)
- Product description
- A link to your product landing page
- A SKU number
How are you using Instagram to sell products?
Instagram Shopping is just the beginning for entrepreneurs looking to boost sales on the Instagram app. There are many more platforms and strategies for you to sell products on social media. As more consumers get used to this exciting new shopping frontier, it’s up to your brand to deliver your products where new customers are spending a majority of their time: social media.
Illustration by Martina Paukova
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Selling on Instagram FAQ
Can you sell directly on Instagram?
How do beginners sell on Instagram?
- Product tags
- Instagram ads
- Influencer partnerships