Selling on Instagram

person holding phone while logging in on instagram application

Instagram…the ubiquitous social media platform that we all hate to love! And, we are using it more than ever. Did you know, it is fast becoming a e-commerce giant? If you have been using Instagram as social app to keep your brand in front of your followers, then now is the time to change how you are promoting your business and building your brand.

This post details how you should be using Instagram to transform business through the social media giants’ e-commerce model. It’s time to rethink your e-commerce strategy and tap into the Meta power of the IG.

Start & keep the conversation going

Engage your Audience! But, First things first, you need to build your audience. You can’t sell your product or service without people to sell it to…and not just any people…the RIGHT people. Instagram users will engage with content that they are interested in and you want to build your audience with that in mind.

This doesn’t mean you need to be peddling your wares everytime you engage your audience. You need to interact with your target audience in such a way that creates brand recognition and trust. Customers preferentially buy from businesses they trust.

Build Your Audience

Start sharing content, frequently and regularly. Think about the types of content your audience thinks is relevant. Develop a content calendar, you want to schedule your posts in advance to make sure you fill up your timeline. One big no-no I see all the time, is a business posting multiple times in a single day and then abandoning their Instagram page for weeks or months. This leads to confusion about the business and will hinder your audience engagement. Use a free service, like Meta Business Suite, to schedule your content.

Grow Your Audience

You will want to share photos related to your service or business frequently. No spamming – see paragraph above about scheduling your posts. Authenticity matters, be yourself and don’t worry if it isn’t 100% perfect.

Organically gaining followers and engagement on Instagram can be a slow and painful process. You can reach more of your target audience with paid ads which act as a boost for your content. These ads will reach people far beyond your Instagram followers and their immediate circle.

Give your engagement a Boost

Whether you are doing organic content or ads, you want to reach your target audience and do it right. Connecting with people who see your brand story online is vital in expanding your eCommerce boundaries. These tips will help you to engage with the right community.

Use #Hashtags!

Hashtags are an important part of any successful social media strategy. Not surprisingly, many of the businesses that use them aren’t using them correctly. Hashtags will h get your content in front of many Instagram users according to their interests and topics.

With hashtags, you first need to identify which hashtags are relevant to your business or service. By employing Social Listening tactics you can develop your hashtag strategy around what’s trending. Leverage those tags, and incorporate some of your own.

The number of hashtags that you use with your Instagram posts also matters. You can use up to 30 hashtags on a single post and 10 for Instagram stories, but it is generally better to use between five and six well researched tags. Follow this link for a deeper dive into these ubiquitous hashtags.

Location matters – tag important locations for your business

Tagging your location helps people to find businesses that serve their needs locally!

Set up shop on Instagram

Instagram has now integrated shopping directly into the UX within the app! Yep, that’s right, no more clicking on an external link to view the item. Users can now directly access the product and buy from the platform.

It is not a robust e-commerce platform for merchants, it is built to specifically help the consumer access the product without leaving Instagram. So, as a seller, you won’t get may of the useful insights into your customers but you will have direct access to them. It’s a Catch 22, for sure.

Also, merchants will pay a fee to be a part of their shopping experience. You can’t just start listing things for sale. There are a few rules and stipulations Instagram requires.

Following the guidelines from Instagram, you can apply for Instagram shopping for your business. You will need to wait for approval before activating the shopping link on your profile.

Measure your metrics

Metrics are important in helping you keep track of how your business is performing. With the Meta Business Suite, you will get some high-level insight to your customers and their buying habits. Over time, you will be able to leverage the trends in your metrics and start to promote products that sell and pull back those that don’t. Give your customers what they want.

Instagram ads are a great way to help boots your reach and increase visibility for your brand. You don’t have to spend a lot to start seeing a return, you just need to have the right campaign targeted to the right audience. You can access your ads performance analytics on the Meta Business Suite or your linked Facebook profile.

Stay in front of your customers

Don’t forget to build that relationship with your customers and keep the conversation going. The product is important but it isn’t going to sell itself. Scheduling your posts is the way to go – trying to remember to post everyday is exhausting and a waste of time for most business owners..

I recommend scheduling batches of posts and there are a few options for scheduling your posts: Meta Business Suite is a free platform that allows you to schedule certain posts for Facebook and Instagram. It’s not particularly robust, but it will give you basic analytics and scheduling options. There are other platforms, like, Hootsuite, Buffer and Sprout Social (my personal favorite), that will make the job easier.

Just remember, the more your communicate with your audience, the better. Respond to messages and comments in a timely manner and answer frequently asked questions. The more trust you earn the more advocates and repeat business you will have.

Leverage the power of the Influencer

Influencers have large followings and love to share their opinions to anyone that will listen. This can be great for a small business. These social media power players have mastered the art of helping products get discovered and drive the decisions of buyers.

Reliable sources report that influencers can boost your business by 1,100% in ROI, and 74% of online buyers rely on social media for their purchase decisions. Influencers and their audiences come in all sorts of sizes and demographics, so partnering with the right one is essential. Make sure you do the research before using an influencer to help your business, it could be a costly mistake.

At the end of the day…

Marketing is a necessity for all businesses, big or small! Instagram is an innovator in the social media world. They always keep the UX at the forefront of their decisions on wheter to add features. This focus on the individual user can prove a challenge for businesses to leverage the ever changing algorithm. But, with a little research and a lot of planning, business can leverage the platform to enhance their e-commerce business.

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