As Instagram solidifies its place as a powerhouse social media platform more small businesses should take advantage of this growing new channel to drive awareness, but also for driving sales. Instagram is one of the easiest platforms to showcase your small business’ products for sale and attract new paying customers. The Instagram app is entirely visual and almost exclusively accessed via the mobile app, although there is a desktop version.
With shopping on Instagram, you can create eye-catching, visual storefront posts for your small business that allow people to explore your best products with a single phone tap.
In this article, I’ll cover product-based businesses. If your small business is service-based, there are plenty of ways you can sell on Instagram and we’ll go into that in a future article.
Discovery has always been a key aspect of Instagram. With 80 percent of people already following a business account, and a global community of over 1 billion users, Instagrammers want to explore and find new things from companies they love. Similarly, businesses are always looking for opportunities to connect with valuable prospects and customers.
When Instagram added the shopping feature in March 2017, the company wanted to create something that was less transactional and more of an immersive experience. A way to give shoppers time and space to browse and evaluate products.
How shopping works on Instagram
Your Instagram business profile must be associated with an e-commerce catalog on Facebook. Once your Instagram business profile is connected to your Facebook catalog, you can tag products from your catalog in your Instagram posts and stories. People can tap on product tags to see prices and descriptions, or shop straight from your feed. Once you have a Facebook product catalog connected to your Instagram business account, tagging a product is as simple as tagging a person in a post.
What to sell on Instagram
To sell on Instagram, your business must primarily sell physical goods. You also need to comply with Instagram’s commerce policies. Instagram shopping posts may not promote services. Note that this just means using the shop tag or sticker feature. You can certainly still offer services (and products) using links in your bio and the swipe up feature in Stories.
Instagrammers can find your products via your feed posts, your stories, the Explore tab and from hashtag searches.
The ability to add shopping tags is available for both your main Instagram feed posts and for your Stories. I’ll go into that more below.
When you create an Instagram post with tagged products, the post is not only shared with your followers but is also shared in the Explore section. Over 200 million users visit the Explore tab on Instagram every day.
Including relevant hashtags on your Instagram posts and stories is a must, too. This helps increase your chances of discovery both on the Explore tab and in hashtag searches.
How to set up your shopping posts on Instagram
Make sure your Instagram account is a business profile, and not a personal profile. If you currently have a personal profile that you use for business purposes, you’ll need to convert your account. Or, create a new business profile.
Next, your account must be reviewed before you can start selling. You can imagine that Facebook-owned Instagram needs to ensure bona fide products are offered for sale on their platforms. The review process usually takes a few days.
Once your account is approved for shopping, you then need to enable product tags. From your Instagram business profile on the mobile app, tap the button in the upper right-hand corner > tap Shoppingunder Business Settings > tap Continue> select the product catalog you want > tap Done.
Now you can add product tags on your Instagram posts and product stickers on your stories.
You can tag up to 5 products per single image/video post or up to 20 products per carousel (multi-image post). Tap Tag Productsfrom the Share screen. Select the product you want to tag from your catalog and place your product tag on or near the product in your image or video.
The good news is you can use the shopping tag feature on both new and existing posts.
For Instagram stories, you can create one product sticker per story and you can edit the sticker color and text. To access the product sticker, tap the sticker icon at the top right and then select the product sticker option. Unlike feed posts, once stories have been published, you cannot edit them.
Once you’ve tagged products in 9 posts, a shop tab will show up on your profile that lets shoppers browse your shoppable posts—all in one place.
Weave products into your visual story-telling in Instagram posts and stories.
Promoting your product posts
At the moment, the ability to tag products in feed posts and add product stickers to stories is only available in organic posts. Instagram does not allow paid ads with shopping tags. However, last year Instagram partnered with e-commerce platform Shopify to offer product tagging and these posts can be promoted using paid ads.
For organic promotion, remember to include hashtags in all your feed posts. You can add as many as 30 hashtags. Make good use of the stories feature - ideally posting 2-3 or more stories per day. And include a few hashtags on your stories.
Reviewing your shopping insights
Businesses can get insights like seeing how many people tapped to see more product details or clicked on “shop now.”To see key metrics on your shopping posts and stories, simply tap View Insightson a shopping post or swipe up on shopping stories. You can also sort top shopping posts on various metrics through Insights on your business profile.
Utilizing these tools within Instagram can help take your use of the platform from fun and building awareness to achieving real sales. Consider setting aside a few hours in the next month to experiment with selling on Instagram and see what it can do for your small business.
Want to learn more about using Instagram for your small business? Check out these other posts.
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About Mari Smith
Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.
Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.
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