Selling on Instagram

Not to be all hard-sell or anything, but if you’re not selling on Instagram, you’re missing an enormous market. The numbers are always going up, but at this point, Instagram has over a billion users. Obviously, they’re not all your target market, but it’s fair to say that your potential customers are on Instagram. So how can you attract them and make a sale?

Get to know the requirements

There are a few basic requirements for setting up shopping on Instagram. Again, these can change, too, but the current requirements basically state that you’re in a supported market, that you have an Instagram business profile, and that you have a Facebook page connected to your Instagram account.

If you meet the requirements, you’ll need to determine how you’re going to sell. This can depend on your product, your audience, your location, and the number of followers you have.

Sell with Instagram Checkout

The newest way to sell on Instagram is through Instagram Checkout. Before telling you how completely cool it is, we should probably say that it’s not available for everyone — Instagram Checkout is currently available in the US with a limited number of retailers, including Nike, Warby Parker, Adidas, and Dior. And it also looks like retailers will get charged to use the service. That said, Instagram Checkout is seriously the business, and adding it to your future sales strategy is a no-brainer.

“People no longer have to navigate to the browser when they want to buy,” said an Instagram/Facebook statement. “And with their protected payment information in one place, they can shop their favorite brands without needing to log in and enter their information multiple times.”

Instagram Checkout lets customers buy products without leaving the app — no more linking to an external site, which makes buying products easier and faster. They tap a product, select size/color/etc., enter billing/shipping info, and they’re done. Billing info is securely stored so it’s only entered once. Shipping and delivery notifications are delivered inside the app, too. All this just when you thought buying stuff online couldn’t get any easier. This is why retailers are willing to pay to use it.

But you don’t need to wait for Instagram Checkout access in order to sell your stuff. There are some other great options available.

Selling in Stories

Instagram’s swipe up to shop feature has been available in Stories for a while, and it’s a proven way to drive traffic to your site. It has limitations, though — namely that you need 10,000 followers to enable it. If you’re under that number, take a look at our article about getting more Instagram followers and see if you can get closer. Because this one’s really useful.

Until you hit that magic number, though, you can use product stickers in your Stories regardless of the number of followers you have. Again, there are some restrictions and requirements, but tapping a sticker can show your customer some product details and take them to your site for purchase.

Selling in posts

Product tags act like product stickers, but they sit on your posts instead of Stories. When your customers tap tags, they get product info and the opportunity to buy.

Remember, though, that stickers and tags on their own aren’t going to attract eyes — they work in conjunction with clickable content. You have to create amazing photos that stick out from the millions that go up every day. If only we at PicMonkey could think of a way to add some pizazz to your photos.

Seems like a pretty straight-forward way to send customers to your website would be to include a link in your Stories or posts, but because of spam and abuse and whatnot (this is why we can’t have nice things), there are some pretty strict limits on this. But don’t panic too much — there are some options.

You can put a URL in your bio. This is the “see link in bio” bit that you see all over Instagram. When you add your link, you’re creating a reliable way for people to get directly to your site from your profile. It’s pretty easy, and you can also add some hashtags while you’re there. Every little bit helps.

Another alternative is to run some paid ads. If you really want to get folks to your site, you might need to spend it to get it, yo. There are a couple of approaches you can take. You can either promote posts you’ve already shared, or you can use Instagram’s targeting options to send your posts to specific audiences. Lots of choices here, from basic demographics to location to behavior on Instagram. You can drill down and send your ads to a really clearly defined group.

Instagram is rolling out shopping on the Explore page, putting retailers’ posts in curated categories and exposing them to active customers. So how do you get your posts included on Explore? Three words: algorithm, algorithm, algorithm.

A lot of the process involves creating original, high-quality visual content that your followers Like. The more engaged your followers are, the more likely it is that your posts will be included on the Explore page. But look at that word above — “original.” The algorithm does not like reposts. So while it’s easy to get clicks by sharing cat videos, creating compelling original content that drives engagement is the way to go. TechCrunch has some other great tips about getting included on the Explore page.

Improve sales with analytics

Whatever method you use for selling, it’s only part of the sales equation. You’ve got analytic features at hand, whether you choose Instagram Insights or a third-party app. Analytics are essential to sales — they give you insight (see what they did there?) into what your followers do.

When you examine your data, you can see who your customers are and how they’re interacting with your posts and stories. Which ones are they clicking? How long are they staying? Which posts are driving the most sales?

Our pals at Aria Rose evaluate their analytics every week, looking for performance patterns they can use to plan strategies for the coming week. They track visits and new followers, seeing which posts brought in the most people. With this information in hand, they can create posts and offer products that have the same qualities with the hope of attracting more people to their profile and website. They’re using their analytics as part of an Instagram strategy that turns data into followers.

Instagram Partner Program

Sound overwhelming? Well, there are lots of businesses that have gone through this before, and they would love to share their expertise with you. Take a look at the Instagram Partner Program, where you can find partners who can help guide you toward the results you want. Buying ads, creating campaigns, working with analytics, you’re sure to find someone with the experience you need. Setting up shopping on Instagram is pretty much essential, and with some good content, solid analytics, and an experienced partner, you can attract and engage a wide audience.

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Kevin Rexroat

Kevin is a technical and creative writer with experience writing for Redmond and Hollywood. He is by all accounts a terrible vegetarian, mainly because of pepperoni pizza. He has never seen "The Sound of Music," but he has seen pink dolphins. In addition to being an accomplished writer, his acting and singing have been described as "fine."