Your Ultimate Guide To Selling On Instagram

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Leigh Mardon

Reading time: 3 minutes

With around 75% of online retailers having signed-up for an account, Instagram is fast becoming one of the big players in eCommerce. Even they are aware of their selling potential, at the end of 2016 they teamed up with 20 US retailers to trial a new ‘shoppable feature’. Users can now purchase directly through the platform for the first time ever.

This idea is still being tested but it’s more important than ever to optimise your Instagram shopfront. It’s can be the perfect selling tool to drive traffic to your site and advocate your brand.  If you’re not already utilising your Instagram ‘grid’, here are 4 simple tips to get you on your way to selling on Instagram…

  1. Make your Instagram ‘shoppable’
  2. Sell your brand and tell a story
  3. Engage with your customers
  4. Promote special offers and new products

1. Make your Instagram ‘shoppable’

Around 30% of shoppers said they purchased something online after seeing it on Instagram. The platform has staggering conversion potential and the best way to harness that is by making your Instagram storefront ‘shoppable’.

By embedding your gallery onto your current eCommerce site, it’s possible to create a parallel Instagram that customers can shop on. By following a link in your bio, they will view an augmented version of your site with interactive tags on the images that take them straight to the product pages.

The brand Reformation have incorporated this feature. Now followers don’t have to exit the app and hunt for the items, they simply follow the link and get automatically redirected to the ‘shoppable’ version of their Instagram. It’s the easiest way to shorten the journey from product to basket and offer the most seamless UX possible.

2. Sell your brand and tell a story

Online shopping is now more personalised and interactive. You can’t just sell your products anymore you also need to sell and tell the story of your brand. According to research, social media users interact with retailers 58x more on Instagram over Facebook and 120x more than Twitter.


Use Instagram to showcase your brand not just the products. Urban Outfitters show their target market in daily life, the food they eat, their home decor; highlighting their personalities and tastes.. The images compliment their brand by setting the scene and telling a story.

For bonus points they also have Instagram’s for different countries in order to identify with the regionally different audiences they have.

Also consistency is key for your brand on Instagram. 60% of top brands use the same filters, similar lighting and colour palettes. Help cement your brand’s look by keeping a uniform theme across your images.

During Autumn Toms used earthy colours to reflect the season. Instagram curation is like a designing a shopfront- all the elements need to work together to help draw in a customer.

A great new feature on the platform that retailers are using to tell a story is the slider tool. Urban Decay use it for makeup tutorials. By swiping across customers can reveal the products used in the images. From an eCommerce perspective, using the slider function can help nudge users towards a purchase.

Finally, a good way to sell your brand is by giving customers an insight and Asos are a good example of doing this well. As they operate on drop shipping, Instagram is the perfect opportunity to get a look inside the employees lives. They post ‘behind the scenes’ videos on a rolling basis that are in keeping with their look as a brand. Showing them an insight into your company can help incite trust and customers are more likely to shop with brands they trust.

3.Engage and interact with your customers

Once you’ve painted a great picture of your brand, it’s a good idea to start engaging with your users on a more personal level. One way to get them more involved is by creating a unique hashtag, retailers can then collect and share user generated content. One study found 77% of consumers feel authentic customer photos affect their purchasing more than professional ones.

Nespresso use branded hashtags like #nespressomoments and #intensecoffee with thousands of responses. They also actively respond to comments promptly to further engage people in discussion.

You can further engage with customers by using these hashtags to run competitions. It’s a great reason for customers to interact with your brand and chances are, if they like something they got for free, they’ll be willing to purchase it in the future.

4.Promote special offers and new products

There are 500 million Instagram accounts worldwide, that’s a third of all internet users, so using this platform to promote your new products is a great way to maximise your reach and drive traffic to your site.

Companies like BirchBox will often use Instagram in this way. Although the curated monthly subscription is a ‘mystery’ selection, they’ll often tease followers by revealing the occasional product exclusively on Instagram.

Clearly many businesses are understanding how powerful selling on Instagram can really be. It’s gaining eCommerce interest at breakneck speed and by following these simple steps you too can help extend your reach across its global following and drive business to your site. 

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