Today, social networks have become powerful platforms for doing business. Now you can keep in touch with clients and open online stores. Opening such an online store through an ecommerce-focused profile on Instagram is a great solution for those who want to sell products or services without spending a lot of effort. An Instagram profile can be an additional sales platform or the main one, working in an online store format. All you need to do is create an account, add goods, and start selling them.
However, all of this gets a little more complicated due to social networks’ internal process, which needs to be understood. You have probably already heard about the profitable use of social media analytics and the incredible marketing possibilities. So, there are plenty of ways to get your business online correctly and efficiently.
Today, Instagram is very actively developing in-app sales opportunities. Experts have added Shopping Tags (which are already used by millions of users around the world) and tags to Stories. They are even talking about the possibility of creating a separate special app just for shopping on Instagram. There are already functions and tools available, but how do you work with them correctly to increase sales on Instagram, and what strategy should you choose?
Advantages of Using Instagram as a Platform for Ecommerce
Instagram has gained unprecedented popularity in recent years. This is all due to the increasing number of influencers who can attract an audience and encourage people to choose and follow them. Initially, this social network was created to share photos, but now it is a platform that brings people millions in profits. The owners of different businesses started to take advantage of it, seeing Instagram as a great way to develop their ecommerce strategy.
With that in mind, let’s briefly first review the benefits that Instagram can have for you ecommerce strategy.
Instagram is a kind of electronic showcase. You can post photos of products, edit them, create eye-catching visuals, and write enticing descriptions. For product reviews, you can now add videos up to 1 hour long to your feed. For special purposes, vertical videos in the form of Stories and Reels work well to engage customers with new goods, promotions, and hot deals.
Further Reading: How to Use Instagram Reels for Business: The Definitive Guide
You can sell products directly from your photos. There is an Instagram Shopping feature for this. These are product cards that allow you to tag them in posts. The tags take users to the cards from where they can start ordering.
Direct communication with the clients
You can interact with customers in the comments and take orders in Direct. You can also answer the most popular questions in Stories, talk about delivery methods, and broadcast live to communicate with clients in real-time.
A huge advantage of Instagram is that your store posts will be accessible and visible to more than just subscribers. If your page is gaining popularity and your posts get a lot of likes, then there is every chance of making it to the top and being recommended to other users. Also, with keywords and hashtags, you can be found by interested users. The posts will appear in the recommendations of potential clients. The reach on Instagram is more than it may seem at first, especially if you use Reels, which can allow your content to be seen outside of your followers and potentially truly go viral.
Further Reading: The 14 Best Instagram Hashtags Generators 
Instagram users visit this social network at least once a day. Others spend hours there. An active audience keeps the store going. This activity can be achieved through contests like Instagram giveaways, communicating with followers, publishing eye-catching posts, and enticing people with amazing deals. All of this strengthens the brand image and increases the number of orders.
Further Reading: 10 Ways to Leverage Social Media in eCommerce
What can you sell on Instagram?
Products and services with a strong visual component sell best on Instagram. This is why clothing, personal care goods, cosmetics, jewelry, accessories, trendy gadgets, decorative items, sporting goods, handmade products, tableware, etc., are quite popular.
The services of various specialists also tend to sell well on Instagram. These can be stylists, cosmetologists, doctors, nail masters, trainers, teachers, actors, etc. They are extremely popular because they can visually sell their courses and share tips on building a personal brand with the audience. You can successfully sell your services with expert accounts on psychology, business management, investing, creativity, etc.
In general, you can sell absolutely anything on Instagram as long as you find the right pitch and create a unique style. Even the most discreet product can be presented so that your account will be interesting to follow.
So, Instagram is open to selling everything (except for illegal goods, of course):
- services in which you are an expert
- training materials
- handmade goods
- items of art
- clothing and footwear, including customized items
Now, we will take a look at the most effective steps for starting and running an e-commerce business on Instagram.
Further Reading: How to Promote Your Ecommerce Store’s Promo Codes on Social Media
8 Steps to Starting an Ecommerce Business on Instagram
Instagram is a very user-friendly network for business activity and personal pages. The first thing you need to do is create a business account, upload a profile photo, and write an attractive description. This information plays an extremely important role because users will be clear about who you are and what you offer.
It is also essential to leave a link to the online store. Instagram is often only an introductory feature that does not show all of your products, and the information about them is often not complete. Therefore, having a link leading to the website will expand customers’ choices and facilitate the buying process.
In order to be consistently seen in the newsfeed of your followers, you need to plan your posts in advance for a steady flow. You will need to decide when and how often they will be published. The best time can be determined with the help of A/B tests or special services. You can also read what the best time to post on Instagram is here.
The next 8 steps should be followed to ensure a successful ecommerce launch:
1. Choosing a Niche
If you already have a product or service, you need to decide which target audience you want to sell to to further define your niche.
If you don’t have a niche and don’t know what you want to sell on Instagram, it will be easier if you are already an expert or have experience in a certain field that you want to monetize and take to the next level. If not, it is best to think about what area you will be useful in and what you can do best. We suggest you make a list of interesting areas of activity and see whether they are popular, because it is best to start a business in a field where there is already an established demand.
2. Account Setup
On Instagram, you can choose the type of account you will setup. There is a business account type for store, company, and agency owners, so you can identify the appropriate one while signing up.
In your profile description, make sure you include the keywords that customers can use to find you. Do not forget to indicate which city you are working in or where you are ready to deliver your goods. It is also essential to add a few introductory posts so that your feed is not empty should a potential client find you before you publish your first post.
Now that your Instagram account is set up, let’s define a few formats to publish your content in. What will it be? Regular posts, Stories, Reels, or perhaps Instagram Live?
- Posts. This is the most familiar type of content, which has become less popular now because of stories. It is enough to publish posts 3-4 times a week.
- Stories. Be sure to post these several times a week, but preferably daily, to communicate with customers and tell them about the presence of certain goods. Users are now more likely to watch the stories of their friends and bloggers. Remember, companies can also take advantage of this to get the audience’s interest. The main point is to publish materials often enough and make interesting content. Get the audience engaged, and show that you are confident in yourself and your offerings.
- Reels. With Reels, you can record a short video up to 30 seconds, edit it, and add music and filters.
- Live. Once an option inside of Instagram Stories, you can now directly access Live at anytime by selecting the “+” button at the top of your app.
Remember, any content that you publish on Instagram should contain selling information and be useful for the customers. If you are an expert, publish content about mistakes, personal experiences, and sell through your Stories. It is better not to mix personal and business accounts, but telling stories about your brand and sharing experiences is great.
Do not limit yourself to product photos: You can also use graphic design elements that will help you create eye-catching content, transform it, and make bright stories or posts with even the most boring material.
4. Account Promotion
There is big competition on Instagram now, so you are not likely to succeed only with free organic promotion methods. But you can start by following those in your target audience as well as relevant hashtags, adding comments and likes in popular accounts where appropriate.
You can also engage the audience in the following ways:
- Contests. Encourage participating in a giveaway from famous bloggers. Standard contests are done in different ways. You can offer some creative tasks, and more often, the option of lotteries and randomly selecting a winner on a certain date is chosen. Start an activity where anyone who likes or reposts is allowed to participate. This way, you get an audience and reach more potential customers.
- Promotions. Do not forget about seasonal promotions, especially during key holidays of the year. During significant events, most stores have discounts. Try to keep your clients informed during the big holidays by constantly reminding them that you are ready to offer them a good deal.
- Repost content from other influencers that your target audience follows. It is a more complex method that involves creating viral content that users will like and repost.
- Another proven method, but not free, is Instagram influencer marketing.
5. Competitor Analysis
Study how your direct competitors operate, track their principles of working with clients, and follow the sales funnels they use. With constant monitoring, you will notice some unique features, methodology of working with subscribers, weak points, etc. Competitor analysis will help you stay on top of niche trends and Instagram as a whole.
6. Communicating with Clients
If you are determined to work long-term and build a loyal customer base, establish a friendly relationship with your clients. After all, it is much better when people come back to you time after time rather than using your services on a one-time basis. Respond to messages quickly. You can create a team of assistants specifically on Instagram to help you communicate with clients. Some can respond to comments and others can work with Direct Messages.
7. Advertising Launch
Since it is not easy to promote Instagram for an online store, it is worth allocating a budget for advertising in the social networks. Targeting on Instagram enables you to show ads to potential customers, which helps get a high conversion rate. You can also connect with influencers and buy ads from them through influencer marketplaces. This will increase your chance of attracting more of the target audience. The principle of bartering or influencer gifting also works great here. You send someone your product to try it out, and then the person makes the recommendation.
Further Reading: Your Ultimate Guide to Creating Instagram Ads That Generate Real ROI
Geotags help to advertise the goods and at the same time show where these particular products can be bought. Geotags with the address of your offline shop help show clients all the photos taken at that address.
This functionality is also important to consider when organizing the proper method for making money on Instagram.
You can tag any item and any object as a product in any photo. The user looks at the picture and sees that it has so-called product tags. Those are the shopping tags. If they click on the image, they see a pop-up tooltip, a product tag that shows the product’s name and its price. If they are interested in it, they click on the tag and are directed to the product page.
Due to this feature, you can forget about posts with the format “click on the link in the description,” “the link to the product,” “the link to the payment page in the description,” and the like. It turns out that the selling element is best integrated into the content itself.
When starting an online business on Instagram, it is essential to remember that there are many competitor accounts, but only some are successful. So, you need a great desire and diligence to work effectively. E-commerce can bring income only through high-quality offers and active interaction with your audience. This social network values active profiles, so make updates by posting new content to your page on a consistent basis.
We wish you great success in running an e-commerce business on Instagram!
Liza Koenhoven is the CMO of Masterbundles.
Hero photo by Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash