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Complete Guide to Instagram eCommerce

Instagram is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your eCommerce business. Here’s what you need to know about Instagram eCommerce to start.

Colleen Christison July 6, 2022

Are you thinking about getting into Instagram ecommerce?

If so, you’re in luck. 2024 is shaping up to be a big year for this rapidly growing industry. In a survey, 44% of people reported using Instagram to shop weekly. They’re reporting using features like shopping tags and the Shop tab. And that number should keep growing as Instagram fine-tunes its Shopping features.

Here’s everything you need to know about making the most of Instagram ecommerce.

Bonus: Find out what people really want from brands on social—including why they follow, engage, buy, and even unfollow them—in The Social Media Consumer Report.

What is Instagram ecommerce?

Instagram ecommerce refers to using Instagram to promote the selling of products for your ecommerce business. Your ecommerce business can exist solely on Instagram or a separate website.

There are a few other terms you should know in this realm:

  • ecommerce stands for ‘electronic commerce.’ It means buying and selling goods, products, or services over the internet.
  • Social commerce is a subset of ecommerce. It involves buying and selling over social media.
  • Instagram commerce refers to just the buying and selling over Instagram.

What are Instagram ecommerce tags?

Instagram ecommerce tags, or Shopping tags, are tags on products featured in content.

To access them, you must:

  • have a U.S.-based business or creator account,
  • have uploaded products to your catalog and
  • enabled Instagram Shopping.

Your Shopping tags will be listed in the Instagram Shop catalog. Businesses, their partners and qualified public Instagram accounts can slap them directly onto:

  • feed posts,
  • Instagram Stories,
  • IGTV videos,
  • Reels,
  • Guides, and
  • Live broadcasts.

Other folks on Instagram can tag products too. But only on their feed photos, as video and Stories aren’t yet supported.

Tags are a power move for sellers on Instagram. Shopping tags direct customers to buy products instantly from your website or the Instagram app. You also have control over how and where folks tag your products. Instagram allows you to remove tags from a post, and you can approve or deny the users who have access to your tags.

@vmeers underline kajal eyeliner Instagram shopping

Source: Instagram

Pros of using Instagram for ecommerce

Instagram is a visually-based platform. This is great for businesses that sell products that are easy to photograph, like clothes, jewelry, or art. And for services that manifest well, like physical trainers, wellness, and interior design. Using a platform where your customers can see how your products and services might look on them or in their lives is a massive benefit to your sales.

Instagram had over 2 billion monthly users in 2021, so it’s an easy way to reach a large audience. Within those billions of users, Instagram fosters niche communities. Shared common interests bring these smaller communities together. This makes it easier to build strong relationships between members. These groups let you connect with people on an individual level.

And, your Instagram ecommerce business can integrate with your Facebook ads and Pages for even more reach.

Here are five more pros of using Instagram for ecommerce.

People are receptive to advertising

90% of people on Instagram follow a business. Folks are receptive to being advertised products or services on the platform. They follow you because they want to know about new products or services. Let them know about any promotional campaigns you’re running. You can also tease future campaigns with ‘coming soon’ posts.

Instagram is a direct line to your consumers

77% of active Instagram users surveyed in a recent study noted that the app lets them interact with brands. You can troubleshoot with your customers, fix issues on the fly, and get real-time feedback. A direct line to your consumers allows you to turn followers into brand advocates. And to crowdsource sentiment on your brand.

Brands on social media have the added benefit of giving people a place they can easily contact you and where you can reach out to them. People feel much more connected to a brand that actively engages their community.

It gives you legitimacy

50% of participants in a study reported being more interested in a brand when they see ads for it on Instagram. Having an Instagram presence shows folks your followers trust you. It also shows that there’s a place they can connect with you over any potential issues or questions.

It makes it easy to convert

When people see tagged products in the content on their feed, they can purchase effortlessly. Often buying without even leaving the app. Instagram calls it “shopping in the moment of discovery.”

Loyal followers will advertise for you

Any follower who likes your products enough to post a photo of it is easy user-generated content (UGC). UGC is a persuasive form of free advertising. Encourage people to post and tag your products in photos, then make the most of any UGC that comes your way.

Article, for example, uses their Instagram bio to ask folks to use their branded hashtag to post their UGC. They then repost people’s content on their feed.

#OurArticle Instagram bio branded hashtag

Source: Article on Instagram

How to build an effective eCommerce strategy on Instagram

Set up your Instagram shop

First, you’ll want to set up a place where people can buy what you’re selling. To do this, you’ll need an Instagram business or creator account.

With creator accounts, you’re limited to tagging products. So, if you’re looking to develop a robust Instagram ecommerce strategy, you may want to switch to a business account. You’ll get more analytics and the option to create a shop and a product catalog.

This article shows you how to set up your Instagram ecommerce shop in four easy steps.

Promote your products with organic posts

Instagram’s visual-first model makes it ideal for promoting products. You should publish both organic posts and paid advertising. Organic posts help to build your awareness, follower loyalty, and brand personality.

To do this well, you’ll want to plan posts out in advance, using a scheduling tool like Hootsuite. Hootsuite’s Bulk Composer allows you to schedule hundreds of posts in advance, saving you time and a headache down the road.

Try Hootsuite free for 30 days

Promote your products with ecommerce Instagram ads

Organic posts work best when paired with paid advertising. They work toward different goals. Organic helps engage your followers and build trust. Paid advertising, on the other hand, works to create campaign conversions. This two-pronged approach is an important piece of a strong Instagram ecommerce strategy.

You’ll need a complete and in-depth view of your content. This way, you can fully understand what’s working and what’s wasting your time and money. Many third-party apps promise a streamlined analytics dashboard. Many third-party apps promise a streamlined analytics dashboard. We (obviously) use Hootsuite’s Social Advertising. It lays everything out in a way that makes it easy to make data-driven decisions. You’ll be a pro with Instagram ads for ecommerce in no time.

Partner with influencers to sell your products

People trust other people over brands. So, one of the best ways to get your products in front of potential customers is through Instagram influencer ecommerce marketing. It’s a mouthful, but it just means finding an influencer who will help advertise your products.

When choosing an influencer to work with, pick someone with an engaged following. Consider influencers who align with your brand; you’ll want these folks to use your products and believe in what you’re doing. It makes their recommendations authentic, and their followers are more likely to have a shared interest. It’s like dating — see if your values match up before forging a relationship.

Set up an affiliate marketing program with your chosen influencers. Folks with Instagram creator accounts to share your products and earn a commission. They simply have to add affiliate tags to their Instagram content. There will be a small “Eligible for commission” title under their user name when they post.

Create a network of brand ambassadors

If you can create a network of brand ambassadors, you can create brand advocacy. One in four people agree that micro-influencers with loyal and highly engaged audiences create new trends.

Choose micro-influencers or folks with a smaller following. Catering to a niche audience inspires loyalty. If they’re interested, send them free products they can promote on their account. You can also give them a personalized code they can offer to their followers for a discount on your brand.

Micro-influencers have a higher follower-purchase rate when promoting products compared to macro-influencers. Typically, with smaller influencers, the up-front cost is lower. But, a lower up-front investment coupled with a higher purchase rate means your ROI will be stronger the more niche you go.

Smoothly drive customers to your website

By including links to product pages in Instagram posts, businesses can direct customers to their websites. Once on their site, they can learn more about the product and make a purchase.

Revolve Dagget boot view on website

Source: The Revolve Shop on Instagram

You can also add URLs to your website in your Instagram bio and to Stories. Use a URL shortener to:

  • brand your links,
  • track metrics, and
  • make long, spammy-looking URLs short and sweet.

Use a chatbot to help with common customer service queries

Instagram chatbots can answer common questions about your product or service. Plus, they can help to resolve issues and problems. Instagram users will appreciate being able to get help without having to leave the app.

As a bonus, chatbots can free up your customer service team. Then, they can handle more complex issues or focus on relationship building. Without spending hours responding to frequently asked questions, your team can:

  • canvas Instagram for niche communities,
  • reach out to micro-influencers, and
  • foster relationships with your community.

There are a ton of Instagram chatbots to choose from. One we’ve tried, tested, and trust at Hootsuite is Heyday. It can be used solely for Instagram or as an omnichannel customer service bot. Here’s how to integrate Heyday and other Instagram chatbots into your ecommerce strategy.

Get a free Heyday demo

Promote your Instagram shop on other platforms

To maximize sales, promote your Instagram shop on other platforms as well. You can do this through cross-platform promotion, blogs, and influencer marketing.

Link your Instagram account to your other social platforms. And consider launching cross-promotional campaigns. Make them lead back to your Instagram Shop for any promotions. Reach out to well-known bloggers within your industry and see if they’re interested in collaborating with you. Or, ask the influencers you’ve engaged already if they would be willing to cross-promote for you.

By promoting your Instagram shop on other platforms, you can:

  • reach a wider audience,
  • generate more leads, and
  • ultimately make more sales.

Create SMART goals

Whether you’re starting out or established, define the goals for your ecommerce Instagram strategy. Useful goals create a specific, measurable, and attainable target for your company. Use the SMART criteria to measure your goals.

SMART goals stands for:

  • Specific: Your goal should be easy to understand exactly what it means and when it has been achieved.
  • Measurable: Your goal should be quantifiable.
  • Action-oriented: You should be able to outline the steps that will get you to your goal.
  • Realistic: You should be able to achieve your goal with the resources you have.
  • Timeline: Your goal should have a start and end date.

For example, you can say your goal is to “increase sales on Instagram by 5% over the next six months.” Or, they could be specific to a campaign “to increase sales for the Kitty Cat Ears by 40% over Black Friday weekend.” Then, once your goals are in place, you can craft a strategy and tactics to help you achieve them.

Here’s more on how you can create smart goals for your strategy.

Use analytics to your advantage

Analytics will show you what’s working and what’s not. This data gives you valuable insight into where your strategy might be falling short. You’ll want to choose some KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) related to your organizational goals.

KPIs will give you actionable insights from your data. They’ll help to inform you where improvements can be made in your strategy. Once you have these insights, you can adjust and optimize accordingly. Some platforms will make optimization suggestions for you. Hootsuite analytics, for example, shows you where you need to adjust your strategy through the Insights feature.

Engage with shoppers on social media and turn customer conversations into sales with Heyday, our dedicated conversational AI chatbot for social commerce retailers. Deliver 5-star customer experiences — at scale.

Get a free Heyday demo

Turn customer service conversations into sales with Heyday. Improve response times and sell more products. See it in action.

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By Colleen Christison

Colleen Christison is a freelance copywriter, copy editor, and brand communications specialist. She spent the first six years of her career in award-winning agencies like Major Tom, writing for social media and websites and developing branding campaigns. Following her agency career, Colleen built her own writing practice, working with brands like Mission Hill Winery, The Prevail Project, and AntiSocial Media.

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