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A beginner’s guide to selling on Instagram

By Alexandra Gavril - March 13, 2020

Instagram has become one of the top social networks used by consumers to discover, research, and talk about new products.

Businesses around the world, from big brands to startups and local mom-and-pop shops, know it and they’re already taking advantage to drive sales and results with Instagram.

So, if you have an active presence on this popular social network and want to turn your fans and followers into customers, this is the guide to help get you started with selling on Instagram.

Read on as we share some strategies and advice on how to get your products in front of eager shoppers and entice them to buy from you.

If you’re new to the platform, check out this post to learn everything you need to know about Instagram so you can get your account up and running.

Sell yourself in your bio

Your Instagram business profile is like your site’s homepage. It’s often the first point of contact a potential customer will have with your brand. That’s why it’s important to put in the effort to get it right so you can make a great first impression and entice users to follow your business.

Make sure that your business profile includes these key elements:

  • Profile photo: Choose a photo that is on-brand (like a logo) and makes your business memorable and easy to recognise.
  • Compelling bio: Your Instagram bio is incredibly important so take as much time as you need to craft a short, clear yet compelling bio that tells people exactly what you have to offer.
  • Branded hashtags: Also make sure to include a mention of your branded hashtags to encourage user-generated content. Need help coming up with a unique, memorable hashtag? You can find lots of tips and advice in this beginner’s guide to hashtags and how to use them for your business.
  • Link to your shop: The URL section of your bio is the only clickable link you can add to your Instagram page, so make sure you take advantage and include a link back to your website. We’d recommend tagging your links with UTM codes to make it easier to monitor visits to your website from Instagram (This post explains what UTM tracking codes are and how to use them to track your online marketing efforts.) Next, use a service like Bitly to shorten your links.

Here’s are two good examples of Instagram business profiles:

Make your product photos pop

If you want to sell products on Instagram, ordinary product photos won’t do. With so many brands competing for your customers’ attention, you need to get creative with your product photos if you want to stand out from the crowd.

Here are some great examples of eye-popping product shots:

These photos are amazing but no need to panic because the truth is you don’t need to be an expert at photography to take great product shots. All you need are a smartphone with a good camera and a few creative filters and apps. Read this post on how to take good Instagram photos for some useful tips on how to make yours stand out.

Promote your posts and products using Instagram Ads

Instagram Ads allow you to reach your target audience fast. You decide how much you want to spend, how long you want your ads to run and who you want to see them.

While it may seem complicated if you’re new to Instagram or paid ad campaigns, it’s not. In fact, an easy way to get started is to promote posts you’ve already shared on Instagram.

Simply choose the post you want to boost, click “Promote” and then select:

  • Where you want to send users. You can send them to your profile on Instagram, your direct messages, or your website.
  • Your target audience. You can either select “automatic” and let Instagram show your ads to an audience similar to your fans and followers, or you can create your own audience by choosing interest, age range, and gender.
  • How many days you want your ads to run and how much you wish to spend.

Now all you need to do is click the “Confirm” button to start promoting your post. To see how well it’s performing, click “View results” in the bottom left corner of your ad.

Check out our beginner’s guide to Instagram advertising for step-by-step instructions on how to create your ads and boost your posts on this platform.

Try Instagram Story ads

Another way to pay to reach more people is with Instagram Story ads. If you’re not familiar with Insta Stories, they’re photos or videos that show up at the top of the feed and disappear 24 hours after they’re posted.

That’s a top spot that you definitely want to take advantage of to grab your audience’s attention. Just make sure that whatever it is you choose to promote in your Insta Story, it’s appealing enough to catch the eyes of those who quickly swipe through stories.

Check out these short tutorials to learn how to create an organic Instagram Story and an Instagram Story ad.

Activate Instagram Shopping

One of the most advanced features you can try is Instagram Shopping. This allows users to purchase products directly from your page (denoted by the shopping bag icon).

Here’s how it looks:

Here’s another example from Bellroy:

Here’s how it works:

Tapping on the product will show you the name and price of the product. If you tap on “View products” you’ll see the product promoted in the photo. Tap again on the product photo and you’ll see a full description of the product alongside a “View on Website” call to action button. Tap on it and you’ll be sent to the product page on the Bellroy website.

Using Instagram Shopping is a great tactic to entice more Instagram users to browse through your products and buy directly from the social network. Now, the trick is that you need to have an active product catalogue on Facebook to be able to activate Instagram Shopping.

There are also a few guidelines to approval that Instagram has to review before granting you permission to sell on their platform. You will need to:

  • Agree to the Instagram’s merchant agreement and commerce policies
  • Have an active Instagram Business account
  • Have a connected Facebook page
  • Sell physical products
  • Have a connection to a Facebook catalogue (either directly or through a third-party ecommerce service).

If you’d like to give it a try, simply follow the steps in this tutorial to learn how to set up Instagram Shopping.

Wrapping up

Selling on Instagram is not as complicated as it may seem. If you share great, visually-appealing photos and videos that stand out from the crowd and combine them with paid ads as often as your budget allows it, you’ll be on your way to growing your fanbase and driving more sales to your online shop.