08 Mar Take Your Instagram Account from Showcase to Selling
If you’re in a crafting business, showcasing your products and the wonderful things that can be made from them on an image-based social media platform such as Instagram is a great way to reach your potential customers. Until recently, however, Instagram was exactly that–a showcase for your products, but not a selling platform. Your followers could see your products and Like them, but there was no way for them to get instant gratification and buy what they saw. So while it was great exposure, Instagram was not a revenue stream for small business owners.
A number of third-party developers have now teamed with Instagram to create apps that allow Instagram users to buy the things they see and want on the social media platform. In fact, we are now beginning to see a new term in the social media field: ”social commerce.” Rather than selling via their own dedicated e-commerce site, retailers can now sell their products across their social media accounts using these new apps.
Instagram has added a Buy Now button for posts, but it is up to the account owner to choose an app that will allow the transaction with the customer to take place. The Buy Now button will take the customer out of Instagram and either to the merchant’s e-commerce site or to the sales app to complete the transaction, so the interface is not completely seamless. Some apps require both the seller and the buyer to be registered users, while others put the administrative burden squarely on the seller. The fee structure for each app is different and again, the costs are borne by the seller. Would you rather pay a flat fee per transaction, a percentage of sales or a monthly subscription to make your Instagram feed shoppable? If you’re ready to do some research to determine the best and most cost-effective way for your company to process Instagram sales, clicking on the links that follow will take you to each app’s website so that you can evaluate which one might work best to monetize Instagram for your business.
All the shopping apps that work with Instagram use one, two or all of three basic ways to create a sellable moment:
- Collecting your followers’ Likes and creating a shopping gallery off Instagram for them,
- Tagging posts with sales information and having customers respond via Comments, or
- Contacting followers via email with purchasing links for items they have Liked.
Because Instagram limits links to the user’s account bio, sales apps have to work within this limit to create sales opportunities. Some, like Curalate’s Like2Buy and Soldsie’s Have2Have.It, work by sending a customer through that link on the bio page, to a shoppable gallery on the merchant’s e-commerce site that mimics the Instagram feed. Other apps, like Penny or Soldsie, use the Instagram comments feature to create the sale. The seller tags the post in a way that both customers and the app recognize that it is for sale. The buyer comments “SOLD” and supplies contact information (either publicly on the post or privately through a registration) and the seller emails an invoice to complete the transaction. An app like TapShop takes a two-fold approach, having your profile link take the audience to a gallery of products they’ve Liked, and following up by using your email subscription list to send an email with shoppable product links to those same Instagram users. Spreesy goes for all three routes, with tagged posts that can be bought via Comments. All tagged posts are gathered in a shoppable store accessed by the profile link, and customers who add #subscribe and their email to their SOLD comment will also get a checkout email as well as being added to your email subscription list.
There are upsides and downsides to selling your products in this way. Selling across social media platforms decentralizes your sales, making it more difficult to track where your sales are originating and what the most effective platform for sales is for your business. Essentially, it adds another step to your analytics, but many of the apps integrate with Shopify to streamline that analysis. On the other hand, selling on image-based platforms like Instagram is a natural step. Many users treat this platform as a digital catalogue or virtual wish list, so it’s great for your business to give them a way to fulfill those wishes.
Using your social media accounts as a sales platform for your products can be great way to expand your business, but setting up those accounts and figuring out the best way to convert Likes into Sales can be a complicated process. Let the experts at Stitchcraft Marketing help you find the best solutions for your crafting business. We are makers and we know social media marketing. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.