22 Jan Utilizing Instagram as a Sales Platform
A variety of factors have rapidly turned Instagram into one of the hottest online sales platforms for businesses. The visual medium is a natural fit for showcasing eye-catching product imagery. A billion people use Instagram every month, with 200 million Instagram users visiting business profiles on a daily basis. More than 1 in 10 users shop regularly on the platform, and 81% of users utilize Instagram to research new products. Instagram’s potential advertising reach is a staggering 849.3 million users, and every month 130 million users tap on shoppable posts (Hootsuite). If you aren’t using Instagram as a marketing tool, it’s time to start!
The first step to utilizing Instagram as a sales platform involves converting your personal account to a business account. Converting to a business account has several perks. Your brand will now have access to native Instagram analytics, options for additional contact information in your Instagram profile, and a wide range of marketing opportunities via Instagram Ads and shoppable posts.
Converting your profile is simple. Navigate to your Settings, click Account, and then click Switch to Professional Account. You will be prompted to connect to a Facebook Business Page. Choose a category for your account and fill out your brand’s contact details, which will now be displayed in profile for your customers and followers.
Storefront Set Up
It’s time to set up a storefront so you can create actionable posts. In early 2019, Instagram announced a new feature called Instagram Checkout, which allows users to purchase products directly on Instagram without navigating to an outside link. However, Instagram Checkout is still a closed beta and only available to select big name brands. For now, creating shoppable Instagram posts is the method available to all.
There are a few ways to enable shoppable posts. Shopify and BigCommerce offer integration and friendly tutorials, as does Facebook. The simplest place to start is Facebook via the Facebook Business Manager page. Activating your Facebook Shop Tab is the first step. Once your shop is activated, you will need to build a database of your inventory by creating Catalogues. Catalogues contain all the products you wish to sell, with product pictures, descriptions, pricing, and the link to your online shop’s checkout page. All of this will then feed directly into Instagram once Instagram approves your status, which should happen automatically shortly after your Facebook Shop has been initiated.
Shoppable Post Strategies
Shoppable Posts on Instagram work via tags. Just as you would tag a person or a company in a post, you can now tag any of the products you listed in your Facebook Catalogue. We’ve outlined the following methods for creating a highly effective shoppable Instagram profile.
Instagram has its own promote button, but it’s smarter to utilize Facebook’s Ad Manager to promote shoppable posts as it affords more options in terms of placement, audience targeting, and budgeting strategies. Most importantly, Facebook allows the choice of specific campaign goals like Brand Awareness, Reach, Engagement, and Traffic. Target ‘Reach’ on high-performing shoppable posts to reach a larger audience. Target ‘Engagement’ on shoppable posts with call-to-actions. Utilize ads in conjunction with any of the methods listed below to boost the strength of your shoppable posts.
The power of UGC, or User Generated Content, cannot be overstated—over half of consumers in all age groups trust UGC over all other forms of marketing (CrowdRiff). Search for content your brand has been tagged in and reach out to those followers for permission to repost their content. Their documented experience demonstrates how your products fit into a lifestyle, whether it’s a photo of your yarn worked up into a lovely sweater, or a sewn dress pattern finished and flaunted by the wearer. Tag your products in the UGC repost and be sure to tag the original poster as well. By this same token, seek out influencers who frequently feature your products for collaboration opportunities, and offer product compensation for posts.
The beauty of the carousel post is that it entices followers to engage with your content. Who can resist clicking through to see all the pictures? Carousel posts are perfect for highlighting product variations. Patterned fabrics in several different colors display beautifully in carousel posts, as do sashiko embroidery templates. Combine the power of UGC with a carousel post by featuring several followers within one carousel and tagging each product featured. Carousels are also great for showing the versatility of your product by displaying it in different scenarios. For example, create a carousel post that shows yarn in the skein as well as knit up in a finished project, or show the finer details of a product by posting a full-sized shot followed by several close-up views.
A beautifully-shot single image of your products in a curated environment can make for an incredibly powerful post. Think of a gorgeous tabletop tagged and arranged neatly with delicate embroidery scissors, hoops, fabric bundles and floss bobbins. It’s an opportunity for your followers to not only live vicariously, but actually purchase the goods to live the life you’ve pictured. A multi-tag product post shows how everything you have to offer fits together as a cohesive whole.
Don’t let that link in your profile go to waste. Create a call-to-action post directing Instagram followers to a hidden landing page at your link in profile that offers an exclusive deal. Post about the exclusive link on your other social platforms to drive followers to Instagram.
Instagram Stories should be treated as another sales channel for your brand. Stories are a good place for unboxing videos linked to a new product on your site, or for hidden links that lead to special discount pages. Use Stories to showcase the many variations of a single product you carry, then save the entire Story feed as a highlight on your Instagram page. If each product has its own Story highlight on your page, it becomes much easier and faster for followers to find and shop those products. Stories now provides the ability to add product stickers to posts, making it another good place to re-post UGC with tagged products.
Engage, Engage, Engage
Are you answering questions posted in your comments? When you post a call-to-action, do you respond to commenters? Do you ‘like’ positive comments about your brand? When a follower says they like a particular pattern, something as simple as asking for their favorite color choice can go a long way towards making them feel seen and heard. Ask questions. Show interest. Don’t let comments or questions go unanswered for long stretches of time. Instagram rewards engagement, with higher visibility awarded to accounts with higher engagement numbers. People work the same way—they feel more loyal to a brand that speaks personally to them.
If you’re interested in mastering Instagram Stories and Live Video we’ve got a free video for you! We teamed up with Knitwear designer, blogger & Influencer Heidi Gustad of HandsOccupied.com to develop this exclusive video for our Stitchcraft Marketing audience showcasing her best tips for creating engaging content that your Instagram fans will love.