Social media selling portals aren’t new—but Instagram keeps them feeling fresh.
It’s consistently been a hotspot of brand innovation, serving over 70 percent of brand-specific buying enthusiasts looking for new releases, great deals and then some. Instagram’s potential as a future provider grows constantly, powered by one-tap tags, SEO-rich descriptions and visual media stages rivaled by none.
We’re talking about Instagram Shopping, Instagram Business’s rapidly expanding, feature-packed world of storefronts. It gives marketers the chance to customize their offers directly, as opposed to needing to hop through the regular social media formatting hoops. Powered by Instagram’s powerful Shopping Tags, businesses can both highlight their product catalogues while promoting their finest via captions and specialized bios driven by Product Mentions.
Redefining a Platform: Approaching Instagram Shopping
If you’ve sold on Instagram before, you’ve already done something right. Having been released 11 years ago, the platform has had plenty of time to develop: It’s the sixth-most visited website and the fourth-most popular smartphone app. It’s consistently served as the modern provider’s answer to passive shoppers, boasting a powerful, one-billion user population.
Instagram Shopping’s storefronts themselves, dubbed “Instagram Shops,” are selling spots utilized by brands regardless of size. More or less, they’re miniature e-commerce corners, linking a business’s external webpage with internal avenues of cross-channel potential. Build product collections, customize your image, boost your perspective’s visibility or simply develop your style: Instagram Shops really do serve all.
If you’re new to Instagram Shopping—or new to Instagram-based selling in general—there are a few tactical approaches to learn. Instagram Shopping is easy to adopt, for the most part, but its enticing features should nevertheless be optimized by your pre-existing strategy. After all, the platform is used by other marketers, too—and they’ve already begun redefining the way Instagram’s mini shopping bag icon piques the buyer’s interest.
Going in Well-Equipped: Know Thy Instagram
Before getting your feet wet in Instagram’s newest sea of opportunity, it’s important to know what you’ll be setting sail to. The whole idea of Instagram Shopping, again, is to highlight pre-existing products to be more enticing. This isn’t to say Instagram Shops can’t be used to promote new goods—or even to jettison your newly created brand into the masses. It’s simply best used as a new introduction into a pre-established strategy.
Primarily, it’s because Instagram Shopping increases view frequency of brands that Instagram’s users already follow. The platform also uses its Editor’s Picks feature to enhance a brand’s visibility via Gift Guides, collection spotlights, industry recommendations and more.
Users can click “Browse Shops” to check out these brands. The option tends to be a go-to for the platform’s consumers, making it a must-land target for any brand keen on making a spotlight for itself. Shoppers entering this area already have a product category in mind, more often than not, and tend to be accustomed to Instagram’s checkout feature as it is. As such, you’ll need to have already operated an Instagram Business account for some time. In fact, Instagram gauges a brand’s eligibility based on this, looking for the following qualities:
- Existing operation within an Instagram-supported market.
- An external e-commerce website to link to.
As an extension of your external website, Instagram Shopping shouldn’t be considered a replacement opportunity. Still, we won’t say it can’t eventually become this. At the very least, it can be a powerful complement to a brand’s Facebook page.
Your Instagram Shopping Cornerstones
Once you’ve secured the basics, you’ll be set to create your own Instagram Shop. The process is indeed Instagram-guided, but not everything is spelled out. Even for those with pre-existing Instagram selling street credit, several steps should be kept in mind before setting up your own product spot.
Cornerstone One: Tags, Tags and More Tags
As we all know, Instagram’s major benefit is its tagging feature. If you’re a mobile-bound brand—the wisest approach, as discussed below—you’ll be pleased to know that Instagram’s mobile-based tags have a 63-percent shot at outperforming regular, studio-shot ads. Considering 70 percent of shoppers referred via this system eventually turn to Instagram for products, plenty of tags is a must.
The first thing you should do, after setting up shop, is to upload any promotional images you have, select the “Tag Products” option, and enter the names of your products. As a commonly overlooked part of this step, creating adjoining Instagram Stories—and then tagging them thusly—is just as important. To assure full effectiveness, here, make sure you have every shred of product info available. These tags constitute your product catalog, covering—and promoting—the following aspects of each inclusion:
- Product categories
- Clothing sizes
- Color variations
- Related items
See, Instagram’s tags have always been an important ingredient. When it comes to Instagram Shops, however, they’re the entire entre. Details are determinant, where visibility is considered, and Instagram Shopping itself is a brand visibility boosting tool.
Cornerstone Two: A Focus on Enthusiasm, Not Consumer Segments
It’s easy to consider Instagram Shopping a one-way ticket to a breakout brand. A little too easy, actually. A sizable, 36-percent chunk of Instagram’s population consider shopping to be a major hobby—and, well, Instagram Shops are free to set up. Making Instagram Shopping your basket’s nest egg shouldn’t be your approach, though, and we need to remember this during every phase of the setup. Instagram can be your e-commerce campaign’s main base of operation, but it needn’t start out that way.
Mostly, this is because Instagram Shopping does eventually take a cut on sold products. Its selling fee isn’t cumbersome by any means, as it’s only five percent per shipped item, but it’s enough to make incremental selling costs significant enough to consider.
Here, Instagram’s provided marketing toolkit should be your primary resource. Instagram Insights is your one-stop business-shop for invaluable metrics. Important to note, however, is that Instagram Insights will only display analytics for Stories and posts created after your page was created—making a pre-existing selling page that much more important. Also important to note is that the toolkit relays information on a weekly, and monthly, basis.
Cornerstone Three: Mobile
As such, Insights is best utilized as a complementary tool to your brand’s own analytical resources. It certainly provides a detailed breakdown, and its Content Interactions is an ideal tool for measuring IGTV content reactions. Even so, it’s nonetheless a cornerstone of your strategy—and unlikely to succeed as an entire foundation.
This makes mobile analytics a key resource, too, as Instagram Shopping is, at its core, a smartphone-centric experience. It’s designed to be scannable: A brand snapshot, if you will, as opposed to a detailed buying page in and of itself. Instagram hosts approximately 500 million users per day, and about 75 percent of Instagram users take action immediately after seeing a branded post. We live in the golden age of local business marketing, after all, and mobile holds the keys to the kingdom.
Cornerstone Four: A Facebook Shop
Facebook owns Instagram—making it the owner of Instagram Shopping, too. When creating your Instagram Shop, be sure to keep your Facebook page relevant. If possible, keep it adjacent to your entire Instagram selling strategy. You’ll need to go through Facebook to launch your Instagram selling portal either way, and every post shared to Facebook is an easy double-feature we shouldn’t pass up.
Your brand’s Facebook product catalog highlights are particularly privy to such a spotlight, making Facebook Shops an integral component of Instagram Live Shopping strategies for most. When established correctly, the powerhouse duo Instagram and Facebook create can even eliminate the regular cross-channel woes today’s marketers frequently face when selling on social media.
Even though Facebook’s promotion of Instagram Shops is well-voiced, Facebook still places emphasis on its Shops platform. And, as a nod back to Cornerstone Three, Facebook also considers Shops to be a primarily mobile experience.
Using Instagram Shopping for Conversion
Either as an eventual social media basecamp or a simple accessory to your e-commerce hub, an Instagram Shop is a great conversion tool. It’s a showcasing tool, first and foremost, establishing itself as one of the better fanbase metrics pools out there. We definitely suggest taking advantage of Instagram’s advertising options when creating your Instagram Shop, as its focus on tag-based promotions creates a fertile ecosystem to grow new cross-channel strategies.
If you’re looking for a place to start, definitely hop over to Instagram’s Catalog Manager. If you’re taking a networking approach to your brand-building strategy, check out Facebook’s Use a Partner Platform. Not only will it buffer your cross-platform data resources—it’ll help you create a powerful network with big-name providers like Shopify, Freedonomics and Quipt. It’s created to fit snugly with Facebook’s catalog creation tools, too, further solidifying your brand’s impact as a unifying tool.
When it comes to Instagram Shopping, there are never enough product categories. Whether physical or digital, niche or commonplace, your brand’s established and emergent options have a showcasing spot ready for illumination. So start setting up your Instagram Shop, reach out to your biggest fans and foster many more in the years to come: Instagram Shopping isn’t going anywhere but up, and today’s growing brands will surely go with it.