How to Sell on Instagram in 10 Simple Steps

Sell on Instagram, eCommerce Zyro hero blog

More retailers are recognizing the value of having an established Instagram presence, and consumers are increasingly turning to the platform to interact with brands. Instagram has become a hub of advertising and sales.

You too can monetize your Instagram feed and sell products directly from your profile. With very little setup, you can have a thriving eCommerce business that makes the most of social media retail.

Whether you want to use Instagram as part of a larger eCommerce strategy or have it as your main point of sale, we’ve got some tips to help you get started.

1. Create an Instagram Business profile

ASOS Instagram Profile

There’s a good chance you already have a personal Instagram account. If you are serious about selling on the platform, you’re going to need to get an Instagram Business account.

These are special accounts that give you access to features not available to regular users, but which are essential if you want to run a successful business.

These features include:

  • Instagram Shopping. This is the function that makes it possible for you to create product listings, tag products in your feed or stories, and link visitors back to your website to make a sale.
  • Instagram Ads. There are tons of ways to display ads on Instagram. Create compelling ads, reach a huge audience, and collect insights into the performance of your marketing campaigns.
  • Instagram Insights. Collect data on your visitors. Find out how many people saw your posts, how successful a post was, who your demographic is, and how many new followers you’re gaining.
  • Action buttons. Adding action buttons to your profile lets potential customers take actions like calling your business or making a reservation directly from your profile.
  • Location and business hours info. Don’t waste space in your bio with basic business information. Instead, use the specially designed space to tell customers when and where they can find you.

You can either create a new profile as a business profile or convert your existing one in your Options settings.

2. Make your profile findable and compelling

Oreo Instagram profile

When many retailers start exploring how to sell on Instagram, one of the most commonly overlooked factors is the findability and attractiveness of their profiles.

Attractive and compelling

As well as securing the perfect account name (it should be unique, identical or close to your brand name, short, and memorable), you should make sure that your profile looks professional and appealing.

Your customization options are more limited than on your own website, but to make it your own, you can:

  • Use an eye-catching profile picture. Either your brand logo or something closely related to your niche works.
  • Write an engaging, informative, and compelling bio. Use the short section to communicate your message and invite visitors to shop.
  • Include as much helpful information as you can. Include business hours, your location, and means for customers to contact you directly.
  • Have a consistent aesthetic. Think about your posts look as a whole; try and keep them consistent and attractive.

Be findable

A great way of reaching new customers that is entirely free is by learning how to use hashtags properly. While you may think that sticking loads of hashtags into a caption makes you more findable, too many can look spammy and turn off potential customers.

To get found in the right way, remember these hashtag golden rules:

  • Fewer heavily searched and followed hashtags are more effective and professional-looking than lots of vague ones.
  • The hashtags you use should be relevant to the content you’re sharing, not just your brand or your target audience.
  • That said, the hashtags you use must also be relevant to your target demographic. Find words and phrases they use. 
  • Find hashtags that do not have too many uses. Otherwise, you risk your content getting buried.

3. Create a shoppable Instagram feed

Berliner Bags product listings

Featuring your products in your content on your Instagram feed is a great way of showing potential customers what they look like and how they work. However, savvy retailers know that it’s even more effective to feature shopping posts.

Tagging your products directly in Instagram posts not only gives you the opportunity to display costs and product specifications, but it’s also a chance to link visitors to your online store where you can make a sale.

Regular Instagram posts don’t let you place external links, which is exactly why shopping posts are such an advantage for businesses. 

Be sure to show your products in an attractive setting, provide all the information customers will need in the caption, and tag shopping posts with relevant hashtags that make them easy to find.

4. Only post professional-looking images

Bare Minerals Instagram Photos

Instagram is fundamentally a visual platform, meaning that your products are only going to stand out if you ensure that they look their best in the photos which you post. 

With the widespread availability of easy-to-use photography equipment and editing tools, there’s really no excuse for businesses of any size to be posting unattractive product images to Instagram. 

Even if you’re not a professional photographer, you still must make an effort. 

We have an entire article explaining how to take professional product photos, but for a quick summary, here are the key points to bear in mind:

  • Keep your brand identity in mind. The most important thing is for your photos to suit your brand. Have a good understanding of your brand’s overall look and feel, and copy that in product images.
  • Plan everything in advance. Know the exact equipment you’ll need, where you’ll shoot, what kind of lighting you’ll use, which props you’ll include, and how you’ll retouch after. 
  • Choose the right background and framing. Your shot composition is key to making your products look good. A white background shot straight on is not always the best option. 
  • Don’t shy away from props. While your products should always take center stage, it’s OK to include other props (including models) to give context to your products and make them more appealing. 
  • Remember – lighting is key. The style and angle of lighting will set the mood of your images. Think carefully about what your lighting choices say about your products. 
  • Learn how to edit (or pay a professional). Retouching photos after they’re taken is standard practice. Many beginner-friendly editors are available for free, but you can always get someone else to help out. 
  • Be consistent. Whatever choices you make about shooting your products up to this point, stick to them. Make sure your images have a consistent style that you stick to. 

5. Be mindful of your written content

Nike Instagram post

Ok, so images are key on Instagram, but you’re going to miss out on customers if you lose sight of the importance of written content to your marketing performance on the platform. 

While it’s true most users will just scroll through images, if something catches their eye, they’ll want to read your captions to find out more about the products you have on offer. This is your opportunity to sell. 

To write compelling Instagram captions, you should keep the following in mind:

  • Plan and draft. Content is important, so think carefully about what you want to say, and what impact you want to make on your reader. Write multiple versions, and pick the best one. 
  • Lead with the most important information. You may only have your readers’ attention for a few seconds, so it’s crucial to front-load your copy with your key points. 
  • Be careful with hashtags. Use no more than 4 or 5 highly focused and carefully chosen hashtags. They must be relevant to your content and brand. 
  • Be efficient. Don’t say in 10 words what can be said in 3. Brevity and conciseness will help make the most of your readers’ short attention spans.
  • Establish a consistent voice. Just like with images, there should be consistency in your captions. Find your brand’s tone and voice, and stick to it as close as possible. 
  • Calls to action. The aim of your captions should be to make users act. Whether you’re selling a product or just looking for likes, be clear, and invite action. 

6. Serve effective ads

Instagram Story Ads

Gaining attention organically through hashtags and shoppable posts will only get you so far in the competitive arena that is Instagram. If you want the right customers to find you, you’ll need to consider investing in paid advertising on the platform.

Instagram has a bunch of different ways you can display ads, including:

  • Photo ads
  • Video ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Stories ads
  • Collection ads
  • Ads in explore

Utilizing your access to Instagram Ads, you should create ad content that is sure to appeal to your target demographic, and use the platform’s helpful targeting options to ensure the right people see it.

The reach of your ads will be influenced by your targeting options, size of your demographic, and your budget.

One tip for first-timers is to simply promote a post you’ve noticed has been performing well on your profile. Promoting a post simply shares the content in the feeds of users who don’t follow you.

7. Create promotional opportunities

Paid advertising on Instagram is a tried and trusted method of increasing your reach and developing a new customer base. However, it’s not the only approach to promotion you can take on the platform.

You should consider developing your own marketing opportunities not reliant on Instagram’s ad network.

Here are two of the most effective ways you might do this.

Partnering with influencers

Influencer post on Instagram

Building a following of your own can take a lot of effort on Instagram. Influencer marketing allows you to piggyback on the following of other popular accounts to get your products and message in front of a larger audience.

Far from being simply a buzzword, influencer marketing is effective if you want to:

  • Promote your new products to a bigger audience
  • Communicate effectively with existing customers
  • And find new potential customers

Influencers are paid cheerleaders for your brand. They give your products a face, and leverage the trust their followers have in them to sell your products.

The type of content an influencer creates for you, the reach that content will have, and the amount you need to pay them will differ depending on the size of their following.

Regardless of that, you should ensure influencers you work with:

  • Are relevant to your brand. If you sell beauty products, partner up with influencers who often review or promote such products.
  • Have a following similar to your audience. There’s no point marketing to the wrong people, even through an influencer. Make sure you understand their demographics, and that they match your own.
  • Use similar keywords as your brand/audience. Make sure that the hashtags and keywords associated with the influencers you target are similar to those already associated with your brand.

While Instagram is one of the most popular hubs for influencer marketing, it’s far from being the only way to get your brand seen on the platforms.

Running promotions

With an Instagram business account, you can promote your products and brand using promoted posts, photo ads, video ads, ads in explore, and more. 

Using these marketing options within Instagram, you’re able to specifically target your preferred demographics, and get great insights into how your ads perform.

Creating a sense of urgency or exclusivity is one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book, and can even be applied to selling on Instagram.

It’s quick and simple to run a promotion through your Instagram account. These could be:

  • Discount codes
  • Prize draws
  • Early access to new products
  • Giveaways
  • Flash sales

You can put info about your promotion in the caption of a post, in a story, a video, or in your profile bio.

8. Team your Instagram account with a powerful website

Sugaro Store Template Zyro

Strictly speaking, you don’t need a website to sell on Instagram. 

The only requirements to sell on Instagram is that you have a Facebook business page, an Instagram Business profile, and sell primarily physical goods.

That said, there are some big advantages to having a website to back up your IG profile:

  • Brand credibility. Your website can act as your main representative online. Having a unique and recognizable URL, as well as a distinctive brand image can help consumers view your brand as more credible.
  • No reliance on one platform. What happens to your business if, one day, Instagram closes down? If you’ve diversified over multiple platforms, you’ll survive. If not, your business is going to be in trouble.
  • Sync up inventory and orders. If you are selling on multiple platforms, your website – especially with an eCommerce platform like Zyro – can act as a hub to manage everything centrally.
  • Control customer experience. While you have limited customization options on Instagram, you have complete control over the customer journey through your own website. Customize it to boost sales.
  • Get deeper user insights. Instagram Business offers some great insights into post performance and demographics. With your own website, however, you can get much richer and more useful user data.

With platforms like Zyro, you can build a website and launch your online store in a matter of minutes, all for an astonishingly low monthly fee. Don’t let time or money get in the way of launching an excellent website. 

9. Don’t panic if your follower count is low

Instagram profile on smartphone

There’s no minimum requirement for followers for you to be able to sell on Instagram. You can set up a business profile, add product listings, and serve ads, all without having a single follower to your name.

However, it is still advisable that you try and grow your follower base, since there are certain perks to having more followers:

  • Your posts will have a greater organic reach. This means your products will get seen, liked, and shared more, without the need to amplify their reach with paid advertising. This works out cheaper for you.
  • Having followers adds credibility to your brand. If potential customers see that your brand is popular, with a large following, they’ll be more likely to make a purchase from you.
  • You can interact with your customers. Having a reliable number of followers makes it easier for you to reach out to your customers, engage with them over your posts, and get them excited about promotions.

10. Optimize, optimize, optimize

Optimization graphs on laptop

Once your Instagram eCommerce operation is up and running, there isn’t time to rest on your success. Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms out there, and other retailers are always circling trying to steal your next sale.

However well your posts, ads, and other marketing efforts are working, there are always improvements to be made.

Use Instagram Insights and any other analytics tools you have to see what works, who your customer base is, and what you can do to best appeal to them.

Replicate successful strategies in future content and marketing, and stop doing anything that is ineffective.

Selling on Instagram with Zyro

Should you choose to set up a Zyro website to sell on Instagram offers you a number of advantages.

Get brand credibility

A website can act as a hub for your brand’s online activities. Although most Instagram users will only interact with your Instagram Business profile, a separate website offers an extra level of credibility to your website.

Sell on Instagram

Zyro eCommerce comes with all the tools you need to sell on Instagram. You’re able to tag your product listings directly in your posts, and invite users to visit the product page on your website to shop.

Advertise on Instagram

Your eCommerce package from Zyro also provides you with powerful integrations that help you advertise via Instagram and other channels. Create ads, reach the right audience, and tailor communications to their preferences.

Sell on other platforms

As well as being empowered to sell via Instagram, your Zyro eCommerce website helps your sell on other platforms like Facebook and Amazon. Increase your reach, find new customers, and maximize your sales.

Manage everything centrally

Selling on multiple platforms can be challenging. With Zyro your inventory is synced across all platforms, and orders, shipping, and customer communication is handled from a single, central dashboard.

Always be mobile

Love selling on Instagram because everything’s mobile? You’ll love the iOS and Android interface you get to use as part of your Zyro eCommerce plan. Manage everything to do with your store, right from your smartphone.

Written by

Author avatar

Duncan

Duncan is obsessed with making website building and eCommerce accessible to everyone. He explains the best tools and the latest digital marketing trends in ways that are clear and engaging. His focus is on supporting the sustainable growth of small to medium-sized enterprises. When not writing, he enjoys deep sea fishing and endurance cycling.

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