If you're still stuck in the mindset that Instagram is a place for teens and selfies and the (slightly disturbing) face filters, we're here to rectify that. Does a lot of rubbish still circulate on the platform? Of course. But is there massive potential for serious, ready-to-sell businesses? You bet your last Rand there is.
Did you know that 80% of Instagram users have decided to purchase something simply because they saw it on Instagram first?
That’s a whopping statistic, and that’s why it’s more important than ever that you learn how to sell on Instagram.
READ THIS: Still need to get started on Instagram? Watch this video to get started.
How to Start Selling on Instagram
Setting Up Instagram Shopping
We'll start with the technical stuff first – how do you connect your Instagram account to your online shop? It's not as tricky as you may think.
- Check that your Instagram account is a business or creator account, not a personal account.
- Make sure your business sells products that fit within Instagram's commerce policies.
- Ensure your Instagram account is linked to a catalogue in Facebook's Business Manager.
To get even more detail, you can check out Instagram's official step-by-step guide.
Converting Your Followers into Customers
Before you rush to set up Instagram Shopping, consider what you're doing to lead people towards your brand. Making sales on Instagram comes down to three things:
- Can your customer find you?
- Can your customer engage with you?
- And will your customer buy from you?
There are so many ways you can build a strong community of converted followers and a steady stream of new ones.
Forget the Follower Count
We're all about helping small businesses grow, so we wouldn't lead you down a rabbit hole that is only meant for massive accounts and retailers. Instagram Shopping is very much geared towards small business accounts, and in case you missed the memo: a huge following doesn't always equate to the most market share.
We could argue the contrary: big accounts are common these days, but they aren’t always the most successful. Do you know what else is common? Sloppy marketing.
Sloppy marketing only focuses on boosting follower numbers instead of creating valuable, shareable content. Smart marketing focuses on organically growing your account, not hiding your flaws with random followers who only came because you promised to follow them back.
Optimise Your Feed/Page
Before you set up Instagram Shopping, you need to get your house in order. It's all good and well, asking people to buy from you, but you need to make sure everything is crystal clear for them to make an informed purchase decision.
Run through these important points before setting off on your mission to sell on Instagram:
- Have I properly enabled Instagram shopping?
- Is my business name my username? Is it clear?
- Is my profile picture a clear, central picture of my logo? Can people recognise my logo from my profile picture?
- Have I added a URL to my bio?
- Are my Unique Selling Points outlined in my bio?
The difference is in the detail, and the more effort you put into optimising your page, the more chance you have of securing that sale.
Think About Your Content Pillars
Nothing sells like a beautiful-looking feed. When someone sees your product on an advert or through a friend, the first thing they're going to look at is the content on your feed. Setting out content pillars for your brand is a great way to:
1) Organise your posts
2) Communicate more about your brand.
It’s also great for outlining which posts you want to boost or where to create paid ads. Your content pillars help you balance out your feed instead of only pushing your product. For example, you could choose some of the content pillars below:
These posts will be purely used to boost the overall theme of your feed. If you look at successful Instagram pages, you'll see they follow a certain theme and colour palate. Aesthetic content won't have much to do with your product but instead, the vibe of who you are as a brand. You could use pictures from Pinterest or other inspirational sites to scatter through your feed. Trust us, it looks great.
READ THIS: Get started on your aesthetics journey with these helpful apps here.
Product photos are an essential pillar. You can't sell on Instagram without stunning photos of your products on your feed. Get creative with them – you have a lot to be proud of.
If you’re looking for product photo inspiration, check out Skoon. A local, inclusive skincare range that has created a magnificent looking Instagram feed with simple product photography and product proof integration.
Oh, and let’s not get started with how aesthetically pleasing their page is.
Quotes and Thought Leadership
An excellent strategy is to include quote content in your content planning. It's great to have content on your feed that people can share. And what do people love more than sharing a good quote? You want content on your feed that is shareable, as it brings new followers to your account. It adds a human quality to your feed and lets your brand values shine through. It's also a sure-fire way to market your business and sell on Instagram.
Making Sales in the DMs
Instagram Direct Messaging is one of the most powerful tools you can make to generate and convert sales. There are 6 different types of direct messages you can utilise, and they're all effective in their own right. You could opt for text, picture, or video messages. Instagram has even opened up options for video chats, group chats, and voice notes.
We would recommend using Direct Messages for 5 reasons:
We would recommend using Direct Messages for 5 reasons: awareness, loyalty, leads, sales and connections.
You can generate awareness through direct messaging by reaching out to potential customers. A few years ago, this would have been termed a cold call. But people don’t want cold calls and you probably don’t want to make them – so we're going with cold DMs instead.
Have you had a look at Instagram Explore recently? Instagram has now included stories, which means you can watch stories of people that interest you and reply to their stories with a direct message. This is a natural way to engage and hopefully gain a new fan.
Generate loyalty and, in turn, generate leads by replying to people who respond to you. If you're selling on Instagram, you can't forget to put stories into your content strategy. They're hugely interactive with tools like polls, surveys, questions, and more.
And if you invest in customers who took the time to respond to your story, you can expect some solid sales leads.
Another effective way to boost sales on Instagram is by sending links in your DMs.
You can only put one link in your bio, but what about when people need to know more? You can send links to your product catalogue, any external video links, or tutorials. You can give a world of information to your potential customer with a simple message – how great is that?
Direct messaging can help you build customer loyalty. Remember when you had to go through multiple avenues for a simple question to be answered? With Instagram DMs, you can respond to queries as and when they happen. You can start personal conversations surrounding your product so that people can make purchase decisions before they lose interest.
Connection drives sales – there really is nothing like it. Earlier we mentioned group chats. Here's what you could use them for to connect more with your audience: when you notice you have somebody who regularly engages with your posts and stories, add them to your close friends or an exclusive group chat.
Another option is to create a group for other members of the industry. In this chat, you can share updates, new products, and industry news (thought leadership does wonders for brand perception and loyalty).
Let's set the scene: you've had a glimpse of a product you absolutely like. So, you do the reasonable thing and go into research mode. That means checking the website, checking reviews, and most importantly: checking their Instagram. But when you do, there's nothing to be found. There are no product photos, no reviews, and no tagged photos. You wonder, has anybody even bought this product before?
You need to instil confidence in the people who are interested in your offering. You do this by proving to them that your product works or that it looks good, and that people use it.
You could ask customers to post a picture of themselves using your product so that it shows up in your tagged posts. You could even offer a surprise discount on their second purchase if they share a picture of them using your product and tag you.
People trust the opinions of other people, so make good use of any user-generated content. For example, you could create a highlights reel to store all photos and posts from happy customers. New customers can click through and get an instant feel for your product.
Product proof is integral to online sales and a step that definitely should not be overlooked.
Tell Your Story (we can’t wait to hear it)
When it’s all said and done, it’s an authentic and interesting brand that ultimately wins the sale. Don’t get lost in all the glam and the hype of big brands around you - these steps can still make an incredible impact in creating a tight-knit, loyal community and you’ll be well on your way to selling on Instagram.
We wish you all the best on your social sales journey.
For your next read, why not check out: Your Guide to Reaching Your First 1000 Instagram Followers.