Instagram has earned a rep as the place to go if you want to see pretty images of flowers, quotes and sunsets. And, for the most part, e-commerce companies have shied away from investing a lot of time in the platform, because, let's be honest, that clever GIF you posted last week probably won’t drive a lot of web traffic, or bring you a huge spike in sales.
But Instagram has kept innovating, adding new features that make life easier and its own platform more interactive for users. And the result has been that the application’s value proposition for businesses has become clear -- something that's readily apparent in the platform's recent blog post extolling its new and expanded shopping features.
Back in March of this year, Instagram announced probably the biggest game-changer to date for e-commerce brands: shoppable posts. So, while Instagram was, and is, a place where you can go for your daily dose of inspiration or motivation, it is slowly transitioning into what will soon be a fully functioning e-commerce platform.
And the brands that adapt to this the most quickly may well be able to turn their ordinary Instagram account into a beautiful, highly creative revenue-generating machine.
With Instagram’s new shoppable media feature, eligible businesses now have the ability to tag products in their posts, and send users from their feeds to the add-to-cart section of a website with just three clicks.
It's also pretty easy to become eligible if you, as head of that eligible business: have the latest version of the Instagram app; have a business profile on Instagram; an admin on a page or business manager account; have a product catalog associated with a shop on Facebook and sell physical goods and comply with Instagram's merchant agreement and commerce policies.
With the amount of content that’s vying for our attention every day, increasing traffic to your site and acquiring new customers is not as simple as making your account shoppable. The truth is, you need to make sure you have the infrastructure in place before you even begin to tag and sell products on Instagram. So, here are my top five tips for success.
1.Your content needs to be great.
Getting people to pay attention to your content on Instagram can be tough and having mediocre content in 2018 just isn’t going to cut it. For this reason, it’s critical to hire a part time photographer/editor who can help you make your images look crisp, on brand, and, most importantly, professional. Start to think of your Instagram as the new “Shop Now” page on your website.
2. Your captions are awesome.
The caption of an Instagram post is often an afterthought. Whether humor, sincerity, or education is your thing, make sure the copy that accompanies your imagery is authentic, engaging and on-brand. Using language that will resonate with your target audience only heightens the probability of its members liking, commenting, sharing in the DMs or even clicking on the tag to purchase your product. When it comes to combining shoppable posts with a witty caption, see how Liza Koshy does this.
3. You're using the best and most optimized hashtags.
Researching the hashtags that your target customer is using on a daily basis will eventually pay huge dividends. It’s all about getting on that Instagram explore page and using the hashtags that your consumers love. This also strengthens your chances of putting your posts right in front of your ideal audience. Use a mix of 20 to 30 hashtags per post and experiment to see which group of hashtags gives your posts optimum exposure. There are a ton of great apps out there, like Top Tags or Leetags,which tell you the hashtags that you should be using.
4. You've made your posts shoppable.
It’s finally time to tag your products and make your feed shoppable. Tagging your products will allow viewers to tap the image, then tap the description, which will bring them straight to the add to cart section on your website. Click here to read in detail how you can do this.
But be sure not to get carried away; it’s not a good idea to make every one of your posts on Instagram product-oriented. In our experience, a good percentage of shoppable posts is only about 40 to 50 percent. Have a look at some of the brands that are killing it when it comes to shoppable posts, such as Byta, and Nordstrom, and follow their lead.
5. You've begun engaging with posts under those hashtags.
Now that you’ve done all the hard work -- making your feed look clean, crisp and cohesive; writing some amazing, on-brand captions; using the best hashtags; and making all posts that have a product, shoppable -- it’s time to begin engaging by liking images under the hashtags that your bread and butter customers use on a daily basis.
For instance, if you’re selling sneakers, identify four to five community hashtags that sneaker lovers use, such as #sneakerhead, #solecollector, #instashoes, #newkicks or #igsneakercommuity, and then like and comment on 100 to 200 images underneath these hashtags every day. This will draw the organic traffic to your account that is needed to turn your fresh new Instagram feed into a lead- and revenue-generating machine.
Above are just a few of the tactics you can use to begin maximizing your potential and generating sales through Instagram. With the rate at which Instagram is rolling out new features, there are many other ways you can leverage the platform to build a brand and begin to make sales. But, following the five tips above will certainly give you a solid foundation to start.
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors