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How Your Business Can Make Money Selling on Instagram

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You’ve seen them all do it.

Top brands like Adidas, Nike, and Glossier have been using Instagram to inspire purchase decisions.

They are using the platform to engage with their audiences and build strong brand communities.

Their tactics may be different — while one brand uses reviews and user-submitted photos, another gives behind-the-scenes peeks into their brand. But their end goal is the same — to get people to buy their products.

This works because Instagram is a highly visual platform, and people find purchase inspiration all the time.

This is especially true in the fashion and lifestyle spaces.

A study by Dana Rebecca Designs found that 72% of survey respondents have made a fashion or style-related purchase after seeing something on Instagram.

Some users have even started shopping on Instagram directly. With the launch of business-friendly features like Shoppable Posts and now the testing of native payments, it has become one of the most ecommerce-friendly social media platforms.

And with the growing competition in terms of SEO, especially among ecommerce companies, you cannot just rely on organic search traffic to get sales leads. You need to get innovative and start exploring other growing sales channels, like Instagram.

So, whether you are a growing business or a large ecommerce business owner, you need to start selling on Instagram and add an additional sales channel to your portfolio.

And this post is the perfect place to start, because we have detailed everything that you need to know in order to make money by selling on Instagram.

We will tell you why it is important to start considering Instagram as a sales channel, and how you can best utilize it to generate sales leads and drive conversions.

So, read on, and start using the tactics listed below to make money by selling on Instagram.

Instagram Continues to Grow in Popularity

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms today and has a massive user base and high engagement rates.

Here are some Instagram user and engagement statistics that clearly indicate the growing popularity of Instagram:

  • Instagram had over 1 billion active monthly users, as of June 2018.

  • The number of active monthly users doubled from June 2016 to June 2018.
  • To date, over 50 billion photos have been shared on Instagram.

  • Instagram users upload over 100 million photos and videos every day, that get over 4.2 billion likes daily.

Given the growing popularity of Instagram, businesses and marketers are flocking to the platform to leverage its potential as a marketing platform.

Here are some statistics that prove the growing importance of Instagram as a marketing platform.

  • Instagram has over 1 million monthly advertisers and around 8 million business accounts.

  • Instagram’s mobile ad revenue was estimated to be $7 billion in 2018.

  • 77% of marketers cite Instagram as the most important influencer marketing platform.

These statistics clearly indicate that Instagram has emerged as one of the most important marketing platforms and has become too big for businesses to ignore.

If that’s not enough to convince you, here are a couple more facts that will definitely convince you to start selling on Instagram.

  • 60% of users leverage Instagram as a product discovery platform.

  • And 75% of these users have taken an action based on the products they discovered via Instagram.

Instagram is a widely-used platform that people use for product discovery and purchases. And it can be leveraged by your business to sell your products.

Grow Your Instagram Audience

To effectively leverage Instagram as a sales channel, you first need to grow your Instagram followers.

Here are some of the best ways you can grow your followers on Instagram:

1. Optimize your Instagram profile.

Here are some quick tips to optimize your Instagram profile for business:

  • Upload a high-quality profile picture that reflects your branding.

  • Always mention your actual name in your Instagram bio, not just your Instagram handle name, as it makes it easier for people to find you.

  • Add a CTA in your Instagram bio—whether it is to direct traffic to your website or blog, ask people to use a hashtag, or follow your other pages. Also, provide a link to the same.

  • Include your target keywords in your bio: Keywords that describe the kind of business/products you have.

Check out the Instagram bio of the clothing brand, Marks & Spencer, which includes all of these features.

Image via Instagram

2. Post useful and relevant content.

This is probably the most important of all of the points on this list. Your content should resonate with your target audience.

Only if your audience finds your content useful will they engage with it.

“Make sure you have a product that is attractive to the people who use Instagram.

If you are selling expensive goods to an older audience, then Instagram likely isn’t the best channel to sell through.

However, if you have an accessible product that is targeted at the 18-35 cohort, then you will have much better success.” — Corey Dubeau, VP Marketing, Northern Commerce

Also, make sure that you don’t post about anything random and keep your feed focused on your business.

For example, if you have a clothing brand, you can probably post product pictures or pictures of people wearing your brand or promotional posts of any kind. However, if you start posting your own pictures or any other non-business-related content, then that will confuse your audience.

3. Post regularly and consistently.

If you want to grow your Instagram followers, you need to be active on the platform and post content regularly.

According to a Tailwind study, there is a direct correlation between the frequency of posts and an increase in followers.

They even suggest that brands that post daily see the maximum follower growth.

Image via Tailwind

That said, it is not necessary for you to post daily. A lot of successful Instagram sellers post less frequently than that and are still using Instagram profitably. The key is consistency—decide on a posting frequency and then stick to it.

4. Use hashtags to attract a relevant audience.

Using relevant hashtags, specific to your niche, helps you reach a relevant audience and attracts the right people to your page.

It also helps you reach a much larger audience base that you could not have reached yourself.

Since Instagram now allows people to follow hashtags, you can tap into the audience for a popular hashtag to get more people to see your posts.

Social media scheduling tool, Buffer, leverages hashtags in all Instagram posts to reach more people and improve their visibility.

Image via Instagram

5. Create a brand-specific hashtag.

Apart from using popular hashtags, you can also create a hashtag for your brand and promote it.

Use this hashtag in all your Instagram posts and Stories and encourage your followers to use it when talking about your brand.

This will also let you check all conversations about your brand in one place.

6. Host giveaways and contests.

This is an easy and effective way to gain Instagram followers.

Run a contest and ask people to follow you and tag their friends to participate in the contest.

This will instantly get you more followers.

7. Collaborate with influencers to promote your giveaways.

This is similar to the point above, with the added advantage of getting access to a much broader audience.

You can leverage influencers to promote your contests, offers, and giveaways to their followers.

When influencers ask their followers to follow your profile to participate in your contest, you can get a much higher number of followers and can multiply the effects of your promotion.

Image via Instagram

8. Use Instagram Ads.

This is a paid method of maximizing your reach and getting more Instagram followers.

Using paid advertisements that are displayed to a relevant audience, you can get more people to discover your profile and like it.

Also, using ads lets you reach people who you could not have reached yourself.

Your Instagram Stories and posts are visible only to people who like or follow you, but ads are visible to a much larger audience.

9. Interact with other accounts in your niche.

By engaging in conversations with other relevant accounts in your niche, you can get more visibility and get noticed by people interested in that niche.

You can look for influencers and other businesses in your niche and comment on their posts to start a conversation.

Always make sure that your comments are relevant and spark a conversation instead of being spammy.

10. Leverage user-generated content.

Repost user-generated content on your Instagram feed or feature them in your posts to incentivize people to create more content related to your brand. User-generated content is really effective in getting you more followers and higher engagement rates because it is considered more authentic.

“People buy into people. While Instagram might be all about the aesthetic, users don’t want to be bombarded with your typical adverts or product shots, instead, think about posting content that show your products in use, or repost your customer’s images and add shoppable tags.” — Michelle Rooker, Content Specialist, 5874

Airbnb is a brand that, almost exclusively, uses user-generated content on their Instagram feed.

They repost travel and vacation pictures of people who have tagged their brand and have stayed at an Airbnb property.

Image via Instagram

How to Find User Generated Content

“Incentivize customers to share photos of themselves showcasing your products, (using a specific hashtag and @mention) by offering free merchandise or special discounts for their next purchase.

If you have high Follower numbers, remember to sweeten the deal by offering a profile tag.

If you’re looking to build your fanbase on Instagram, run a contest for the UGC submission with the highest engagement numbers. Just remember to work within the Instagram for Business guidelines whenever running a promotion.” — Abby Thompson, Director of Marketing, Salted Stone

Make Your Instagram Shoppable

One of the most important aspects of making money by selling on Instagram is to make your Instagram shoppable.

You can do this by integrating your Instagram account with your ecommerce store to enable easy purchases for your customers.

Earlier, businesses relied on traditional methods of linking ecommerce stores with Instagram like adding a link in the bio. However, over the years, Instagram has rolled out several features that make this integration much easier and smoother.

Here are some of the ways in which you can optimize Instagram shopping:

1. Create Shoppable posts.

Use the Shoppable tags or product tags feature in your Instagram posts, to enable people to directly go to your website and buy the products displayed in your posts.

Adding these product tags is similar to tagging a person in a picture. But in this case, the tags are linked to the product-purchase pages on the brand’s website.

Image via Instagram

Earlier, the Shoppable tags feature was available only for posts but now is available for Stories as well.

Leverage these Shoppable tags to get more sales conversions from your Instagram content.

“Instagram Shopping is easy to set-up and makes converting over to the shopping experience seamless. People who follow you on Instagram are already interested in what your brand has to say, so chances are they have either previously purchased from you or are a prospective customer. By tagging your products in your post, these followers can jump from Instagram to your product detail page in one click.” — Jessica Lago, Manager of Marketing & Partnerships, iMedia

2. Use CTAs in your Instagram Stories.

Another good way to make your Instagram Stories shoppable is to add CTAs like “Buy Now,” “Swipe up to shop,” etc. Whenever you post a Story, just make sure that you add a call-to-action that directs people to your ecommerce store.

Check out this Story by H&M in which they use the CTA, “See More,” to direct people from Instagram to their website’s product catalog.

Image via Instagram

For most of these Shoppable posts or CTAs, the link takes the user to the brand’s ecommerce store and the payment is completed there.

However, Instagram has started providing a native payments option for a few select accounts. With native payments, the user can complete the payment process directly on Instagram, which makes it much easier to purchase a product.

In the future, Instagram will roll-out their native payments option at scale, which will be a huge opportunity for Instagram sellers to make money on Instagram. Look out for this feature and leverage it as soon as it is available.

Advertise on Instagram

Instagram Ads are an effective tool to make money by adding product-purchase links, either through CTAs or product tags.

Also, Instagram Ads help you target a specific audience relevant to your products or niche.

You can select how much you want to spend, where you want your ad to be displayed, and for how long. It also provides the option of targeting a specific audience, based on a variety of parameters.

Here are some of the best practices to follow while creating Instagram ads:

Add an Emotional Appeal to Your Ads

A lot of times, marketers end up creating ads that are too cold and dry. This happens because they are focusing too much on getting conversions rather than trying to engage viewers.

Appealing to viewers’ emotions can help evoke a much more positive response.

Use a funny image, meme, or video. Create a story that your audience can connect with. Or use another technique to add some personality to your ad.

People won’t engage with your ad if it is plain and boring. So make it interesting and engaging to get better conversions.

Create Ads Relevant to Your Audience

Instagram provides the option to select target audience demographics for ads, but your target customers are more than just a set of demographics.

You need to dive deep and understand your customers better so you can create ads that resonate with them.

You should create detailed customer personas to define and understand your audience before you start any advertising or marketing campaign.

Use High-Quality Images or Videos

Instagram is essentially a visual platform. So, any content, including ads, needs to be visually appealing to attract the attention of viewers.

Also, ensure that the product that you’re trying to showcase is clearly visible.

Use Text Wisely

When creating an Instagram ad, don’t go overboard and use a lot of text to explain the ad.

The ad should be self-explanatory and easy to understand. Text should only be used sparingly, where necessary.

Use text color and placement that will not distract people from the main ad creative. They should instead complement it.

Check out the ad below where they used a high-quality, visually-appealing picture and added text strategically only where required.

The text at the top names the product and uses a color that perfectly complements the picture color tone.

Add a CTA

The ultimate goal for any ecommerce company that’s advertising on Instagram is to drive sales.

So, it is extremely important for you to add compelling CTAs to your ads.

This will help the audience understand what to do next, i.e. click on the ad and directly reach the product page to buy it.

Work With Instagram Influencers

Influencer marketing has emerged as a key Instagram marketing technique in recent years.

Anyone who wants to sell on Instagram cannot ignore the importance of influencers in gaining more visibility and getting more engagement.

Influencers are trusted by the people that follow them and have sway over their audience.

If a trusted influencer promotes a product, people are more likely to consider it than after watching an ad.

Influencers can help you achieve a variety of marketing goals, including getting more sales leads and driving sales conversions.

A simple brand mention from an influencer can drive traffic to your Instagram profile. And if they add a link to your website in their bio, this will even drive more Instagram traffic to your website. Eventually, this will help in improving your SEO in the long run.

Below is an example of an Instagram post form lifestyle influencer, Jamie Lynn Gernert. She mentioned the brand Madewell in her post and also tagged the brand in the picture. These both link directly to Madewell’s Instagram profile.

Image via Instagram

Another way to leverage Instagram influencers to increase your sales and drive traffic to your website is to provide unique discounts and offers.

Several brands use this technique where they provide a unique discount code for each influencer that they collaborate with.

These influencers can promote your brand and incentivize their followers to make a purchase from your website by offering a discount code to them.

Executive Summary

Instagram is an important marketing and selling platform that businesses just cannot ignore.

There are numerous ways in which ecommerce companies and brands can make money by selling their products on Instagram.

You can choose to do it yourself by growing your follower base and making a Shoppable Instagram feed.

By providing Shoppable links and CTAs in your posts and Stories, you can effectively drive traffic to your product-purchase landing pages and increase your sales conversions.

Or you can collaborate with Instagram influencers to maximize your brand’s reach and get more visibility on the platform. Influencers can not only help you enhance brand awareness but can also drive traffic to your website, thus improving your SEO.

Both of these methods take a bit of time and effort.

If you’re looking for an instant solution to get more sales leads from Instagram, you can always opt for paid advertising. You can select your campaign goals, audience, and budget and run highly-targeted ads.

Using the detailed techniques listed in this post, you can get more sales leads from Instagram and skyrocket your sales.

If you found this post useful, please share it with your friends and other business owners who might benefit from it.

For any more questions on how to make money by selling on Instagram, feel free to comment below.

Shane Barker avatar

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, product launches, sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.