Instagram has quickly become one of the most popular social media platforms in the world. With more than 1 billion monthly active users and 130 million shopping post clicks a month, it’s not hard to understand why many brands and businesses leverage Instagram to promote their content. After the announcement of Checkout on Instagram, the platform has become even more ecommerce driven, helping businesses showcase their brands and products on the social media site.
As a leading social commerce channel—over 90 percent of Instagram users follow a business—it’s important for brands to understand how Instagram works and how to best utilize it to promote and sell their products. Before you can start selling on Instagram, there are a few things you need to do.
Make sure you are eligible for Instagram Shopping
In order to sell or advertise on Instagram, you must meet the requirements below:
- Be in a supported market and have eligible products
- Comply with Instagram’s merchant agreement and commerce policies, which include establishing a trustworthy account, providing accurate information, and following best practices
- Own a website domain in which you intend to sell from
- Have products available for purchase directly from your website
If a business doesn’t satisfy these requirements, it may have restricted access to specific commerce capabilities or have its account suspended altogether.
Convert your account to a business or creator account
Converting your Instagram account to a business account is the first step in getting started with Instagram Shopping. To convert your account, follow these steps:
- Go to settings on the Instagram app.
- Select “Switch to Business Profile.”
- Connect to a Facebook page. If you don’t already have one, you’ll be prompted to make one. All business and creator accounts on Instagram must have a linked Facebook page, though a Facebook Shop page isn’t required.
- Enter contact information, including an email address, phone number, and address.
- Once you have a business account, you can add business information, such as your store hours and a website link.
Submit your account for review
The review process usually takes a few days, but can sometimes take longer. Merchants can check the status of their accounts in the “Shopping” section of Instagram’s settings. If additional information is needed to prove ownership of your website domain, Instagram will notify you to complete the domain verification process.
Once your account has been verified and approved, you are ready to turn on Shopping features and upload a product catalog.
Optimize and upload your product catalog
There are two options for connecting your product catalog to your business account:
- Upload it manually within Facebook Business Manager
- Use an integration through a product listing partner like Feedonomics
To get the most out of your product listings, your catalog should be optimized before you upload it. A fully optimized product catalog increases the search relevance and appeal of your products, making customers more likely to convert.
An optimized catalog includes the following:
- Accurate and granular categorization
- Well-structured titles
- Clean and consistent descriptions and branding
- Accurate color names, materials, and other attributes
- Functional parent-child product relationships with grouped variants
- Multiple high-quality images
What are the best practices for Instagram Shopping?
Setting up your product feed is just the first step in succeeding on Instagram Shopping. Figuring out how to best reach your target audience and turn browsers into buyers is a process in and of itself. Instagram has laid out some best practices for expanding your customer reach and getting your products seen by shoppers.
Use product tags
The number one thing Instagram recommends is using product tags. Product tags allow you to highlight items from your catalog directly, so viewers can simply tap and be taken to that product on your website easily. There are a few different ways to use product tags.
You can tag products in:
- Feed posts: Users can tap and learn more from the image on your feed. This is a great way to catch customers’ attention by highlighting your product in aesthetically pleasing imagery and lifestyle photos. You can tag up to five products per post.
- Stories: These are called Shopping Stickers and can be a useful way to reach customers in a more interactive and engaging way.
- Reels: For more entertaining, short-form content, tagging products in reels can help showcase your items in real-world scenarios. You can tag up to 30 products in reels.
- Video: Instagram Video is great for more long-form product showcasing, like makeup tutorial videos or cooking product demos. You can tag up to 30 products in your videos.
- IG Live: Using live streams to show your products in real time is a helpful way to build meaningful and intimate connections with your customers and tag and sell products in the moment. Live shopping is available to U.S. businesses that use Checkout on Instagram.
- Mentions: Easily connect people to your products in a more conversational way by using “@” in your feed post copy to mention up to five products. You can also highlight a launch or special product by adding a mention in your profile bio.
Aim for authenticity
Aesthetics and community reach are a big part of Instagram’s appeal. Since Instagram is an image-focused platform, merchants can easily showcase their products in a pleasing way and connect with customers on a relatable level by leveraging visual content.
Creating posts that feel natural to the Instagram feed should help catch the attention of shoppers on Instagram. Promote and emphasize lifestyle and artistic images that go beyond stock or branded images. Your audience doesn’t want to feel like they are being sold to, even though that’s exactly what’s happening. Posts should feel authentic and incorporate shoppable content and tags when they’re a natural fit within your feed. Too much self-promotion often turns customers away from your brand on Instagram.
Work with influencers
Leveraging influencer content is another great way to build a connection and trust with your audience. Consumers trust influencers and rely heavily on their recommendations. This is another organic and authentic way to boost and promote your products. When customers see your products being used by real people, it helps validate your brand and emphasize its credibility. Influencer collaborations and sponsorships have become increasingly popular, according to HubSpot.
But that’s not to say you should give up on traditional marketing and ad strategies completely. They are still a strong way to promote your content to consumers.
Connect Instagram and Facebook
In order to set up Instagram Shopping, you must link your account to a Facebook page. This means a lot of what you control on Instagram can be controlled through Facebook as well, which is beneficial for setting up a one-stop-shop for all your ad campaigns and product listings. Having a Facebook Shop isn’t required to set up an Instagram Shopping account, but showcasing your products on both platforms can help drive business and brand growth.
Facebook is the most popular social media platform in the world, according to Statista. Advertisers are able to take advantage of dynamic retargeting ad campaigns to reach interested audiences and can create several ad types, including carousels, videos, suggested posts, and more. Facebook also functions as a marketplace that can streamline the purchasing process for customers.
With the announcement of Facebook Shops last year, brands and sellers now have the ability to create custom storefronts with featured products and branded banners, images, colors, and more, curating the shopping experience for shoppers and catering better to businesses.
Use Instagram Ads to promote your products
You can create ad campaigns in Ads Manager and use its comprehensive features to post ads on both Facebook and Instagram.
Incorporating product tags in your ads is a great way to drive people directly to a product details page, which allows them to learn more about what you’re selling. Tagging products in ads also helps:
- Increase traffic and post engagement, which expands the list of shoppers you can re-engage in remarketing campaigns
- Help shoppers go from the discovery phase to purchasing
Using Checkout to streamline purchases
Checkout on Instagram is the marketplace feature that allows physical products to be sold through shoppable posts in-app. Transactions take place directly on Instagram, so it’s quick, easy, and secure for shoppers.
Currently, Checkout is only available to sellers with a U.S.-based account, EIN (employer identification number), and a U.S. address.
Advertising and selling directly on Instagram Shopping is a great way to broaden your business and customer reach. With the strategic use of aesthetic imagery, community engagement, and influencer content, brands can connect with customers on a more personal level. Checkout on Instagram provides an opportunity for eligible businesses to implement a streamlined shopping experience, and Instagram Ads allow businesses to retarget custom shopping audiences for a more impactful advertising campaign.
Find out how Feedonomics’ full-service data feed management solution can help you get started and succeed with Instagram Shopping.