How to Sell on Instagram Guide: All the Details and 20 Working Tips in 2021

Retailing online is smart to launch a company, but running and maintaining an independent website can be complicated. With all the design aspects, web maintenance, and expensive advertising, a company might empty their pockets before ever making a sale.

Learning how to sell on Instagram and utilize shoppable posts is the answer to all those problems. Get a name out there without wasting thousands of dollars and use social media and blog success as a significant stepping stone for a launch.


Table of Contents

  1. The Perks of Trading on IG
  2. What Does Running an IG Shop Entail?
  3. Creating IG Shopping Posts
  4. Boost Views with IG Shopping Tags
  5. IG Shoppable Posts
  6. Instagram Checkout
  7. Alternative Methods
  8. Important Tips for Trading on IG
  9. Frequently Asked Questions

The Perks of Marketing on Instagram

Perks of Marketing

Shoppable Instagram posts are one of the greatest tools for many people to sell their products. The built-in ability to create a consumer base through minimal advertising cost is one main benefit, but there are plenty of others.

  • Easily communicate with a target audience.
  • Utilization of user-generated content.
  • Cheaply spread a message and brand awareness.
  • Instagram does all the leg work drawing in clients.
  • The inclusion of shoppable Instagram posts and integrated checkout.

If a company’s success hinges on developing an engaged audience, there is no better option than selling on Instagram in 2021. The natural inclusion of promotional images and the social media platform’s general popularity can launch almost any business to success.

What Does Running an IG Shop Entail?

Running an IG Shop

How something sold on Instagram is going to be different, depending on the blog or the brand’s goals. Still, some general sales tactics work across markets. Don’t forget always to keep the viewers in mind when curating content. Here are a few ideas to show what running an Instagram shop looks like.

Product Images and Sales Promotions

Cleverly crafted images and well-timed promotions are the bread and butter of Instagram. The platform’s nature allows an influencer to efficiently utilize distinct pictures that gather the audience’s attention and promote engagement. When it comes to how to sell products on Instagram, garnering the following is vital.

Content from Followers and Fans

One perk to an  Instagram shop that can’t be found elsewhere is the simple culmination of user-generated content. This material is excellent for bulking a feed and also promoting collaboration among fans and followers. Audiences love being engaged with their favorite brands and offer lots of free promotion in return.

Utilization of Popular Influencers

There are few digital promotion techniques as effective as influencer marketing on social media platforms or a blog. This is a form of social media marketing that uses prevalent digital idols to promote products and brands.

Advertising on Instagram

The platform’s integrated ad system is impeccable for how to sell things on Instagram. Choose how an ad should be shown (as a video or photo, on the explore page, etc.) and let IG help with the ad curation. Determine a budget that feels comfortable and set a limit that keeps users from overspending on advertising. Forget expensive up-front cost ads. They may not reach viewers. Install Facebook ads manager and easily see how many people an ad has got.

Instagram’s Easy Shopping Feature

The digital storefront that is, Instagram shopping provides an audience with a luxury, digital-shopping feel, right on their social media platforms. Display items beautifully without spending money on a web designer or special tools.

Creating Instagram Shopping Posts

Shopping Posts

Previously, using Instagram as a tactic to advertise a brand was effective only if fans could be engaged to click on external links. That is because the actual transactions had to be done on third-party sites, not through Instagram shopping.

Now, the entire process can be completed directly on Instagram, which creates opportunities never seen before. So, how does one begin? Here are the necessary steps:

Meet Instagram’s Shop Standards and Requirements

Instagram isn’t letting just anybody call themselves a business. First, a store must meet the platform’s basic requirements.

These are:

  • The first and most important requirement is to have the most current version of Instagram 2021 for IOS or Android. Older versions of the app will not contain the same shopping services and functionality.
  • Have an existing Instagram account that is marked as a business. If a profile exists for personal use, it can be changed to a business account through the settings menu.
  • Be based in a location that falls under the Instagram shopping jurisdiction. (United States, Canada, Brazil, The United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Australia.)
  • Connect the Instagram profile to Facebook, where the catalog will be maintained.  Instagram ads can also be monitored through the Facebook ad manager.
  • Sell only physical goods that follow the rules set by the Instagram merchant agreement and commerce policies.

Create Your Instagram Business Account

No matter which marketing direction a company takes on Instagram, there is still a strict business account requirement. This cues Instagram in that the profile needs to be monitored regarding the merchant guidelines.

Luckily, the process of creating a business profile is simple. 

  1. Tap the three bars icon in the upper right-hand corner of the profile.
  2. Navigate to “Settings”, then “Account”
  3. Choose “Switch to Professional Account,” and then “Business”
  4. Add business details and information about product categories.
  5. Select “Done”

Once the blog has been changed to a business account, Instagram will review and approve it for tagging. The process can take anywhere from 48 hours to two weeks. To speed up the process, ensure that the profile meets all the merchant agreement and compliance guidelines.

Use Facebook Manager to Build a Catalog

An essential part of any Instagram shop is its catalog. Luckily, the Facebook manager makes creating one extremely easy. The first thing to do is switch to a business manager account on Facebook.

Once completed, setting up and linking a catalog takes five steps.

  1. In the business manager, go to the Catalog Manager and “Create catalog.”
  2. Define the type of catalog and which business it is for.
  3. Choose “Add products,” then select “Add manually” and add inventory.
  4. To connect to Instagram, select the “Sales” tab.
  5. Tap “Instagram Shopping” then “Connect profile.”

The business account will need to be reviewed and approved before it can be published. So, be sure to handle the setup of these accounts well before any launch dates.

Start a Facebook Shop through BigCommerce or Shopify

Another method to create a store on Facebook is to utilize third-party shopping platforms and tools like Shopify and BigCommerce. Here is the easiest way to set each one up.

Shopify

Shopify

Many brands get their start on sites like Shopify because of the integrated marketing options and customizable online stores. To connect a catalog and begin selling on Instagram, Facebook Business Manager can be used a middleman.

Here’s how it works.

  1. Enter the Shopify Administrator and choose the plus sign button next to “Sales channels.”
  2. Locate “Add sales channel” and choose “Facebook shop.”
  3. Select “Add channel.”
  4. Return to the Facebook shop page and locate “Account,” and choose to “Connect account.”

BigCommerce

BigCommerce

Like Shopify, BigCommerce is a store page builder that helps brands create a fully functioning online shop. Which site to implement is up to user preference, and the two websites are generally considered very similar.

Linking a BigCommerce shop to start selling on Instagram through Facebook is very simple. 

  1. In the BigCommerce channel manager, select “Facebook” then “Get started.”
  2. Follow prompts to provide information about the Facebook business page, manager, physical location, and more.
  3. Then, wait for entries to export to Facebook then check the “Export” tab in the Facebook Channel Manager for any upload errors.
  4. Wait for Facebook to approve the BigCommerce directory. It usually takes 48 hours.

Link Your Business Account on Instagram to Your Online Shop

Facebook manager effectively acts as a middle ground to navigate traffic from Instagram to any online shop and vice versa. This means that a digital store’s directory needs to be coupled to Facebook through the steps given above before being linked to shoppable Instagram posts. Once that is complete, however, connecting to IG becomes simple.

  1. Sign in to Facebook Business and navigate to the catalog manager.
  2. Choose the selection associated with the e-commerce site of choice.
  3. Navigate to the “Sales” tab.
  4. Choose “Instagram shopping.”
  5. Tap “Connect an Instagram profile,” then “Connect profile.”

If the “Connect profile” option is unavailable, it might be an issue with the catalog. Check that there is a business manager account linked to it and that it contains products.

Create Enough Shoppable Posts to Activate a Shop Tab

The “Shop!” tab on Instagram is a wonderful technique to get followers viewing the purchasing catalog, and make selling products on Instagram easier. However, the feature only shows up on pages that have at least nine approved shoppable posts. Once the tab appears, viewers can find all available products in one simple place.

Master Instagram Analytics to Monitor Sales Performance

An important facet of online marketing is managing ads and sales under the influence of analytics. This means seeing how well certain products and posts do to figure out what to do better.

It may sound complicated, but Instagram makes it easy to view analytics and see information like:

  • How many people viewed a post
  • How many people clicked through from a post to the product page
  • Follower growth
  • Impressions and overall performance

These details are vital for boosting reputation and increasing transactions. They can also be used as a form of market research to improve upon products and determine which ones an audience wants the most. This information can help mold a strategy for creating well-received Instagram shoppable posts.

Boost Views with Product Tags

Product Tags

Once all shops and catalogs have been approved, it is time to create shoppable posts. These posts need to be properly tagged to identify goods and let followers know that it is an item available. The two most common places to apply product tags are in IG posts and stories.

Tagging and Promoting Instagram Posts

The top place to advertise and display catalogs is through standard Instagram shoppable posts. The platform makes the process incredibly simple and offers an intuitive shopping option for viewers. To create a shoppable IG post, begin uploading a fun image or video of the items being sold.

Then follow these quick steps:

  1. Ensure the items are available in a linked catalog.
  2. Choose the part of the photo or video that displays the items.
  3. Begin typing the name of the product, and options will begin populating from linked catalogs.
  4. Choose the correct item name from the list.
  5. Select “Done,” then “Share.”

Utilizing Stories

Stories have an interesting mode of providing product tags and are a fantastic method for how to sell stuff on Instagram. Whether using a swipe-up, highlights, or video story, influencers can play with stickers to help fans find purchasing information.

To add tags in stories, follow these steps:

  1. Select a photo or video to upload to an IG story.
  2. Locate the sticker tray and select a product sticker.
  3. From the populated search area, locate and select the appropriate product.
  4. Drag the sticker around until it is on or near the selected item. Tap it to change the color.
  5. Once satisfied, share the tagged story.

Shoppable Posts: What They Are and Why You Should Use Them

Shoppable Posts

Shoppable Instagram Posts are a native integration for IOS and Android apps that allow users to create product posts that let followers buy goods directly through Instagram. This is one of Instagram’s many changes to become the all-in-one stop for online product marketing.

It is wildly trendy among influencers and indie brands who want to know how to sell on Instagram without a website, but what are the pros and cons?

Pros

  • The streamlining of purchasing increases conversion rates.
  • The ability to shop multiple brands without navigating offsite reduces abandoned shopping carts.
  • Integrated checkout and cataloging systems provide the utmost convenience.
  • Analytics are easy to find and understand.

Cons

  • The sharing of buyers’ data is more limited than direct website sales, making marketing more difficult.
  • Fully integrated purchasing features means less traffic being navigated to webpages.

Instagram Checkout: Using Integrated Shopping Features to Boost Sales

Instagram Checkout

A new feature for Instagram in 2021, the site’s checkout allows viewers to make purchases without ever leaving Instagram. This means there is less opportunity for abandoned shopping carts, which is typical when shoppers jump from site to site.

The function is secure and intuitive. Fans and prospective buyers will see a checkout option right on their Instagram app. They can easily make purchases from all their favorite influencers without trusting multiple sites with their private data.

This provides a fantastic opportunity for influencers to advertise their catalog without spending money on an independent website.

Some brands that are already testing these features include:

  • Anastasia Beverly Hills
  • Huda Beauty
  • Kylie Cosmetics
  • Prada
  • Dior
  • Adidas
  • NYX Cosmetics
  • Michael Kors
  • Nike
  • MAC Cosmetics

Alternative Marketing Methods on Instagram

Alternative Marketing Methods

What makes Instagram such an excellent choice for marketing is the varying ways it can be approached. Here are a few of the techniques that can be used to endorse and retail on IG.

Use Instagram Stories to Promote Products

Stories on Instagram are photo and video posts that expire after 24 hours. Like Snapchat and Facebook Stories, these types of posts draw in viewers for regular engagement as they don’t want to miss out on the temporary content.

Utilizing the sales feature on these posts is a terrific way to promote limited-time items or sneak previews. The easiest way to sell items through a story post is to use the integrated sales tagging system.

Advertise and Bolster Items in Comments

One of the cleverest ways to engage followers while advertising is through comments. Interacting with an audience in the comment section is a top tip for improving Instagram engagement in general but is also super useful for sales.

Though the method is considered little outdated, many followers like the competitive first come, first serve vibe of comment-based sales.

Make Sales through Direct Messages

Selling through Instagram direct messages is like selling through comments, with the distinct difference of removing the sense of urgency sparked by the latter.

A DM sale will typically involve posting an image of the item being sold, then using the caption to tell viewers to send a direct message to buy.

This method has its perks like:

  • Hiding a low demand for an item
  • Making the buying process less critical
  • Letting buyers feel less exposed
  • Keeping the comment section open for discussions

Utilize Bio Links to Increase Sales

This is perhaps the most traditional selling way – linking to an external website or blog in the bio. These links are easy for users to find and can direct traffic to a site even when no active advertising posts are running.

Sure, it isn’t the most streamlined method for selling on IG, but it is tried and true.

Bio linking is especially useful for sellers who:

  • Don’t have an Instagram Checkout compatible catalog
  • Want to drive traffic to their website
  • Are waiting to be approved for Instagram’s selling features

The Most Important Tips for Selling on Instagram

The Most Important Tips

Spamming an audience with self-promotion and unrelated content can hurt a brand’s reputation. It is important to remember that selling on Instagram takes a little nuance.

Here are some of the best tips to get started.

Don’t Stray from a Brand’s Personality for Natural Feeling Posts

Reach out to any brand consultant and prepare to hear the same thing: “authenticity is the most important aspect of a brand’s reputation.”

The buyers don’t want to shell out their hard-earned money to companies that can’t even decide who they are. That’s why it is crucial to maintain a vision and voice in all posts on Instagram or any other social outlet.

Don’t let modern trends and the pressure of fitting in change the personality of a company. Instead, embrace the vision and constantly remind the viewers why they choose to endorse the brand.

Implement Bold Images to Make Products Stand Out

Product photos on Instagram have a big job. They need to represent the best appearance of an item, display its aesthetic and functional appeal, and get feed-scrollers to stop in their tracks to take a closer look.

To achieve this, make sure all product photos are captivating through playful lighting, shadows, angles, and backgrounds.

Don’t Forget to Use Tags and Hashtags

The beauty of Instagram shopping is how sales features help customers navigate the catalog and purchase pages with ease. However, this system doesn’t work without the proper utilization of the features.

Tags and hashtags are necessary because they allow customers to browse listings and similar items quickly and efficiently.

Remember to include relevant hashtags to draw viewers with a loose idea of what they want to see.

Some examples are:

  • #fashion
  • #food
  • #beauty
  • #style

Have a Strong Bio

When it comes to the Instagram bio, consider it the elevator pitch for the brand. Don’t simply throw in a link to a web store and nothing else.

Here are the best details to include in a bio to draw in repeat customers:

  • Relevant hashtags and location tags
  • A trackable link to product catalogs or a web store
  • A call to action to entice readers to click the link
  • A glimpse at the personality and vibe of the brand

Show off Products in Story Highlights

Give each product some time to shine by including them in their own story posts. These posts only last 24 hours, but they provide an opportunity to spark interest in individual items.

Include shoppable links in the story posts and relevant hashtags to help followers find items and similar ones when they are no longer viewable in the story feed.

Show More Than Just Products in Photos

Sure, beautiful product photos are great, but how can viewers relate to the item’s use and functionality? This is why showing merchandise in use or in a real person’s hands is such a fantastic way to increase buyer interest. It helps them to visualize having that thing themselves.

Consider Collaborations to Spark Product Interest

Consider Collaborations

Want to get the word out about a product without spending tons of money on ads? Try an influencer collaboration.

Collaborating with fellow influencers is one of the top ways to expand the reach of a product or launch. These collaborations can grow a viewer base, increase sales, and create lasting business relationships with fellow brands and ambassadors.

Show Behind the Scenes Footage

To engage an audience, try behind the scene’s photos and videos. These are an excellent way not only to get followers excited for a product, but it also legitimizes the work and effort put into a launch.

Humanizing a brand through sharing the process of creating a product is a top way to boost customer support and brand reputation.

Display all product variations and options

Tastes differ so vastly that it is important to show all options and variations for a product. Don’t miss out on sales because the viewer thought it only came in one color or size.

Use Flat Lay Images to Show off Products

Flat lay images are photos taken of items from directly above. They are a top choice for producing professional pictures that show a wide variety of goods.

Post Video Tutorials for the Product

Post Video Tutorials

Video tutorials aren’t just for YouTube anymore. Customers on Instagram will love to see educational tips that show the ways a product can be used. These videos are also wonderful for giving an audience a more in-depth look at goods that can’t be provided through still photography.

Build Hype with Teaser Posts Before Launch

Surprise launches can be fun, but often don’t have the response that drives a young brand forward. Instead, hype up followers with teaser videos, photos, and countdowns until product releases.

When used properly, these posts can make any drop feel luxurious and exciting.

Synchronize Launches and Product Availability

There is nothing more embarrassing for a brand than reaching a launch date and not having the customer’s products available.

Use Instagram Live to Show Off Products

Fans love interacting with their favorite brands and influencers. Going live on Instagram to take followers’ questions is a fantastic way to advertise products and launches while building brand loyalty.

These live sessions also allow them to engage followers and give them a place to feel they have a voice and influence on the products they buy.

Display the Most Popular Product Frequently

Stay on top of checking Instagram metrics. Which products and posts are the most popular? Once it is discovered which items are doing the best, give them multiple opportunities to shine.

This increases the number of potential sales for the product and creates a brand identity around items that viewers enjoy.

Create and Use Intriguing Call-to-Actions

One of the most important aspects of sales copy is a great call-to-action. This is a piece of writing that asks viewers to participate in an activity that increases engagement.

One example is asking followers to comment on posts. Another popular choice is requesting that viewers click on bio links to look at a brand’s website.

Include a Call-to-Action Link in The Brand Bio that Leads to an Insta Feed

One particularly important call-to-action to use is one that gets viewers to click links that lead to the brand’s Instagram feed. This can get a viewer to browse the brand’s shoppable posts on IG, which is an easy way to boost sales.

Make the CTA short and easy to read. Viewers should be able to find the link quickly and know exactly where it is taking them.

Create and Run Ads to Sell on Instagram

When it comes to paying for ads to help to sell on Instagram, the most important thing to consider is the return on investment (ROI). Some ad campaigns can get expensive and show little results, but Instagram’s ad structure has consistently demonstrated a high ROI.

This means that users who put funds into running an IG ad campaign are often greeted with a massive boost in engagement and sales to offset the ads’ cost easily.

Instagram ads are also run on a pay-per-click basis and allow users to set a budget within which they need to stay.

Consider Giving out Sale or Promo Codes

Sale or Promo Codes

Shoppers love promotions, sales, or anything that make them feel like they are getting a good deal. That’s why offering promo codes or implementing temporary sales is a great way to boost sales.

Typically, buyers will shop for more than they typically would because of the added incentives. This can easily return a higher profit for a brand than if they hadn’t offered any discounts.

Reap the Benefits of Branded Hashtags

Selling on Instagram is more comfortable with branded Hashtags, which are unique searchable links to a business’s products and IG page. This means that following the hashtag will lead viewers to posts and products from the brand.

This provides a great opportunity to analyze the audience and see what is being said about a company. While the hashtag doesn’t need to include the brand name necessarily, it does need to be unique.

Search potential hashtags on Instagram to see if the option is available before use.

Try Out a Branded Giveaway

A great way to boost brand identity and spark follower engagement is through a branded giveaway.

People love free stuff, so creating a contest with the brand’s product as a reward is a popular choice among influencers. Choose the prize and make a post expressing the rules. To gain entries, most brands ask that the post be share, the page is followed, and friends are tagged in the comments.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Expensive is it to Sell on Instagram?

It is possible to successfully run a digital shop without spending so much as a dime. Implementing the shoppable features and creating great posts can all be done for free.

Do You Need a Business License to Sell on Instagram?

Yes. According to the terms of service, you will need a business license.

When running a business and selling items, it is important to obtain proper licensing from the local government. Failure to achieve these can lead to fines from the governing body, shop closure, and a ban on Instagram.

Is it better to sell on Etsy or Instagram?

Choosing Etsy or Instagram comes down to personal preference. Here are some differences between the two sites.

Etsy:

  • Caters to niche shops with smaller search pools
  • Costs money to list items
  • Allows users to check out from multiple shops on the same page

Instagram:

  • Listings can be made for free
  • New checkout features being added consistently
  • Followers can purchase from their favorite brands easily

Do I Need a Personal Website to Sell on IG?

No. Those who have a website can use that to their advantage while selling on Instagram. There is no need to have a paid website.

Many Instagram sellers curate their product catalog directly through Facebook, which cuts out many steps in the sales process. As for the question “Can you sell directly on Instagram?”, they must be tangible products and not services.

What Should My First Post Look Like?

The first post on a business Instagram should show off the personality and basic details of the business. What is being sold? Who runs the company? What is the company’s mission?

Providing an inside peek at the company gives viewers something to look forward to.

Do I need Shopify to Sell on Instagram?

No. While many users transition easily from selling on Shopify to Instagram. There is no necessity to maintain a Shopify account.

The only necessary account is through Facebook, where a product catalog will be stored for use in the IG shop.

Advance a Business by Knowing How to Sell on Instagram

A properly developed IG page is a great way to bolster business in the modern digital age. It is free, intuitive, and a lot of fun. All it takes is a little effort and creative vision to master how to sell on Instagram.

Do you have any great tips for selling on Instagram? Leave your advice in the comments below.

Published: May 28, 2021Updated: May 31, 2021

Linda Andress

Linda Andress

Linda’s passion is turning ideas into a successful copy. She has worked for more than eight years in the publishing industry, providing unique and varied writings. She has experience in successfully implementing PR strategies and organization, including events and meetings (congresses, industry symposiums, and training workshops). When she’s not working, she’s reading (probably 3-4 books at a time), shopping for hours in bookstores and comic book stores, playing video games or volleyball, or spending time with her family, including her two dogs, Mickey and Pete.


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