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As an eCommerce business owner, you don’t have to do much searching online to see why a strong Instagram presence is essential to growing your brand. Studies have shown that about 93% of buying decisions are made based on visual appearance and 52% of customers will not return to a store due to bad overall aesthetics. In this post, I’m going to go into some detail with examples of how you can monetize Instagram and drive eCommerce sales using the platform:
We’ll get into all of these tricks for monetizing Instagram further along in the post! But if you’re not quite convinced of the power of this dynamic social network, consider this data:
A social media engagement study reported that brands see a median engagement rate of 0.09% per Facebook post, in comparison to a 1.60% median engagement rate per post on Instagram. Check out how these 14 brands are ruling instagram with their UGC strategies here.
Now that you know how effective Instagram can be for your eCommerce growth, you’re probably wondering how you can harness its power to drive more sales.
You’ve come to the right place. By the time you’re done reading this post, you’ll be well-equipped to create a marketing strategy that will allow you to monetize Instagram and sell products on Instagram.
Let’s dive right in.
First things first, it’s normally to ask yourself the question…wait can you actually monetize Instagram? And the answer is yes! You just have to follow a few important steps to ensure success.
Why not check out this guide to instagram marketing and data analytics here.
First, realize that your eCommerce account should be separate from your personal Instagram account so you can focus on delivering the content your target audience wants to see. That mindset will guide you as you set up your profile and begin to plan the kind of content you should share. For more info on creating a business account to help monetize Instagram, check this out.
Now you’re ready to set up your profile in a way that helps you attract customers. Let’s talk about the two main elements you’ll need to set up: your profile image and your bio.
If you have a company logo, consider using it as your profile image. If not, you may want to consider creating a social media logo for your brand – one that you can use across all of your social media platforms.
For example, here’s the profile image that popular retailer Anthropologie uses:
You can see that the “A” logo isn’t featured on their company website.
However, it is featured on their other social media profiles. Take a look at how they incorporate the “A” logo on their Twitter profile:
If they had used the entire name of their store as their logo, it’d be impossible to read on most mobile screens – and probably on regular computer screens too.
Be smart about your profile picture decisions like Anthropologie, and make sure you use the same one across all your social media platforms.
And regardless of what you decide to use as your profile image, make sure it’s the right size. An illegible, blurry image will hurt your brand credibility and send potential customers running off to your competitors.
Your bio shouldn’t just be a place where customers can read a sentence or two about your company. Instead, you should use that space on your profile to get your customers to take action.
Not sure what I mean?
Let’s take a look at an example.
Brandfield uses their profile to drive engagement by putting their branded hashtag there, which encourages people to use that hashtag when posting a photo that includes one of their products.
This approach encourages customers to engage with them on social media, sharing content that they can then share across their platform or even integrate into their website to keep the engagement coming!
Think about what you want your customers to do, and write your bio in a way that encourages them to take that action.
When a potential customer visits your Instagram profile, they’ll typically make a decision about whether or not to follow you based on:
We’ve already talked about how to optimize your bio, so now, let’s discuss what kinds of images will build your brand and make customers want to connect with you. Posting content that your customers are going to identify with is about the most important thing you can do to monetize Instagram, so follow a few of these key tips:
Posting photos or videos of how to use your product, or your product in action, is a great way to give people an idea of how your product works and why they absolutely need to own it.
For example, the yoga brand Athleta posts amazing photos of people using their products in the way that they’re actually intended. These photos can then make shoppers feel more comfortable, and excited, to purchase the products.
For example, the photo below. Someone buying yoga pants may worry that they won’t stay up while they’re doing some of their more advanced yoga poses. This photo does a pretty good job at abating those worries!
Bonus points if it’s a photo by another user like this one! That gives other Instagrammers the reassurance that this person was trying out the product, rather than coming into a production studio to be adjusted and photoshopped.
A big plus: it’s also inspiring! If you’re a yogi, you’re sure to love seeing pictures of other yoga practitioners doing amazing poses. This gets customers thinking: “Hey, I want to do that too!”
Let’s not forget the importance of video to your Instagram marketing strategy – this is also a great opportunity to show your customers how to use your product. Plus, it can encourage them to make their own active content featuring your brand, which means more engagement for you!
On Instagram, hashtags allow you to categorize your content and attract your audience. Let’s look at it from their perspective for a second.
Imagine you’re a consumer browsing Instagram, and you’re interested in buying some new running shoes soon. So, you look up the hashtag “#runningshoes” using Instagram’s search tool.
You’re brought to a feed of photos featuring different options! So you scroll through and find this:
You like the design and that seemingly another user has recommended them. So you check out the details on the Instagram and on the website and finally decide to make a purchase!
See how that works?
Regardless of what you’re selling, you can use hashtags to help customers find your products.
But you have to pick the right hashtags to make that happen – hashtags that put you in front of your audience.
For example, if you sell workout clothing for women, you might use “#activewear” as a hashtag pretty frequently. You could even search for popular tags related to your product by typing “activewear” into Instagram’s search bar, like this:
Another effective way to find the right hashtags is to look at what your most successful competitors are using. Using the activewear example, you could look up Lorna Jane, a popular activewear company with over 900K Instagram followers.
Then, you’d want to look at several of the images they’ve shared to see which hashtags they’ve been using. Here’s one of them:
While you wouldn’t want to use “#lornajane” since that’s a branded hashtag or even #movenourishbelieve, as we can see from their bio that this is the hashtag the Lorna Jane team promotes on their Instagram, you could experiment with using the other three hashtags they picked for this image. Since you and Lorna Jane would share the same target audience, there’s a good chance you could attract that audience by using similar hashtags.
If you do this for a few of your competitors, you’re sure to hit a diverse audience that’s interested in products like yours. But make sure to also use original hashtags, that your competitors aren’t reaching, in order to hit the users that they’re missing.
Whatever you do, keep the hashtags relevant.
It might be tempting to look up the most popular hashtags on Instagram and use those just to get engagement, but that engagement won’t matter if it’s not from your target audience.
Also, try to limit yourself to 3 to 5 hashtags per image. If you use any more than that, you’ll just look spammy and desperate, which is likely to drive customers away.
Doing this gives people a reason to stay engaged with your brand on Instagram, and it’s a pretty simple process. After you set up a discount code, all you have to do is create an image that advertises the code and share it with your followers.
Here’s an example from The Coffee Canary:
You can see that they’ve included the discount amount and the time frame for the discount in the image, which makes the details of the promotion completely clear to anyone who’s interested.
The Coffee Canary used Retype to create the image above, but you could also use a free graphic design tool like Canva to make yours. Whatever tool you decide to use, make sure you stick to your brand colors and fonts, clearly state the time frame for the discount, and let customers know which products the discount can be applied to so there is no confusion. This is a great trick to monetize Instagram because you’re reaching much larger audience then you would with in-store discounts!
Customers who post pictures of themselves wearing or using your products are your brand advocates, and sharing their photos can help you build even more brand loyalty.
So if you aren’t already, encourage your followers to share photos of themselves using your products with you. Let them know you’ll choose some to re-post, and they’ll want to participate even more because of the exposure their photo will get when it’s featured on your account.
Here’s an example from Vans:
See how they encouraged users by telling them explicitly what to do: “Tag your photo with #MyVans & see vans.com/enter for a chance to be in our next campaign!”
They do this particularly well because they post an image that’s already from a user, giving others the sense that if they do post their photo with the hashtag, they actually have a chance to be featured. They also include their website in this description, driving traffic and hopefully interests in more products!
Using their branded hashtag as a tool to get customers to post, allows them to easily find customer photos and pick the ones they’d like to repost to their account.
It’s a great strategy for driving sales because 92% of consumers trust User Generated Content more than traditional advertising.
To make the content curation process easier and monetize Instagram effectively, use Flowbox’s visual commerce platform. It’ll search for and collect all photos related to your brand and provide you all the tools you need to make them shoppable. Best of all, there is an extensive analytics suite that will help you figure out what kinds of images get the best results for your business.
We’ve talked about featuring customers on your feed. But have you ever thought about reaching out to an Instagram influencer so they can feature your product on their feed?
If not, now is a good time to start. Many popular eCommerce brands partner with influencers so they can grow their following, drive engagement, and sell more products.
The trick is to find an influencer whose audience is similar to yours. For example, if you sell makeup, you could reach out to a popular makeup artist and start collaborating – their following would be full of people who are interested in makeup (and therefore likely to be interested in your products!).
Tip: For a more in-depth look at how to find the perfect Instagram influencers to drive sales and monetize Instagram for your brand, check out this blog post!
Once you start using the strategies here, track your results so you can adjust your overall approach to monetize Instagram based on what works best with your target audience.
And don’t get discouraged if you don’t see major results right away. Social media marketing takes time to pay off, but when it does, you’ll be happy with the return on your investment.
Looking for more Instagram tips? Head to our complete guide to Instagram Marketing, where you’ll find everything you need to know about promoting your products on this crucial platform.