Early last year Instagram announced they’d be introducing a new shopping feature allowing customers to buy directly from sellers via the popular social media app.
A year on and the project is in full swing, with many of the more adventurous ecommerce sellers already coming to the party and discovering a new way to reach customers.
With so many sales channels out there to choose from, we’ve put together this guide to bring you up to speed on Shopping on Instagram and arm you with all the details you need to decide whether it’s the right channel for you to grow your brand.
What is it?
Put simply it’s shopping. On Instagram. Not familiar with Instagram? Don’t worry, you’re not (completely) alone.
Let’s start with Facebook. In the US a whopping 79% of online adults use Facebook (i.e. adults that use the internet; crazy fact alert: 11% of American adults still aren’t online).
Similar usage rates can be assumed for other western countries like the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia where using Facebook puts you firmly in the majority of internet users.
A few years back, Facebook bought Instagram. Why? Because they saw it as the future of social media. If you’ve never used Instagram, it’s basically Facebook but exclusively for sharing videos and photos. You follow other people’s Instagram page (could be friends or strangers) and you view photos or videos that they share. In turn, you share visual images for your followers to view, comment on or ‘like’.
If you made it through that paragraph without thinking ‘well, duh!’ then chances are you’re not in the 18-24 age demo where roughly 71% of US internet users use Instagram. Spread out the age range a bit though and only 35% of American adults use Instagram. It’s fair to say it’s a platform that skews young.
Now, the relationship between Facebook and Instagram might not be so important to the end user, but for advertisers and sellers it’s a marriage of convenience. Paid marketing campaigns on both Facebook and Instagram can be run directly from a Facebook Ads or Facebook Business Manager account. Similarly, to use the Shopping on Instagram feature you will need to setup a Facebook shop (more on that later), so if you’re already using Facebook and Instagram as a marketing tool or selling through Facebook then getting started with Shopping on Instagram won’t take you long at all.
How does it work?
So how does Shopping on Instagram work? It starts with your brands Instagram page. Even if you’re not using Instagram as a sales channel, you should be using Instagram to posts pictures of your products and your brand. By using Shopping on Instagram you can ‘tag’ images you post of your products with the name of the product and pricing and offering customers the opportunity to buy directly from your post.
These posts are called ‘Instagram Shoppable Posts’, and when customers engage with them they are directed within the Instagram app to a page where further product information and options can be view and they can make purchases. While for the Instagram user the whole transaction appears to take place within the app, the catalog information displayed is pulled from your Facebook Shopping catalog and customers are actually redirected to your website to make the final sale.
To setup a Facebook Shop you will need a Facebook Business Page. From there, you can follow this handy guide to get you started, or if you are using an ecommerce platform such as Shopify, Magento or BigCommerce you can find a Facebook sales channel app through your platforms app store.
Who can get it?
The requisite Facebook store is available internationally in all currencies, whilst Shopping on Instagram is currently available in 44 countries after being launched last year in the US and expanding from there.
You do also need your own online store (not just an Amazon or eBay store), and all the major ecommerce platforms – Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, Ecwid and WooCommerce have integrations available through their Facebook sales channels.
Currently you can only ‘tag’ organic posts – so no paid ads for now. Instagram Stories are currently being tested by Instagram for use with shopping tags so you can expect that feature to become available in the future.
Also in the pipeline are Instagram Payments which will allow purchases to be made directly through the Instagram app rather than redirecting to the sellers website, which will speed up the checkout process and could dramatically increase the viability of Instagram as a full ecommerce sales channel.
Whilst most sellers should be using Instagram to showcase their brand and their products, develop social media presence and reach new potential customers, there’s no denying that some brands have a deeper synergy with the platform than others.
Fashion, lifestyle and travel brands are examples of the ideal product to market and now to sell on Instagram, but basically anything type of product with a niche appeal or that speaks directly to an established audience or online community is going to have legs.
If you’re selling surfboards Instagram is a direct pipeline to surf fans. If you’re selling board games you’ll find gamers and hobbyists on there too. Like all marketing and sales channels it’s all about defining your audience and connecting with them with the right message and Instagram provides plenty of opportunities to do just that.
With the right strategy behind you, Shopping on Instagram can be a great way to drive more sales by using Instagram.
Should you be on Shopping for Instagram?
Whilst it’s yet to fully blossom as a sales channel, there has been a lot of promising early success with the roll out, and it’s worth taking the time to plant the seeds for your brand now as the channel grows.
Building social presence is a marathon, not a sprint, and even if you don’t start selling through Shopping on Instagram today, you can start sharing content and telling your brand’s story through images and video now so that the foundations exist for the future.
Have you used Shopping on Instagram already? Share your story with other Super Sellers at our Facebook Mastermind Group and join the conversation!