Instagram for Ecommerce: What You Need To Get Started

Instagram can be a powerful marketing tool for image-driven stores. Learn how to get started sharing images and selling more products with two of Volusion’s social media experts. In this video, we’ll discuss best practices, common use cases and more. We’ve included the transcript of the video for your reading convenience.

Mikkayla: Hey Everyone! Today Terrence I are going to chat about one of the most popular social media platforms—Instagram—and how it can be leveraged within the ecommerce space.

Terrence: Instagram is an online social network with more than 400 million users. It’s a highly visual network as you can only publish posts that include an image or video. It allows for public and private image and video sharing in posts. Users have the option to make their profile public and visible to all or private and visible to other users they select. It also allows you to communicate directly with another user via direct messages. Instagram connects with other social media channels including Twitter and Facebook, allowing Instagram posts to be displayed on those networks. The image or video will display natively in the Facebook feed. For Twitter, it will include an Instagram URL for followers to click on. So, let’s talk about how Instagram can be good for you.

Mikkayla: So you’re probably wondering how Instagram can help your marketing efforts. The visual network allows you to show your nice-looking products to the world while increasing brand authority. This is great for those in the fashion industry who can include products in a #OOTD post. It allows you to connect with your current, as well as potential, customers. When you include a branded hashtag or allow customers to tag you in pictures, you can then "regram" the photos and showcase your customer's photo.

The network also allows you to run contests. If you’re active on Instagram, you’ve likely seen a contest or giveaway pop up in your feed. To break up the repetitiveness of your photos, you can also include behind-the-scenes photos. This could be from the production process of making your products or showcasing your employees. If you have new products being released, Instagram is a great outlet to show pictures or even a short video of them.

Terrence: If you haven’t started to use Instagram yet, now is a great time to consider creating an account. Currently 93% of marketers are incorporating Facebook into their marketing plan while only 36% are incorporating Instagram. Creating an account could be the difference between you and your competitors' marketing efforts. The number of businesses utilizing Instagram paired with its hyper growth makes it a strategy you don’t want to overlook.

Launching in October of 2010, the Instagram community grew from 1 million users in December of its inception year to more than 400 million users in just five years. 18 months after launching and a few months after celebrating 10 million users, Instagram was acquired by Facebook. 2 years later, Instagram announced it had grown by 6 times since being acquired by Facebook. It’s obvious that the community is a global success with more than 80 million photos being posted daily. Why not leverage this exponential growth and a highly engaged community to grow your business?

Now, what industries and business types tend to do well with Instagram?

Mikkayla: A variety of industries can succeed on Instagram. This includes those with large audiences that are active on the network along with niche audiences. B2C industries excel on the network with regular posts and brands that engage with their followers. Fashion and home goods do well because it can be easy to add a photo of how the product can be styled. Fitness is a large community on Instagram. From fitness memes to motivation and fitness transformations, Instagram users love to post about fitness! Food and food porn are also popular. Simply plate your food for an Instagram worthy photo or show photos of customers using your products in the kitchen.

Terrence: Nature photos are also popular on Instagram. Do you have outdoor products including tents, camping gear, or other neat gadgets? Don’t be afraid to take them outdoors and start snapping photos.

Mikkayla: When you’re getting started on Instagram, you’ll want to make sure your profile is optimized. You’ll want to add your logo as your profile picture. Include a short bio letting Instagram know what your business is about. Maybe you’re a children’s boutique that offers free shipping on orders over $25, or you’re an ecommerce only store that has the lowest prices online. Your bio should contain keywords that not only describe your business and its offerings, but encourage the end user to connect with your business and find out more. As a method to easily drive Instagram users to your website, be sure to include a link to your website in your profile. Google’s URL Campaign Builder is a great way to do this.

Terrence: Instagram is a visual network that thrives off of engagement. Engage with your followers. This could be as easy as checking out their profile after they follow you. If you like what you see, feel free to follow them back. Do they have nice photos? Feel free to go like one or two.

Mikkayla: Hashtag accordingly. Instagram allows you to add up to 30 hashtags per post. We recommend limiting your hashtags to 10 or less. If you’re not sure where to get started with hashtags, we recommend using tools to help you get started in the right direction. One of my personal favorites is Iconosquare. It’ll show you which hashtags are popular with your specific keywords. Once you’ve found hashtags that are relevant to your business, add them to your post. If you have free time, search those similar hashtags and go like or comment on other users posts.

Terrence: For brands that have a strong following on Instagram, there’s a good chance your customers are using a brand-specific hashtag. You’ll want to search this hashtag regularly to see what new posts have been added. If there’s a post that has a nice image or high engagement numbers, you’ll want to regram this photo and give credit to the original poster.

Mikkayla: Giveaways are HUGE on Instagram. In fact, sometimes they can be a bit overwhelming when it involves too many accounts. Make an Instagram giveaway easier on yourself and ask your followers to regram a photo (or upload their own) and use a specific hashtag.

Lastly, utilize brand ambassadors. Brand ambassadors are the people who love talking about your brand and help spread your message to their audience.

Terrence: Instagram ads are another way to take your social media efforts even further, which can be accessed via Facebook Ads manager. They allow you to put your message in front of a large audience. Maybe it’s a weekend sale or you just released a new line. Instagram ads are a great method to increase brand visibility. Though there isn’t an option to run ads to increase the number of followers, there is an option for them to click on your profile. Are you looking for more engagement on your posts? Ads can help with that! Lastly, Instagram ads are a great way to drive traffic to your website. You’ll want to remember to use URL tagging for proper credit in Analytics.

Mikkayla: Whether you are a newcomer to Instagram or you’ve been active for quite some time, there are a number of tools available that can be leveraged for "Insta-success." Make life easy for yourself with some of our team’s favorite tools!

While we all want to publish breathtaking and eye-catching graphics, sometimes this is no easy feat without robust and incredibly expensive applications such as Photoshop. Canva is a free or very low-cost intuitive design software and has proven to be a lifesaver numerous times. This is a great tool for editing and enhancing existing images or creating custom graphics to help your brand stand out.

Terrence: Sometimes brainstorming innovative ideas can be difficult—it happens to everyone. Gramfeed is a Instagram-focused search and management utility. Use Gramfeed to explore your competitors, learn how they are engaging with their community, identify areas of opportunity, or just gain inspiration.

Mikkayla: Looking to implement new hashtags but lacking creativity? Iconosquare is a great Instagram client to research and select new hashtags you can use. The platform is also a great tool for analyzing your activities on Instagram and reporting key metrics for your brand.

Terrence: So now it’s time to get started with Instagram! Find us on Instagram @volusion and let us know what your favorite takeaway was, or if you have any questions about what you learned.

Mikkayla: And remember that if any of this seems a little overwhelming, Volusion does offer social media account management services for any Volusion merchants who’d like to outsource this work. Contact us for more details—our social media team would love to work with you!

Terrence: Absolutely, and right now we’re offering some fantastic promos for services that will help you maximize your success on Instagram and other social media platforms. If you sign up for our services between now and April 30th [2016], you can get your setup fee waived with a 3-month prepaid Social Media Marketing package or a 6-month package commitment.

Mikkayla: Thanks for joining us today! We look forward to hearing from you!