The Online Merchant’s Last-Minute Holiday Ecommerce Guide 
Savvy sellers use Instagram to build their brand. Here’s how you can join them.
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For many online sellers and businesses, Instagram provides valuable opportunities to build engagement with customers and to complement your digital presence and independent online store. Ninety percent of users on Instagram follow a business account, with 70 percent of shoppers using the platform to discover new products. In our current socially-distant social landscape, consumers are increasingly turning their attention to Instagram to stay connected with the outside world and to engage with businesses.
In this article, we discuss how ecommerce merchants can use Instagram alongside their website to drive sales, increase demand, and build their brand during this new era of online shopping.
Instagram ecommerce involves using Instagram as a sales and marketing channel for your online business. Having Instagram in your ecommerce strategy means creating your brand profile on Instagram, growing your audience, and promoting your products using various content and ad types. The ultimate goal, for many sellers, is to drive sales and awareness.
Wondering if using Instagram for marketing your business is the right choice? Here are 9 statistics that show the potential of using Instagram for your ecommerce business:
What makes Instagram an effective platform for marketing your business is its emphasis on visual content. Instagram is where you have the opportunity to communicate your brand, display your products, showcase your unique value proposition, humanize your business, and describe the problems you solve. The elements you choose to display on your profile—the images you post, the stories you share, and the details you include in your bio—will influence how your followers view and interact with your brand.
To succeed on Instagram, your business will want to have the following:
With proper optimization, creative content, and targeting, you can effectively distribute your marketing message via Instagram and generate more interest in your business.
With the launch of Instagram’s shoppable posts, selling directly on the social platform became easier than ever. Sellers can tag products within their Instagram posts, enabling a “Tap to View Product” feature that allows customers to buy items without having to leave the app. This new functionality not only allows you to reach new customers but also effectively moves shoppers through the entire buyer journey and turns casual followers into active customers.
The action doesn’t end on Instagram. After seeing a product or service on the Instagram app, 65 percent of users visit the brand’s website. An Instagram ecommerce shop can both drive sales and direct high-intent traffic to your website, opening new opportunities for you to engage your followers and provide a memorable online experience.
Take these six steps to open your shop on Instagram and access Instagram Shopping features. Instagram Shop provides product recommendations based on user interest. By setting up your shop, you can create an in-app destination where customers can discover your products and shop at their convenience:
Instagram has a variety of ecommerce features that can help increase your brand awareness to new followers and make it easy for them to buy directly from you. After enrolling in Instagram ecommerce, you can take advantage of features like:
To determine whether your Instagram ecommerce strategy is working, you’ll want to monitor your analytics. Instagram Insights is a business tool that analyzes follower data and provides a snapshot of your Instagram presence. With these insights, you can determine which types of content resonate most with your followers and monitor their behavior on your page.
On Instagram, it’s important to publish content other than self-generated images of your products and services. After all, Instagram is a social platform—users seek authenticity and connection, encouraging brands to add a human element to their content.
Consider collecting user-generated content from your Instagram feed and publishing it on your feed and website. This adds that level of authenticity to your brand and provides valuable social proof. As a kind of referral marketing, user-generated content can boost trust in casual users, making them more likely to return to your business. This makes it easier to attract new followers, boost shares of your content, and expand your online community—both on Instagram and on your website. You can also partner with other content creators and influencers and connect with their networks, which can create meaningful interactions with your ideal customers and boost your brand awareness.
Looking to expand your reach? Instagram ads can be an effective way to boost your visibility beyond organic reach. Instagram ecommerce ads allow you to send tailored content to a relevant audience and get them to convert based on interests, behaviors, and other demographics. Compared to organic posts on Instagram that generally take time to build up momentum, ecommerce advertising can generate fast results for your business. Ad types you can create on Instagram include image ads, video ads, Instagram Stories ads, explore tab ads, and more.
While Instagram can help enhance discovery and drive sales, having a spectacular web presence should be your first priority. People who visit your site from Instagram will expect a seamless experience that is consistent with your image on the social platform. It’s important to invest in your ecommerce site when selling on social or on a marketplace to captivate visitors and keep them interested in your business.
Think of Instagram as a complement to your website—while it can help people discover your products, learn about your brand, and potentially even buy from you, it’s your unique website experience that will keep shoppers engaged and coming back to your business. A combined social and ecommerce experience will keep your business competitive, relevant, and profitable in the years to come.
This blog was updated on December 13, 2021.
Tony Huynh is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist at Miva, Inc. Tony is a regular contributor to the Miva blog, covering ecommerce topics like site optimization, ecommerce marketing, and business transformation. He brings to Miva a combination of in-house ecommerce and digital agency experience, with the goal of addressing the needs of online sellers and helping them to succeed online.