Believe it or not, social media is more than just hashtags, pretty photos and trolling. Social media, in fact, can be a huge driver in sales. After all, 42% of people have purchased something because they saw it on social media!
Now, you might be familiar with the many articles that focus on social media engagement and getting followers fast, but we are here to talk about your bottom line: making money! One of the best social platforms to do that? My all time favorite: Instagram.
Instagram is one of the most widely used social media platforms, with over 500 million active monthly users, making it not only a fantastic marketing channel but a gold mine for sales! As Instagram provides a unique, personal, and photo-sharing connection with followers, there are numerous ways to gain visibility, meaningful experiences and engagement with potential customers.
So, if you want to learn how to get your products and brand seen by more people, grow a “ride or die” following of customers and ultimately get paid using Instagram, this is your article.
In this article, we’ll be discussing how to increase your sales from Instagram with 12 tips that can help you use the social platform in a strategic and money making way! Let’s take a look!
12 Ways to Make Instagram a Money Maker for Your Business
For years, in order for businesses to directly drive sales on Instagram, they had to rely on their bio links to drive followers to their site landing pages. Oh, how things have changed!
Below are 12 ways you can drive sales on Instagram, making it a platform beyond brand awareness and helping you make the money your business deserves:
1. Business Account or Bust!
First and foremost, make sure you have a business account on Instagram, not a personal page!
One big reason you might not be driving sales from Instagram is that you are not taking advantage of the benefits of business profiles! If you’re going to use Instagram as a way to promote your business, you need to take advantage of these profiles!
Using a business profile allows you:
- To access Instagram Insights which provides businesses all of the data they need to know about their account and how their posts perform
- Add a contact button so when somebody clicks on the button, you can have them email you, start a call, DM, etc directly
- Show an industry category which helps your business be found in the industry it needs to be
- Link products and add a URL to your Instagram story and posts! This feature is only available to profiles with 10K or more
If you are sold on these benefits, switching to a business profile is simple!
Under your account settings, just click “Switch to Business Profile.” Log into Facebook within the Instagram app. Then just select which Facebook page you want to connect. After you do that, you’ll simply need to complete your profile!
2. Shoppable Images Made for Shopping
The truth is, the better your stuff looks, the more you will sell. So why aren’t you taking photography more seriously?
The perceived value of your products and the trustworthiness of your brand is often judged on the quality of your visual content. That means having high-quality, beautiful product photography can go a long way towards driving sales for your business.
I mean, think about the last time you were shopping online and came across a bad product photo…maybe the image was dark or out of focus. Maybe you couldn’t figure out how large the product actually was or you weren’t sure what color it would actually be. Maybe there was so much going on the photo that you didn’t know what item was actually for sale.
Odds are, you didn’t buy that item.
Unlike shopping in a boutique or a department store, when you browse online, you can’t pick up the product. You can’t touch it, hold it in your hands or feel the texture with your fingers. All you have is the photographs to base your buying decisions on.
So, as a business, ideally, your images will need to be not only creative and eye-catching but appropriately highlighting your products in a helpful way. For example, @ShopAndi does a fantastic job creating quality and shoppable images featuring their scrunchies:
They not only share compelling flat lay images of products but they share lifestyle images that show people how to style and the sizing/scale of the products on models/influencers.
Looking at their account, they have a visual grid that is branded, clear as to what they sell and eye-catching. Like them, you can create compelling images that make people want to shop by:
- Creating consistent photo editing and visual branding guidelines (they should recognize who you are if they are scrolling through their feeds)
- Having variance in the types of photos you are posting (studio, lifestyle, flat lay, etc)
- Creating mood boards and visual inspiration boards to channel future product shoots, etc
- Framing your images using the Rule of Thirds and interesting layouts
- Utilizing good lighting and golden hours for outdoor shoots
- Using branded backdrops and props that tell the story of your brand/campaign
- Using influencers in your industry to add traffic and interests to your images
In short, the visual representation of your brand online may be the first experience your customers have with it, so make sure it’s branded, thoughtful and unique!
BONUS: Instagram Photo Sizing
Avoid low quality and cut off photos that lose you credibility, let alone interest, by shooting photos with sizing in mind. Instagram’s format makes your images square, within a 612 x 612 pixels frame so consider the square shape when photographing or else things might get cropped out!
3. Who are You? Finish Your Bio
As obvious as this seems, many businesses overlook the writing of a complete and compelling account bio, thinking they will come around to it later.
What a mistake!
If you don’t completely fill out your profile, people won’t know that you’re a legitimate business they can shop with! So, be sure to add a catchy, unique bio that showcases the value of your company and the content you will provide on the account. This is the place to show off who you are and what you’re about! For example, Wildrootgoatyoga has a great logo, content and visuals but their business information lacks engaging material:
Yes, we already know you are @wildrootgoatyoga with your username, so there was a lost opportunity to educate your potential customers by just restating the “Wildroot Gota Yoga” in your tagline. Instead, you could have written something to better engage and inform customers on what you are like:
- Times/ Days Open
- Personable taglines or phrases
- Branded hashtags
- Catchy descriptions on what you care about/ what makes you different
- Yoga Practice Type
Do not make the mistake of skipping the details! People notice who is polished and who is not!
Keep your Instagram bio light, branded and engaging. Craft a bio that appeals to the Instagram community you want to reach and reflects the tone of the images you plan to share.
Convince them of the value!
4. Link Trees: Give People Options
On Instagram, you have only one opportunity to directly lead a click over to your website, but with LinkTrees, you can make it do more! With Linktree you never have to change your bio link again! (Talk about saving you error and sanity!)
Linktree is a free tool for optimizing your Instagram traffic, whether you’re a blogger, an artist or run a content platform. You’ll get one bio link to house all the content you’re driving followers to and they will be served location options like below:
As a business, this feature downloaded through an app, will help you direct specific traffic to places you want it. The great thing is, you can track it!
Using Linktree is a great and free way to drive more targeted traffic through Instagram and thus increase sales. If you haven’t tried it out yet, I highly encourage you to do so right now! Let your content live longer than the feed!
Send followers anywhere: articles, website storefronts, events, recipes and more!
5. Give Exclusive Promotions and Benefits
Put a little jazz in your followers feed with bonuses, special offers, and insider announcements. Since 41% of Instagrammers state that they follow, or would follow a brand to take advantage of perks and giveaways, this is an opportunity to drive some sales!
One of the best and easiest ways to do this is to create images with text overlays.
Text overlay lets you include your promotion right on the photo, which is a stylish way to announce sales and discounts. For example, @mycalmblanket created a trendy and visually appealing promo on their Instagram highlighting a giveaway they were running.
My Calm Blanket not only uses clear copy but also includes branded hashtags for people to use! Like them you too can create promotions people will engage with that also will stir up some sales. If you do not own creative suites like Adobe, there are tons of free options for you to use! Free apps like Phonto, Canva and Easil let you choose the font, message, and positioning of text right over your image creating a formatted image ready for Instagram!
To take it a step further, you can boost sales by geotagging your promotions, events and sales. Believe it or not, posts with geotags get more engagement than those that don’t. This is specific to places with brick and mortar locations where you can drive foot traffic to your physical location. Running a one day sale at your store? Post an image and geotag your business storefront location so people easily know where to travel to shop! Geotags tell customers where they can go to find your products, try them, and buy them.
Between the two, you can drive a lot of sales to the places and promotions you need them!
6. Tag Products in Your Instagram Posts
With an Instagram business account, you can tag your products in your posts!
What this means for you is that you are making Instagram a digital storefront for your customers to find products, prices and URLs they can purchase from directly. Like most things in marketing and ecommerce, you need to make the shopping experience as easy and as “brainless” as possible. When you do that, it increases sales.
To make the most out of “shoppable pins,” add all of your products to Instagram via Shopify or a shopping cart of your choice. This makes it easy for your followers to see pricing and product details. Note that to enable Instagram shopping, you must set up and be approved for shopping on Instagram.
For example, if you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed and see a product you’re interested in, all you’ll have to do is tap on the photo to see the price and buying options. For example, here’s a backpack I saw on Urban Outfitters:
Once a user clicks the button, they’ll be able to see product names and prices and since there are no redirects involved in the process, you won’t turn off customers who are just browsing! Shopping is all done throughout the Instagram platform through landing pages!
This is convenient for Instagram users who are already ready to buy because they don’t have to switch between websites and apps to look at products!
7. Instagram Ads are Your Friends
If you are looking for a paid advertising way to drive sales, advertising on Instagram can help you reach a new and targeted audience! Through Instagram ads, like Facebook ads, you can promote your content in such a way that you reach the customers who are most likely to be interested in your products.
For example, I love women entrepreneurs and influencers, so @MarinadeGiovanni ran a sponsored post on my personal feed:
She most likely targeted women interested in Instagram, social media marketing, fashion and makeup as well as lady entrepreneurship. Like her, you too can target your intended audiences using Instagram ads! Instagram Ads look the same as regular Instagram posts which feels less invasive, just like Pinterest! The only difference is the small “Sponsored” tag on them, which most people won’t notice at first glance:
The two different types of Instagram ads are feed and story ads. There are four kinds of Instagram feed ads:
- Photo ads
- Video ads
- Slideshow ads
- Carousel ads
There are also two kinds of stories ads:
- Single-image ads
- Single-video ads
These work just like feed ads as they looked like regular Instagram stories with a small “Sponsored” tag on the photo. The possibilities are endless when it comes to Instagram advertising and the benefits it can bring to your sales goals!
BONUS: Run Retargeting Campaigns
To take your Instagram ads up a notch, use retargeting to engage people who’ve already visited your website! To get started, simply download the Facebook Pixel and upload your entire product catalog into Business Manager.
The ads will then be automatically triggered based on the products viewed on your site and the uploaded product images, with Facebook’s backend system determining the most relevant content based on how you’ve categorized your ads! Cool, huh?
8. Social Contests for the Win
As silly as this sounds, not everything has to be around direct sales. Sometimes you need to invest in your Instagram tribe of followers to get a bigger return and improved loyalty. When you run fun social contests and events, you’re rewarding your most loyal customers so that they’ll be more likely to buy from you again.
Adding some fun engagement will always reap more positive experience and connection with your brand.
To start, think about what you want to give away and how you can best engage your audience with your brand and or product. So for example, if I was a men’s shoe company looking to promote a new limited edition shoe I might have followers share “The Places You Go” photos. The photos can be entered using a branded campaign hashtag and featuring unique places the shoes have taken them.
If you’re struggling with contest ideas, check out our list below:
- Caption this photo contest
- Discount code participation
- Voting contests
- Hashtagged images
- Products in action images/videos
- Tell a story contest
- Win a free year of XXX contest
- Cross promotion giveaways
- Gift card giveaways
Highlight entrants and drum up interest in the giveaway! Offering discounts for participation or giveaways is one of the most effective ways to boost your sales on Instagram. It’s a cost-effective method to promote your products and increase sales. Through this method, you can also increase the awareness of your products or services as customers share news about the offer with their friends.
9. Shoppable Stories Make Shopping Happen
Stories are what they should be: a place on Instagram that actually tells a story!
I see brands and businesses alike make this mistake all the time: They share content but it does not follow a logical progression!
Do not make this mistake as Instagram stories is a fantastic place to tell the story of your upcoming new arrivals, markdowns or featuring an upcoming video vlog explaining your business BTS.
One of the best ways you can make the most of your Instagram stories is planning out the progression of your Instagram posts and using features that promote your product purchases! Free People did a fantastic job at this promoting their hair accessories and hats:
In their promotional Instagram story they first ask their customer “Bad Hair Day?” and proceed to tell them, “We Can Help With that..” From there they tell the story of many hair debacles of flyaways, not having time to style your hair, etc and have hair accessories for solutions. Each of the solutions is swiping up to purchase and at the end they ask you to shop all of the hair accessory collection.
Like them, you too can promote your products in a way that makes sense!
When posting your story videos and images, you have the ability to either use swipe up URLS or directly mention product tags!
To do this select the Instagram image or video you want (I picked my dog Nigel and I) and click on either the paperclip link which will open up the option to link the URL to a IGTV video or a web link or the face posted note looking icon which will allow you the option for Products. Once you select “products,” your inventory from Business Manager will pull up so you can feature the products you want to!
To take it a step further, and to help you build a place that makes your Instagram that much more shoppable if you post regularly to Instagram Stories, create highlight albums to feature your offers, new products, and more!
Keep your highlight albums simple, labeled and eye-catching.
For example, going back to Free People, they shared theirs in an “Accessories” highlight album as seen above. On top of, that they also feature tops, fashion collections and others where people can specifically shop those groupings easily from their main page. It’s strategically placed so followers can see what’s new when they land on the main profile.
Use your Stories posts in the same way that a brick-and-mortar store uses its shop windows. Show off your products, share special offers, and more!
10. Hashtags Work, For Real
Hashtags are content-unifiers and help promote your business and products to new crowds of people trying to find specific searches.
For example, if I was a person trying to find eco-friendly baby shoes I could type in #Ecofriendlybabyshoes in Instagram and find the businesses selling items I am trying to directly find. If you are a business looking for those type of searches, you need to start upping your hashtag game!
Put together a list of hashtags that represent your brand and then research them to gauge their popularity on Instagram. You want to pick long-tail or combined hashtags that aren’t as saturated (such as #InandOutBurger rather than just #Burger). These appeal to a smaller, more targeted audience.
In addition to finding the right hashtags, also select branded hashtags. Branded hashtags will drive your posts and build company awareness and recognition, so use them throughout your profile. As users start recognizing your products, the hashtags should gain momentum!
11. Influencers Make Good Friends
Influencers are an amazing way to grow a targeted following and achieve direct sales!
As a visual platform, Instagram offers the perfect avenue to engage your target audience using the help of influencers. A good Instagram influencer marketing strategy can help you get high traffic and more engagement, which ultimately brings sales!
A good way to do this is to ask the influencer to create valuable content that reviews and highlights your products. To increase the number of sales generated by influencer content, provide influencers with a discount code or promo link. For example, influencer @AlexisJakeKaiser, has a promo code to her followers for both Fab Fit Boxes and 310 Nutrition Shakers:
If you intend to use multiple influencers to promote your products, assign each a unique code or link so you can track their individual conversions. Now, to make the most out of influencers for your brand, make sure you identify the types of influencers you want and what the end goal is for using them. Consider some of the influencer tactics like:
- Increasing brand exposure
- Sharing promotions and specific brand messaging
- Supporting other content marketing objectives
- Drive sales from Influencers through landing pages and codes
Whatever your aim, the goal is never to get an influencer to post something that looks like an obvious brand push. Be careful with how you use influencers, but if you do it the right way, they can drive incredible numbers to your products, promotions and business generally!
12. Share User Generated Content
I am not sure about you, but I think we all like being recognized, right? Well, your followers and customers are no different!
By including your followers/user’s content in your Instagram feed, featuring products and pinning them in the post, it promotes a feeling of customer appreciation and connection. In fact, 65% of Instagrammers say they feel honored when a brand mentions them!
There are a lot of benefits to featuring your customers, especially if they help visualize using your products. By sharing useful content like that, you’ll have motivated buyers and a better chance of making a sale!
User-generated content is another form of word-of-mouth advertising so you do not want to miss out!
Celebrate your existing customers. Think of content from them as a kind of living social proof for prospective customers who still have doubts about buying from you.
Instagram: A Money Making Platform
Yes, Instagram can be a powerhouse of a seller for you!
If you take advantage of the features available, you truly can take your social media money making to the next level. All it requires is planning, strategy and using the featuring in a thoughtful way. Simply posting content to your profile isn’t going to cut it in today’s marketing world.
If you follow the tips and examples I’ve outlined above, your Instagram will help you generate additional sales in no time! At the core though, never forget to create CONNECTION first and foremost!
If you want some more help on coming up with Instagram strategies, reach out to me here! I would be happy to help!
How is your brand using Instagram stories to drive sales? What has worked and what hasn’t? What brands do you feel are using Instagram like a rockstar? Share and comment below!