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Sell on Instagram: The Ultimate Guide

Sell On Instagram:
The Ultimate Guide

Instagram is a force of nature right now, filling in gaps left by Facebook and providing an accessible platform for those who don't quite get TikTok yet. At over one billion users, Instagram can not be ignored.

But how do you actually sell something on Instagram? Here, we go through the steps for products and services to get you started. We cover Instagram best practices to help cut through the noise and jumpstart your sales.

The Benefits of Selling on Instagram

Advertisers are still a very small number of Instagram's user base, even with influencer marketing. Not everyone on Instagram is in the market to buy your products—or even to buy anything at all—but you’ll still have a serious advantage by advertising there and by doing it right.

Saturation isn't that high quite yet, but you will still face some competition. And these advertisers are getting better and better at building authentic marketing experiences that attract their target audience, making sales, and helping drive brand loyalty.

Why Do People Trust Instagram?

Marketing and selling on Instagram has a visual appeal. Users can search for visual representations of things they love, see their favorite influencers touting certain products, and find services that appeal to them.

Authentic and well-planned content helps your customers with something called "buy-in." When you commit to using content and ad channels through Instagram to attract your audience, people will identify with your mission and brand.

Instagram also gives your customers a glimpse behind the scenes of who you and your company really are. The stories you post can give you a note of authenticity that will go a long way with your audience.

Building A Sales Machine on Instagram

If you want to sell on Instagram consistently, there are a few steps you need to take to build your foundation. Let's take a look at how to get started.

Step 1: Get a Business Profile

If you've got a personal profile, that's a good start. You're already familiar with how the platform works and may have gained a following by simply sharing your content. To jumpstart actual sales, however, it's essential to convert to a business account.

Business accounts have far better user metrics than personal accounts, which have basically none. It's tough to get information on users directly from Instagram, and the platform also strongly discourages the use of third-party apps that "spy" on your followers.

You'll get a range of dashboard metrics directly from the platform and can use those to make better decisions about your reach. This is a critical part of getting started.

How to switch:

  1. Log into your personal account.
  2. Go to your profile page and tap the three lines at the top right.
  3. Click settings
  4. Scroll down to "switch to business account."
  5. That's it! You're done.

If you ever decide to switch back, you can follow the same set of commands to revert to a personal profile.

With business profiles, you'll gain access to a ton of data, not only about your follower base but also about activity around individual posts. This information will come in handy for the next few steps as you build your selling empire.

In addition, you’ll get access to CTA buttons to help direct customers to your site and the possibility of having swipe-up links on your stories. Instagram doesn't allow linking directly in posts, so you'll need to make your CTA easy to follow.

Step 2: Connect to Facebook

You may already have a Facebook account, and if so, it's time to connect the two to sell on Instagram. Your Facebook page is a vital part of ensuring that you have as much traffic as possible in both places.

You'll want to begin using Ad Manager to connect and coordinate any of your ads to both platforms for the best results. You'll also be able to compare your Facebook and Instagram metrics to get a better understanding of your audience's movements.

Step 3: Build Your Brand

Who Is Your Audience?

While it would be great to sell to everyone, trying to be all things to all people isn't going to help your sales. Instead, it's time to do some market research to identify your ideal customer to help focus your efforts. Here are the things to think about.

  • What solution are you offering?
  • What kind of person is looking for that solution? Be specific here.
  • What information are they looking for?
  • What is their emotional trigger?

These questions will help you tailor your content so that you attract exactly the type of person looking to buy your specific product, service, or other option. This step is critical to tailoring your profile, your content, and your hashtags.

What Is Your Mission?

New generations of consumers want to connect deeply with companies and people who share the same values as they do. Your mission tells your customers what your business is all about and provides a connection that could lead to brand loyalty and organic traffic through referrals.

Once you hone in on your mission, you'll be able to have a cohesive set of content options that attract your ideal audience.You'll also be able to make a plan for your sales.

What Is Your Content Strategy?

A solid content strategy helps attract and keep your customers. Instagram is all about the visual, so you'll need a cohesive look for your Instagram feed. You’ll also want to establish a set of strategies for what to post and how often. You can tweak things as you go along based on how individual posts perform.

Instagram stories can be a little looser and are great ways for your audience to see the real you. Use stories for behind-the-scenes videos, quick sales, candid moments, and other more casual photos.

Planning out 90 days of content in advance can help you decipher your strategy. The more cohesive your content and your brand, the more likely you are to attract your target audience in the first place.

Step 4: Post, Post, Post

You've got your profile set up, and your branding strategy is in place. All that's required now is to be consistent with posting. Each post should have a purpose and should direct people to your sales page or link.

While Instagram doesn't move quite as fast as Twitter or Snapchat, you'll still need fresh content for your audience to find. It's critical to be consistent in posting fresh content so you'll show up regularly in searches and in your followers feeds.

You'll also need to research hashtags to help your content get found. Take a look at your competitors’ sites and do some hashtag research. Once you've found some relevant hashtags, click on them and look at the feeds. If they match yours, you've probably encountered some winners.

Step 5: Start Running Ads

Once you get the hang of your content and your audience, you can begin putting some money into running ads. These help you appear in front of potential customers by targeting specific characteristics.

Since you’ve linked your Instagram and Facebook pages, you'll have access to Facebook's Ad Manager. You can set up your ads to run on both accounts, or you can use the Instagram-only settings. As people react to your ads, you can adjust and tweak them to help with your sales conversions.

You can also pay a small fee to promote your content within Instagram. That will help ensure your essential content gets in front of people.

Whether you decide to focus on promoting content or creating targeted ads, these steps can help you gain bigger audiences and help drive conversions. You have the potential to get back your invested money several times over.

Step 6: Explore Instagram Shopping

If you're selling physical products, you'll want to check out Instagram Shopping. Users will see your content and have the option to "view products" for more direct links to make purchases.

You'll need to set up your product catalog and add product tagging. Combining Instagram Shopping with ads helps you make use of Facebook and Google algorithms for increased traffic and the chance to reach a broader audience.

By the time customers reach your landing page, they will have already gotten information about your product and how much it costs. They're more likely to convert because they're considered highly qualified leads at this point.

Keep in mind that Instagram Shopping works with physical products rather than services. Services industries and offerings will need to rely on other Instagram features.

Step 7: Explore the Careful Use of Influencers

Influencers can be another way to get your product in front of a new audience and lend credibility.

Influencers have different rates, but many charge a small amount per user. Consider this strategy carefully as you craft a marketing campaign. The influencer's mission and content strategy — their overall brand — should match well with the product you're selling. Otherwise, things could quickly turn on you.

As you are looking at possible influencers for your product, don't discount the ones with smaller audiences. Ten thousand followers can be a very productive way to showcase your products if your influencer and you have the same mission and branding.

This can be an affordable way to market to new audience members while also adding the instant authenticity of your influencer. It's a solid strategy if you have a physical product, but you can also do this with services.

Setting Up Shopping Step-by-Step

  1. Meet The Requirements
  2. You can only sell physical products through your shopping account, so that's the ultimate criteria, of course. Otherwise, there are three separate criteria you must have to be able to set up shopping:

    Once you've got your products set up and you've checked off the requirements, it's time to move on to step two.

  3. Create Your Product Catalog
  4. Your shopping account must be connected to a product catalog on Facebook to work. You'll tag each product to your product catalog so that people can interact with your posts to find those products

    As you're tagging your photos, be sure to add descriptive terms so that everyone is clear about what product has been tagged in the picture and also so that your products are easier for your target audience to find.

    As you fill out your catalog, keep in mind what type of content your audience is looking for. This will help direct not only your content but also your descriptions and hashtags.

  5. Go Through The Review Process
  6. After you've set everything up, you'll need to submit your account for review. Instagram will review to make sure you've met all the requirements and that you have physical products for sale.

    Go to your settings and choose "business." From there, go back into "sign up for Instagram Shopping" and choose the "submit for review" option. It may take a few days for your approval to come back.

    Once approved, you'll be able to set up and expand your catalog. If you don't receive approval, review and address any concerns before you resubmit your request.

  7. Set Up Your First Post
  8. Once you're approved, you’re ready to sell on Instagram. Turn on the shopping option under Settings in the "business" option and you're ready to create your first post.

    Upload a photo and tap the photo to tag items. Your Facebook catalog will appear and allow you to connect products from your photo to your catalog. You can tag up to five items per post.

  9. Expand to Your Stories
  10. When Instagram launched Stories, it gave sellers a second avenue for setting up shoppable posts. Once you're comfortable making a regular feed post, it's time to expand your shopping posts to your stories.

    Simply upload your story and then click the sticker icon in the right corner. From there, you'll follow the same steps, tagging up to five products in your story to integrate with your catalog.

  11. Keep an Eye on Instagram Checkout
  12. Back in 2019, Instagram expanded its capabilities for shopping to include a native checkout feature. Users could shop and purchase products directly from the app without ever leaving. While the feature is still in Beta only in the United States, Instagram does have plans to expand.

    You can apply for Instagram Checkout if you're a producer located in the United States. If you receive access, your customers will have a full chance to shop and check out right from the app while also receiving Instagram's complete purchase protection.

Tips For Sales Content

Instagram is still a casual app, and users don't appreciate being sold to with every post. After all, you're using Instagram to build relationships with your customers, not shout at them. When you first set up your account, you might be tempted to create shoppable content at every turn.

Instead, think of your content in three categories:

  1. Content that helps your customer.
  2. Content that identifies with your customer.
  3. Overt sales content.

Your most frequent type of content should be things that help your customer with some of their most pressing problems and concerns.

The second most prevalent type of content should be content that helps build connections — giving behind-the-scenes info, telling your story, sharing your struggles, etc.

Your sales content is then necessary to remind your audience what your products are and that they're available. However, this content should make up a small but regular faction of your overall content. For example, If you have four helpful posts, you could then make three connection-coordinated pieces of content and then two pieces of sales.

Arrange these in a nine-piece grid for consistency, and you'll have the best chance of attracting your customers and closing those sales.

Selling Services On Instagram

If you don't sell physical products, you can still use Instagram to make sales. You'll want to set up your business profile and plan out your content based on your market research and your target audience.

Instead of setting up a Shopping feature, however, you'll focus on your content and your stories to provide incentives for people to purchase your services.

Set up your Bio link to reflect your latest offer. You can also sign up for third-party services to integrate with Instagram, giving people the chance to click the link in your bio to discover more options.

You'll use your content to provide education, connection, and value to your audience. As you're planning your calendar, you'll need three types of content:

Help/Value content
Posts that answer a question, offer a suggestion, or solve a problem for your target audience.
Connection building
Behind-the-scenes posts or candid posts in keeping with your mission. These help you establish a connection with your audience.
Promotional
Posts that inform your audience of your services or directly promote something.

You'll want to keep promotional posts to a minimum in favor of the other two. The majority of your posts should be helpful, the next amount should be connection-building, and the least amount should be promotional.

Here are some content ideas you could use to build your grid and your stories:

  1. Reveal your process
  2. Give a behind-the-scenes look
  3. Answer a question
  4. Tell part of your story
  5. Highlight an existing customer
  6. Shout out complementary products
  7. Create tutorials
  8. Show a step-by-step

Pay careful attention to your business metrics to help you refine the posts you create and the hashtags you use. These metrics will tell you how each type of content performs so that you know what your customers are looking for.

Creating Excitement for Products and Services

Simple Instagram features can help you create buzz and excitement for your product or services.

Use the Countdown Sticker
A countdown sticker in your stories helps direct customers to launches, sales, restocks, and any other business milestone they should pay attention to.
Go Live
Instagram Live is your chance to answer questions directly from customers, allowing them to feel a connection to you.
Create a Special Hashtag
Special hashtags can help direct customers to your newest launch and provide vital information or a backstory. Make sure that you blend creativity with clear information that will attract your ideal customer.
Tease Products or Services Before Launch
Take pictures that hint at, but don't completely show or reveal, what your newest product or service is.
Create Instagram-only Specials
These may include a unique Instagram code for a percentage off, Instagram-only bundles, or presale access. Any of these things could create buzz for your Instagram store and provide your customers value.
Highlight Customers
Get permission from some of your happiest customers to feature their photos on your feed or in your stories. These customers gain exposure on Instagram themselves, providing mutual benefits for each of you. Share customer photos using TrustSpot’s Instagram integration.

Using Instagram to Your Advantage

Instagram is a wonderful app to help you showcase your products and sell your services. Just be sure to give plenty of thought to your content as the secret to Instagram sales is a genuine connection with your customers. Your content should provide value and consistency, giving customers a reason to keep coming back.

Take the time to research your target audience and then pay attention to your metrics. Instagram is a relationship-building app, and the majority of people are there to share pieces of their lives.Take the time to get to know your customer and plan your content. Instagram could be your secret weapon.


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Travis Dailey
Travis Dailey

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