Many retailers are underestimating Instagram when it comes to generating sales on their website.

The preconceptions can be understandable. Mostly you are just posting pictures, and there is no direct link to purchase, other than one in the bio.

Despite these assumptions, Instagram boasts over 400 million users, which is considerably more than Twitter. Additionally, it is growing at a rate of 93% month-on-month, more than any other social media platform.

Social media is an essential component for any company looking to strengthen their brand and Instagram should be at the forefront of that. As the old idiom goes ‘a picture paints a thousand words’.

So how can you best utilize Instagram for your brand and generate sales? Let’s get stuck in with the 5 essential tactics you need to employ.

1. Don’t be too salesy

That header was made to shock. You may be thinking, how can I sell to people without being salesy?

Fair point, but Instagram isn’t that sort of platform. If you are going to promote your product, you have to be serendipitous.

So essentially, don’t just post a white background and a picture of your product. Use it in a real life situation and hint at how it could improve somebody’s life.

sales with instagram

Fitness brands are fantastic at this. However subtle you think this is from My Protein (it’s not very), it does create a desire in the person viewing. One thing it’s not doing is saying ‘BUY OUR T-SHIRT NOW!!!’, which wouldn’t have the same impact.

84% of shoppers will refer to at least one of your social media channels before purchasing. As Instagram usage becomes more popular, it could well be this channel, so make sure you have great lifestyle/desirable content there.

Not only is it advisable to not be too ‘salesy’, but in fact, you should be looking to give away goods on Instagram.

41% of Instagrammers follow a brand purely for perks and giveaways.

In that same study from Iconosquare, they also found that 70% of all Instagram users had entered a competition at some point.

When it comes to competitions, the more simple, the better. Take this example below from Protein World, just a regram, and a hashtag would enter you into the competition.

sales with instagram

This will have a snowball effect that will expose your brand to so many more people, which in turn will increase traffic to your site and in the long term, increase sales.

2. Ways to increase your reach

Leading on from that point, it’s common sense that the more targeted people you reach, the better chance you have of increasing your sales.

sales with instagram

“Tag a friend” posts are brilliant for increasing your reach, and a great advocate of this is Bikini Luxe. This post is also very subtle as well; the pig has no relation to bikini’s of course, but the background will have people longing for the summer. Also, people love looking at animals on Instagram! Our most popular post is our office dog, Dougie.

A fantastic tool for increasing your reach is Crowdfire. Essentially it allows you to copy followers from relevant accounts or competitors.

sales with instagram

Let’s say you sold Dog Beds; you may want to copy followers from the Dogs Trust account. In turn, these people will follow you, and if they don’t, you can just unfollow them.

For Instagram to categorize your photo, you also need to include hashtags. A good way of identifying related hashtags is Hashtagify.

sales with instagram

This will show a stem like the image above of hashtags that you could include. It’s worth keeping a copy of these hashtags for future use. A tool like Skippr can help you save hashtags groups. Additionally with this tool, you can also schedule posts, view analytics and re-post instantly, very handy.

It is worth asking yourself as well, would your potential customers use these hashtags? If so, you can use a tool like Archie to like automatically pictures that contain a certain hashtag. It’s a fantastic tool that is used by companies like Uber and even the United Nations.

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3. Influencer marketing

The running theme throughout this post has been that people don’t want to sell at. So what better way than to have somebody do it for you?

Loads of companies like Bootea, Uwheels, Fit Tea and Lyfe Tea have used celebrity endorsements in order to promote their brand (Tea is definitely in this year).

sales with instagram

Of course, you may say, I don’t have the budget to afford an endorsement from a celebrity. However, you don’t need a big budget to find influential people within your niche.

Using a tool like Webstagram can help you find influential brands or people within your niche to promote your product for you.

sales with instagram

From this, you can then search the relevant accounts bios, which hopefully might contain an email address. If not, you can find contact details on their site or direct message them.

Simply send them a message asking if they would kindly promote your product. They might well ask for a fee, but if it is relevant, they may do it for free.

Ensure they include your Instagram handle in the image and also include a link within your own bio for people to click through to.

4. Showcase your customers

In the study from Iconosquare that we touched on earlier, 62% of people said that followed a particular brand of Instagram because they loved the content they shared.

A way to make sure your followers fall in love with you is to showcase them on their feed using their product. 65% of users said they would feel honored if a brand likes their post, so imagine their feeling if you featured them.

sales with instagram
Bikini Luxe displays this in their bio. Perhaps you could also post a picture with some text saying ‘@ us in your picture and we will feature you on our feed’.

Black Milk Clothing go a step further again and assign a certain hashtag to each product. When this hashtag is used, it is pulled from Instagram and added to the relevant product page. If you are technically minded, you can use Instafeed, if not ask your developer.

sales with instagram

One final point is always to reply to comments on your photos, interact with your followers and they will appreciate it.

5. Tools for selling

It should be obvious at this point, but including a link in your bio to your website is a must.

On top of that, there are additional tools that can improve the click through rate for your followers and also increase sales.

Like2Buy allows you to turn your Instagram photos into shoppable images. When they click the link in your bio, they are taken through to a page containing all your products mobile friendly pages. From there they can purchase the items.

Target currently use this, so once you click the link, you are shown the shoppable products below.

sales with instagram

If people sign in to Like2Buy using Instagram, it will also create a ‘My Likes’ tab, so users can see which products are available to buy from the ones they’ve liked.

There are some great social sharing apps on the market now and another I’ll touch upon is Soldsie. This allows your customers to purchase a product without leaving the app.

They simply comment ‘sold’ on the image, and they will be sent a mobile friendly invoice which they can pay for by mobile or credit card.

sales with instagram

So there we have it, Instagram is a fantastic platform for increasing sales through lifestyle photos, relevant hashtags, influencer marketing, user generated content and some great emerging selling tools.

Know of any other great tips for selling on Instagram? Leave them in the comments below.