What’s Instagram to you?

If your response is something like “a platform to share selfies” or “something my kids use,” then guess what? You’re missing some exciting marketing opportunities for your business.

The truth is that more small businesses using Instagram for marketing than ever before. And the best part? It’s easier to get started than you’d think.

All you need is a mobile phone and a strategy – and we can help with the strategy part.

You may not know that Instagram has some very cool features that local businesses can use to connect with their existing customers and attract new ones. Here’s what you need to know.

Instagram Has Millions of Users Insert Millions of people

Instagram isn’t as big as Facebook – but so what? As of 2018, there were more than 77 million active Instagram users in the United States, and one billion users worldwide.

That’s a lot of potential customers.

And while you might be tempted to dismiss Instagram as being too young for your target audience, you should know that 35% of all adults in the United States have an Instagram account. Do you really want to ignore more than a third of all adults?

Of course, there are some businesses that are better suited to Instagram marketing than others. Service providers may not find the same value in Instagram as businesses that sell photographable products. But, if you have a product that people may want to buy online, then it’s worth it to give Instagram marketing a try.

Shoppable Posts

In the past, the only way to sell products on Instagram was to include a link in your bio. Understandably, online retailers weren’t thrilled with that option. It required the user to click on a profile pic to be redirected to the bio, and then click again to be redirected to a sales page. Not ideal.

Now, that’s all changed. Instagram has recently added a Shoppable Posts option that allows small business to link directly to a sales page from a post. In other words, if you take a picture of one of your products, you can post it to Instagram and include a direct link to the product on your website.

Big change, right?

Here’s what you need to know to get going with Shoppable Posts.
First, as of the time I’m writing this, Shoppable Posts are only applicable to organic posts. That means you can’t promote a Shoppable Post. To get more traffic on your posts, you’ll need to make judicious use of hashtags to make sure that potential customers can find your content.

You’ll need to take some important steps before you can take advantage of Shoppable Posts. Here they are:

  1. First, create an Instagram business profile if you haven’t already done so.
  2. Read both Instagram’s merchant agreement and their commerce policy to make sure that you understand them. You’ll need to stay in compliance at all times.
  3. Create a Facebook product catalog using one of the following:
  • Your Facebook business page
  • Your Facebook business manager account
  • Your Shopify account
  • Your BigCommerce account

If your product has country or age restrictions, you won’t be able to sell on Instagram. Of course, that might change in the future, but as of today it’s not possible.

Once you’ve taken these steps, Instagram will review your account and if you meet them, you’ll be given access to Instagram Shopping features. You can expect the review to take several days, but in some cases it can take longer if your account requires additional review.

When you’re approved, you’ll receive a notification. At that time, you’ll be able to activate product tagging in your account settings.


Tips for Using Shoppable Posts

One of my favorite things about Shoppable Posts is that you can tag multiple products on each post. Here’s how it works.

On an individual photograph, you can tag up to five products. To do it, simply click on the product you want to tag. You’ll get a search box where you’ll need to enter the name of the product you want to tag. (The menu is linked to your Facebook product catalog.)

Once you’ve tagged all of your products, your post will be updated. People who view your photograph will see a link with the name of the product. When they click on it, they’ll be taken to your sales page where they can buy the product directly from you.
Even better, you can tag up to 20 products in a carousel. If you’ve got a new line of products that you want to feature, you can tag a bunch of them in one carousel.

One of the most important things you’ll need to do when you create a Shoppable Post is to choose the right hashtags. You can add up to 30 to each post. Make sure to include:

  • Your brand name
  • The name of the product
  • The category of the product
  • Key uses of the product
  • Key benefits of the product

It may require some trial and error to get it right. Adding new hashtags may help if your post isn’t getting the amount of traffic you expect.

The final thing you need to know is that once you have posted nine Shoppable Posts, you’ll get a shopping icon that will show up on your bio. Your products will also be added to the Instagram Store, where users who are interested in shopping can view your products along with others that are available on Instagram.

As you can see, Shoppable Posts are easy to create once you go through the initial sign-up process. They’re a simple way to attract new customers.