Blog

09/30/13

How to Sell on Instagram

Instagram’s focus on images makes it an appealing marketplace for today’s young, tech-savvy consumers. You’re probably already using Instagram to promote your products in your store, on your website, or in a marketplace like Etsy or eBay.. But now, with Soldsie, you can begin utilizing Instagram to not just promote your business, but also sell your products directly to your customers!

In this blog post, we will introduce you to our two products for commerce on Instagram, show you examples of how businesses are using Instagram to sell their products, and share tips we’ve learned working with the savviest social commerce companies today.

Products to Sell on Instagram
You can create an shoppable Instagram store with Have2Have.It, or you can sell via shoppable posts with our comment selling product.

Have2Have.It allows you to use the profile link on Instagram to drive traffic to your products on your website or other websites.You can take a photo on Instagram with multiple products in it, and then use Have2Have.It to direct customers to the multiple products you have. The iconic music label Capitol Records uses Have2Have.It to drive traffic to iTunes songs. Retail companies both big and small like Frye and ArtHide use Have2Have.It to drive traffic to products on their website. What’s great is that it’s free to get started with Have2Have.It.

Comment selling on Instagram presents new areas of opportunity for customer engagement, and avoids the reach problems often seen with Facebook. Enterprise companies like Birchbox use comment selling to interact with customers, increase engagement, and boost sales using Soldsie. Small businesses like Smocked Auctions and Poppy&Dot have built their entire businesses around comment selling. You can get started with comment selling here.

Tips for Selling on Instagram
Keep these tips in mind as you begin building your Instagram brand:

  • Use hashtags. Develop a set of hashtags for your store so customers can narrow a search for items they may want. RuralReclaim, a vintage clothing shop with 1,000 followers, uses the tags “RRsize4,” “RRsize6,” etc. to separate differently sized clothes. Run sales by using hashtags like “RRsale” to show which items are discounted.
    ruralreclaim instagram sale
  • Use keywords in your account name. Instagram’s search function isn’t extensive, and finding listings or shops can be tricky for customers trying to discover new places to buy. You want your shop’s name to be obvious—not one that could be mistaken for a personal account. Use keywords like “shop” or “closet” to make your business stand out from personal accounts. Because there’s currently no great way to search for only shops, buyers often find new ones through the shops they already follow. Start following (and interacting with) other shops that sell in your category to make your presence more known. Instagram selling is pretty straightforward.
  • Don’t use photo filters. You want your customers to be able to see the items you’ve listed clearly and know what colors they are. Don’t risk a return because of a pretty—but misleading—vintage-inspired filter. If you do use a filter, make sure to tell your followers in the caption.
  • Be available to interact. Instagram doesn’t offer the opportunity to receive customer reviews and feedback as you would on Etsy or Facebook. Try posting a “feedback” photo and invite your customers to leave their thoughts and suggestions, and post behind-the-scenes photos between sales posts so your followers can see the people behind the brand.
  • Remove Clutter. Delete images soon after they’ve sold so customers can go to your profile and see what’s still available.
  • Keep it clean. Instagram doesn’t filter your posts the way Facebook does, which means every one of your followers will see every one of your posts. That’s great news!—but make sure you don’t overwhelm them. Keep your sales to a maximum of 10-15 posts, and be picky about which items you choose to feature.
  • Utilize video. Does your current sale include flashy jewels? A beautiful, flouncy skirt? Show it off! Use Instagram’s new video capabilities to show the best assets of your most impressive pieces.

Different Methods

Most Instagram merchants follow the same general method of comment selling: shops post a picture of an item with a short description and the price (which usually includes shipping), then email a PayPal invoice to the first commenter who leaves their PayPal-linked email address. But how you manage and schedule your sales is up to you! We’ve seen these four ideas work well:

  • Flash sales. This is one strategy to use for Instagram Selling. Thrift Archaeology holds flash sales for its 4,400 followers with 10-20 products at completely random times, often with no advance warning given. The average Instagram user checks their feed for updates at least once an hour, and flash sales take advantage of those habits. Flash sales build anticipation, but you risk losing potential followers if you don’t post often enough. If you’re going with random, make sure it’s regular enough to keep your fans engaged and your account looking active.
  • Advance notice. This is an important tip for how to sell on Instagram. If you don’t want to stick to routinely scheduled sales, but want to make sure your followers know when to start refreshing, try putting the info about your next sale in your description. MamaMarchandVintage updates its description with the date and time of its next sale so their 1,400 fans can make sure they’re ready to pounce.
  • Stick to a schedule. If you like giving your fans a little routine, use Smocked Auctions as a guide. They offer their 8,700 followers a few daily deals every weekday at a set time, so fans know exactly where to be when they want to close a deal.
  • Launch Day. Got a new dress in stock and don’t want to wait for a big sale to show it off? Stores like Modcloth currently feature new products on Instagram and put a bit.ly link to their websites in the caption for actual purchasing. With Soldsie, your customers won’t have to leave Instagram to buy! Selling out every time is just a few comments away.

We’re already seeing evidence of great engagement through Instagram and while a picture is worth a thousand words, an Instagram photo could be a sale. Stay tuned for more tips from Soldsie on how to monetize your social networks including more tips on how to sell on Instagram.