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Instagram Shopping for Small Business Owners

Just when you thought Instagram had completely run out of any new features they could possibly add to their platform, the Facebook owned social-media company decides to wheel out a fancy new shopping feature. Since this new feature was quite clearly an attempt by Instagram to bring in more ad revenue and compete with internet retail giants such as Amazon, reactions from the average Instagram user to the shopping feature were unsurprisingly mixed at best. With that being said, as long as Instagram continues to be a relevant social-media destination, I believe it is in the best interest of small business owners to understand how to use this new feature to their advantage. If Instagram happens to be one of your primary platforms for promoting your company’s products, then using Instagram’s shopping feature is a no-brainer for you and your business.

What Instagram Shopping is (and isn’t):

Let’s make one thing clear here: Instagram’s shopping feature is not a substitute for your business’s digital storefront. Unfortunately, you still have to ensure that your business’s website/store looks nice and sparkly. That’s because when you sell your products through Instagram, your customers will be linked to the product on your business’s webpage. Regardless, Instagram’s shopping feature will ultimately make accessing your company’s products directly from Instagram much easier and far more intuitive for customers than it was previously.

Key Features:

The shopping feature allows businesses on Instagram to sell their products in a variety of ways— one is through feed shopping posts, with which your business can tag multiple products within a feed post and link to those products on your company’s store. Using shopping tags in this manner is super useful for when your brand has crafted some beautiful feed content, and wants to ensure that users can easily purchase the products featured in your campaign. Once you set up an Instagram shop, you will now have a “View Shop” button on your profile— This will directly link customers to all the products you currently have listed for sale on your business’s Instagram shop.

Some good news for cost-conscious small business owners: Starting an Instagram shop is free of charge. This is one of the main reasons why I believe making the time commitment to connect your pre-existing site and products to Instagram shopping is well worth it. Since the service itself is free, the cost/benefit ratio here is definitely stacked in the business owner’s favor.

Three Small Tips for Small Businesses:

As with most of my blog posts here, I always like to include at least a couple practical tips which will help bolster your sales. Since Instagram’s shopping feature might be fairly new to many of you, here are a few things to consider:

1. Take Better Product Photos (use a Light Box)

As a photographer and digital marketer, I will always stress the importance of taking high quality photographs when selling or marketing via Instagram. Despite all the changes and new features which Instagram seems to roll out monthly, this is still very much a photo-driven platform. For selling smaller sized products, I highly recommend investing in a light box. These product photography devices will give you complete control over product lighting and help to maintain a uniform aesthetic across your product photographs.

2. Use Shoppable Posts and Stories:

There are three features which Instagram shopping users can utilize. These include story shopping, post shopping, and your company’s actual, separate Instagram shop page. Going forward, I’ll be making some posts about how companies can use each of these features individually to maximize profit. For now, just know that it is in your business’s best interest to try and use all of these features. It isn’t necessary to make every single post or story shoppable— that may turn some of your followers off or feel forced. Why not try to throw some product tags in once a week? Or whenever you release a brand new product or ad campaign? Interweave shopping content with your everyday content gracefully, and the payoff will be huge.

3. Use Hashtags:

Using Hashtags on shopping posts is a fantastic way to get your product featured on Instagram’s explore page. Instagram users love to randomly scroll and click on various images in the explore tab, and if your imagery is compelling enough, this just might lead to a few extra sales. Since Instagram’s algorithm has become increasingly good at determining an individual's interests and buying patterns, make sure to use specific hashtags as opposed to vague ones. This guarantees that your business will be connected with its customer niche via the explore page.

In conclusion

Instagram’s shopping feature is yet another important addition to the ever-increasing world of digital commerce. This feature is a boon for small business owners, making it easier than ever to connect social media content to actual sales. Take advantage of all the features and tips I’ve listed here, and I’m sure your products will be selling out in no time.

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