Instagram has the power to be a big sales driver for brands both large and small, and its increasingly flexible advertising features are pushing that capacity higher and higher. The social media giant has made its advertising platform more powerful and more accessible than ever before, and advertisers are now reaping the benefits.
What are the new features that have the e-commerce world chattering? Instagram has made an important expansion by allowing users to shop directly through posts, greatly simplifying the path to purchase and making the platform even more attractive for retailers.
What’s the big deal about shoppable Instagram posts?
It should go without saying that the upside of Instagram advertising is huge. It’s a well-documented sales-funnel filler and a key piece of the 21st-century branding toolbox. However, there have been some important limitations to its power that just recently began to change.
For many brands that advertise on Instagram, the phrase “Link in Bio” has been a years-long source of frustration. It’s a reminder of how surprisingly unoptimized for shopping Instagram has been. The platform’s formatting rules have never allowed clickable links in a post so that the best most advertisers could do was directing shoppers to a link in their profile itself. Even with big brands inking million-dollar deals with Instagram influencers to create advertising content with more organic reach, it still didn’t solve the basic lack of clickable links.
To many advertisers’ disappointment, that hasn’t changed. However, Instagram rolled out a brand new feature last year: the option to integrate your Instagram ads with your Facebook shop to create shoppable Instagram posts. Not only that, but the same process can get you a “Shop” button on your Instagram page as well.
These features can give you a fast and easy channel to sell to your customers through Instagram.
How does a shoppable post work?
Think of a fashion magazine photo spread. You find a look that’s interesting and check the sidebar to find out what the model is wearing and where you can buy it. Shoppable Instagram posts operate on essentially the same concept.
Let’s say you’re a sporting goods retailer. You own a great image of a skier decked out in gear from your winter catalog. Instagram allows you to add pop-up shopping links to the image allowing a social media user to purchase their skis, boots, goggles or any other item in their outfit.
Any of these links, when clicked, lead back to your website. If the user wants to browse, they can do that, too, via the Shop button located on the brand’s page. It’s an exciting new way to drive conversions, lead generation and brand awareness.
Are shoppable posts right for your business?
So, are these powerful new Instagram ads right for your business? Of course, most businesses benefit from a robust social media presence, but there are no one-size-fits-all strategies. Think about the following questions when you’re making your decision:
- Does your brand already have a significant Instagram presence?
- Do you have products that can be easily incorporated into a shoppable post?
- Do you have high-quality image content that you can tag with products?
- What are your current advertising goals? Brand awareness? Lead generation? Conversions?
If you’re confident that shoppable posts are right for your brand, it’s easy to get started. To get shoppable posts, your brand needs both a Facebook Shop and an Instagram Business account. You’ll need to link the two (if they’re not already) and ask Instagram for its approval to start selling. For more details, Instagram has a complete guide to the setup process available online.
What kind of content should you use?
Crafting a quality Instagram post is just as important of a skill as it’s ever been. The platform still prioritizes high-engagement content — content that people want to share, like, click on or otherwise interact with. Trying to figure out exactly what the algorithm wants will ultimately be less successful than focusing on content that people enjoy and find useful.
You shouldn’t need to reinvent your Instagram content strategy to create good shoppable posts. Every brand will, of course, have its own path, but here are a few types of posts that lend themselves well to adding shopping links:
- Posts highlighting seasonal items
- Celebrity or influencer endorsements
- Ideas for fun, interesting or unusual uses of your products
- Aesthetically pleasing photography
- Gift guides for holidays
- Beginner’s guides for getting into a new hobby or sport
Optimizing your Instagram opportunities
Your Instagram ads, of course, should be just one aspect of an integrated e-commerce strategy. As useful and powerful as these features are, they work best when considered holistically as a stage of the customer journey.
Shoppable posts give you a remarkably smooth and simple path to purchase, so it’s important to finish strong by providing a transaction process on your website that’s as close to frictionless as possible. Instagram launched native payment features for some businesses last year, but they’re not yet widely available.
One more feature to make sure you’re using is Instagram’s built-in insights analytics tools. They include useful features like sorting all of your posts from the least-interacted to the most. You might even spring for more advanced third-party tools, but at the very least, you should be using what the platform comes with out of the box.
The hour of the Instagram advertiser-seller is finally here in earnest, and it’s one of the most exciting times in recent memory for social media strategies. Shoppable Instagram posts are easy to use and open up plenty of new options. So, if you think they’re right for your brand – go play!
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