How to Sell on Instagram

Julie Stewart • September 19, 2019


If you’re an e-commerce merchant looking for a top marketing channel for your products, you’ll want to learn how to sell on Instagram. Today, more than 90 million accounts use the Instagram Shopping feature to market their products. It’s a growing bandwagon, and more are jumping in every day. Here’s what you need to know, in a nutshell.




Shopping and Checkout: Le Plus Ultra of selling on Instagram

Instagram Shopping is a leap beyond mere advertising — it is turning Instagram into an online marketplace for buyers. As we’ve described before, Instagram’s Shopping feature enables a user to click on a tagged product within a post (not just an ad). They’re then redirected to a product description page containing the Buy Box.

For some select brands, items can be added to a universal cart mixed with items they’ve selected from other stores. This option happens through Instagram’s new Checkout feature, where Instagram stores the payer’s information for all future purchases and handles the merchant transaction for a small processing fee. This feature has not yet been rolled out broadly to all stores, and is still in the testing phase.

How to Sell on Instagram with Target example

Photo courtesy of Target corporate.

[UPDATE: In May 2020, Target stores rolled out this feature for its Instagram feeds, so that followers can click on tagged products and buy instantly. Look for a broad rollout by other brands to follow.]

For business accounts, a Shop tab can also be added, which will contain all products tagged on Shopping.




Now for the tips on how to sell on Instagram


1. Optimize your Instagram business profile.

Your Instagram business profile should include a profile photo such as a logo or one of your better known products, a Bio that precisely describes what your company offers, and a link to your shop with a unique URL so you can track visitors.



2. Use Instagram Ads for reaching your target audience.

Ads have worked very well on Instagram. According to HootSuite, 75% of Instagram users take action on an ad while browsing their feed.

As with Facebook, you can promote posts on Instagram by hitting the “Promote” button. Always, always include a message that clearly explains how to make a purchase.

Instagram will draw from a “similar audience” when sharing the post, but you can also set your own demographic targets.


3. If you have a Facebook store, you can synchronize your product catalog on Instagram.

The instructions for this are pretty simple:

  • Click on “options” in your company profile and select “products”.
  • Authenticate your Instagram commercial account via his Facebook account.
  • Choose a product catalog to sync with Instagram, for Instagram Shopping.
  • When making your post, options will then mark both people and products.
  • Select “tag products” and indicate the product name.
  • Move the tag to the right place in the photo.
  • Instagram will pull all the information from Facebook’s product catalog, including a link to the company’s website from the photo. Up to 5 product labels can be added per photo. If you use a carousel, you can tag up to 20 products.


4. Learn to sell on Instagram using Instagram Story ads.

In March 2017, Instagram released advertising in Stories, offering brands yet another paid opportunity to expand their Social reach. These immersive, full-screen ads let your business use targeting with ads personally relevant to your target markets.

You’ll notice a small “Sponsored” tag in the top corner and a call to action (“Learn More”) at the bottom of these ads. This additional call to action down there gives another chance for them to click.

Use either video or photos, but make sure it will grab the attention of someone swiping through quickly.


5. Use the right hashtags.

If you really want your brand to gain traction on Instagram and reach entirely new audiences, then you have to master hashtagging. One rule: don’t use too many hashtags in your posts. That can make your posts look spammy. Select them carefully: it’s much better to focus on a couple of targeted, highly trafficked hashtags.

One simple trick to finding great hashtags is to see which ones are being used by influencers in your niche. Keep in mind that many of these hashtags may have millions of posts, and hence too much competition for yours to be noticed. Find a happy medium, and aim for terms with specific relevance to your product.


6. Offer Instagram-Only promotions.

Instagram is the perfect place to promote a sale, new product launch, or discount code exclusively to potential customers who are already engaged as followers.

You can either add your promo information in a caption or in Instagram Stories. Use captions to tell users to get the offer by clicking the link in your bio. If you’re running an Instagram-only promotion, you also can create a teaser on your other social networks to drive traffic to your Instagram business profile.

Further, Instagram-only promotions (such as a special discount code for your followers) can be teased out on other social networks and help you acquire more Instagram followers, as well.


7. Consider finding some Influencers to promote your brand.

Consider finding a micro-influencer. Micro-influencers will often agree to an “in-kind” arrangement, trading product for promotion. This is a good solution for small businesses with limited marketing budgets.

How to find Influencers for your industry: Sites like Ninja Outreach and Whalar help you find professional influencers for Instagram. is a directory and portfolio site for influencers to showcase their work.

Learning how to sell on Instagram is similar to learning how to sell on Facebook or YouTube – the basic concepts are the same across the social media spectrum. Given the explosive popularity of these channels for selling products, it’s a lesson well worth exploring.

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Julie Stewart

My mission at Shoppingfeed is explaining how to leverage e-commerce platforms and SaaS technology to e-merchants who just want to run their business and make more money.

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