It's hard to believe that it's been ten years since Facebook acquired this photo-sharing app. Continuing to be a leader in the social communication space, Instagram has the most frequent use of all social media platforms. With such strong positioning, what does the future of Instagram ecommerce look like in the years to come?
This Instagram ecommerce guide is for new ecommerce brands just starting with social media marketing and existing brands hoping to level up their social media game. We will cover the app, its features, and best practices when using it for ecommerce marketing. Also covered are unique, attention-grabbing strategies to grow your audience and outperform your competition.
Let's get started.
What is Instagram ecommerce in 2023?
Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, made it clear; Instagram is no longer a square photo-sharing app. To compete against TikTok and other video-based platforms, Instagram is shifting to a video-first experience. It means Instagram for ecommerce is creating video content that holds user attention longer than imagery.
Including video in your social media strategy doesn't always require someone to be behind the camera. We consider any media where you can include movement to be video content. Think of how you can add more experience to infographics, sketches, product testimonials, and promotions.
The Opportunity For Instagram Ecommerce In 2023
Smaller brands are shifting to TikTok ecommerce instead of taking advantage of Instagram marketing. While TikTok offers a unique opportunity to get ahead of the competition, we shouldn't forget about the potential of Instagram for ecommerce brands. In 2023, To maximize ecommerce sales, we need to be active on all major social media accounts.
We don't have to reinvent the wheel when creating Instagram content. It might take 15% more time to create content for Instagram if we've put time into creating content for another platform.
Follow our entirely laid-out ecommerce marketing strategy. You will understand how to create long-form content that makes social media marketing manageable. Read the complete guide for more actionable ecommerce marketing tips. (include header image)
The Challenges of Instagram ecommerce in 2023
The Instagram algorithm makes it hard for smaller ecommerce brands to gain traction. Leveraging Instagram for ecommerce is going to take more work and a well-thought-through Instagram marketing strategy.
For every social media platform, the days of posting and succeeding are long gone. Well, except for Vero.
Vero is an algorithm and ad-free platform. You can have a personal or a business account on this platform. Vero ecommerce is another potential land grab we are monitoring.
Instagram is also becoming resource intensive. As they continue to mirror TikTok's emphasis on vertical video, brands require better infrastructure, planning, and time for execution.
Before we dig into the specifics for organically promoting your ecommerce store with paid advertising, let's walk-through Instagram shopping as it exists in 2023. While brands creating a Facebook shop experienced minor success, brands with a TikTok shop found far better results. With proof of concept in hand, Instagram social commerce became a point of focus for the leaders at IG.
It's now easier than ever to create an Instagram shop. We suggest following a similar strategy as you would for TikTok shopping, including promoting lower-priced items with a shoppable post. These seem to find a tremendous amount of success with Instagram checkout.
Organic Instagram For Ecommerce Websites
SEO for ecommerce using organic social media marketing gives you data and the ability to build brand awareness by engaging with an audience. This engagement helps to solidify your brand strategy. After enough friendly activity, you can also ask for a purchase.
While sometimes it makes sense to start with an advertising campaign, smaller companies promote their Instagram profile with organic posts, stories, reels, and videos.
Don't wait for your existing customer with an existing Instagram account to find you. Take your Instagram marketing outside the platform and request to follow in your email marketing, invoices, and blog articles.
Tip: Put your Instagram post into your blog article, where readers can follow your account right from the page.
Vivid imagery with a brief description is at the core of Instagram's history. While leadership might want to pull away from this brand value proposition, over 15 years of users swiping their thumbs up will be hard to change. The Instagram feed is still a great way to get a message across.
There have been many advancements to an Instagram post, including the introduction of short swipeable videos and images that feel like an Instagram story. The difference is that you can still include a written description for those who want to digest information in this way.
The Instagram story feature changed the game for IG. While already a massive platform, in 2017, Instagram stories took them from big to most significant. This transition is why Instagram wants to be a video-first platform. Stories found success with people sharing their feels, insights, and experiences. It also captured market share from YouTube, as people preferred a shorter video format.
After creating some momentum, they then launched Instagram stories ads which were a massive success for ecommerce brands looking to promote a product. Slap an interesting customer testimonial; boom, you've got a converting ad. While it isn't easy, Instagram stories are still a proven playground for profitable ecommerce marketing.
Many users share other stories on their stories feed. Ecommerce brands can do the same thing by sharing stories that speak to the interests of their audience. It humanizes the brand and is more authentic to how people use this platform.
To counterpunch the primary feature of TikTok, Instagram released its reels feature. Like TikTok, short 15-second videos have the greatest potential for virality. Reels are crucial for brands that must earn sweat equity on this platform.
The Instagram user is not looking for product promotions when scrolling through reels. They are looking for videos that pique their interest or speak to the topics where they currently invest their time.
Example: Imagine you make and sell fuel injection cleaners. Videos of high-powered cars coming off the blocks, going 0-60 in under 3-seconds, will still give you time to promote your product.
Boost an Instagram Post
We suggest giving your post a little boost if you've got some spare dollars. Like Facebook, Instagram throttles post distribution. If you want total exposure, you'll need to put some skin in the game.
After several months of pushing through your Instagram marketing strategy, boost your best-performing post to a broader audience. This small investment is more than most ecommerce brands make, surpassing many of your competitors.
Instagram Ecommerce Tags
One of the unique aspects of the Instagram social commerce experience is the use of product tags. By creating a product tag, you increase the range and impact of your Instagram shopping page.
Using Instagram for Customer Service
Ecommerce brands with a customer service strategy are already well ahead of most competitors. On social media, customer service means being in a relationship with your customers. It's a back-and-forth conversation rather than a one-time interaction.
Leveraging Instagram for customer service is a great way to find a fast resolution to customer issues. Brands with solid customer service often see their conversations become social shares on posts and stories. A quick screenshot is all it takes for your users to display your customer service to their audience.
On social media, they reserve their customer service for the brand name. People still like to work with people, so give your social media customer service team a voice. Let them introduce themselves by their first name so that the person on the other end feels more comfortable with the conversation.
(lightbulb) Create reporting for your social media customer service that shows your impact on these platforms. Create a strategy on how your team can offer such exceptional service that customers have no choice but to be wowed by your helpfulness.
Instagram Advertising for Ecommerce Brands
Any brand hoping to reach many potential customers in a short amount of time must invest in Instagram ads. But the investment alone isn't enough for your advertising dollars to pay off. A brand advertising strategy is critical for any platform, especially Instagram.
Ecommerce companies of any size gain access to detailed reporting and insights through the Instagram Ads Manager. Let's look at the various ad types Instagram offers.
Instagram photo ads feature one or several posts. We can include these either in the feed or stories. For ecommerce companies, the ad can include a link to the product page. You can add multiple links if you go with a carousel photo ad.
Instagram's Stories ads are unique in capturing the whole screen with a vertical photo or video ad. You can reach an audience while they browse Instagram Stories.
A more recent method of advertising on Instagram is the collection ads. You can include a cover image video and three product images in this ad format. This full-screen landing page drives engagement and nurtures interest and intent.
Shopping Cart Ads
After you set up a shop on Instagram, create Instagram Shopping ads for Ads Manager. With Shopping Ads, you can send people not already following your business account to your product detail page. Instagram Shopping ads enable people to tap a product tag for more information about an item and how to purchase it.
Ads in Explore allow advertisers to extend their campaign to other audiences and be part of what's culturally relevant and trending while reaching people looking to discover something new. Leverage existing Feed assets in this new placement to reach more people in more places.
The carousel ad format enables businesses to tell their stories and connect with people using multiple photos and videos. We can use a mix of image and video assets together in one carousel ad.
An Instagram Story ad is paid content appearing as users watch Stories on Instagram. Instagram Stories are vertical, full-screen photos and videos that appear at the top of the Instagram app rather than in the news feed.
Reels ads provide an immersive, built-for-mobile opportunity to reach high-intent audiences engaging in entertainment through their interests. You can use Reels ads to help tell your brand story in unique and authentic ways.
Reporting; You either love it or hate it! But the success of your Instagram ecommerce marketing campaign depends on your ability to understand the Instagram analytics dashboard and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Thankfully, Instagram insights take a lot of the data processing away and leave you with visuals that are easy for the person who hates spreadsheets to understand.
You will find insights about user demographics, likes, followers, shares, and other engagement metrics on your analytics dashboard.
Instagram Ecommerce Strategies
Now that you are familiar with promoting your ecommerce business with Instagram, let's look at some of the critical strategies that have worked for other brands.
Influencer marketing isn't new, but it becomes more relevant each year. We consider Instagram to be the birthplace of mainstream influencers. It continues to be a home for many social media influencers. Many ecommerce brands on Instagram prefer to spend money on influencers rather than traditional ad spending.
Sometimes, you don't have to spend cash on influencers and brand ambassadors. You can create an influencer agreement where free products are the monetary compensation in many situations. This is a common theme in the fitness industry, where everybody hopes to become a brand ambassador or sponsored athlete.
A retail price of $100-$200 (cost the company a fraction of this) in monthly products gets you an ambassador with a following of 5-10 thousand people. That's a lot of reach for such a low price!
Like ambassadors and influencers, social media affiliates hope to earn money by promoting your brand. This is how many influencers get started, as they do not yet have a strong enough following to request guaranteed payment. In this situation, you can create a unique URL or discount code for affiliates to use when promoting your products.
Other than having someone represent your brand, this is a no-risk way to increase your reach on Instagram.
Share User-Generated Content
Social proof will always be a powerful mechanism for increasing conversions. Sharing user-generated content on your page helps to build your brand reputation. Like every other form of marketing, user-generated content requires a strategy and consistently measuring of your progress.
To start, squeeze more juice from your affiliates, ambassadors, and influencers. Share their posts or stories directly on your profile.
Next, put someone in charge of finding your brand and product mentions on Instagram and online. Repurpose this content in a way that appears user-generated.
After that, find simple ways to request your loyal followers to create content around your product, such as reviews and recipes.
Finally, put together a plan to create user-generated content on a large scale. Here's an example to get you started.
Creating a Contest On Instagram
Contests are one of the best ways to grow your followers on Instagram. The sports nutrition company 1st Phorm is a rock-solid example of this. Their transformation challenge creates more user-generated content than almost anything else on Instagram. The guidelines required product purchases and social media posts to participate in the challenge. A win all the way around for 1st Phorm.
Invite the Follower Into Your Brand Story
Lifestyle is the most liked and followed category on Instagram. You can bring life to your brand by telling your brand story. Discussing your business's "how and why" attracts users to your brand and encourages them to share your story.
People don't exactly schedule Instagram at a specific time in their day. Many people scroll Instagram where they shouldn't or where "sound off" is necessary. With video becoming media required on Instagram, having captions ensures users will hear your voice.
Instagram Best Practices
Before we let you go, here are a few tips to ensure your content is consistent and people clearly understand.
- Create a Calendar: Having a content calendar saves significant time while ensuring your team puts an Instagram strategy in place.
- Have a Second Set of Eyes: Content creation is a detailed process. No one person should go it alone.
- Grammatical Editing Descriptions: Whereas a relaxed tone of voice is fitting for video, your written descriptions need to be straightforward, easy to read, and without mistakes.
- Connect Instagram To Your Facebook page: Not ready to create a custom Facebook strategy? Then connect your Instagram to your Facebook page to increase a post's reach.
Digital Marketing Agency
As an ecommerce agency, Instagram is a meaningful conversation we have with every client. If you want to leverage this social platform in a scalable and profitable way, schedule a time to speak with our team. We can help your online store find its footing and integrate Instagram ecommerce into your digital marketing strategy.