By TinyURL Marketing
Last updated on April 11, 2023
Selling on Instagram is a rising trend in e-commerce. This article covers tips and tricks for taking even more control over your social media activity to boost your sales in the long run — spoiler alert: link shortening comes in handy!
Now is a great time to get started with selling on Instagram. The image-centric social media network is a gold mine for digital marketers. The highly visual nature of the platform is great for telling stories, showing off branding, and hyping your products and services.
Statistics support the platform’s potential, as Meta reported 2 billion monthly active users on the platform in its 3rd quarter earnings report in 2022. Beyond this, 70% of heavy shoppers turn to the app for product discovery, giving marketers very convenient access to potential customers.
This fact isn’t lost on Meta, as the social media giant has invested heavily in giving entrepreneurs and businesses the ability to sell directly on Instagram.
It pays to know what you’re doing when you choose to sell on Instagram, whether directly on the platform or as a signal booster to your ecommerce storefronts elsewhere.
This article will cover some of the basics of how to sell on Instagram, as well as offer a range of tips and tricks to get you started and give you an edge over competitors who are already there.
We’ll run you through some of the important steps of how to get started selling on Instagram, covering basics like switching to an Instagram Business profile and setting up an Instagram shop.
An Instagram Business profile gives you a host of extra features beyond what’s available on a personal Instagram account.
Business accounts can create and manage a storefront on Instagram and access more features such as ads, sponsored posts, scheduled posts, and view Instagram’s insights tools for quick analytics of your social media performance on the service.
Switching from a personal to a Business profile is free and simple. Simply access the hamburger menu button on the top right of your profile on the app, go to Settings > Account > Switch to Professional Account, and then the app will run you through the steps you’ll need to set up your business profile.
Setting up an Instagram shop gives you a ton of useful marketing features, most importantly a shareable, taggable storefront that Instagram users can shop from linked right from your profile. Users can discover more about you and your products, and view product detail pages with key information as well as tagged photos of your product or profile from across Instagram.
To set up an Instagram shop, you’ll need your own domain and website where your products are on sale and an Instagram Business profile. You’ll also need to check that you’re in a supported market and otherwise meet all of the other Instagram Commerce Eligibility Requirements.
If everything checks out, then you can begin setting up your shop and importing your catalog through the Commerce Manager tool, or import your data from any of a number of other platforms you might use that have Instagram integration, like Shopify.
You will need to submit your store to Instagram for review, which can take a few business days, but assuming nothing is egregiously out of whack, you should be good to go!
The biggest advantage of having an in-app store in Instagram is setting up shoppable posts: Instagram posts, Reels, and Stories that include product tags. These tags show off price, product info, and give users a chance to add to cart or go to your website to buy. It’s almost a call to action embedded right into the image itself.
You should also take advantage of Instagram’s Checkout feature if you’re in a supported market so that consumers can shop seamlessly within the Instagram app without having to go to your external store website.
That said, it’s still good practice to have a stirring call to action in the captions of each image or story, though Instagram makes a traditional CTA difficult because captions don’t support hyperlinks, such as a link to your external store.
Still, there are workarounds, such as using an easily memorable shortened link that a customer can easily copy or remember and tap in on their browser.
If every image you post is about shilling your brand and products, you’ll quickly lose credibility and authenticity, which can be the death knell for a brand’s social media presence. You need to break up your promotions and product showcases with creative and engaging content tied to your greater niche, industry, or the lifestyle vibe your brand projects.
A good rule of thumb is the 80/20 rule: 20% of your posts should be selling your product, and 80% “regular” posts. Don’t just post for the sake of posting though—build value. Post content that is engaging, creative, and that you think your followers and potential customers will want to share.
Take advantage of the “social” in social media to build word of mouth, buzz and credibility with your other posts, whether by asking thought-provoking questions, talking about your industry or niche, or giving a behind the scenes look at your business or products.
Figuring out your ideal customer and target market is critical for any form of marketing, and is doubly so given the trend and algorithm-based focus of social media networks like Instagram.
Knowing what your customers want and need helps you design Instagram content that the algorithm will judge is relevant for your target market, helping put your photos, stories and posts onto their feed.
Work backwards by mapping out your ideal customers. What need or inconvenience do your products and services solve for them? What traits make people the perfect candidates and customers for your solutions?
While this is basic marketing groundwork, it bears repeating given the algorithm-driven nature of social media. Having a good sense of your ideal follower and customer is a prerequisite to making content that will have people following your profile, and eventually, buying your stuff.
Audit your followers list. Do they fit the profile of your ideal customers? If so, then you’re already on the right track, and all you need to do is to keep the relevant content flowing.
If they don’t, that’s not the end of the world: while high engagement and follower numbers add to your social proof, starting from a low base just means you have to put in a little more work to reach more of your target market.
Take what you know about your customers and your other marketing streams to identify what kinds of content they enjoy online, what influencers they follow, and other habits that make it possible to build content around their interests.
As a bonus step, you should look at how your competitors navigate the platform: see what content works for them, and piece together how they drive users to comment and engage. Then, take their strategies and improve on them.
Once all the recon is out of the way, it’s time for the real work. Build content, run ads, and deploy hashtags that resonate with what you know about your ideal customers. Draw them in with marketing material designed to make followers out of them (i.e. don’t sell too hard on social).
As with all forms of marketing, analytics is critical when selling on Instagram as it clues you into what works for your business, and what doesn’t. Paying close attention to the analytics of your Instagram marketing, as with all promotions, leads to smarter, more cost-effective and successful marketing campaigns.
Let’s take a look at a few of the key metrics that will be important to get a feel for how well your Instagram marketing is doing.
At the basic level, accounts reached is how many people have seen your ads and posts. The “social” part of social media can make this particularly powerful, as getting your followers talking about and sharing your posts and products can get your content onto the feed of other users you might not necessarily reach with regular promotional methods.
A step up from accounts reached is accounts engaged, or how many people have actually engaged with your content, whether by interacting with and commenting on your posts, or sharing it out to their wider networks.
While accounts reached is a useful indicator, accounts engaged is more important because it tells you just how engaging and viral your content is and how many people have found it interesting enough to interact with or share, an indicator of the number of people you might be able to push to the next level from engagement to conversion, or loyal customers willing to evangelize your brand.
Finally of course there’s conversion: how many people have seen your posts and then used that as a stepping stone to get into one of your sales funnels to buy your products or sign up for services. As usual, it’s the holy grail of marketing and crucial to your analytics.
Conversion or click-through rates are particularly challenging to track on Instagram, because you don’t get this data directly. Outside of shoppable posts, it’s hard to tell, at a glance, which forms of content send users to your storefront, your order forms, or other important web pages so that you can judge conversion rates. Still, it’s critical for perfecting your approach to content in your Instagram marketing posts.
Instagram provides a built-in Insights feature (available only within the mobile app) that gives you a bird’s eye view of the performance of your posts, but it’s not ideal. It’s great for quick insights on-the-go, but not optimized for businesses and marketers who want to track how well each of their Instagram posts leads to sales.
If you’re trying to amplify your products and services on Instagram but selling elsewhere (such as through Amazon, Etsy, or your own website), then it can be challenging by design to figure out which posts drive performance to your other storefronts (as Instagram would rather you stay in the Meta ecosystem).
As an example, Instagram doesn’t support hyperlinks in image captions, which can make it more difficult to bridge the gap between promotional images on your Instagram feed and your main storefront on other platforms such as Amazon or Etsy.
One quick tip to solve this is to use TinyURL. You can create Instagram-friendly links (and fully brand them if you subscribe to our Pro plan) unique to each of your posts, linking out to your external storefront.
This gives interested consumers an easy link to tap in, while also giving you important analytics data from the shortened links, effectively giving you a way to calculate conversion rates.
It’s a clever workaround to get post-level conversion data you wouldn’t be able to see without resorting to absurdly long UTM tags (which won’t do since Instagram doesn’t support hyperlinks in captions).
There are a few unwritten rules for succeeding on Instagram. This section will cover some important principles to keep in mind as you plan out how to sell on Instagram.
Your options for curating a feed are limitless. Decide on a design direction early, and coordinate it with the rest of your branding right off the bat to quickly establish your visual style and presence.
Consistency is the key here, as the last thing you want to do is make a mess out of your feed or leave viewers wondering if they accidentally followed some unfamiliar brand or a fake business.
Templates are major time-savers, especially considering you need to keep up with a weekly quota of 3-7 posts a week in order to maintain a regular and relevant Instagram presence. Quality and consistency are key, and templates can be a lifesaver.
Build text and visual templates for the major types of content you plan to post, such as product features, discounts and event announcements, and stick to them! This keeps your branding and design consistent, while also reducing the regular workload you need to do.
Templates also help specific posts stand out: users who want to scroll through your feed for discount announcements would have an easier time spotting posts that share your template, and unusual or important announcements can also be made to stand out by carefully stepping out of the mold of the templates you create.
Instagram presents a few challenges to traditional online calls to action, given that the platform doesn’t support clickable links in captions for your posts, the usual online CTA.
You can get around Instagram’s limitation by adding links into your captions that are short and very memorable—so branding them with a URL shortener is essential.
A short, snappy link is easier for a viewer to remember and type out on a browser when you invite them to learn more about your products or visit your main business website. As a plus, branded links on TinyURL also give you a chance to track your click through conversion rates from Instagram posts, giving you an analytics edge.
You could opt for the link-in-bio route, but why not give them a CTA that sticks while they’re already reading?
If you’re posting once or twice daily to keep up with competitors and maximize your visibility, you’ll need to track your content carefully. Be mindful of ideal posting times for your target geographic markets, and pay attention to the performance of your previous posts to see what sticks, and what doesn’t.
Use a content calendar! Whether you’re a one-person act or coordinating with a team of designers, writers, and social media managers, scheduling is important, and helps make sure that plans are set, wrinkles are ironed out, and everything’s ready for ideal posting times.
Finally, keep track of your analytics with every tool at your disposal, from Instagram Insights for post performance, to TinyURL traffic for your conversions rates to your external storefronts. With the right tools and data, you can see how well your marketing campaigns are doing so you can figure out what’s working, and what might need changing.
Marketing on Instagram may seem like a daunting challenge, but savvy marketers can reap rich rewards on the image-centric social media platform. Your path to success starts with the right plan, a killer storefront design, and smart approaches to content that sell without selling too hard. It’s a lot of work, but the tips and principles we’ve shared above should help you get through any challenges.
TinyURL’s link shortening tools can be a valuable addition to the digital arsenal of Instagram marketers, with tools to create customized and branded links that are easy to remember and share, and which can provide you with valuable marketing analytics that can be hard to access with Instagram insights.
Branded domains for link shortening can go a long way towards reinforcing brand recall and keeping your business top-of-mind among customers.
In this article, we cover how you can best use branded domains with a custom domain link shortener.Read more
URLs can get long, complex, and distracting, but they’re an essential part of promoting your podcast. This is where URL shorteners come in – they make it much easier to direct people to your show’s site, social profiles, and other digital properties.Read more
What are URL shorteners? What are URL shorteners used for? Why would someone want to pay for a URL shortener when there are plenty of free options?
We dive deep into the history, uses, and value of URL shorteners in this comprehensive guide.Read more