There’s a ton of advice about using Instagram as an effective online marketing tool, but it can be challenging to scale your e-commerce brand on Instagram if you are a new brand without many followers yet.
New accounts often have low engagement rates, which can be disheartening, but there are ways to navigate this period strategically.
Let’s talk about why Instagram as a marketing tool matters, how it can help you grow your business, and look at effective strategies to grow your e-commerce brand—even when you have no followers.
They typically say, “like this post and tag a friend to win a free product, but that strategy might not be the most effective way to gain real followers.
Giveaways often attract people who want free stuff and are willing to like your images to get it.
Instead, ask users to upload Instagram photos about your e-commerce brand or follow your page. If you ask users to post content, be sure to share a branded hashtag to get discovered by more users.
To start, announce your contest with an Instagram post. Include the rules in the description section so people will know how to enter.
If you need help coming up with giveaway ideas, try out a tool like Woobox. The tool helps brands of all types and sizes create social media contests that drive sales, increase followers, and collect leads.
Consider offering your own products for free instead of prizes unrelated to your niche or brand, like a free iPad. Otherwise, people may only follow you for the prize rather than their interest in your brand.
Post User-Generated Content (UGC)
If you want to drive engagement, make a habit of posting user-generated content. This can be as simple as asking users to review your product in exchange for a free sample.
Here are a few ways to customize and optimize your Instagram e-commerce store for maximum visibility.
Offer promotions right in the photo or the first line of the description, so users don’t scroll past it.
Add shoppable links to your photos so customers can buy your product directly.
Keep your descriptions simple, clean, and easy to understand so new users can quickly get an idea about what your Instagram e-commerce brand stands for.
Add links to your store on other channels, including your Instagram description (or bio), website, other social media pages, and email signature.
Create a Branded Hashtag
A simple way to keep track of who is talking about your e-commerce store on Instagram is to create a branded hashtag. You can use your business name, an existing slogan, or another creative phrase.
Then, let your customers know what the tag is by adding it to your bio and encouraging followers to use it in their posts.
Later, you can search for your hashtag to find and quickly share user-generated content. You should also add these tags to your images to remind your followers about it.
For instance, when you search the tag “#topshop,” millions of photo results show popular UGC related to the brand.
User-generated images don’t just give your brand more exposure; they also give other Instagram users exposure so they can gain more followers, too. It’s a win-win situation.
Prioritize Customer Experience
Sometimes you can do all the right things and still not get satisfactory results. You used all the right hashtags, engaged with your customers, and created tons of user-generated content, but you’re still not getting many sales.
Are you making it easy for Instagram users to find your website or buy your products? Is your storefront easy to navigate? Do you have alt-text for your images? Do you offer a prompt response to questions?
These may seem like trivial things, but a good customer experience can go a long way in helping you find lifelong customers.
Do I have to pay for an Instagram e-commerce shop?
Creating an Instagram account highlighting your products is free, but you may have to spend money on advertising, shipping, taxes, transaction fees, and other tools to make a sale.
How to know if I’m eligible for an Instagram e-commerce shop?
Instagram has posted official eligibility guidelines on their help page. These include having a legal product, being located in a supporting market, and providing accurate information about your business, among other rules.
How many followers do you need to get Instagram shopping?
Unlike the 10,000-follower rule for the swipe-up feature on Instagram Stories, anybody can access Instagram e-commerce features as long as they meet the eligibility criteria.
Do you need a website to sell on Instagram?
Yes, Instagram’s e-commerce rules state that your business must own a website domain from which you intend to sell your products to qualify for an Instagram shop.