How to use Instagram Shoppable posts to increase sales

6th May 2021


Instagram is the fastest growing social channel in terms of driving e-commerce sales. So if you are selling a physical product digitally, then you need to be on it!

Even putting in some effort, let alone doing it really well, is driving massive jumps in both traffic and revenue for the brands that have embraced it.

A few statistics to inspire you:

  • 60% of Instagram users say they discover new products on Instagram
  • Over 200 million users say they visit at least one brand profile daily
  • 80% of Instagram users follow one or more brands on the platform
  • 75% of Instagram users take action such as visit a brand website or by a product, after viewing a post that interests them

OK, lets assume you are now inspired and motivated. So here are the steps you need to maximise your impact and outcomes.

Concept 1: Make clear plans about what and how you are going to sell on Instagram

Instagram started as a picture sharing app, with a whole bunch of cool image editing and sharing features, that users just resonated with. So high quality or quirky visual messages is key to it’s DNA of what makes it work and why it has grown so quickly and so consistently. It also makes it perfect for visual social commerce, so make sure your plan is to work with that power.

It works best for products and your job as a marketer is to make your product stand out. That usually suggests quality images, executed well. In a contemporary context, that does not have to mean expensive photography shoots. Just some applied creativity and an absolute must – consistency in presentation. If you don’t have a brand style guide or an image style guide, and you don’t feel that creative, then get some advice. With a proper plan you can build a consistent brand message and make sure your products get noticed in your customer’s feed.

Never forget, you are telling a brand story that customers want to buy into, so make it compelling and make it fun and interesting visually. On this medium, more than most, you need to have a strong visual brand story. There’s no doubt that using Instagram to directly tag your items is an incredibly powerful feature, but there’s more to it than that. Instagram is also a prime branding tool, so be sure to post a variety of images that reflect your brand’s message, its values, and what you want customers to recall you by.

Expert marketer tip: You can take this to the next level by theming images and posts as part of a campaign. What that means is adapting your image style guide to do a campaign series where the images are all based on a consistent theme. We have made reference to this in an Instagram Best Practice guide we recently published with an example of how Fashion Retailer Desigual does it and they achieved a 1,600%+ increase in conversion.

Desigual uses themed posts to create a campaign objective on Instagram

It is important to note that as a vertical, fashion has definitely taken off on Instagram commerce, and we are using references to Fashion in this article. But here are some brands in other verticals who are also killing it on Instagram with shoppable posts. So don’t let the Fashion emphasis sway your plans. Lootcrate which sells Fandom products, Beardbrand which sells male grooming supplies, Death Wish Coffee which needs no explanation, Northweek Sunglasses and Staples which does back to school stationery, are all doing quite nicely. So that myth has been busted.

Concept 2: Set up your Instagram profile correctly

First and foremost, to create Instagram Shoppable posts and start turning followers into customers, you need to be set up as a business account on Instagram. This is a very straightforward process.

First, go into options by clicking on the three small dots at the top right of your profile page. Then scroll down and select “Switch to Business Profile”.

Then, select the category and subcategory for your profile from the dropdown list. Be mindful of the ones you select as these will appear on your profile page.

During the setup process, Instagram will ask you if you want to link to your company’s Facebook page. This is a crucial step as Instagram Shoppable requires product information from your Facebook Page Product Catalog (see below for more info), if you have one. If you don’t have a Facebook page associated with your brand it’s no problem, Instagram will set you up with one which you can claim later directly from your account options.

Concept 3: Creating or improving your Facebook Catalog

OK, this may sound like extra work if you don’t already have one, but you will get over that idea really quickly when you realize you are now creating two great new sources of customer traffic, and potentially reaching two new audiences that you can grow really cost-effectively. Metigy also has some great new tips coming on how you can extend your e-commerce ecosystem to really make these channels hum with business. We will be dealing with Facebook catalog best practice in a specific article too.

If you already have your products on Facebook Catalog, then great! Skip this step and go straight on to how to use Instagram Shoppable posts to boost your revenues.

If not, it’s very easy to get started. First, either log in to your Facebook page or claim the one created for you by Instagram. Then, go to Catalog Manager, select your catalog type and create it. You can then import a data feed of your products in a number of different formats, including via a .csv file. Your catalog doesn’t have to be public if you don’t want it to be. You can keep it private and use it just for Instagram shopping purposes. Bare in mind that products in your catalog must be tangible, i.e. they can’t be digital products or services.

Once you’ve completed this step, there is an element of waiting involved before you can start tagging your products. Instagram needs to approve your account and products to make sure they are suitable, and as you can imagine, there is a queue for this. It generally won’t take more than a few days.

Once your profile has been approved, then you can start tagging your products, just as you do people. You can upload new images or use existing images, and tag products with pricing and buy links to create the basis of your shoppable posts.

Concept 4: Focus on conversion and sales

Releasing product posts is now very simple. As you post these products, they will appear in your image Grid on Instagram as a Shoppable Post which potential customers can identify by the shopping bag icon that appears in the top right-hand corner of the image, as per the Desigual example below.

Desigual uses Shppabel posts on Instagram to drive sales

Now you have the technology in place, and it is time to start making decisions about products, and formats, and your story, the real fun begins.

What you are going to be delivering should look just like this:

Beardbrand is using Instagram Shoppable post for commerce

Go back to concept 1, and start putting that consistently into action. Then test and measure and iterate and learn. The more you do and then review the results, the sooner you will refine your delivery to what works.

Metigy is working towards training our AI to do this work for you, so be sure to connect your Instagram profile on Metigy, so we can start to collect and analyze the data for your brand, so when we release this set of Insights, we have enough history to model these correctly.

Now is the time to really master social commerce, because it won’t wait for you

If you want to understand how committed Instagram is to becoming a leader in social commerce, then read about how they are delivering a completely new app that is totally focused on e-commerce. You can guarantee that it will be tied in closely with your Instagram profile.

So get started, as you need to start learning what customers want to buy and how they want to buy it on Instagram, now!