Instagram has grown significantly over the past few years and now dominates the social media scene. With humble beginnings as a generic photo-sharing platform, it has since morphed into a trendsetting billion-user app that continues to innovate and add features.
Instagram Shopping is one such feature, which allows you to set up a storefront right in the app and sell your products seamlessly. Verified brands can even make use of in-app cart functionality, which means shoppers no longer even have to leave Instagram in order to grab the items they are looking for.
This incredible innovation has completely transformed the app’s functionality, which was already robust to begin with. Instagram, perhaps more so than any other social media platform, has been quick to develop useful features for its users and even piggyback off of the success of other platforms.
Over the past few years, Instagram has absorbed the most-loved features of several other platforms, like the transient messages and filters of Snapchat and the quick-clip format of TikTok, deploying them seamlessly in what is still one of the most user-friendly and compact social media apps available. Instagram was already the favored social media platform for shopping, so it made sense to add proper storefront features and cart functionality as well.
With the advent of Instagram Shopping, it would appear that eCommerce businesses have a whole new way to attract customers, build their brand, and generate revenue. We’ve put together the following guide to help get you up to speed with these new Instagram features and why you should consider using Instagram digital marketing to begin with. We will also highlight the benefits of using this platform over other social media apps, like Pinterest or Facebook.
Instagram and eCommerce Go Hand in Hand
The first thing you should know about Instagram is that it has been a favorable platform for eCommerce for a long time. Brands have found it easy to promote their products and build a following on this easy to use visual platform, despite the fact that you can’t even place links in the description of individual posts like you can on many other platforms, like Facebook and Twitter.
The combination of high-quality visuals and the presence of influencers is perhaps what made Instagram stand out as an eCommerce social media platform. By using influencers to cross-promote, you not only could get new eyes on your products, but you could also establish connections in your niche to help you build your brand. This powerful marketing technique is still used quite a bit and is one of the main draws for brands that leverage the power of Instagram for their businesses.
Even before marketing on Instagram took off, many users relied on this platform to look for fashion inspiration and home decoration ideas, which they would then search for outside of the platform and buy. Instagram capitalized on this, and with the help of influencers, the platform absolutely exploded in popularity and eCommerce usability.
You are only doing your brand a disservice by not having a presence on Instagram. This platform has more daily active users than almost any other social media platform as of right now, clocking in at about 500 million. This number is significant because it means at least half of the total active users on the platform continue to log in and interact on a daily basis. When it comes to promoting your products and improving your brand, there is no question that this is the platform to do it on. Instagram Shopping only makes this process more accessible and potentially lucrative.
What Features Does Instagram Shopping Offer?
So what specific features does Instagram offer that makes it worth using as an additional eCommerce platform for your business? If you aren’t familiar with the platform outside of the basic photo feed and private messages, you might be surprised to learn just how powerful this platform can be, and the kind of opportunity it presents for businesses to grow.
Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of Instagram Shopping and why these core features make it a clear choice if you are trying to make headway with your eCommerce digital marketing efforts.
eCommerce Product Displays
One of the key features of any decent eCommerce platform is an attractive product feed. One of the drawbacks of classic Instagram marketing was that you had to rely on the same kinds of posts in order to promote your products, so each and every one of these had to be visually appealing and even artful in its composition. Now with the additional shopping section of the Instagram app, you get a more traditional product feed where shoppers can simply scroll through your offerings without having to wage through your entire Instagram account.
This addition also makes the actual shopping experience much more functional, as you can simply click on the image of the product to get more information, along with options for adding it to your cart or visiting the respective website where you can make your purchase.
With the addition of a dedicated space for your products comes product tagging, which upgrades the functionality of a traditional Instagram post, by allowing store owners to “tag” a product in a photograph featured on their feed. This has a multitude of useful applications. For instance, you can take an aesthetic photograph of someone holding or wearing one of the items you sell in your store, and when users view this post, they will be able to click on the object inside the actual photo, which will bring them right to the corresponding listing in your Instagram shop. This is the seamless integration between social media and eCommerce.
Integrates With Your Online Store
You can make great use of Instagram as an eCommerce platform even if you are a small brand that hasn’t yet been verified. Unverified accounts don’t have the ability to create a full-fledged store right on Instagram (yet), but you can still list products and send them to your website. This means that no matter how big or small a store you operate, you can potentially reach a global audience through Instagram.
Buy On Instagram With Cart Functionality
Now that a shopping cart has been added to Instagram, users never have to leave the platform in order to buy from you. This is an incredible feature because while some users are open to leaving their social apps in order to do a quick bit of shopping, many would prefer to stay on the platform and simply scroll, click, and scroll some more. By not having to leave the platform and having the necessary payment information already setup, users can shop with wild abandon while browsing through Instagram. Not all brands can access this feature just yet, but as you grow, this is certainly something to keep in mind.
Share and Bookmark Products
Another useful feature that makes Instagram Shopping beneficial for store owners is its native ability to share and bookmark posts and products. Social media platforms are designed to promote social interaction, at least in theory. While the original intent of many of these platforms has been somewhat lost over the years, there are still plenty of ways for users to spread your brand around through viral marketing.
For instance, Instagram Stories allow any user to share one of your posts or products to their own account, which will be featured in the Stories section for 24 hours. They can add their own style to the post and even tag their friends, but either way, it’s free promotion for you, and if someone clicks on the Story, they can click through to your account. Bookmarking is a similar, albeit more private feature that simply allows users to save their favorite posts from other users and keep them in one place. This kind of functionality doesn’t really exist on most typical eCommerce stores, yet can certainly be useful for drawing in old customers or simply keeping your brand on people’s minds.
Using Instagram Shopping vs. Other Platforms
If you are going to invest your time and effort into a particular social media platform in order to grow your eCommerce business, you should consider all of your options. The big players here are Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, although just about any social media platform can be used for selling your products one way or another. When it comes down to eCommerce functionality specifically, however, these are the big three.
Of each of these three platforms, which stands out the most? When you don’t factor in advertising, Instagram probably comes out on top, and here’s why.
Pinterest has incredible visuals and the same kind of product tagging functionality as Instagram. However, it suffers from being very niche and having a much smaller user base. There aren’t really “influencers” on Pinterest, and there are no true cross-promotional capabilities. Pinterest is a powerful eCommerce marketing platform but excels only in very specific areas.
Facebook, which owns Instagram and shares many of the same features through integrations, would seem like a viable contender. With its own storefront options, it would seem as though you could make use of this platform just as well as Instagram, but there are certain limitations.
One is that product tagging isn’t really a thing on this platform. You really don’t have that influencer presence either, which is what generates so much hype and buzz on Instagram. Partnering with different influencers and being able to cross-promote and tag your products that they in the photo is a new level of eCommerce marketing that surpasses anything Facebook and Pinterest are doing at the moment. Advertising on these platforms is certainly beneficial, but Instagram has the most organic appeal.
Another benefit that Instagram has over other platforms is its ability to dictate and ride trends. When you think of eCommerce posts on Pinterest, Facebook, and other social media platforms, “trendy” doesn’t usually come to mind. Instagram on the other hand is at the forefront of what’s popular throughout the Web at any given time. If you want to take advantage of what’s hot in your industry or niche, Instagram is where you will likely have the best shot. This is also right where you want to be if you consider you want to generate hype for a product release or simply want to build some buzz about your brand organically. Instagram Shopping’s features allow you easily add new products to your feed and incorporate them into your feed posts, stories, reels, or even IGTV broadcasts. All of it is seamlessly integrated on one platform that happens to be one of the trendiest and most popular platforms on Earth.
Expanding Your eCommerce Business With Instagram
If you have been wondering how to expand your online presence and scale your eCommerce business, Instagram Shopping is worth a look. In no time you can create a professional-looking product feed on your business account, and with consistent posting and advertising efforts, you can easily gain followers and generate traffic to your website.
Digital marketing can be a time consuming and complex endeavor, however, and if you are really serious about building your eCommerce business, you might want to consider hiring a professional marketing agency that specializes in eCommerce. Setting up your Instagram profile and adding a few posts is one thing, but actually building a trendy brand is another. Rather than spin your wheels trying to figure out whether or not you are targeting the right audience or designing the right kinds of shopping posts, leave your Instagram marketing in the hands of eCommerce professionals.
Here at 1Digital®, we provide comprehensive eCommerce digital marketing services, ranging from enterprise-level SEO campaigns to Facebook advertising and Instagram management. We can help you upload your products on Instagram and craft powerful ads that will draw the attention of users from around the country and get them interested in your brand. With our team of skilled eCommerce marketing experts, we can help you take advantage of everything Instagram has to offer.
Ready to start growing your Instagram so you can get more traffic and sales to your online store? Give our team a call at 888-982-8269 and we will work closely with you to develop a smart marketing strategy that fits your specific needs, no matter what your business goals are.
- Matt Lovett
- January 20, 2021