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While the ability to shop online has already reinvented the entire shopping experience, it's clear that shoppable posts are pushing those advancements further than ever before. Find out how you can increase discoverability and drive sales using shoppable posts.

How To Drive Sales with Shoppable Posts

Mara Heathcote

Shoppable posts are reshaping the online shopping experience by allowing brands to transform their social media pages into a virtual storefront.

Instagram is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and what better way to celebrate than to provide businesses with innovative ways to make selling online easy. With new ad formats to Instagram Shop updates including shortcuts to shop tabs, live shopping, and soon Instagram Checkout, selling on Instagram is easier than ever before.

If you haven't already heard, Instagram shops are an immersive fullscreen storefront that allows brands to significantly enhance product discovery directly through the Instagram app. Brands have the freedom to integrate their product catalogue with their Instagram account to acquire a special Shop tab on their profile and promote products directly to those who care most through posts, Stories, and placements under the Explore tab. 

How Shoppable Posts Work

Brands can simultaneously promote their products alongside their Instagram Shop through the use of shoppable posts. Shoppable posts work by applying tags as product descriptions over a sponsored image. Viewers can tap on the image to survey prices on up to five items or tap the product labels to view product pages directly from a brand's website. Instagram’s shopping destination suggests personalized recommendations for users to discover new brands and products based on the accounts they regularly engage with, thus allowing retailers to connect with consumers who are most likely to convert.

Users can quickly turn to the Instagram Shop products page to view relevant information on everything they might want to know before purchasing an item. This includes:

  • The name of the product
  • Product images
  • A product description
  • The price of the product
  • A product link to the brand’s website
  • Related products

As mentioned, users will also soon be able to initiate checkout directly through the Instagram app. Instagram has already begun testing its new in-app checkout with a small number of partners, in efforts to shorten the purchasing process. This new feature will likely be incredibly effective at elevating sale rates thanks to its convenient, native feel. As of now, shoppable posts automatically provide a link to the corresponding product pages on a brand’s website to allow customers to further browse or quickly add to cart and checkout.

Tips and Best Practices

The fastest way to start an Instagram Shop is to first get your store approved by Facebook Shop. By enabling Shoppable Instagram posts, your product catalogue will automatically synchronize with your brand's Facebook account to maximize reach.

When determining what products to highlight, try to identify items that are best-sellers regardless of the sales objective. Promoting best-selling items will help maintain relevance, boost click-through rates (CTR), as well as drive overall sales. In addition to advertising best-selling products, here are a few tips to help increase brand awareness and possibly sales across your entire product line.

1) Ensure Your Shopping Posts Are Aligned with Your Instagram Aesthetic.

First impressions are important, and when your profile transforms into a virtual storefront, your Instagram aesthetic is just as significant as that of your website. Try not to disrupt the existing mood and general impression of your profile with sponsored posts. Instead, try to maintain an aesthetic that is consistent with your core brand values and looks curated and cohesive across all posts. To ensure that featured images seamlessly integrate into your existing feed, you may want to consider applying similar tone overlays, style edits, or filters. As a best practice, try spacing your sponsored posts across your feed and stories, and work to keep the number of shoppable tags balanced throughout your feed.

2) Leverage Instagram’s Carousel Posts.

Since Instagram is predominately accessed via mobile devices, it's important to be mindful of the available space to work with. If you’re struggling to consolidate all tags into a single post and would like to show off a wider variety of products, consider creating a carousel to feature up to 20 products at a time. Convert your carousel posts into mini virtual lookbooks with unique and eye-catching photography, or tell a story in a series of up to 10 photos with all your products tagged in each image. As a best practice, assure all tags are evenly dispersed without overlap, to prevent obstructing the information in your tags.

3) Use Hashtags.

Hashtags are an essential tool for delivering the right content to the right audiences. The Instagram algorithm uses machine learning to determine which posts people see, each time they open your feed. Working beside Instagram's algorithm can strengthen your marketing strategy and help your brand continue to form relationships with your audiences. Leveraging descriptive hashtags assures your post is ‘searchable’ on the Explore page or appears in the new Shopping channel. Try to choose hashtags that are relevant to your brand, industry, and target audience; but don't overdo it. Applying too many or irrelevant hashtags may result in your promotions getting flagged. If hashtags are effectively implemented on your Instagram shopping posts, you’ll surely notice a boost in both engagement and conversions as more people discover and react to uploads. As a best practice, try leveraging a 'business hashtag' unique to your brand, and encourage followers to mention your hashtag in stories or captions to broaden reach. Here are nine different hashtag categories for businesses trying to increase discoverability as provided by Instagram:

  • Hashtags indicating your product or service, like #sweater or #coffeeshop.
  • Hashtags indicating your niche in your industry, like #weddingphotographer or #travelphotographer.
  • Hashtags for Instagram communities in your industry, like #bakersofinstagram or #foodiesofinstagram.
  • Hashtags for special events or seasons, like #whiteday or #nationaldonutday.
  • Hashtags using location, like #pastrynyc, #madeinToronto, or #sydneysweets.
  • Daily hashtags, like #mondaymotivation, #tuesdaytip, or #wellnesswednesday.
  • Hashtags with phrases relevant to what you do, like #becreative or #bakerylove.
  • Hashtags with acronyms, like #qotd (quote of the day) or #ootd (outfit of the day).
  • Hashtags with emojis, like #shoes👟 or #🌞

While the ability to shop online has already reinvented the entire shopping experience, it's clear that shoppable posts are pushing those advancements further than ever before. With innovations such as tab shortcuts, product catalogue integrations, and live shopping, Instagram has never been such a viable option for companies looking to drive sales. Along with these factors, once Instagram globally releases their new in-app checkout, it will be interesting to observe the changes in the weight of generating sales through the social media giant, in contrast to brands carrying a standard social media account with paid advertising efforts.

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