Photo-sharing app Instagram can be used for multiple things such as posting photos of a coffee date with friends, displaying your latest outfit, or showcasing your latest adventures. However, with 400 active million users on Instagram, the app can also be a great way for businesses to market their business and improve sales.

To make the most of your Instagram account, increase your followers, and be able to sell, you’ll need to figure out how to take advantage of the visual nature of Instagram so that you can stand out from your competition and make the purchasing process as simple as possible for your followers.

In this article, we’ll discuss several steps you can take to start effectively selling on Instagram.

Make The Most Of Your Bio

To sell effectively on Instagram, you should make the most of your bio and it’s the first thing someone that’s unfamiliar with your brand will see when they visit your profile – it’s all your chance to get a user to learn more about you and ultimately to visit your website.

Your bio should have a short, powerful description that will hook users in and then funnel them to whatever page you’d like them to go. Your bio should also include a strong call-to-action that transitions from your description to trying to get a user to take a specific action. Typically the action you’ll want a user to take is to click on your link (as this is the only place on Instagram where you can have a clickable link) – this link could go to a special landing page, your product page or your website’s homepage.

Birchbox Instagram Profile

Birchbox does a great job of creating an effective bio. Their one liner “The smartest way to shop for beauty” lets you know the company sells beauty related products. They also make great use of emoji’s; a ghost for snapchat and a camera for tagging photos. Finally, their call-to-action “Shop our feed” lets you know that you’ll be able to purchase their products by clicking on the link that followers.

Showcase Your Products

Showcasing your product is not just about taking a random photo of your product and sharing it on Instagram. Rather, it means displaying your product in an interesting environment or demonstrating how the product can be used.

For instance, if you are selling a watch, don’t post a photo of your watch on a shelf. Instead, share photos of well-dressed models that are wearing the watch. This will make your product look more appealing.

Model showcasing a watch leads to better engagement

Every post on Instagram is a chance to tell your brand’s story, so make it count!

Use tools such as Aviary, Tiny Planet and Facetune to make your images clearer and sharper. If you want to combine several photos of your product in one image, apps such as Layout from Instagram and PicFrame can come in handy.

Take Quality Photos

Instagram is a visual based network and your photos and videos are the carrot that you are dangling in front of potential customers in hopes of them getting to engage with your content.

The beauty of Instagram is the fact that it works seamlessly with your phone or tablet, allowing you to create posts on the fly.  Of course the downside of using your phone camera as opposed to a point-and-click digital is quality. However, don’t fret as there are steps that you can take to ensure that you still take a quality photo with your phone camera.

Take pictures with your regular camera app first. Instead of snapping photos within Instagram, use your regular phone app so that you can take multiple shots as well as take advantage of being able to adjust settings within your phone.

Use photo editing apps.

  • Afterlight: If you want more filters than Instagram already offers, use this app to take advantage of 59 adjustable filters, 128 frames, and 66 different textures.
  • VSCO: Professionals and amateurs alike appreciate the power of this app, which allows for you to adjust and edit your photos with themed filter packs, settings for saturation, warmth, etc.
  • Whitagram: This app adds a white letterbox to your landscape and portrait photos which can make your images square. Letterboxed images, while simple, will look great once they are uploaded.
  • Pic Stitch: Turn handfuls of photos into collages that you can share on social networks or print out. Tons of layouts to choose from, unlimited possibilities.
  • Aviary: Editing tools like frames, filters, and more come together in this popular mobile image app.
  • Lumify: For Instagram video, this app is a powerhouse. Not only does it offer free video editing capabilities, but it can also add soundtracks.
  • Hyperlapse: Use this app to create time-lapsed videos for Instagram, which can be great for tourism and hospitality businesses, outdoor recreation, event marketing, and other industries that want to capture the changing of a scene.
  • Quick: Need to overlay text on top of your images? This app makes it simple.
  • Bokehful: If you love the look of bokeh in your photos, use this app to add it in – no additional lighting required.
  • Snapseed: Professional photo editing software is available with just a few clicks in this crowd-pleasing favorite.

Overlay Details

Overlaying text on your image can be a great way to enhance your image as well as capture your follower’s attention and let them know right away what your post is all about.

Overlaying a photo
Men’s Health overlayed caption captures the user’s attention, leading the user to read the description.

You could use an app like Overquick or Canva to overlay important details over the image.

If you’re selling a product, you can overlay phrases such as ‘new arrivals’, ‘20% discount’ or ‘available now’ – this can help with getting a follower to stop, check out your photo, and read your caption.

Write Captions That Sell

How seductive are the captions in your Instagram posts? Instagram may be a visual network, but that doesn’t mean you should only spend time on making your photo or video look its best.

A good description can play a great role in influencing buyer decisions which is why you don’t trivialize the importance of coming up with the best caption that goes with your image or video.

Think of it this way – your visuals will get users get a user to spend time with your post, however it’s the caption that will help with leading the user to take an action (visit your website, make a purchase, etc.) ultimately leading to a conversion.

The caption is your chance to space to use to give users a little further explanation after they first see your content.

Bonobos caption explains the photo
Bonobos has a concise caption that adds context to their photo – along with the call-to-action, a particular subset of followers (people getting married or involved with a wedding) to visit their site.

Get Social

Having an Instagram profile is not enough. You need to build a following which means taking the time to connect with your target audience.

One of the best ways of finding such people is through hashtags that are relevant to your niche and follow the people who are using them.

Another effective method for finding people interested in your service offerings and building an Instagram following is by leveraging your competition’s Instagram accounts and stealing their followers. You can use Crowdfire to see which users are following a particular Instagram account (use it to see who is following your competitors).

Regardless of how you find these users, it won’t be enough to just follow them. You will need to engage with them and show them that your brand is worth the follow.

There are basically three ways that you can engage with Instagram users:

  • Follow a user
  • Like a photo
  • Comment on a photo

Interacting with users will help you to build relationships which could result in more followers and sales.

Make Use Of User Generated Content

Another way of showcasing your product is by taking advantage of user generated content (UGC). When your customers post images of themselves using your product, you can share them on your profile. This can also be a great way of building relationships with your audience. Regram is a great app which can help you repost or reshare Instagram photos easily.

Use Hashtags

Using hashtags in your selling campaigns will make it easier for people to find your products on Instagram. You can use the search and explore feature to discover the most popular hashtags in your niche.

When running a campaign for special seasons such as Christmas, create a hashtag which is event focused. However, it would also be advisable to come up with your own branded hashtags. A good example is Birchbox which simply uses the hashtag #Birchbox.

Post Regularly

According to Union Metrics, posting once or twice daily will allow you to reach a large audience. In addition, they recommend posting photos on weekdays in the evening hours to generate more engagement. However, the fact is that there is no particular ideal time for posting on Instagram. It will all depend on the audience you are targeting and what kind of content you are posting. Take time to experiment with different days and times to discover what suits you best.

Make Buying Easy

To convert your followers into customers, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to buy.

As mentioned above, the only place you  can place a clickable link is in your bio. The problem with this is that if someone browsing your Instagram feed sees a product they want, it will take them several steps before they find it on your site. It can then take an additional couple of steps before they finally are able to purchase the product, depending on your checkout process which can lead to a loss of momentum and ultimately, a loss in a sale.

Here’s the thing – when customers shop online, they want the process to be as easy as if they were in the store, which means that they should be able to see a product that they like, pick it up, and then purchase. want it to be as easy as if they were in the store. Ideally, they want to be able to search your products, pick the ones they want, and purchase them with very little hassle.

This is where Have2Have.It comes in. The app allows you to effectively sell on Instagram by eliminating the multiple steps it takes to get a user from your Instagram post to the corresponding product page. This eliminates a significant amount of friction in converting your Instagram following into actual sales.

Have2Have.It works by essentially creating a mirror of your Instagram feed. It creates a gallery of images that your followers can click, allowing people to get to specific product pages and blog posts so that they can easily access the content or product that they’re looking for.

You then post the link to your page in the bio of your Instagram page.

GoJane Instagram page
GoJane posts the link of their page in their Instagram bio.

According to co-founder Chris Bennett, users who are utilizing are seeing on average an 87% click-through rate, and 50% more time on site from as compared to users that come directly from Instagram.

GoJane's feed allows them to sell on Instagram
GoJane’s feed. Clicking on the highlighted image takes the user directly to the product page as seen in step 2.

Aside from being able to use as a standalone to whatever ecommerce solution you use, the app integrates with Shopify.