How to use Instagram to sell your products How to use Instagram...

How to use Instagram to sell your products


10 May, 2021
A woman with a phone in her hand, and her laptop open to Instagram.

I spend an embarrassingly large amount of time on Instagram. When I’m not mindlessly scrolling through my feed, it’s the place I learn about new products. A business’ Instagram account often helps me make a purchase decision, and I’m not the only one. According to ecommerce website, Oberlo, “Instagram helps 80% of Instagram users decide to buy a product or service.”

With over 5 million South African’s using the platform, Instagram is a good place to start a business. While Instagram recently released its shopping feature – this feature currently only works if you have an ecommerce website to link to. 

Thankfully, you don’t need to make use of the platform’s shopping feature to sell your products. Long before the social network created its shopping platform, brands were using the space to market their products. 

Read more: 8 things you should consider when creating an online store

If you’re starting or running a small business, there are several perks to doing it on Instagram. Two of the biggest advantages to running your business on Instagram are the lack of start-up costs and the ability to interact directly with your customers.

And with the help of SnapScan’s SnapLinks, you’re easily able to collect payments from your customers on the social platform. All you have to do is send them a direct message with the SnapLink. When customers click on these links, they’re taken directly to your payment screen in the SnapScan app. When a payment is made, you’re instantly notified. You won’t even have to wait for proof of payment, as the reference functionality will help you identify exactly who has paid you. 

Illustrations describing how to use Pay Links

By making use of this simple payment process, you’re left to focus on what truly matters: creating an Instagram profile that will persuade your followers to buy your products.

Ready to start your business on Instagram? Follow the Instagram business tips below: 

1. Determine how you’re going to run your business. 

Before you set up your account you need to decide exactly how your business will work. While you’re working on your business plan, think about the questions below: 

  • How should customers place an order? Ask them to either send you a direct message on the platform, give you a call or send you a Whatsapp. Choose which option would work best for you. 
  • If you’re selling freshly baked goods or cooked food, is there a set date customers should order by? If you have set delivery dates, let your customers know what the cut-off date is for each date. 
  • How long will it take for their orders to be filled? This will help your customers know exactly when their order will arrive. 
  • How will you accept payments? Choose to send them a SnapLink or ask them to send you an EFT. 

Place all this information in a highlight tab. That way people visiting your page can easily find out how your business operates without having to wait for you to answer their questions. 

An illustration with an Instagram store's highlight tabs

2. Optimise your profile to attract followers

Your profile is the first thing that potential customers notice about your business’ account. It’s what will make them hit the follow button. Think carefully about all the elements that you’ll need before setting up your account. 

Incorporate your business’ name into your Instagram handle. Use the same name across any other social media accounts you set up, so customers will always recognise you. This applies to your profile picture as well. Choose an image that is representative of your business. 

Next, you’ll want to write a bio that describes what you offer. While your bio should be informative, write it in a light-hearted and interesting way. A witty bio will encourage visitors to follow you, even if they don’t buy from you immediately.

Read more: 6 tips for the perfect email marketing strategy

To make your profile even more attractive, carefully curate your feed. While professional photos help, it’s not always necessary. You can create an aesthetic feed by capturing or editing your photos based on a theme. Clothing brand, Dr Pachanga, uses pink and white studio backgrounds to showcase their clothing. This not only makes their clothing stand out, but makes their brand easily recognisable. If you don’t have a studio space, use lifestyle images to sell your products. This works well, whether you’re selling clothes or donuts. 

An Illustration of a woman peaking out behind a phone that is displaying an Instagram profile

When setting up your profile, it’s important to decide on a brand voice and tone. Your brand voice and tone reflects your business’ values, but it also determines the captions you create and how you engage with your audience.  Are you friendly and informative, professional and ambitious, or empowering and uplifting? Consistently creating posts that align with your brand voice and tone, helps familiarise your followers with your business. It helps them form a lasting impression of your business. 

3. Build a supportive community

Instagram has a wide range of features that can help draw potential customers to your page. Along with posting to your feed, post content to your stories as well. According to an Instagram survey, 58% of those surveyed became interested in a brand or product after seeing their stories. They also have an 86% completion rate, making it a good place to share your products. 

Include relevant hashtags in all your posts. This will expand your posts’ reach and help you land on the explore page. Once you’ve shared enough posts, find accounts that are similar to yours. Take a look at their followers and find ones that engage with the brand and follow those accounts. Not everyone will follow you back, but you’ll get a handful of new followers who you can convert to customers later on. 

Word of mouth is a marketing tool that works just as well on Instagram. Ask your friends and family to share your page. If they’re able to hype up your products – even better. Once people start sharing the products they’ve bought, repost them. User-generated content is not only another great source of content, but they also serve as testimonials.

An illustration of different people connected by lines to illustrate the different Instagram functions

Use the Instagram reels feature to share behind-the-scenes shots of your business. If you sell clothes, you could share how your clothes are made. This not only gives your followers extra value, but it could help persuade them to buy your products. 

Boost your posts or make use of Instagram ads. As a small business, you might be sceptical about investing in Instagram ads. But according to the social media giant, 50% of users became interested in a business after seeing an ad. 

Read more: 10 tips to increase donations from online campaigns

4. Increase your engagement

Instagram engagement is more important than ever. It’s one of the metrics that determine where your content shows up in people’s feeds. The more your followers like, comment, and share your posts, the more Instagram will show your posts. Increasing your engagement rate is, therefore, a good way to boost your brand awareness and get more followers. 

Start by writing clever captions that captivate your audience or tell the story of a product. If the captions resonate with your audience, they’re more likely to engage with your posts. This way, even if they’re not purchasing from you, they’re increasing your reach on Instagram. 

Another tactic you could use to increase your audience’s engagement is to create shareable content. This could be in the form of memes or funny quotes. Alternatively, you can share content that provides people with extra value. For instance, you could create a reel that highlights the different clothes you sell. Fashion brand, Hannah Lavery does this well. They showcase their clothes in fun, creative ways. This reel is a good example of that. When followers find content relatable or valuable, they’re more likely to share your posts. 

Checklist of ideas for Instagram businesses

Lastly, respond to comments and repost stories when people tag you. It not only shows followers that you’re willing to engage, but it might give other followers the confidence to engage with you in future. 

Figuring out what works best for your business will take some time and practice. But following these tips will make the experience less challenging for you. Once you become familiar with what works and what doesn’t, you’ll be converting your followers into customers in no time. 

Written by

Megan is a Content Strategist at SnapScan, with a book-buying habit that is spiraling out of control.

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