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With more than a billion active monthly users and a strong showing of followers for business accounts, Instagram is a marketing playground for almost any industry. But it’s an especially great resource for those who market and sell their products online.

There are only a few circumstances in which an ecommerce business won’t be able to make good use of Instagram. The platform offers a variety of features that make it a valuable tool in an ecommerce marketing arsenal. That’s especially true if your products photograph well or can be used in compelling storytelling.

Top Priorities for Ecommerce Accounts

Simply being active on Instagram isn’t necessarily enough to make it a worthwhile marketing channel. You need to be strategic in how you approach your activities. First, you should make sure that your business operates as a business account, not a personal account. This unlocks additional features for you to take advantage of.

In addition to that, you’ll want to make sure to add each of these elements to your ecommerce Instagram marketing strategy:

  • Aesthetic appeal: Each social media platform has its strengths. On Instagram, it’s all about highlighting things that look good. Every post should be aesthetically appealing in some way, capturing your brand’s visual essence at its polished best.
    Make sure that any photos and videos you post to your main feed are in focus, well lit, carefully edited and framed properly. Stories don’t necessarily have to be so polished. However, it’s still a good idea to make sure that you’re presenting images and sounds that a casual follower would want to see. Imagine that everything you put up on your account is a first impression — make it count.
  • Discoverability: Make use of hashtags and geotags to make your account discoverable for people who might be interested in what you have to offer. Again, though, aesthetic appeal is important. Is the photo you posted under #puppylove an out-of-focus, poorly lit shot of a barely visible dog? Chances are that most people are going to scroll right past without a second thought.
  • Content mix: Of course, it’s a good idea to keep your Instagram activities curated and focused. You’ll still want to provide a mix of different content types to create a more robust strategy. For example, say you sell skincare products. You can post still glamour-shot photos of your product packaging while also posting videos showing fresh-faced models using your cleansers and moisturizers.
  • Relevancy: Also important? Making sure that the content you provide on your business feed is relevant to the people who might buy products from you. Are you planning to feature personal things like photos of the people who work in your office? Make the images relevant by showcasing employees using your company’s products.
    Effective ecommerce Instagram marketing is ultimately all about the product, so don’t post about something unrelated to what you sell unless it’s a strategic brand move. Relevancy also means making sure that your aesthetic is targeted to the right demographic. Emojis and “bruh I’m so excited for Coachella” only make for good caption content if your target customers are in the right age group. Your products need to suit that tone, too.
  • Follower engagement: Instagram plays things close to the vest when it comes to specifics about how its algorithm works. There are a few things that it makes clear, including the fact that engagement matters. If your followers never like or comment on your posts, your content will probably get buried in their feeds. Treat Instagram like a tool for creating community and reaching out to your audience, not just a way of throwing advertisements out into the ether. Encourage followers to comment, take time to respond to their questions and use Stories to host Q&A sessions. There are lots of great ways you can enhance your relationship with followers to make your posts more visible.

This isn’t all it takes to develop a strong ecommerce strategy on Instagram. But, it’s definitely a good foundation. Your brand may need to bring other strategic elements in if your product niche is highly specialized.

Treat Your Feed Like a Digital Catalog

One of the most powerful ecommerce marketing tools on Instagram is relatively new. Shopping on Instagram allows you to turn your feed into a digital catalog where followers can purchase what they see — with just a few clicks. The fact that this feature is relatively new means its exact performance is in flux. What’s important to know is that you can treat Instagram as a conversion tool rather than something for promotion and reach alone.

This makes all of the above priorities even more important, with the aesthetic appeal of your photos and videos taking on greater urgency. With a sufficiently beautiful product photo, you can actually use your Instagram feed to make sales. Window shopping is no longer the standard on Instagram. In the time it takes a customer to click to your website, they could change their mind or get distracted before actually making a purchase. With Shopping on Instagram, which tags a purchase option directly to a product photo, that’s no longer such a concern.

If your goal is to sell products online, Instagram isn’t so optional anymore. Before the Shopping feature, this social network was an effective way to promote your brand and gain followers. Now, though, it could be the key to your company’s success in the digital marketplace.