Recently I met a girl who told me, "All these clothes I'm wearing - I bought them on Instagram." Yip, as a twenty-something local South African gal, she shops mostly Australian designer labels via Instagram. On her phone. Instagram's mobile accessibility, its quick-browse features, and visual layout make it brilliantly shoppable. It takes less than three seconds, or two upward swipes to tell whether the brand you're looking at is something you'll spend your dollars/rands on it. The flip side of all of this is that brands who don't look 'for real' on Instagram instantly lose potential paying customers. With over 400 million (and counting) users on Instagram, that, my friends, is what you call a big loss.
All our online activity has taught us to judge online content intuitively, and frighteningly quickly. We can tell in an instant whether a website is outdated, unhelpful, or irrelevant. I don't want your Instagram feed to be like that. You've spent enormous amounts of time and money, not to mention a few tears, on making a beautiful product that you're proud of. Now let your Instagram feed do it justice.
That being said, here are 12 ways to make your Instagram account more shoppable,
1 | Use your business logo as your profile pic
You know what I’m talking about. Your logo is something you outsourced to a fancy designer, and spent good money on. But your profile pic on your Instagram brand is that lovely shot your sister took of you and hubby at cousin Pam’s wedding. It’s a very sweet pic, I’m sure, but does it communicate brand consistency? With so many products competing for our attention online, you’ve got to make sure your brand is instantly recognisable.
2 | Use your business name as your account name
Perhaps your creative design business is called “Bella Fabulous Creations” or something like it. But your brand Instagram is called @liveyourlifefabulously. Again, how am I to know it's your brand I’m finding on Instagram? I don’t have the time to try to match the products that have different names. Consistency is key.
3 | Use the copy from your 'About' as your bio
Where “Bella Fabulous Creations” has a beautifully crafted ‘About’ section on your website explaining what your brand is all about, your Instagram bio section is populated with these words: “Things I sometimes create”. Who are you? What are these things? Where can I find out more? I know I’m repeating myself here, but if you’ve already got a well thought through set of words about your brand on your website, use that on your Instagram feed as well.
By the way, if you need more step-by-step guidance on setting up your Instagram profile, get hold of my ebook “Instagram: The Nuts & Bolts" which provides a thorough run-through of the basics of Instagram, including setting up.
4 | Have more than 21 images loaded on your feed
When I see just a handful of images on any feed, my first thought is: “Is not serious about their brand”. My second thought is: “Nothing to find here.” If you press me for an actual number, I would say that at least 21 images give me a sense you’re up and running as a business. In practical Instagram terms that means in the three-across collage layout on my phone, I have to scroll down a few times to get to the end of your feed. This is better than five images sitting sadly in a small huddle. What if your business is ever so new? Just make sure there are a range of images to look at so I get a sense of who you are as a brand.
5 | Include a link to your website
Another reason I might seriously start to think that your brand is not ‘for real’, is that I have no quick way of finding out more about your products right from your Instagram feed. That happens when there are no links to your online presence in the form of a website, blog, e-commerce store, or Etsy shop. Did you know that your Instagram bio only has one clickable, live link? Make good use of it! Set it to your current blog post, sale, or online shop special so that it people end up finding the products or content you want them to find/see/buy.
6 | Make sure your website link isn't broken
The only thing worse than no website link is a dead, broken, or outdated link. When I click through to a site you provide and find a blog that was last updated three years ago, its hard for me to take your brand seriously. I probably won’t. And I don’t think anyone else will either. Rather remove all outdated online content, or make sure it’s disabled. Better still, make sure your Instagram links work and that they lead to fresh, relevant content.
7 | Keep things newsy
What do I mean by this? When I browse through your feed, I want to see current news, in the form of announcements, banners, or infograms which communicate life, energy and action. All of those things tell me ’Stuff is happening here!’ Here are some examples I like from @sentiensyoga, @zanaproducts and @kamersvol.
8. Keep things current
When you haven’t posted anything on your Instagram feed in the last 3-5 days, I get the feeling you might not be that invested in your product, or in sharing your product with the world. Of course, we all have our off weeks, and I’m not talking about that. I’m saying if you want to use Instagram effectively to share your product story, make sure you are posting regularly. That way, you help to keep your product in the forefront of your follower’s minds.
9. Make sure your photos match your brand offering
You want the images on your Instagram feed to reflect the quality, feel and vibe of your brand and your product. You might have a brilliantly designed, beautiful product which is magnificently displayed on your website. Now make sure what can be found on your Instagram feed matches that quality! It doesn't mean that every photo you post needs to be professional quality, it just means asking whether the photos you post are truly a representation of the calibre of your work.
10. Follow and be followed!
It’s not enough to set up your account, upload a few images and hope for the best. You’ve got to follow other accounts, and build a follower base. Follow accounts who are in your region geographically, follow your competitors, follow those you work with, follow those in your field. follow those who inspire and challenge you, follow those who follow you!
A creative design product may have a great feed that is current, has brand consistency, epic visuals, but zero engagement. No likes, no comments, and no involvement. This sends the message, ‘My product is not relevant’. Combat this lack of engagement by asking questions, reaching out to others, posting genuine comments on other feeds, and encouraging interaction.
12. Make sure your images reflect the quality of your product
I know I’ve left this until last, but this is the most important point yet: Instagram is a visual platform and if you want to stand out, your images have to shine. They can't just be functional catalogue images, or poorly lit snaps of your sleeping cat. At the very least they should be clear, crisp and clean business, product and behind the scenes pics. But that’s only the start. When someone comes across your feed, you want their response to be ‘Wow!’ followed closely by ‘I’ve got to have one of those!
I want your business to do well on Instagram, but until you take your brand seriously on this platform, nobody else will.
Want to apply these points to your own Instagram feed now? I've put together an actionable check-list which you can grab below.
You can read some of my other Instagram related posts over here...