Want a sell-out crowd of small business owners at your next Chamber of Commerce meeting? Then invite a speaker on the topic of “How to Increase Sales Using Social Media.” Small businesses are excited about, but challenged, when it comes to using social media for actually conducting business. Now, there’s a newly expanded tool they can use to not only reach and engage more customers but to actually sell more stuff: Instagram’s “Shopping” feature.
With an announcement made Monday, March 19, more small businesses in the US and internationally have access to Instagram’s relatively new “Shopping” feature. This feature dramatically changes Instagram’s potential for small businesses because it enables users to actually start shopping when they see something in a company’s Instagram feed. Instagram experimented with this feature slowly in the US, but as of Monday, that feature is now expanded more broadly in the US and also to Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.
Quietly but quickly, Instagram has become a major player in the online sales and shopping world. But many small businesses are clueless about Instagram’s impact. While many small business owners are still trying to figure out Facebook or Google AdWords, Instagram has become a major player in the online small business sales space. More than 200 million Instagram users visit at least one business profile a day, and Instagram is particularly popular with Millennial and younger users who often are also shoppers.
“Building a business isn’t easy, but Instagram can help,” said Susan Rose, Director of Product Marketing at Instagram. “Instagram levels the playing field by giving small businesses the tools to compete with the big guys, engage with customers, and drive growth. Small businesses have the potential to reach Instagram’s community of 800 million. In fact, 80% of Instagrammers follow a business today. That’s an incredible market opportunity—a clear sign that people come to Instagram to interact with their favorite brands and be inspired by them.”
The recent announcement about Instagram’s “Shopping” feature comes at a good time to raise awareness because most small businesses, even those already on Instagram, don’t know about this tool that enables a business to turn their Instagram feed into a virtual storefront.
The “Shopping” tool allows a business to tag products they put in posts on their Instagram feed and when a user clicks on the tag, they’re taken immediately to the company’s website to make a purchase. For example, let’s say a running store posts a picture of a group of runners at an event. The store can tag a pair of shoes or a running top that they sell, and someone seeing the photo can click over to the running store’s website to make a purchase.
“For businesses, tagging a product is as simple as tagging a person in a post,” said Rose. “And for shoppers, a shopping posts’ tags get rid of the guesswork and allow for easy access to a tagged product’s information.”
“We’re hearing from small businesses it’s working. There are already 25 million businesses on Instagram—with more joining every day,” said Rose. “And 68% say that Instagram helps them find new customers.”
Some small businesses who’ve already tried Instagram’s “Shopping” tool report improved sales.
“Reducing search time and clicks improves conversion and revenue,” said Shari Lott, Founder & CEO of the baby products site, SpearmintLOVE. “When we launched Instagram Shopping, we experienced a 25% increase in traffic and an 8% increase in revenue attributable to Instagram Shopping,”
Instagram’s Rose has five tips for small businesses to help them increase their success using Instagram’s “Shopping” tool:
- Create at least nine shopping posts on your Instagram business profile to activate the Shop tab for your audience
- Tag multiple products in a single post to help your audience explore and browse
- Leverage different shopping formats—tag a single image or a carousel (a group of pictures that rotate)
- Make sure your product catalog is up to date and has your most relevant and compelling images
- Use “Stories” (Instagram’s short videos) to show your audience that they can now shop your posts
To use the “Shopping” tool, you first have to have an Instagram business profile. Then to learn more about the “Shopping” feature, visit Instagram’s Business page.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2018
This article originally ran in USA Today on March 21, 2018