If you’re a retailer who hasn't tried to make money on Instagram, you’re missing out on some serious potential. Instagram has more than 500 million users, 300 million of which are daily active users. The photo editing and sharing app has a huge user base that is also actively engaged. Every day, users “like” more than 4.2 billion photos and share more than 95 million images.
So if you have products to sell and you’re not on Instagram, you better think about tapping into this massive community. Ready to get started? Here’s a guide explaining how to sell on Instagram and the benefits of a robust platform.
How to make money on Instagram
In order to effectively make money on Instagram, you’ll need to make sure your account is up to par. Creating a profile isn’t enough to get you followers, let alone sales. So even if you don’t think that hashtag is necessary, think again.
Your Instagram bio is your chance to introduce yourself. You have 150 characters to explain what you do and why your audience should care. As you write your bio:
- You don’t need to write in complete sentences.
- Use two to three keywords that relate to your industry.
- Feel free to use emojis.
- Include your unique selling proposition and/or product differentiation.
- Include a call-to-action (usually to click on the link in bio).
Pretty simple, right? All of that information is highly beneficial, and your customers will thank you for taking the time to include it.
You only get one active hyperlink on Instagram (all other URLs are inactive), and it’s in your bio. Use it wisely. Add a link to the next piece of content you want your ideal shoppers to see. That could include a link to a coupon, free opt-in, feature products, shop page or more — whatever it is, make sure it relates to your business.
If you want to make money on Instagram, you need to use your captions as an opportunity to describe your products, tell a story, attract users to your page, and engage your audience.
Plan your captions. Don’t rush this process because it’s more important than you think. Make them punchy. Engage your audience. And don’t use dull content.
Don’t shy away from using lengthy Instagram captions. Experiment with writing longer captions that act as mini blog posts that share useful and/or entertaining information.
Put the most important info at the top. Always highlight vital info at the top where users are most likely to see it.
Include a call-to-action. Tell users what you’d like them to do next, which might include commenting, liking the photo, tagging a friend, or visiting the link in your bio.
Use up to five hashtags. Hashtags are important. They help users find your posts through search (more on that later in this article).
Also, make sure your captions are easy to read. No one wants to be greeted with a wall of text — that’s hard on the eyes, and people will bounce faster than you think.
Break up the copy by using spaces and emojis.
You can’t add line breaks while writing copy directly through the Instagram app. Write captions in a notes tool then copy and paste it over to Instagram to add line breaks.
Photos are at the core of an Instagram presence, so as you share images, create a signature look that matches your branding. Choose a filter, color scheme or theme that runs throughout all of your photos and makes your profile feel cohesive.
Use geotagging when relevant. Geotagging shows the location of where your photo was taken, which creates another searchable lead back to your images.
Don’t make your account all about your products.
Even if you create your account just to sell products on Instagram, your profile needs to be more than that. Think of your Instagram feed as a branded publication. Share editorial content that is interesting and useful to your audience as much as you share ads that promote and sell products.
Use the right hashtag strategy to engage users and help them find your content.
- Use a database like Hastagify.me to find popular hashtags related to your industry.
- Create your own branded hashtags that guide users to see more from your brand or topic.
- Use hashtags at the end of your captions, so they are out of the way but available to help with search.
In early August, Instagram took a page out of Snapchat’s book and added a story feature to the app. Instagram Stories allows users to upload a series of photos and videos (and edit them with text, drawing tools and emojis) that are visible for 24 hours.
In addition to using posts to feature your products, use your story to sell products on Instagram.
String together videos and photos that show a look behind the scenes, your product in action, shots from your store, different variations of your product, and unique looks at your brand.
To make money on Instagram, your profile can’t be all about you. You must engage with other users and connect with them in authentic ways.
Follow users that use hashtags related to your industry. Users with similar interests will be likely to follow you back.
Use a geotag search to find users who are near you. When you geotag a location, you can click on it to see photos from other users who have also tagged that location. Follow or engage with this list to build relationships with nearby users.
Comment on other photos. Don’t write generic, copy-and-paste messages. Write authentic notes that relate directly to the user’s post.
Run contests that focus on user-generated content. Get your followers involved by asking your users to create content around your brand and then sharing their content through your page.
Plugins and add-ons
There are also additional tools that can help you make money on Instagram.
LiketoKnow.It — Retailers can add a LinktoKnow.It link in a photo caption. When a user double-clicks on a photo to like it, they receive an email with information about the product. This is only useful for connecting with users who have a LiketoKnow.it account.
Have2Have.it — Like LiketoKnow.It, this tool makes it easier for users to follow a path to purchase items from an Instagram feed. But Have2Have.it does not require the user to sign up for an account. Have2Have.it generates one URL (that should be placed in the bio link field) that takes users to a page that looks like the Instagram feed and includes options for purchase.
Instagram Layout — Use one Instagram post as an opportunity to showcase multiple products with Instagram Layout. The free tool allows you to create grid layouts to show multiple angles of your photos, tell a story, or create an interesting look.
Boomerang — Another tool from Instagram that helps create extra-interesting content, Boomerang enables users to create mini videos that loop back and forth.
Instagram advertising — The tips in this guide primarily relate to what you can do to make money on Instagram without spending advertising dollars. But you can also take it one step further by using paid Instagram advertising to connect with the platform’s 500 million users.
Ready to get started? You can check out this post to see what you need to know about putting your business on Instagram. And now that you’ve got the basics under your belt, you can start building a community today.