September 22, 2014

Instagram for Retailpreneurs: Part VI

How to Effectively Sell (without Selling) on Instagram

In part 6 of the 6-part series on Instagram for Retailpreneurs, I will cover at a high level strategies and the associated tactics for selling (without being super sleazy) on Instagram.

Depending on your brand, and your content, some of these may work, or none of them may.

Everything I list below, I have personally tried with my brand on Instagram, Encircled. If I haven't, I'll mention it in the post. I'll also add commentary as well based on my experience.

How can you sell on Instagram?

For the basics of selling on Instagram, you need to have your profile setup properly. Check out our second post in the series to make sure you've setup your profile to optimize conversions to sales.  The one imperative is to ensure the active link in your profile is set to go where you want people to buy. 

This is likely needed to be set to your main ecommerce page. However, for specific promotions (I.e. featuring a new t-shirt), you may want to edit the link to be direct to that t-shirt or collection.

Selling on Instagram is a bit like selling on Facebook. Some people find it greasy.

Yes, sleazy, greasy, gross.

However, there is a way to sell on Instagram without alienating your followers and using subtle techniques to get customers engaged with your brand and wanting what you've got.

Instagram is a lifestyle feed

Unless you're running your entire shop on Instagram (I'm sure you've seen this... people who post pictures of items and ask people to comment sold with email to buy it), I do not recommend posting continuous feeds of your product shots from your website on Instagram.

Think about your Ideal Customer. Would they want to see new products in their feed every morning?

I'm sure YOU want them to. But, how can you as a brand add VALUE or INTEREST or INSPIRATION to your followers' feeds?

If you've read Gary Vaynerchuk's book, "Jab Jab Right Hook" , you will know that he advocates creating content that will forge stronger relationships with your customers, then hitting them (not literally!) with a right hook (a selling 'ask'). 

If you visualize putting this into practice on Instagram, you should try to set yourself a ratio of ideal value-added content: selling posts.

For me, on Facebook, it's about 5:1. On Instagram, it's more like 10:1.

Instagram is not (yet) an advertising feed like Facebook.

Therefore people using it are not expecting that type of content. It's very much still a behind-the-scenes look into businesses, people and celebrities that you wouldn't get anywhere else.

Therefore, even the promotional posts I do on Instagram are VERY different than what I post elsewhere (Check out my IG feed here)

How to sell without selling

You are selling a lifestyle, not a product.

As a likely smaller, emerging brand, people are curious about YOUR story, about how you make stuff, and how you are following your passion and chasing your dreams as an entrepreneur.

Most people don't do this. Many are satisfied to stay at their comfortable, cushy job, and never take any risks.

You are taking massive risks. SHOW people how you work. What you do. Why you do what you do. Little glimpses of life and business will not only help increase your followers, but it will have people wanting to buy what you're selling.

A great example of this is the Instagram feed of KalakiRiot.  She's a New York based jewelry designer. Take a few minutes and creep her feed. Notice how she subtly includes her product into her travel + lifestyle posts. Tracy always mentions the product but it's not always the focus. The way she's styled it becomes the focus, and provides inspiration for her customs who often want to buy what they've seen!

Some of my most popular posts are small victories in my business. Posting about my new hangtags, or choosing fabrics, engages potential customers in the process. It piques their curiosity which may not result in direct sales today but potential in the future.

Often #OOTD posts work. 

I've found that posting outfit of the day posts (OOTD) are fairly successful in selling fashion -- I have a fashion product, and featuring it in casual, lifestyle themed photos generates interest. 

People are looking for inspiration. Ideas. They want you to do the work for them.

This is why fashion bloggers and magazines are popular. People want direction for how to put looks together. If you can fit into their life and help them do this, then bonus. And they may actually buy your designs too.

How to sell by selling

Another straight to the point way is to ask for the sale. Literally, post up a product or lifestyle shot and push people to your website. You can say {Link in profile} or post the actual link in the caption. Keep in mind links are not active (yet) in captions so it limits the person's ability to do a direct click through.

Larger retailers are using things Curalate which will gather up your Instagram products onto a single page on your website so that they are easily shoppable (through your profile link). Recently, Target and Nordstrom starting using Curalate.

LiketoKnowIt makes instagram photos shoppable. Used by many bloggers, I believe this requires you to sign-up to be able to shop the photos. Not exactly a seamless integration as you still need to copy the link to get to the page to shop, but getting better.

Soldsie is another way to directly integrate selling into your feed. Smaller online retailers are using this successfully. The user needs to comment sold with their size on your photo, and they will automatically be sent a mobile invoice. 

Optimize your photos to sell

A recent study by in partnership with Olapic, revealed some tips on posting higher converting images on Instagram for sales.

Posts that have longer captions, high levels of yellow or blue, no filters, no exclamation points or question marks and posted more infrequently have the tendency to convert better.

What are your favourite tips for selling on Instagram? Leave them in the comments below!

That marks the end of our Instagram series. Thanks for reading.

Liked this series? Don't miss out on future blog posts. Click the link at the end of this blogpost to sign-up for email updates.   


Wishing you blissful retail!

{ to be notified weekly in your inbox when new content arrives, click here }