As the ways we engage with the world around us change, so too do the ways we shop. The rise of ecommerce has brought shopping into customers’ homes and to their screens. Meanwhile, the phenomenal rise of social media is bringing stores into the same spaces that people use to connect with their friends and family.
Research shows that customers engage most with brands that use visual media, such as images and videos. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” For that reason, Instagram – a social media platform centered around sharing visual content – is the perfect promotional platform for savvy retailers.
Why Instagram for Ecommerce?
Instagram’s image-centric content model is a perfect fit for businesses. Hootsuite estimates that 200 million Instagram users visit at least one branded account daily. Additionally, around 75% of these users visit a brand’s ecommerce website or add a product to their shopping cart as a direct result of seeing an Instagram post. Instagram users are also 70% more likely to purchase products online than non-users.
Instagram is fast emerging as an ecommerce platform and a place for brands to promote their products and services. The Instagram Checkout function means users can shop without ever leaving the site.
While it is a particularly popular platform for visually dominated niches such as art and fashion, all ecommerce brands can utilize Instagram with a bit of know-how. Even if a post doesn’t lead to sales, it does lead to audience engagement. Brand engagement on Instagram is ten times higher than Facebook, and more than 54 times higher than Pinterest. In other words, Instagram users are more engaged with the brands they follow.
In the next section, we’ll discuss what an ecommerce store needs to do to be successful on Instagram.
What Makes a Great Ecommerce Instagram Account?
Here are a few of the main strategies that ecommerce Instagram accounts use to boost sales, drive traffic to their sites, and keep their followers engaged:
- Stay active. The only way your Instagram account will stay on your followers’ timelines is if you post regularly. Some brand accounts post up to 5 times per day! Consistency is key to keeping yourself on your followers’ radar.
- Build a brand and stick to it. Because Instagram is primarily a visual platform, aesthetics matter more here than on any other social media channel. Therefore, make sure you understand your brand identity and that your images and color scheme are aligned with it. A strong visual identity supports brand recognition.
- Stay relevant. Customers are highly discerning when it comes to the brands they follow. One poorly thought-out post can lead them to unfollow your account. On the other hand, relevant content that speaks to customer needs is always a winner.
- Be responsive. Customers are now starting to demand more from the businesses they follow. When a brand account responds to direct messages and comments promptly, people see that the company has robust customer support and cares about providing great service.
- Optimize your profile. Optimize your profile with a clear and on-brand profile picture, a descriptive bio, your contact information, and a relevant link. You might link directly to your store, to a landing page, or use a bio link tool to add multiple links. This will establish credibility and help your customers find what they’re looking for quickly.
- Cross-post across profiles. Instagram allows you to share your content on other social media platforms quickly and easily. Doing so will ensure your fans never miss an update, whichever channel they use.
There’s no doubt about it: if you have products to sell online, you should be selling on Instagram. Now that we know the basics of a successful ecommerce Instagram account let’s look at some of the best accounts and see why they’re winning the Instagram game.
6 Awesome Ecommerce Store Instagram Accounts to Inspire You
If you’re new to Instagram, you might be looking for inspiration or not be sure where to start. Never fear – we’ve collated a list of six of our favorites for you.
Here are some of the accounts that are setting the bar high for Instagram ecommerce – and what you can learn from them.
What’s so exciting about bags? Objectively, not an awful lot. However, bag and apparel brand Herschel Supply Co. has over 1 million followers, thanks partly to its fantastic marketing campaigns featuring user-generated content from all over the world.
For example, Herschel collaborated with travel blogger and influencer Roman Bintang. Bintang visited the beautiful Padar Island, Indonesia, and created images of himself there wearing his trusty Retreat backpack from Herschel:
It’s hard to believe, with success like this, that Herschel was only founded in 2009. The brand’s success is down to two things: sturdy, stylish, and timeless designs, and a killer marketing strategy.
If you learn one thing from Herschel, let it be this: don’t be afraid to add a sense of adventure and fun to your product shots. Sharing your products in use, especially when this leads to stunning photos like the one above, is so much more powerful than pristine, standard product photography. User-generated content is a goldmine of such images if you encourage your customers to participate.
Macy’s is known worldwide for its brick-and-mortar stores, particularly the flagship store in Manhattan’s Herald Square. But the brand also has an extensive online presence, recording a 53% growth in online sales during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown period.
The department store chain is also known for being outspoken about its advocacy for important causes. It was one of the first major brands to issue a statement supporting #BlackLivesMatter and was also among the first to close stores to protect staff and customers from COVID-19.
In the lead-up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Macy’s has been calling on its followers to register and vote. Macy’s is a shining example of a massive brand using its reach to amplify social messages and bring about needed social change.
The lesson? Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. The idea that retailers and businesses must be apolitical is ancient history. Modern customers want to see brands displaying a social conscience.
Nike, along with many other sports-related brands, suffered in the wake of mass cancellation of sporting events due to the pandemic. However, the brand continued to maintain a positive attitude and demonstrate care for its staff, customers, and what was going on worldwide.
Nike lived up to its “just do it” attitude as everyone adjusted to the new normal throughout early- to mid-2020.
Nike announced that it was temporarily closing its physical stores in March, and promptly increased sales activities through online channels.
The company invited Nike-powered athletes to stay active with its Nike Training Club and Nike Run Club apps. Nike also created the hashtag #YouCantStopUs to spread messages of empowerment to the fitness Instagram community and beyond.
Forever 21 (@forever21)
What’s the big deal with October 3? Probably not much, unless you grew up watching the hit teen comedy, Mean Girls.
Fast fashion brand Forever 21 celebrated the day by posting a famous line from the movie, as shown on one of its tops, proving that a well-timed pop culture reference will always be a winner:
You need to be a bit careful with pop culture – for example, never include anyone else’s intellectual property on products you’re selling without the proper permissions and licensing. But tapping into particular dates, trends, or quotes at the right time is a great strategy.
Remember: make sure you’re using references your core audience will “get.” Forever 21’s Mean Girls reference is ideal because its target audience of young women is likely to be familiar with the movie.
What better way to promote an action camera than to feature shots taken using the same product? GoPro is so confident in the quality of its flagship product that its Instagram account is heavy on user-generated content, such as bike videos, landscapes, or building shots, taken using GoPro cameras:
For National Dog Day, GoPro decided to celebrate man’s best friend. The video the brand uploaded featured dogs doing all sorts of cute things such as taking a bath, riding a surfboard, or just running across the lawn. As far as the “Awwwwww” factor goes, it’s safe to say this campaign won the hearts of GoPro’s 17 million followers.
Want to take a leaf out of GoPro’s book? Feature your product in-use in interesting, creative, and timely ways.
Coconut Bowls (@Coconutbowls)
Coconut Bowls is an ecommerce store with a difference. This company sells handmade, artisan bowls crafted from coconut shells. Its Instagram feed is an array of beautiful product shots, featuring the bowls holding everything from healthy fruit salads to piles of donuts.
However, Coconut Bowls doesn’t just show its products in use. It goes a step further, sharing recipes for the foods it pictures:
With a focus on sustainability, ethical business practices, and vegan eating, Coconut Bowls uses its social media presence to elevate itself from simply a company selling niche products to an entire lifestyle brand. Based on its extraordinary engagement levels and over 700,000 followers, the strategy has been hugely successful.
The lesson? Give your customers a little extra. Coconut Bowls provides these recipes and tips for free to anyone who follows its Instagram account. By providing added value to those who follow you, you’ll grow and maintain a loyal audience.
Your ecommerce Instagram account should be a central component of your digital marketing strategy. Instagram has so many built-in advantages that you’ll be wasting an opportunity if you don’t utilize it. An account that is boring or inconsistent about posting might as well be non-existent. If you want to establish a presence and build a following, you need a steady stream of high-quality and relevant content.
In addition to posting eye-catching pictures and entertaining videos, you also need to optimize your profile for ecommerce and be responsive to messages and comments. If you do all of this and provide added value to your followers, your effort will be reflected in your follower numbers, engagement rates, and sales.
We hope that the business accounts we’ve listed give you the inspiration you need to transform your channel and promote your brand on Instagram. If you have more amazing ideas for using Instagram as a marketing channel, let us know too!
Jimmy Rodriguez is the COO and co-founder of Shift4Shop, an ecommerce software to build SEO-friendly online stores. He’s dedicated to helping internet retailers succeed online by developing digital marketing strategies and optimized shopping experiences that drive conversions and improve business performance.