We’ve seen a record number of businesses using Instagram as a platform for direct and indirect sales opportunities this holiday season. Instagram has 500 million active monthly users. What’s great is that Instagram is now a live shopping site for some brands, and it’s likely a full rollout will make it a reality for all brands in 2017.

Instagram launched its shoppable features beginning back in 2014 and it slowly evolved through testing. Now it’s both easy and fun to shop right from Instagram. Since 2014, the platform has integrated advertising into its shoppable feature and some big brands are able to take advantage of it. Instagram worked with certain brands to test its current iteration of Insta-shopping. Some of those brands include Kate Spade NY (featured below) and Warby Parker.

There are two ways to shop directly from Instagram. One is with business accounts verified by Instagram (like Kate Spade NY) and granted shopping features. The second way is through sponsored shopping post.

With 75 percent of users taking action as suggested in posts and ads by brands, it’s worth digging into what this new frontier of social commerce is all about.

Instagram’s Shoppable Feature

Let’s take a look at one of my favorite brands doing an impeccable job on Instagram, Kate Spade NY.

shop on instagram

Simply tap the bottom left corner and all the shoppable products pop up with prices and links to their respective product page.

You can share the post if you want or continue on the shopping journey.

sharing products on instagram


Let’s say I love and need to have that bunny keychain. I simply tap on the dollar amount and am taken to the product on sort of an intermediary page.


instagram product pageYep, still want it, so I tap on either the amount or the “Shop Now” link and I’m redirected.

Which finally gets the user to the mobile katespade.com site to purchase the keychain.

shop now on instagram


Sure that may seem like a lot of steps to purchase a keychain, but in all it takes less than 30 seconds to get from image to product page. If a user were shopping from a curated photo posted on Instagram with no shoppable links, there is no telling how long it could actually take to get to this item.


Sponsored Shopping Posts – Otherwise Known As Ads

To do a sponsored post, you just need an Instagram Business account (It is tied to your Facebook page for the business). You can promote your posts to drive traffic and sales with these ads. Test out multiple CTAs and offers for the right combo, and make this channel part of your holiday campaigns.


Amazon Instagram Ad

The Shop Now link takes you directly to Amazon where you can purchase the item. For other uses on the promoted posts, you can use your call-to-action to encourage signups to a workshop.



Instagram insights for business

Again, all you need to promote a post is to set up or convert your account to a business account. This is tied to Facebook (yes, Facebook) via pages that you admin in the case of a small account like mine.

This great post from Shopify explains how to set up your account for promotions. It covers all the basics to get you started. Promoting/sponsored ads are easy and scalable for your budget. They are great options for businesses to leverage Instagram for increasing revenue.

If Instagram is part of your marketing plan, these promoted posts could do wonders.


Driving Sales via Great Images and Graphics


Not everyone is ready to promote posts and, in lieu of that, some really great graphics can also help drive sells via Instagram.


instagram promoted posts


Our client Pawstruck has a beautifully branded Instagram account, so when an eye-catching graphic interrupts the feed full of adorable dogs, it’s both noticed and actionable. Plus, FREE gifts when you already buy great dog treats like bully sticks? Yes, please.


instagram mancrates video

This video from our client Mancrates is both engaging and lets you know a great sale is going on. It subtly calls out the sale, while reminding you of the many holidays coming up with the falling snow and the word “gifts.”  Aside from that, if you’re shopping for a guy in your life who is hard to find that right gift for, I recommend Mancrates. No, not because they are our client, but because you can legit find great gifts for men there.


Desktop Views of Graphics

Since graphics can still drive sales, let’s look at a couple posts in desktop view. They are not shoppable, but some people do actually view Instagram on desktops. In this view, we can see both the graphic and the text together.

Hourglass Angel cyber monday instagram post

Above is one of our clients, Hourglass Angel. Perfect product placement with a very good offer and completely on target for the audience with emoji usage. They are also specializing the link for tracking. Never a bad idea. Plus the hashtags may seem like overkill, but they drive a huge amount of traffic on Instagram.


kate spade instagram desktop view

The desktop version of the previously mentioned KateSpadeNY account is not shoppable, but that is the genius that they are doing. Perfectly on-brand for their clientele and featuring a pencil holder they sell, as well as the gold bow paperclips, which are also carried in their desk accessories line. Plus the laptop is featuring their sale on their site. A graphic within a graphic. Very meta. Very effective.


What is the Bottom Line for eCommerce Sites?

Should the tests be successful with companies like Kate Spade NY and Warby Parker, a full roll out could be expected. Of course, this will likely be a revenue stream for Instagram, so retailers may need to plan for budgeting. Ultimately, this will be a game changer. This will turn everyone’s favorite pretty place to look at pictures into a social commerce hub.

In the meantime, sponsoring and creating an ad is a good way to drive traffic to your site and particular product pages.

What can you do to leverage Instagram right now?

  1. Create great graphics or invest in a designer that can
  2. Convert your account to a business account for both insights and advertising opportunities
  3. Promote posts
  4. Make it easy by linking directly to the product page
  5. Feature one beautifully curated product at a time on your promoted posts
  6. Use your audience insights to help pick hashtags

By advertising on Instagram, you can increase your revenue and use special holidays and occasions to boost traffic and sales.

Still have questions or want to get in on the action? Give us a call and our paid social team can help.