Learning how to sell on Instagram is easier than ever with shoppable Instagram posts. The steps to selling on Instagram include using a business profile and having great photos, since Instagram is a very visual platform. The real work is in marketing your products once you’ve got your account set up.
BigCommerce is an e-commerce platform that allows you to easily manage all aspects of selling on Instagram, so that you can drive more customers to make that purchase. Start your 15-day free trial today.
Here’s how to sell on Instagram in five steps:
1. Check Eligibility for a Shoppable Instagram Account
Instagram limits those who can sell products using shoppable posts. Only those in 59 countries, so far, are eligible to sell. Physical products are the only items allowed by Instagram, so services and digital products like online subscriptions and membership sites are not allowed. High-risk merchants are also not allowed, which means no adult products, no cannabis, and no selling of animals. Users must also have a business account that’s connected to a Facebook page and an updated Instagram app.
2. Switch Instagram Profile to a Business Account
If your business is using a personal Instagram account, you will have to convert it to a business account to create shoppable posts. It does not cost anything to do so.
Here is how to convert a personal Instagram account to a business account:
- From your profile, tap the three horizontal bars in the top right corner of the screen
- At the bottom of this screen, tap Settings
- Then you’ll tap Account
- Next tap Switch to Business Account
If you do not see Switch to Business Account:
- Tap on Get More Tools
- Select Business
- Then click continue to select a Facebook page and tap Next
You’re now set up as a business account. You will be able to run ads on Instagram, and you’ll be able to create shoppable posts.
3. Connect Your Instagram Account to a Catalog
There are a few ways to connect a catalog to your Instagram account. You can use the do-it-yourself method through Catalog Manager within Facebook, or you can go through one of two approved Facebook Partners: BigCommerce or Shopify.
Here’s how to set up your catalog to sell on Instagram:
Connect a Catalog the DIY Way
You can connect an already established catalog or you can create a new one. You will want the ability to create product tags and stickers, so choose an E-Commerce Catalog.
Here is how to set up an E-Commerce Catalog:
- Go to Catalog Manager
- Click Create Catalog
- Choose E-Commerce Catalog
- Add items to your inventory by clicking Upload Product Info
- Name your catalog
- Select Create
Here is how to connect your Instagram to an existing catalog:
- Go to Catalog Manager
- Choose your catalog
- You will now be on your Diagnostics page; click More Ways to Use Your Catalog
- Select Instagram Shopping
- Click Connect Your Instagram Business Profile and then Connect Account
Using Channel Manager From BigCommerce
Setting up shoppable posts using Channel Manager is easy. You’ll click on Channel Manager and then Instagram. You’ll see a green check mark that will tell you if you’ve met the eligibility for a shoppable Instagram account.
If you do not have a green check mark, you will need to click Setup Facebook and then Connect to Facebook.
To connect your Facebook account to BigCommerce, you will need to click Continue as ______. This should say your first name. If it doesn’t, click Cancel and open a separate window. From there, log out of Facebook and into the Facebook account you want associated with BigCommerce, and try again. You will also need to grant permission to BigCommerce to receive your information from Facebook.
Once you’ve linked your Facebook account, you will need to select which business Facebook page you want to associate with your shop.
After selecting the right page, you will need to add your business address and contact email address.
If you have offices in any states, you will need to choose the states and include your Tax Registration Number. This is so they know how you should be taxed. Otherwise, click Next.
After entering your shop details, select your shipping and return policies. BigCommerce even lets you select free shipping. Keep in mind that you are required to ship your product within seven days.
Before entering your payment details, you need to agree to Facebook’s Commerce Product Merchant Agreement. The terms that you agree to include that you’re following commerce policies, and you’re going to abide by their rules. If you don’t abide by them, they can kick you out.
Now that you’ve accepted Facebook’s Commerce Product Merchant Agreement, enter your payment details so that you get paid for anything you sell.
From the drop-down menu, select your business category so that Facebook taxes you properly. For example, toys and cookware get different tax treatment than food, so it’s important to let Facebook know which category your products fall under.
Payments are direct deposited into your checking account. Provide your routing number, bank account number, and the name on the account before clicking Finish.
You will get a message indicating you’re all set once you enter your bank details. Note that this only means you’re done entering your banking details—you will have a few more steps after this.
When you are finished inputting your payment details, click Next.
Facebook will ask for a more detailed category so they may rank and index your shop. You may select one or more categories.
After sending your products to Facebook, you should now have a green check mark indicating you’ve connected BigCommerce to your Facebook Shop.
Linking a Shopify Store
Setting up a Shopify store so that you can sell on Instagram is simple. By using Shopify, your inventory syncs across any social media platforms and online marketplaces.
Here is how to link Shopify to your Instagram account:
- When logged into your Shopify admin page, click the + button next to Sales Channel
- Click Instagram
- Select Add Channel
- Log in to your Facebook account page to authenticate your Instagram account in the sales channel
Once you have your catalog connected to your Instagram account, you need to request account approval. You will do this by clicking on Settings from your profile page, then Business, and tap Shopping on Instagram. Approval is typically granted within three business days, but can take longer. To check the status of your approval, click on Shopping in Settings.
4. Turn On Product Tagging in Instagram
You’ll receive notification about your approval from Instagram, and once you receive it, you can move onto setting up product tagging in Instagram. To enable product tagging in Instagram, follow these steps:
- Go to your profile
- Tap Get Started at the top of your profile; if you don’t see this, tap the gear icon found under the three horizontal bars on your profile page
- Tap on Shopping
- Hit Continue
- Choose your product catalog
- Select Done
- Click Share
After you’ve turned on product tagging, you can move on to the next step.
5. Upload a Photo & Tag Your Product
In order for shoppers to buy your products from a photo, the product needs to have a tag that tells what the product is. This allows a user to purchase the product without ever leaving Instagram. Tagging your products on Instagram is simple.
Here are the steps to add tags to your products on Instagram:
Using a Static Instagram Post
Upload an image as you normally would, adding any effects or filters, and then tap on the product you want to tag in your image. From here, enter the name of the product, and select them as they appear in the search. You can tag up to five products in a single image, and up to 20 products in a multi-image post.
Tagging a Product in an Instagram Story
For Instagram story product tagging, you will also upload an image like you normally would. From the sticker tray, select the Product sticker. From there you can pick the product you want featured and you can move that sticker anywhere you want it to be featured in the image. Then you share it.
How It Works When Shopping on Instagram
When a user interacts with Facebook and Instagram, data is collected about their activity. This allows them to tailor a user’s experience. For this reason, every user has a different look to their discovery page. To capture the attention of your desired audience, it’s important to use relevant hashtags.
Similarly, no two shopping feeds will look the same. Instagram wants users to make purchases because they get a small cut. Their take is industry standard at 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction. When a user sees something they want to purchase, they can view which products are tagged and go straight to the website, all without actually leaving Instagram. It’s important to note that with hashtags, even non-followers can discover your products.
How to Optimize Your Instagram Posts for Sales
Instagram is a very visual platform, which means that your Instagram profile and posts need to fit your brand. Your posts should not consist of too many selfies or product-only pictures. In fact, if you’re showcasing a product, it’s best to display it as it’s being used so it doesn’t seem too salesy. Encourage your customers to tag you in their posts containing your product for a chance to be featured.
You can also start an ambassador program if you don’t yet have many customers. Ambassadors will receive a few items in return for creating and posting images. You can then use these images in your own social media posts. Oftentimes, businesses will offer an affiliate link for the ambassador to use so that any product sales that occur based on their own posts will get them a percentage of the sale. Generally, this is 10% to 15%.
Tips for Selling on Instagram
With shoppable posts, selling on Instagram is now easier than ever—particularly if you already have an established audience. What if you don’t have a large network of buying customers? We have sourced some of the best tips for marketing on Instagram.
How to market on Instagram:
1. Retargeting Is Key
“Ensure you have a well-planned, sequential retargeting campaign. It’s rare that a cold audience is going to immediately purchase from your store having just started following you on Instagram. They may click over to the site for a nose around, but need more warming up than that. As such, it’s vital to have an Instagram retargeting campaign set up to continue to tell the story to the prospect.
“Develop creative that takes the user on a journey to get to know your brand. Match it to where they are in your sales funnel and which pages of your site they visited and bounced from. Don’t make the mistake of making it generic. Ensure that the retargeting creative changes daily and tells your brand story with creative and engaging content.”
– Alistair Dodds, Marketing Director and Co-founder, Ever Increasing Circles
2. Use Instagram Stories to Their Fullest Potential
“As a business owner, using Instagram stories humanizes your brand and makes you relatable. You will want to post five to 10 Instagram stories per day. Here is a sample content plan:
Monday: Updates on the projects you are working on this week
Tuesday: Tip Tuesday to educate about your product or service
Wednesday: Introduce a team member and what they do
Thursday: Show your testimonials and social proof
Friday: Create a poll or ask a question about your product or service
“Instagram allows you to do fun things like add polls, questions, GIFs, a timer, and more. Using features like the polls and questions also allows you to do free market research. It shows your audience you genuinely care about their opinion.
“Finally, do not forget to leave a call to action. Your call to action can be things like: direct message us, swipe up, check out this new post, or share this with a friend.”
– Brodie Pierson, Owner, BrodiePierson.com
3. Optimize Your Images
“With Instagram restricting hyperlinks within captions, it’s essential to use a shoppable Instagram. This allows transactions to happen right on the Instagram platform, making it super-easy for purchases to take place. It isn’t as simple as throwing up a picture, though.
“Your photos can make or break the sale since Instagram is a very visual platform. Let them reflect the quality of your product—your Instagram profile should be thought of as a catalog. Choose and plan out your content carefully.
“To increase your product sales through Instagram, use 30 hashtags on your static posts. From just one hashtag alone, our company received 7,000 views on just one post. They find our product in the hashtag, click the shoppable feature, and purchase.”
– Shelby Pierson, Owner, Trick and Fancy
How to Sell on Instagram Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
This section includes the most frequently asked questions about how to sell on Instagram. If you don’t see your question, head over to our Fit Small Business forum and post your question there. We have a whole team of industry experts who answer questions from small businesses every day.
The most frequently asked questions about how to sell on Instagram:
How do I know if my Instagram Shopping tags are performing well?
You can view Insights on your Instagram products. On a shoppable post, click View Insights just below the post to see how it is performing. You can also see the performance of a shoppable story by swiping up on that story.
Can I have shoppable products on Instagram if I’m not in the U.S.?
Yes, there are 59 countries eligible to create shoppable products on Instagram. You can see those here.
How many products can I tag on an Instagram post?
You can tag up to five products per single-image post or 20 products per multi-image post.
Can I create a shoppable Instagram if I only sell services?
At this time, Instagram only allows products to be sold on Instagram.
We have a team. Will everyone on the team get to use product tags?
Yes, anyone logging into the business account will be able to tag a product.
I have old posts with my products. Can I go back & tag them now?
Yes, you can edit old posts with product tags. However, if you have a multi-image post with product tags, those cannot be edited once published.
What happens if I delete a product from my Facebook shop or catalog?
The product tag will be removed from your Instagram post and you will lose any insights you have about that tag.
Having your products shoppable on Instagram is a great way to get in front of an enormous audience that is already likely to buy. Learning how to sell on Instagram is easy, and the real work begins when you market your shoppable Instagram posts.
To make the selling process even easier, use a product partner like BigCommerce. They have the most straightforward setup process, and offer the most features at the same price level as competitors. Sign up for a 15-day free trial today.