3 Ways the New Instagram Can Boost Your eCommerce Efforts

  •    Tim is a freelance business writer. He writes about the business of innovation, comics and genre entertainment on The Full Bleed.

With over 600 million monthly active users—over 100 million of which joined in the last half of 2016—there's no disputing the advantages of Instagram as a marketing platform for retail brands.

Less known is how much Instagram influences retail sales. For example, Facebook recently made it possible for marketers to implement Dynamic ads via Instagram profiles. And that's for a network that, in 2013, was already responsible for the second-largest average retail order value among referring social networks. (Only Facebook was responsible for more.) Added features could push the newly revamped Instagram ecosystem of apps to even higher highs.

New Instagram, New Opportunities

Better Beast Instagram

Better Beast runs contests to engage their followers and broadcast flash sales.

When you click the camera in the upper left of your Instagram app's home screen, a window for shooting different sorts of video pops up. Options include broadcasting live, recording normally, shooting a short, repeating video called a "Boomerang" or going "hands free," wherein you can record by pressing the start button once and then pressing again to stop. (Previously, Instagram videographers would have to press and hold the record button.) Stickers are also available, as is the ability to add a video to a collection of other videos and images known as a story. Here are three specific ways to use these enhanced features to boost your eCommerce efforts:

  • Broadcast live flash sales. Much like Facebook and Twitter, Instagram now allows its users to "go live" and broadcast to fans and the wider platform. Why not take advantage by going live to promote a flash sale of products you'd like to move? Advertise the broadcast on your other networks and then use your on-air time to highlight or demonstrate your on-sale products and then highlight the coupon codes visitors can use to claim the discounts. Say you're a personal trainer. Trade a client one or more free sessions in exchange for a recorded session where you'll show off your skills and how the benefit clients. Then repeat an offer code during the beginning, middle and end of the broadcast. Also include it in your post description and then track how many sign ups you get. Think of it like a special, low-cost segment on QVC.
  • Create multi-photo stories featuring your products. The new Instagram is much like Snapchat in that it supports collections of photos and videos which you can label as stories. Most think of stories as photo albums, but there's nothing preventing you from using them to create mini-catalogs of related products from your store. Include a variety of photos and perhaps even an explanatory video and then be sure to point visitors back to the URL for your store. This, too, can be useful for your training business—especially if your story includes photos of fitness and health products that net you a commission with every sale.
  • Use Boomerang to demonstrate features. Other times you'll want to demonstrate something highly specific. Instagram's Boomerang can be excellent for that. Instead of going live or shooting a full-length video, take a 15-second shot demonstrating something highly specific or cool and then let Boomerang run it in a continuous loop. You can also add a series of Boomerangs as a story, creating a catalog of useful, short demos. Let's say you endorse a certain brand of medicine ball as part of your personal training business. Shooting a Boomerang to demonstrate proper technique using the ball could boost sales and bring in prospects who want to learn more.

Internet retail isn't an easy business, but it's a growing option. In the US, roughly 108 million people went online to spend over $5 billion online during the 2016 Thanksgiving-Black Friday holiday shopping weekend, up from the 99 million who surfed up savings the year prior.

Odds are we'll see even more growth in the year ahead—good news for creative e-tailers making use of advanced engagement tools such as the new Instagram. Will you be among them?

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