Seeing your Instagram followers grow is a great feeling. It means you’re doing something right and people are starting to take notice.

But as a business, you know that these numbers don’t mean anything if they don’t translate to paying customers. Instagram isn’t just a vanity platform to get approval in the form of likes, comments and follows.

When used strategically, it can be a powerful platform to drive sales and grow your customer base. In fact, with its slew of updates, it’s clear that Instagram is looking to be the next big e-commerce platform.

Here are seven tried and tested ways to convert your Instagram followers to customers.

1. SET UP AN INSTAGRAM SHOP

Selling on Instagram is now easier than ever before. With Instagram Shopping’s latest update, brands now have a  special “Shop” tab on their profiles where customers can easily browse and purchase products without having to leave the Instagram app.

You can also tag Instagram Shop products on your photos — similar to how you would tag a friend. When followers tap on your photos with tagged products, they will be able to view the item’s name and its price. Clicking on the product name will redirect them to your Instagram Shop.

By setting up an Instagram Shop, you create a seamless shopping experience for your customers. While on social media, many users may not have the intention to shop or patience to be redirected to another website. The solution is simple — you take your shop to them. With the accessibility and ease, it will be hard for your customers to say no.

What’s best is every time you tag a product on your post, it will appear in Instagram’s newly launched Shopping Explore tab. This allows your products to be discovered by your target market and an audience that has high chances of converting into customers.

Be sure to use strategic hashtags for higher engagement and better chances of getting featured in the Shopping Explore tab.  Unsure of what hashtags to use? Don’t be afraid to use hashtag generators to find the best hashtag customized for your content.

Photo credit: https://www.instagram.com/skims/

Shapewear brand, SKIMS utilizes Instagram Shopping by adding a “View Shop” button on their profile. Customers are then taken to a page where they can view all available products. To purchase a product, users will have to click “View on Website”, which is the only time they are redirected out of the Instagram app.

Another advantage of setting up an Instagram Shop is that you don’t have to be constrained to the singular-link-in-bio rule of Instagram.

Since you can’t add clickable links to your captions, nor is it possible to change the link every time you want to promote a product, with Instagram Shop, you can seamlessly promote your products in your posts and stories. Say goodbye to the incessant “click the link in our bio” call to action after every caption.

2. POST YOUR PRODUCTS IN ACTION

Don’t treat your Instagram profile as a regular shop. None of those plain product shots in stark-white or solid backgrounds. Instead, show your products on real people and demonstrate how it works through creative videos and Instagram Stories. Your followers want to see that your product is something they could imagine themselves using.

In a space where trying on or sampling is not possible, it’s important for potential customers to witness your products in action. In addition, choosing lifestyle shots over plain product shots allows your customers to see the various situations in which your product can be used.

Photo credit: https://www.instagram.com/nike/

Check out Nike’s (@nike) Instagram page for inspiration. The sportswear brand showcases their products being used by all kinds of people from professional athletes to everyday individuals. This approach makes the brand relatable to virtually anyone.

You want your followers to see your posts and think “this could be me” or “I could do that too”.

3. ENGAGE ENGAGE ENGAGE

Being responsive to comments and messages is a great way to show your Instagram followers that you care about them.

Good customer service is key when running a business, more so when you’re running a purely online business as humans still look for that personal touch when shopping. Research shows that for 95% of customers, customer service affects brand loyalty.

But in a platform like Instagram, engaging with your followers or customers is not limited to simply replying to them. Instagram Stories is an effective tool you can use to engage with your followers and to get them to engage with you.

Using the Instagram Stories Stickers feature, you can encourage your followers to share their feedback and opinions about your products. You can even ask them to share their ideas to help you with your next product release or what type of product they’d want you to launch next.

This will make your Instagram followers feel like their ideas are important and that they are part of the product development process. As a result, they will be more likely to convert into paying customers.

Photo credit: https://www.instagram.com/glossier/

Cult-favorite skincare brand, Glossier, can attribute their success to their brilliant marketing, a big part of which includes starting conversations and “co-creating” with their customers.

If you follow Glossier on Instagram, you will see that they regularly encourage followers to ask questions and give feedback. These questions and interactions from followers are then used to develop products that customers are already looking for.

Constant engagement and communicating with your followers will generate two-way conversations and provide you with valuable data that can help you understand your audience better. In the long run, you will be able to build a community of loyal followers and regular customers.

4. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF USER GENERATED CONTENT

In a digital world, where potential customers can’t physically see or try on your products, they usually turn to customer reviews before making a purchase. 88% of online shoppers say that they trust reviews as much as personal recommendations.

That’s why it’s important to create a process that encourages your customers to leave reviews, respond to them, and address any negative feedback that you receive.

As Instagram is not like other e-commerce platforms like Amazon or Etsy where customers can easily view comments and each product’s average star-ratings, you will have to post the reviews yourself.

Reviews can either be sourced through your website, direct messages, email, or tagged, user-generated content (UGC), all you’ll need to do is ask permission to repost.

Photo credit: https://www.instagram.com/outdoorvoices/

Activewear brand, Outdoor Voices (@outdoorvoices), regularly uses customer testimonials as part of their content plan. To stay on-brand with their usual posts, the testimonials are placed on top of casual product shots.

Using UGC and testimonials as part of your regular content plan is a way to let potential customers know that real people have actually bought your product and are happy with their purchases. It’s an effortless way to not only build trust but also help potential customers in decision making.

If for example, someone is hesitant to push through with her purchase because she is unsure of her size, seeing a photo of a customer wearing the item she’s interested in will give her a clearer idea of how the fit will be on herself.

Flaunt your customer testimonials with the help of apps like Instasize. Choose from different font-styles and filters to get eye-catching results — no graphic design experience needed.

5. RUN INSTAGRAM-EXCLUSIVE PROMOTIONS

A social media platform like Instagram can have very passive users. This means that they could be mindlessly scrolling without any intent to shop.

Turn your followers from passive scrollers into active customers by surprising them with offers they can’t refuse. Every shopper loves a deal and exclusive promotions make them feel extra special.

For a successful campaign, announce your Instagram-exclusive sale on your main grid, on Stories, Highlights, and ads. You can even partner with influencers for maximum impact.

It’s best practice to make your sales seasonal or align it with awaited events like Black Friday. Don’t make the mistake of holding sales too regularly as it takes away the “exclusive” feel.

Leverage on your Instagram followers’ FOMO or their “Fear of Missing Out” to get them to take action. Highlight words or phrases such as “Limited”, “Last-chance!”, or “Time’s running out…”. Make them feel like if they don’t act now, they will regret it later.

Utilize Instagram Stories’s countdown sticker, to remind your followers’ that they have a deadline to meet. Use a strong and clear call-to-action on all of your posts.

On the flip side, you can also encourage existing customers to follow your Instagram account to get an exclusive discount. This is a win-win for you because you are able to make a sale and grow your following on Instagram at the same time.

6. PARTNER WITH INFLUENCERS

According to Newworld Associates, 92% of consumers are more likely to trust an influencer over traditional advertising, and even the brand itself! Influencers are seen as authorities in their niches and they often already have a large following who trust them.

With 89% of marketers saying that influencer marketing ROI is better than other marketing strategies, it would be a mistake to not include influencer marketing as one of your brand’s marketing efforts.
An influencer partnership could be as simple as asking an influencer to post themselves using your product. For a campaign that feels more organic and holistic, ask your partner influencer to share their experiences with your product through a meaningful caption, a story Q&A or an Instagram live.

While simple product posts are enough to get their audience’s attention, today’s consumers may be more discerning. You want to make your followers believe that the influencer actually uses your product and is not just posting to get the job done.

Pro-tip: When partnering with an influencer, it’s important to give them the creative freedom to execute. Don’t be too stiff on the requirements or you will run the risk of making the post feel too staged.

Photo credit: https://www.instagram.com/jvn/

Sustainable skincare brand, Biossance, partnered with Queer Eye grooming guru Jonathan Van Ness (@jvn). On the sponsored post, which garnered over 300,000 views, Jonathan shows how to apply the product and talks about its benefits. To further encourage followers to take action, the campaign is supported by a special discount code.

7. TELL YOUR STORY

While your intention is to make a sale, people on Instagram don’t want to be blatantly sold to. Selling on Instagram has to be discrete, and one way to do it is to tell your story.

Share behind-the-scenes clips of how your products are made, talk about your product development process, and show your employees at work. This type of content makes your brand more approachable and more human.

When a customer can identify with you — whether you look like them, or your story is something they can relate to — they are more likely to support you. What’s best is that behind-the-scenes content doesn’t need professional editing or staged photos; the more authentic, the better.

Photo credit: https://www.instagram.com/amami.ph/

Filipino jewelry brand, Amami (@amami.ph), regularly posts stories of their artisans at work. This gives their followers a glimpse of the process and the people behind their products.

As part of their story highlights, the brand also posts updates about their partner artisans and how they are able to progress in life thanks to the support of their customers.

This inspires followers to support the brand, not only because the products are beautiful but because of the people behind them.

Think about it: without your story, how can you differentiate yourself from other brands that sell the same or similar products?

GET STARTED

On Instagram, metrics like follower count, views, and engagement may seem like the most important targets. However, as a business, these metrics have to lead to revenue. So plan your Instagram marketing strategies around conversion, write clear calls-to-action, offer exclusive deals, and start conversations with your followers. Once your followers feel connected to your brand, they will be more than willing to buy your products.

Author’s bio

Denise Langenegger is part of the team at Instasize – a content creating tool kit for anyone editing photos and online content on mobile.

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