Instagram users are increasing by the day and with features likes stories coming in, we see the number only rising for a considerable amount of time.

The platform that is predominantly all about visuals, has become the greatest opportunity for eCommerce businesses to market their products – even amidst the competition they face from eCommerce giants like Amazon on search engines.

Know what we mean?

When I search for brogue shoes on Google, the first page is full of results from the top eCommerce sites according to my location. Notice how Amazon, Snapdeal, Koovs and AJIO take up most of the search?  shoes search brown shoes Now here’s a store I came across via an Instagram ad promoting their brogue shoes – for a cost lesser than all the above and I found the product better looking too!

small store brown shoes

Point to be noted here – there are so many other stores in the market that are offering the products you’re looking for; some maybe even better variations of it, but they don’t show up on search results.

The reason is, the biggies in the eCommerce industry are really hard to compete with. But social is a reign that these stores can certainly take to.

In case the Facebook advertising costs just came to your head, rejoice! We’re actually talking about Instagram here and how your online store can actually shine on the platform – both organically and with paid campaigns.

1. Focus on building a community

Whether you’re marketing a desktop based eCommerce store or its mobile app to boost your installs, it is important to focus on building your community first. With so many options being available to consumers, it is important to ensure that they pick your brand every time.

Instagram is all about using the right set of popular and brand specific hashtags to get your posts discovered. Create a campaign that encourages your target audience to use a brand specific hashtag. Start the trend with your existing customers, nudging them to share their purchases and further the chain.

Here’s an example from one of the top sports company, Nike. Nike created the #runfree campaign to bring together all the runners from across the world and form their own community. The campaign was actually created to promote a specific range of their running shoes.

nike insta

Now here’s an example from a smaller eCommerce business, Snob Box using the hashtag #snobbox to create a chain of posts specific to their brand only.

snob box - insta

2. Make your customers model for you

Social proof is known to work well for eCommerce stores. When people know that there are others like them purchasing the product, they are more likely to do so too. But you can’t practically stalk every potential customer and pin point him towards someone who has purchased a product from you. This is where the user generated content comes in.

Make sharing the user generated content a part of your Instagram marketing strategy – even if the posts don’t seem to match your high quality photography theme. This does two things – shoutout to the customer who shared the picture, earns his/her loyalty and the post acts as a social proof to others on how good your products are.

For instance, the same store, Snob Box makes it a point to share pictures that its customers have shared, featuring their products – of course!

user generated content - insta

3. Partner with other brands or influencers

Continuing on the drift above, we’d like to bring forward how a lot of Instagram users have worked their way up into industries to become influencers. These are people will thousands or even millions of followers – a number that you would take a considerable time to reach too. But they constitute of your target audience. Then why not tap into their power with an influencer marketing program?

For example, here a store called Pipa Bella gets featured on a fashion blogger/ influencer’s feed. Her followers automatically dig the trend – don’t believe us? Go check her feed to see how blindly people are willing to follow her style!

Tip: Looking for influencers? Here’s a tool to find Instagram influencers.

influencer marketing insta - 1

It has been proven that an engaged follower on Instagram is worth a lot more order value than on any other social media channel – including Facebook. This is exactly the reason why you need to use every trick out there to reach maximum of your target audience!

instagram insta value

4. Run interesting contests or giveaways

Engagement is the key to digital success. So instead of only trying to feed your target audience with your posts or posts that promote your products, focus on creating an engagement campaign. The most common and effective ones being running contests or giveaways.

Incase you were wondering how ineffective the last contest you ran on Facebook was and how it drained you of your marketing budget, here’s a fun fact – Instagram users are more likely to actively engage with brands. This means a simple few hashtags like #giveaway #contestalert could get you to your next participant!

instagram engagement


Want even more people to participate? Then retarget your website visitors before they leave with a campaign that notifies them of an ongoing contest and what they can win out of it by participating!

For instance, here’s a sample Exit Bee campaign that is nudging a leaving visitor to participate in a giveaway the website is hosting. The campaign is non-intrusive and is bound to only boost the on-site engagement as well as contest participation rate.

fashion blogger exit intent

Increase your Instagram following 10X faster by retargeting your website visitors, using Exit Bee!

5. Don’t forget to interact with your audience

Continuing on the point above, with engagement being the key to digital success, it is important that marketers focus on interacting with their Instagram audience. It is important to find ways for your target market to discover you and there’s no better way than joining an ongoing conversation.

Shortlist a few keywords and hashtags that are relevant to your business. Then take a look at the posts that people have made around it. You might discover some posts that can be used as UGC, but you’ll also find opportunities to promote your eCommerce store in some.

For example, Valore.apparel here dropped a comment appreciating one of my posts – I obviously went on to check their profile and discovered the products they had on offer.

valore apparel insta

6. Create an attractive theme

Getting people to discover one post, is like getting them to discover your entire feed. It is a given for any Instagram user to scroll through your feed to see what you offer and that’s where you need to capture their interest.

Creating a theme on your feed that is relevant to your products and brings out the best in them, is a great way to stimulate their interest. For that matter, even hook it to have them come back looking for more.

We love how Maybelline follows through a theme here! You could find your own using different kinds of product imageries, filters, themes and more.

maybelline insta

7. Don’t forget direct messages

Instagram has a feature that most businesses forget to leverage from – direct message. When someone follows your account, it is a given that he/she has some interest in your product. This is the time to hit the nail on the head.

Send over a quick message to the person that notifies him of a special discount he can claim on his first purchase or of an ongoing sale at your store. You could also use the channel to open a quick conversation with your customers.

Instagram is a lot about getting your posts discovered by the right set of people and at the right time. So don’t forget to experiment with your frequency and timing of posts initially to understand when your customers are the most active.

Remember still, even Instagram is all about adding value to your audience. So create a strategy that complements what you’re following on other channels for maximum results!

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Vanhishikha Bhargava

Content Marketer at Exit Bee. Most of the times found trying to create compelling copies for blogs and digital campaigns, keeping a watch on what's happening on social media or ranting on Twitter. At all other times, not found.

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