When the average person thinks of Instagram, they often think of filtered photos of fancy food and “influencers” showcasing lives that look more exciting than our own.
But that’s only half the picture when it comes to the photo-sharing platform. More businesses than ever are using Instagram as a platform to connect with potential customers, build brand loyalty, and sell products.
This is especially true for businesses in the clothing industry. Fashion is already popular on the platform, so there’s clearly a target audience for people looking to sell clothes on Instagram.
Whether you’re a global clothing brand, a small brick-and-mortar store with a single location, or a fledgling ecommerce store, Instagram can help take your business to new heights.
How to Sell on Instagram
One of the questions we hear most often is, “Can you sell on Instagram?”
The answer is a resounding yes. In some ways, it’s actually easier to sell on Instagram than it is on other platforms. The focus on images over text, and the highly stylized quality of those images make it easy to showcase your products in their best light. They’re also less likely to get lost in the shuffle like they are on Facebook or Twitter.
So, while you definitely can sell product on Instagram, there are some best practices to consider to increase your chances of success.
Today, we’ll show you how. Here are 11 steps for selling more products on Instagram.
Focus on Content Variety
One of the best ways to engage your audience of potential customers is by focusing on mixing up your content.
We tend to think of Instagram as a photo-sharing platform, but it’s more than that. You can share photos, reels, stories, and carousels.
In fact, a study from earlier this year found carousel posts drive more engagement than any other format on Instagram.
The companies that really succeed on Instagram come up with a content strategy for the platform, utilizing a mixture of formats and post types to continually engage with their audience in different ways.
The beauty of this approach is that it means you’ll not only reach potential customers in different ways, but that you can also repurpose some of your content so that it’s given an opportunity to shine in different sections of the site.
Remember, variety is the spice of life. That applies to Instagram too.
Stay on Brand
One way to really capture an engaged audience on Instagram is by fully embracing your niche. If you’re looking to sell clothes on Instagram, it makes sense that you’ll have images, reels, carousels, and content built around the kind of clothes you sell (and often your specific products).
However, a lot of Instagram accounts make the mistake of going too broad with their content, thinking that a wider net will catch more fish.
This isn’t true. Companies who build an Instagram account with a laser focus tend to form deeper connections with their audience. Might you capture more views and followers with broader content? In some instances, yes.
But it’s not always about the vanity metrics. Would you rather have a million marginally engaged followers or 50,000 who live and breathe for your product? Staying on brand can help you make the latter a reality.
Present Products Realistically
While we all expect a certain level of artifice and manipulation with posts on Instagram (that’s what all those filters are for), don’t get carried away with it.
Strive to get the perfect picture of a model in your clothing, but don’t present it in such a way that the magical billowing skirt your customer orders actually arrives looking like just another article of clothing.
In other words, use the tools Instagram and Photoshop provide, but remember that the thing you’re selling needs to be presented in a way that’s indicative of what the real product is when all the filters and lighting effects are turned off.
Fill Gaps with User Generated Content
Continually coming up with new Instagram ideas can be challenging. Ask any social media manager and they’ll tell you that the grind of creating multiple posts per day can place a real strain on your creativity.
Adding in Reels can only exacerbate this challenge.
However, before you throw your hands up in despair and give up on the platform, consider asking your followers and customers for content.
The best companies on Instagram feature not only a variety of in-house content, but will include user submitted material as well.
The benefits are multifold.
For starters, this lessens the load for your social media and content teams. If they can fill part of the day’s post load with user-generated content, they’ll not have to come up with a steady stream of new post ideas.
Beyond that, using user-generated content will allow your customers and potential customers to feel like they’re part of your brand. Having their content featured on your Instagram feed can feel like a momentous event (Seriously. Researchers have done studies on how social media likes, retweets, comments, and shares stimulate dopamine release in the brain). It’s an opportunity to turn your customers into brand evangelists.
And finally, by asking your followers to share their photos and content that relates to your clothing or other products (while tagging you in the posts) gives you an opportunity to reach an even wider audience.
User-generated content is a win-win in terms of Instagram strategy. As your following grows, make sure you’re taking advantage of this opportunity.
While user-generated content is great, there’s another way to help promote your brand to an even wider, more engaged audience: influencer marketing.
Over the course of the past few years, influencer marketing has exploded and if you’re not utilizing popular creators on the platform to help promote your brand, you’re missing out on a genuine growth opportunity.
Working with an influencer will cost you money (rates vary based on a number of factors, including follower account, what you’re asking them to do, and follow-up posts), but the return on investment with a successful influencer campaign can far exceed the cost.
Make sure you know what you want before you hire an influencer. Don’t be afraid to ask them to change things before posting or ask them to abide by a creative brief, and do your homework to make sure their audience is one you want to reach. Once you’ve done that, let them do their thing and reap the benefits.
Highlight Your Whole Product Line
Don’t fall into the trap of highlighting just one hot item on your feed. If you have an entire line of clothing, make sure you’re showcasing all of your products.
The key here is to be creative. Don’t be afraid to promote another company’s accessory if it goes perfectly with the outfit you’re selling. Your goal is to present all of your products in a favorable way so that you can increase sales across the board.
Don’t get trapped in the idea of just focusing on your best seller or hottest new item. Make sure everything you sell gets a chance to shine.
Create a Content Calendar
Social media marketing can benefit from utilizing a content calendar just like your more traditional content marketing efforts.
For example, a content calendar for Instagram can allow you to plan campaigns well ahead of time so you can prepare for them in advance. In a field like fashion, this can be a real benefit as it’s a seasonal industry.
As such, you should be planning your seasonal Instagram initiatives months in advance. This way, you can stay ahead of the curve.
When it comes to getting your content discovered on Instagram, hashtags are still important.
You’ll still want to create a striking image or reel, but rather than just post it and hope for the best, utilize as many relevant, high traffic hashtags related to your post as possible.
The good news is you can find these tags in a variety of ways. Instagram will tell you how many times a tag gets used when you search for them on the app. Creating a branded hashtag is even better.
However, you can also find dozens of apps that will help you pick relevant hashtags when you pick a topic for your post.
Hashtags aren’t quite as important as they once were (Google has already gotten really great at figuring out what’s in a picture by simply using artificial intelligence), but it’s still worth using them to increase your post’s discoverability.
Use Strong CTAs
It should go without saying that you should be using calls to action in all of your Instagram posts. After all, if you’re trying to get your customers and followers to do something (in this case, make a purchase), how will they know if you don’t tell them?
Too often, companies spend a lot of time on the image, reel, story, or carousel image and the hashtags and then slap some text description on as an afterthought. This is a mistake.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but make sure you’re actually using words with your posts. Make doubly sure that you’re using strong calls to action in those posts so your audience knows how to find the fabulous items you’re showing in your pictures and make them their own.
Use Ads to Reach Your Target Audience
One constant with Instagram is that everything will change.
Once upon a time, it was entirely possible to build a huge following solely through hashtags, organic growth, and great content (at least in theory). Today, though? You’ll need to spend some money on advertising if you want to give yourself the best chance of success.
Instagram ads are pretty simple to set up and run. Once you’ve created your business account, it’s basically just a matter of choosing what you want to spend, where you want the ads to run, and how long you’d like your campaign to last.
Beyond that, Instagram ads offer up decent targeting options so you can make sure you’ve got your sites set on the perfect audience for your business.
Create Instagram Stories with Product Links
We’ve already discussed how you need to take a diversified approach to Instagram that utilizes all the various content creation methods at your disposal.
One that you should definitely be using is Instagram Stories. There are over 500 million active daily users on Instagram Stories. You want to reach that audience.
Stories allow you to connect with your audience both more frequently and more intimately than just a traditional post. It’s a great place to promote new products, demonstrate how products work, and talk about sales and special offers.
But to fully take advantage of all that Instagram Stories have to offer, you’ll need to make sure you’re including product links in your story posts. After all, you don’t want to get your audience interested in your story post but then not have a way to actually get to the content or product you’re promoting.
Aside from that, keep in mind that each interaction with an Instagram Story is considered engagement by the site’s algorithm. More engagement signals that the post has value, and the algorithm will reward you by showing your posts more often in your followers’ feeds.
Over the past few years, Instagram has exploded into one of the most used and loved social media platforms.
But it’s not just for connecting with friends to share photos of your last fabulous vacation or sharing videos you hope will make you the next viral sensation. Instagram is a valuable tool for marketers and businesses, particularly in retail fashion.
By following the 11 tips we’ve highlighted in this article, you can get in on the Instagram action and build your business. Just remember, building a following takes time and effort on this platform, but with these guidelines, you’ll soon be tapping into a whole new way to market and sell your products.
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