Selling on Instagram

Instagram is a great app to search for inspiration and new products. Many shoppers use it to view images, videos, and Stories, and end up uncovering new designs, trends, and products. Having a fresh and inspiring presence on the platform allows businesses and brands to reach their intended audiences. And thanks to its shopping integrations, brands and retailers can now easily sell their products via the app. In particular, it’s a great channel to sell trending physical and digital products. But can you boost sales by selling on Instagram?

A positive future for social commerce

Social media has an enormous reach and that’s why it shouldn’t be missing from most marketing plans. It’s a fact that’s unlikely to change in the near future. According to research conducted by, more than three billion people use social media networks at least once a month, which presents enormous potential for marketers. Social media already reaches 70% of all internet users worldwide and as technologies improve across emerging markets, its potential is growing.

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More good reasons to sell on Instagram

Aside from the forecasts or the cool-factor, there is plenty of other data to support the use of Instagram and other social media channels for commerce. Instagram now has over one billion users. According to the app, around 60% of its users discover new products on Instagram. And more than 200 million Instagrammers follow at least one business or brand profile on the app.

In other words, brand engagement on the imaging app is much higher than on its parent platform Facebook or the messaging app WhatsApp. However, some target groups are easier to reach on Facebook than on Instagram. Depending on the products you sell and your target audience, you should also consider selling on Facebook.

Central to a successful presence on Instagram is the use of Stories. According to Instagram’s own data, users spend more time (80%) viewing videos in Stories than the classic feed. The good news is that around one-third of the most viewed Stories weren’t created by influencers or private users but by brands.


Instagram is one of many platforms that retailers and brands should consider as part of their marketing plan. Networks such as Facebook or Pinterest provide good opportunities to reach customers. And over the last few years, social media advertising, social selling and social commerce have become even more tightly connected.

Selling on Instagram: A step-by-step guide to achieving sales

The basis for a successful transaction on Instagram is an attractive and personable business or brand profile. This is similar to a brand homepage, but on Instagram. The more real people, actions, and views a brand attracts, the higher the chances of its success. A business profile will also integrate product images and videos into its stream or Stories, but these should be added organically.

An attractive Instagram business profile

The following three elements are vital when establishing a business profile on the app:

  • A profile photo or logo that attracts and engages your target audience. The image should be fully visible and match the marketing presence of a brand’s website or web store.
  • An optimized Instagram biography. A successful biography emotionally appeals to a target audience using as few words as possible.
  • A direct link to a web store or website. Instagram enables businesses to share just one link in their profile. Brands should ensure that their link is working and the URL is being tracked in order to measure how many visitors a website generates from Instagram.

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Instagram Ads

Instagram Ads is the next step. Ads on Instagram allow brands to reach a larger audience irrespective of how many images or videos it has already shared. In other words, you don’t need to be the most active Instagram user in order to post an ad on the site. Depending on the advertising format, Instagram Ads will be featured in the classic stream where they blend in natively. All ads are clearly marked as “sponsored.”

Ads can be used to increase a profile’s followers and likes. It’s also possible to generate direct sales using Instagram Ads. Simple but attractive products together with a quick customer journey that links to a product-landing page tends to generate faster transactions.

Much like other established online ads (for example, Google Ads), Instagram Ads can be customized and updated continuously. The business functions provided by Instagram provide all the relevant data to optimize ads.

Top tip: Using product links in Instagram Stories

A more direct way to generate sales on the app is Instagram Stories with product links. Stories are one of the favorite formats among Instagrammers, partially because they’re only visible for 24 hours and then disappear. If content is fun, emotional, or informative, customers will even view an ad multiple times. This makes Instagram Stories highly suitable for direct sales – particularly, for trending products, apps and games, and special offers.

Using Stories, brands can also forego the app’s notorious weblink frugality. Each Story can include another external link to a store or website.

This also allows brands to track a product link and measure the success of an Instagram Story in driving customers to its website. The results can be used to improve future campaigns. Because Instagram Ads can be regularly updated, monitoring them is the key to long-term commerce success on the platform.

How to increase sales on Instagram: Marketing for social media and web

Some social-savvy target groups aged 18 to 29 years can only be reached on social media channels such as Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. That’s why for some brands, successful sales depend on having a presence on these networks and apps. Websites and online stores are important for the final transaction, but an increasing number of online store visitors find these via social media channels and not necessarily via Google searches.

Selling on Instagram is as much about exclusivity as it is about direct contact with the customer. Therefore, it’s recommended to use individualized content on the app and not share the same images on Instagram that you’re posting to Facebook. In other words, it’s worth optimizing your Instagram marketing strategy. Some Instagram Ads are viewable two years after they were first published because they generated such great results.

Customers are easy to approach when using images because over 90% of the information that reaches our brains is visual. Adding movement and sound can generate an even longer-lasting impression. That’s why videos tend to outperform images and images outperform text. When selling on Instagram, brands can harness these facts. Remember that text plays a minor role on the app.

To live up to the high image standards on Instagram, it’s worth working with professional photographers and video producers, particularly during the early stages of channel development or a marketing campaign. Later on, once a business has generated enough Instagram know-how, they can self-produce Stories, images, and videos.

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You can also use Instagram’s DM function to sell your products. Use your feed as a catalogue and ask your followers to reach out via the Direct Message function to close a sale.

Extending your reach with hashtags, keywords, and influencers

Despite all these tips, it’s still a challenge to establish a strong presence with significant audience reach on the app. Luckily, the platform is full of influencers catering to any product category. Influencer marketing connects brands with social media influencers to enter a temporary or long-term strategic relationship. Influencers or creators organically promote a brand’s products to their followers in the hopes of boosting sales. The better the influencer’s personality matches the brand, the easier it will be to sell your products on Instagram.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a recommended practice, especially for businesses with small marketing budgets. Brands that are successful on Instagram and that are generating sales are well-positioned in terms of SEO because Instagram hashtags are similar to SEO keywords. Both resemble the demand and interests of the customer. Therefore, many tactics used in search engine marketing can be applied to social media marketing.

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