Business Blog

Sell More with “Shoppable” Instagram Posts


Savvy social media managers readily embraced the “Big 3” platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — when they appeared years ago, but even the best social media minds invested very little time into Instagram because it wasn’t ecommerce friendly. Everything about it was clunky from a monetization standpoint. Sure, you could rack up large follower numbers, but that was about it. For those who wanted to see dollars attached to the platform, it didn’t work.


As we have discussed many other times on this blog, it’s one thing to have a fake sense of followership; it’s something else to have a platform that is actually moving the needle.


Instagram knew that (probably from the onset), and started doing something about it, albeit slowly. The first effort to allow monetization was the inclusion of links. Early Instagram users weren’t allowed to post any links in their posts. After a few years, Instagram allowed users to place links on your bio page. That was (and still is for those who are still using it) super clunky. Essentially, you post a cool photo and say something like, “for more info, click on the link in my bio.”  For those who bothered to take those many steps, they soon realized the link took them off of Instagram and redirected them to a website. That’s a remarkably poor user experience.


The second attempt was the “swipe up” feature. A lot of folks thought this was the be-all-end-all for Instagram marketers. Post a “story” on your timeline and — if you have more than 10,000 followers — Instagram will allow you to install a feature in your stories that allows users to swipe up on the screen and … be taken to the URL of your choice. Hey, it was better than the Easter egg hunt of going back to the bio page, but it still was and is an immediate turn off for 99 percent of the users. The only way you’re swiping up on that post is you are so compelled by the content that you absolutely want to buy it right now. Aside from a deep discount on a very cool product, the swipe-up feature isn’t going to sway a ton of folks in the outdoors arena.


Enter “Shoppable” Posts and Stories


Instagram unveiled a new shopping feature last summer that received little widespread attention. It’s called “shoppable posts,” and it makes the ecommerce experience much more user friendly. Best of all, it’s free.  There are some limitations.


First, you need to apply through your page to be approved for this feature. Hint: If you are not a traditional ecommerce business, you might just want to stick to the link-in-bio method. A few other prerequisites:


Your Instagram page needs to be set up as a business account. You need to have the latest version of the Instagram app installed on your smartphone. You need to sell hard goods that are approved by Instagram (they have a page that outlines what’s acceptable). Your business profile must be linked to a Facebook catalog.


How is Instagram different than the already popular Shopify? Good question, because the “guts” of the app really isn’t all that different. Shopify is a cloud-based platform that works on web, mobile and social media platforms. The difference is that Instagram is free (for now) and Shopify requires a monthly subscription.


How to Get Started


After you have connected your Instagram business profile with a Facebook catalog (or ecomm shop) in the “business manager” settings, you can start tagging products from your store to your posts. It should be noted that you need to have administrator privileges on your page to be allowed to tag products in posts. A Facebook catalog is essentially a file that houses your list of products much like a WordPress store, but much more interactive and user friendly.


After checking all of the appropriate boxes through the set up screen, go back to your profile page and click the “Get Started” tab.


The system pretty much walks you through the process from there.


Start Making Money


Again, shoppable stories and posts won’t be for everyone who’s reading this blog. But if you are a B2C seller of anything tangible, you owe it to yourself to investigate whether or not it can save you time and add dollars to your bottom line through direct uploads or a make-sense partnership.


Shoppable posts were initially reserved for a select few categories, including clothing and footwear. Some companies specialize in shoppable posts that are really no different than an entry in a traditional print catalog. Others specialize in stories that show a lifestyle endeavor, and then link to the products shown in the story.


A good example of someone is who utilizing posts is Danner Footwear (@DannerBoots). Scroll through the page’s eye-appealing photos, and you’ll likely find a pair of boots you really either “have to have,” or would certainly like to know more about. If the image has a “padlock” icon in the upper-right, you can swipe up to find the retail price, and then click be taken straight to a “buy now” screen without being taken away from the Instagram platform. That’s huge.


A prime example for how to do it right from all angles is none other than Realtree’s brand page.  The @RealtreeOutdoors Instagram page features posts and stories from partners that link to everything from Otterbox® cases to King’s® clothing to ScentLok® apparel and Crocs® footwear. There’s a skill here, however, that transcends just linking to ecommerce pages. The imagery is crucial to triggering the impulse. The message is a close second. And, of course, the landing page within app needs to be clean and easy to understand. Make things appealing and easy, and you too will convert posts to sales.


Yes, it helps that Realtree’s Instagram page has more than 1 million followers.


Another good example in the outdoors space is Legendary Whitetails. This niche community has but 54K followers, but the users are highly engaged, and the company, which specializes in apparel and lifestyle products, utilizes a clean, efficient program that curates popular products and then feeds them throughout its page through a combination of regular posts and shoppable posts and stories.


Closing Thoughts


Until now, it has been practically impossible to gauge whether or not your Instagram efforts have been worth anything more than the oftentimes-misleading follower counts and related analytics. Shoppable posts and stories change all that. It’s up to you to discover whether or not this potential ecommerce game-changer can positively impact your bottom line in 2019 and beyond.


Editor’s Note: Businesses who partner with Realtree quickly find their customer reach grows exponentially. Let’s talk about how our business can help grow your business!