Most of us think of Instagram as a terrific brand awareness and engagement driver.  However, did you know that Instagram has been making strides on turning their platform to be more ecommerce friendly?

This is the start of a blog series that is all about how to maximize your Instagram (IG) efforts for ecommerce.  The first topics I want to cover are: the basics, introduction from how to setup your Business Profile to how to create your Organic and Sponsored Posts that closes the loop for the customer journey.  

Today, you will learn the following:
1. How to Set up a Business Profile
2. How to tailor your IG profile and posts into ecommerce
3. Setting up your account for Shoppable Tags
4. Leveraging Instagram’s features for ecommerce

Setting up your account

If you haven’t already set up your account as a Business Profile, than that would be the first thing to do.

Business Profile Set up:

  1. Go to your profile.
  2. Tap Settings.
  3. Tap Switch to Business Profile.
  4. Add details such as your business or profile’s category and contact information.
  5. Tap Done.

After you setup your account, I suggest that you use the profile description as a starting place to communicate your business.  Treat it like it is a storefront or the homepage of your site.                    

Making your Posts ecommerce Friendly

First and foremost, consumers shop with their eyes online, so it is important to understand how you want to portray your brand.  Things you want to consider when setting up your ads:

Are you picking the right objective for your post?
There are different objectives you can choose from Awareness to Conversions.  As a retailer, the most likely objective you would select is “conversion”. Your image and message should connect back to the CTA you are driving.

Example: Walmart has a clear CTA driving back to their Cyber Monday Sale.

Are you providing a clear CTA in your Organic Posts?
Unlike sponsored posts, there are no links in organic posts.  There is only a link in the bio (unless you are using IG Shopping Tags).  You want to make sure that your copy clearly connects back to the link in the bio for relevant posts.   

Is there consistency between the theme and color of your images?
Consistency is a key component to any great Instagram profile and post.  As with any storefront and catalogue, you want to make sure that you are consistent with your theme and colors.  

Keep in mind you want both organic and sponsored posts to feel natural and native, as you don’t want to seem too pushy to your audience.  

Here are some ecommerce brands that I think are doing great on Instagram:

  1. Herschel – backpack company
  2. Allbirds Shoes – shoes company
  3. GREATS brand – shoes company
  4. Rose & Rex – children toys company
  5. Vybes  – up and coming IG account with strong engagement

Shopping – Tag Your Products

Previously, it was a challenge running a business on IG due to the inability to share clickable links in posts. Now you can tag your products in your posts to have a simplified purchase path to help complete the consumer journey from discovery to checkout.  On top of being able to shop tagged products within posts, users will also be able to go to the “shop” feed in your profile to browse. A new feature that IG rolled out recently is the ability to “save” products to your “Shopping Collection”, which acts as a wishlist.  

Setting up your Shopping Instagram Account:

  1. Go to your Facebook Business Manager account.
  2. Go to your Business Settings.
  3. Click on Data Sources, then Catalogs.
  4. In your Catalogs Manager, navigate to your “Products Tab”.  Here you will be able to create products sets, catalogs or use an existing one.  
  5. Facebook will review your account (takes a few hours to a few days).
  6. You will see a notification in your business profile to turn on product tagging in Instagram.  

Once everything is approved and enabled, you will need to connect your Facebook product catalog to your IG account.

  1. Go to the Shopping section in your settings and click on Products.
  2. Select your Product catalog. Then tap Done.

Now that everything is set up and imported, you can begin tagging posts with your products.  You can start tagging products through the Share Screen, the same way you tag other users.

This feature and the ability to save products into a wishlist is currently a game changer for businesses to turn their profile into a shopping experience.  This will become a normal practices for all businesses.

Other Features That I Would Consider to Increase Your Instagram ecommerce

1) Leverage Instagram Stories
Consistently posting to IG Stories can have an impact on the reach of your posts in a user’s feed.  The algorithm takes into account how a user interacts with your IG Stories. Therefore, the more a user interacts with your Instagram Stories, the more likely your posts will show up in their feed.  I will do a deeper dive on how to use IG Stories effectively in Part 2 of my blog series.

2) Take advantage of all of ad types available
One of my favourite ad features to use are carousel ads.  Instagram allows for 2-10 product images per carousel ad. These are great to showcase a product line, various product features, or launch a new product.  You can mix it up between image and video content.

Best of all you are able to utilize Shoppable tags and have separate CTA links for each product displayed.  According to Facebook, campaigns with carousel ads resulted in 20-50% lower cost-per-conversion than single image ads. One of the new features that came out in 2018 is carousel for Instagram Stories, which allows you to utilize up to 3 product images.  

3) Be consistent with your #hashtags
Make your brand easily searchable for new customers by being consistent with your hashtags where possible. Use multiple hashtags (but don’t overload). Your hashtag’s should be relevant to the type of images you posts.  Like “keywords” in search, you want to update your hashtag list often to stay current.  

Example:  Allbirds = #weareallbirds  

4) Be authentic with your audience
Instagram followers are loyal to their brand (30% of IG users bought something they spotted first). These followers also don’t want to interact with a brand that constantly pushes sales messages. That is something can be reserved for Sponsored Posts.  

5) Engage with your audiences
With respect to your organic posts, you want to welcome your audiences to comment on your posts through posing questions. If possible, utilize user-generated content, as 81% of users lean towards friends/peers for their purchasing decisions; such as giving photo credit to your follower.  The more engaging your audience is with your organic posts, the more effective your sponsored posts will be to convert them.

Example: Allbirds = posted user content and asked a question in the same post.

6) Two-Thirds Rule

  • Promotional Posts: Feature your product or sales events.
  • Conversational Posts: Encourage participation from your audience to encourage conversation in your comments.  This can be anything from posing a question to running contests.
  • Sharing Posts: Share other posts from your audience or cross promote with bloggers and other companies.

It is important to have a balance of messages to your followers. People bombarded by constant sales messages are likely to unfollow you. Try mixing it up with the above mentioned.


Instagram is definitely making strides in connecting the customer through their path to purchase, and will continue to offer new features to enhance the experience. Followers are very loyal to their brands, making it important to think about the entire purchasing journey rather than the last step. Hopefully, this information has helped you transform your IG account into a business profile and in that process, increase your ecommerce ROI. Next up, we’ll dive deeper into specific features such as Stories and Shopping to increase your ROAS further. Also, watch out for blogs that discuss any new changes Instagram makes as they come out!