How to Leverage Instagram for eCommerce

August 21, 2015 - ChrisPhone displaying Instagram's login screen

With over 300 million monthly users and 75 million daily users, Instagram has become a massive social network and an indispensable tool for brands to connect with their fans. A new study by Yesmail, however, found that only 23% of brands use Instagram despite it being the fastest-growing social media platform for businesses.

Now is the time for tech-savvy brands to incorporate Instagram into their marketing strategies and pull ahead of the competition. This post enumerates the ways you can leverage Instagram for eCommerce and achieve better brand recognition, more user engagement and boosted online sales.

Building an Instagram following

Your customers are already on Instagram — it’s just a matter of finding them! Below are five ways in which you can attract your target audience and build an online community.

1. Optimize for posting time and frequency

It takes a bit of research, but finding out when your users are online will help you get the most engagement with your posts. You might want to use a service like Iconosquare, which delivers key metrics about your Instagram account and can be a great resource for figuring out your posting calendar. Test a few metric combinations and use the Iconosquare optimization report to determine when you get the most likes and comments.


2. Use relevant hashtags

Hashtags identify and group ideas, making it easy for people to discover the topics they’re interested in. Make your brand searchable by adding hashtags that describe your photos and your business. Also, don’t be afraid to create and distribute your own hashtag! It can be a fun, interactive way to build your brand.


3. Partner up with social influencers

Powerhouse Instagram users have followers that number in the hundreds of thousands, and oftentimes they’re willing to collaborate with brands. Find influencers in your niche and ask them to feature your product or service in a future post. They will probably charge a fee, but this is one of the best ways to reach a large, engaged audience. To locate potential Insta-stars, search relevant keywords, hashtags and company names in Instagram, and find the most popular accounts.

4. Host a contest

Contests and giveaways are a surefire way to drum up engagement with your posts and earn exposure for your account. It can be as simple as a ‘like to win’ or ‘repost to win’ prize contest, or it can be more involved like a photo challenge. Creating your own hashtag is an efficient way to organize entries and get the word out about your brand.

Selling your product on Instagram


As you build up your following on Instagram, it’s important to introduce new fans to your brand and seize opportunities to convert leads into sales. To be successful with Instagram for eCommerce, follow these three tips:

1. Perfect your product images

Don’t underestimate the power of a clearly focused, well-lit photo. Use soft, natural light, or build your own lightbox. Experiment with compositions and effects like creating a flatlay collage or changing your depth of field. In short, make sure your Instagram account is rich in visual interest and is on-brand aesthetically.

Don’t shy away from posting videos, either!

2. Announce promotions on Instagram

Give your followers incentives to follow your brand on Instagram by distributing exclusive deals and discount codes in your posts.

3. Find out which kind of sale works best for your fans

Direct sales are now possible on Instagram, and users scrolling through their feed are keen to purchase!

Flash sales, such as those held by Fash Forward Boutique, happen weekly at a specific time. The store takes advantage of the fact that the average Instagram user checks their feed every hour.

fashforward sale

Daily sales allow posts to be spaced throughout the day, reaching more followers and staying closer to the top of the feed. Brands like Birchbox sprinkle sale posts throughout their regular content.

Spot sales are shopping events that happen once or twice a month and feature new or exclusive products. Brands like Lulu Frost plan spot sales that surprise, engage and delight their fans.

You might want to check out, an Instagram tool that lets users visit a product page on the web after they spot an intriguing item in a brand’s Instagram post. Among’s customers is DAILYLOOK, which uses the service to drive web sales directly from Instagram.

Apps and tools for Instagram

While Instagram’s in-app photo editing features work well, there are a variety of other apps and tools out there that can enhance your Instagram content.


VSCO provides filters more subtle and fine-tuned than those built by Instagram. Their wide selection of editing tools allows you to play with saturation, exposure, contrast, tints, graininess and much more.vsco-cam

2. Pic Stitch

Pic Stitch lets you create a photo collage with over 230 different layouts. It includes a photo editor and the flexibility to work within each frame. The collage style is great for showing multiple views of one product.

3. Canva

Canva is a design program that produces stylized text photos and text overlays for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and email. With thousands of templates and stock photos, Canva enables anyone to develop creative content for their brand.

4. Unfollowers

Manage your followers and followees on Twitter and Instagram with Unfollowers. The service allows you to gain attention by following users that are likely to be interested in your brand.

Dive into Instagram for eCommerce!

Instagram holds great potential for brands at every stage of the sales cycle, from lead generation to conversion. Your customers are already there, and they’ll love to follow you if you provide captivating content. Start building your audience now and you’ll reap many social media rewards for a long time to come.

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