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The Ultimate Guide to Making Your Instagram Posts Shoppable
With social commerce sales estimated to reach $1.298 billion globally by the end of this year, it’s time to start paying attention to how your audience wants to buy on social, and what type of shopping feature options are offered by social platforms.
We're turning our attention to Instagram, in part because it's been in the social commerce game longer than other platforms, but also because it's still mighty popular for product discovery.
Before you dive in, you're probably wondering - how much of a following do I need to try and make my Instagram account an effective sales channel? First, you should know conversion rates on social media are incredibly low, averaging at about 1.08% (compared to 2-3% on ecommerce).
At the same time, Instagram is a free commerce channel with a huge user base. Apart from time, there isn't really much financial investment required to start selling through Instagram.
It's also worth calling out that most brands have a stronger social media presence on one platform over another. This actually points to the biggest risk with social commerce, period. If your primary following is on another platform, it's probably not worth the time or effort to get set up on Instagram.
And another thing…if you're finding your followers are climbing on one platform and flatlining on Instagram, well, you're not alone. But hello risk! It feels like ‘it’ platforms pop up every other year, causing marketers and ecommerce brands to go back to the well and rebuild their followers on yet another social media platform.
Solution: Why not create a social, video-driven experience on your own site? GhostRetail's shoppable videos (which are totally free to add to your site!) and live personal shopping products bring the things people love about social onto your site, no need for rebuilding audiences on repeat.
Plus, any content you create for Instagram, you can probably repurpose into a shoppable video that lives on your site.
Shoppable video should be part of your overall video commerce strategy. But for now, let’s dive into how to make your Instagram content shoppable.
What are Instagram shoppable posts?
Shoppable posts on Instagram are when you use product tags (clickable tags that provide product information and send shoppers to where they can check out) to feature items from a product catalog directly within images and video. This includes feed posts, reels, and stories.
When shoppers click on the product it will either send them to the website to complete the purchase or, using Instagram Checkout, they can complete the purchase without leaving the platform. It should be noted that, right now, Instagram Checkout is only available to U.S.-based Instagram users.
There are a few steps to get set up in commerce manager and upload products to your catalog. You can do all that directly in the Meta Business Suite. We’ll break down Instagram product tagging and how to make shoppable Instagram posts later on in this post.
Why should I use Instagram shoppable posts?
According to a global study on Instagram trends in 2020, half of those surveyed said they used Instagram to shop weekly. For U.S.-based Instagram users who are creators or businesses, shoppable Instagram content seems to be a way to allow customers to easily purchase their products without leaving the platform. For Instagram accounts in other markets, it’s still a way to drive website traffic, reach a wide audience, and increase revenue.
And after all, Instagram still is the fourth most-used social media platform in the world, reporting 2 billion monthly active users. If you are a business that sells online, creating shoppable Instagram posts as part of a social shopping strategy is definitely something to be looking into if you want to stay competitive.
The top 4 issues with creating shoppable Instagram posts
Instagram Shopping isn’t perfect. As with many ecommerce platforms, there are some known issues and drawbacks to using this system. Here we’ll run through the top 4 concerns for Instagram users getting set up with shoppable posts.
Issues getting approved. To get started with Instagram Shopping there’s an approval process. There are several eligibility requirements to meet before an Instagram account is allowed to start selling on Instagram. It’s been largely reported that the approval/denial process is a bit confusing. There isn’t really a clear way to tell when an account has been denied for product tagging or Instagram Shopping, and the platform doesn’t exactly offer a whole lot of solutions on how to move forward. To make sure you start off on the right foot, review the requirements thoroughly here.
(Or if you’ve already been denied and don’t know why check out this handy guide on what to do.)
Trust gap with shoppable social posts. Despite big dreams (and plenty of speculation) that social commerce numbers in North America would reach those of China, it just didn’t happen. It’s been reported that the “trust gap” has stopped consumers from purchasing at the same velocity. According to Hootsuite, a 10,000-person survey reported that the top two biggest concerns were that purchases wouldn’t be protected or refunded. On top of that, 37% reported having trust issues entering payment info. These problems have created a sizable conversion gap on platforms like Instagram Shopping.
Instagram Checkout. As we mentioned, U.S.-based users have access to Instagram Checkout, which allows them to take payments from customers directly within the platform. Of course, while this is ideal and reduces one of the steps for customers to make a purchase (which can positively impact conversion rates) it comes with its own set of drawbacks. One is the loss of valuable data collected via your website when customers check out there, another is that you no longer have control over the user experience during checkout, and a third notable issue is that the checkout fees increase with the order value.
Core following is off Instagram. Like we mentioned above, if your core following isn't on Instagram, or you're finding your follower base is growing off-Instagram, then a social commerce strategy that is shoppable post and shoppable Instagram story strategy is probably kind of…pointless. Pro tip: We recommend bringing the things people love about social media to your site through video commerce so you can stop chasing new followers on different platforms and instead, make your website a place to be. Try our free shoppable video product now.
Instagram Shopping Glossary
Instagram Checkout - In-app functionality to take payments directly on Instagram, removing the step of sending shoppers to a third-party website to check out.
Instagram Shop - The customizable digital storefront created by the brand that is accessible via your Instagram profile. This acts like a landing page of sorts and lets users browse all products in your catalog.
Product Detail Page - A page that displays all of your key product information. This information includes price, description, image, etc. It conveniently gathers and displays other images of that product that have been tagged on Instagram.
Collection - A way to group together products that help customers browse based on what they are looking for, whether this means a seasonal collection or highlighting a collab.
A step-by-step guide on how to make your Instagram shoppable
- Make sure you’ll be approved to sell on Instagram. To do this, thoroughly review the commerce eligibility requirements including all of the commerce policies.
- Ensure you have an active website domain for your business with products available to purchase directly via an ecommerce platform (i.e. Shopify). Your website needs to have product listings and you must officially represent the website.
- Make sure you are selling in a supported market. The list is here
- Make sure your Instagram profile is a business or creator account (not a personal account). Not sure how to convert to a business or creator account? You can follow these steps.
- Set up a Meta Business Manager account.
- Decide how to onboard your products. You can set up your shop in the Meta Commerce Manager, directly within the Instagram app, or, import via a supported ecommerce platform you are using.
- Fill out your shop details in Meta Commerce Manager including checkout method, and sales channel(s). We recommend connecting a Facebook business page as the connection seems to make the two platforms run more smoothly.
- Upload your product catalog. As mentioned, you can do this by either connecting your existing product catalog to your shop or, creating a new one to which you’ll manually add your products via the Commerce Manager.
- If you want to upload the product catalog directly within the app, you can do so by going to the professional dashboard in the Instagram app and choosing “set up Instagram Shopping” followed by “Get Started”. Here it will allow you to choose the product catalog you want to upload and how.
- Make sure everything looks accurate, then submit it for approval.
- If you are approved (which can take a few days), it’s time to use Instagram Shopping!
How to make a shoppable Instagram feed post
Once you’re happy with your product catalog and have spent time fine-tuning the other features of Instagram Shopping, such as your shop and collections, it’s time to create some shoppable content! Here’s how to add a product tag to an Instagram post.
Step One - Open the Instagram app. Tap the plus sign icon on the bottom centre of the screen to create a new post.
Step Two - Choose the photo or video you want to post. Add your desired caption, effects and filters. Tap “next”.
Step Three - Tap “tag products” then tap the products you want to make shoppable.
Step Four - Search for the product that is featured and select the appropriate items.
Step Five - Tap “done” in the top right corner.
Step Six - Tap “share” to post.
How to tag products in Instagram stories and reels
Good news. Once your Instagram is shoppable, you can easily tag products from your product catalog without any additional complicated steps. Here’s how:
- Tap on the sticker icon while you’re creating your story.
- Tap the product link sticker, then choose the product you want to tag in the story.
- Publish your story. Ta-dah! You've got an Instagram shoppable post that lives in your stories.
- When you’re done recording or editing your reel tap “tag products”.
- Select the products or collections you want to be featured in the Reel.
- Tap “done”. Another shoppable Instagram post complete!
How does shoppable Facebook content work with my shoppable Instagram posts?
Facebook and Instagram shoppable content tools are closely connected, but, you don’t need to use both simultaneously. As we mentioned, it does seem to help to set up a Facebook business page to connect with your Instagram business account if you’re heading down the path to posting shoppable content. Plus you can manage your catalog from the Meta Commerce Manager which applies to both Facebook and Instagram.
If you have a Facebook page, you can get set up with a Facebook shop at no cost. Similarly to getting set up with Instagram shoppable content, Facebook requires you to meet the proper criteria, then upload your catalog. Once your catalog is uploaded, you can choose from your products with which to tag Facebook posts. The checkout capabilities from within the platform for Facebook shoppable content are done through Shop Pay by Shopify unless you choose otherwise.
Whoever your target audience for shoppable content is will help guide your strategy. If the demographics make sense for you, adding Facebook shoppable content into the mix might be the right fit.
What happened to Instagram Live Shopping?
Instagram has recently sunset its live shopping capabilities (as of March 16, 2023) after Meta pulled the plug on Facebook Live Shopping in October 2022 and more recently removed the Shop tab from its navigation bar. Meta has denied that the platform is pulling back on social commerce experiences but instead is focusing on shoppable content like feed posts, stories, ads and especially Reels (no doubt to compete with TikTok).
What’s the difference? Instagram Live Shopping was still a form of shoppable content but the format was through live video feeds that could be consumed in the moment or post-recording. Within the live video, products were tagged, which allowed viewers of the live feed to click through. There had been reports of several disadvantages for sellers using Instagram Live Shopping, including technical glitches, limited communication with buyers, and basic analytics. Much like Instagram Checkout, it was also only available to U.S.-based Instagram users.
Other live shopping solutions are still out there
If you’re interested in creating shoppable video content off Instagram, then you'll want to check out GhostRetail. We've got a free (forever!) shoppable video platform that lets you take any content - including the same stuff you're creating and adding to Instagram - tag products, and embed the videos on your site for customers to watch whenever they want, algorithms be damned!
This is a great option for anyone looking to first get started creating shoppable video and who might need support along the way.
Kickstart your shoppable content strategy with this free tool by signing up now.