3 Ways eCommerce Businesses Can Tap into Instagram’s Massive Audience

Instagram was launched back in 2010 as a simple photo-sharing app, but it has emerged as one of the most popular social media platforms. Currently, Instagram has over 800 million monthly active users and is expected to hit more than 1 billion by 2019. Instagram also announced that their community now includes more than 500 million Instagrammers and that they have been able to create a global footprint. In fact, 80 percent of Instagrammers are non-Americans.

Here are some more interesting facts about Instagram:

  • 30 percent (about one-third of the online adults) of internet users are now on Instagram, according to Pew Research.
  • Instagram is expected to add 26.9 million users between 2016 and 2020, according to eMarketer.
  • 70 percent of Instagrammers look up companies and brands using the platform.

There are several reasons why brands, both big and small are leveraging Instagram. Brands are now aware of the marketing opportunities that Instagram offers. In fact, some of the biggest brands such as #Starbucks (17.3m followers), #Dolceandgabbana (19.1m followers), #BMW (18.3m followers), #Chanel and others have been consistently making efforts to create a foothold on the sixth most popular social networking site.

But how can sharing photos on a social network improve your company’s bottom line? Well, the first thing you must realize is that there is more to Instagram than just sharing pictures.

Here are a few tricks about how you can tap into Instagram’s massive audience and improve your brand’s awareness and visibility. And if you already have a huge base of followers, you can even improve the bottom line and achieve your business goals quickly.

1. Allow Customers to Buy Directly

You may have loads of pictures uploaded on Instagram and they might be highly appreciated by your followers, but what if they want to buy the product? Take for example this beautiful piece of pearl jewelry from BlueStone.


The image is highly appealing and users may want to buy this piece of jewelry. In such a case, the customer has to navigate the entire website to find this particular product. But, you can make things easier.

The easiest way to help the customer find the product and make a purchase is to link the photo directly to the eCommerce page. See the example below, where customers are offered with an option to buy the product directly from the Instagram page:


Social promotions and online photo sharing contests are a great way to increase engagement among followers, but they do not lead to sales. By linking photos of products to their respective eCommerce pages, you not only drive extra traffic to your website, but you also are in a better position to track the conversions and monitor buying patterns. You can also identify the products that are most popular among consumers and focus on them.

2. Use Hashtags Wherever Appropriate

Create interactive hashtags to generate instant engagement. Even though hashtags were introduced by Twitter, they’re used on all social media channels including Facebook and Instagram. In fact, the usage of hashtags is much higher on Instagram as compared to Twitter.

Hashtags help you organize your video and image content. This, in turn, helps in content discovery and optimization. If you take the same example of BlueStone pearl jewelry, hashtagging the photos with #pearljewelries will help people discover images of pearl jewelry even if they are not following BlueStone.

Moreover, if your followers share the Instagram photo on Facebook, the Instagram hashtags get shared along with it. This means you can expand your reach massively. Hence, businesses with a huge following on Facebook can instantly increase their number of followers on Instagram.

However, over-usage or misuse of hashtags can make things awkward. For instance, during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Nike tagged photos featuring children playing soccer in disadvantaged neighborhoods with their official slogan: ‘#justdoit’. But, they failed to realize that #justdoit is a no-brainer when people look for inspirational sports pictures. Make sure you use hashtags that are relevant to your post.


Starbucks, on the other hand, uses about three to five hashtags to maximize their content interaction and expand their market reach. With hashtags like #allnatural and #realfood, they are making it easy for their target audience to find their products.


Improper use of hashtags means you are keeping your content virtually hidden from your audience. Therefore, identify the most relevant hashtags and put your content in front of people who are searching for keywords and key-phrases that are associated with your brand.

3. Involve Customers to Drive Conversions

People always want to buy the best, and according to the Mintel flagship report, American Lifestyles 2018, consumers are looking for transparency and would likely research on a particular brand before purchasing their products. While plenty of these potential customers would check out your website or blogs that have reviewed your products and services, a large number would still look for recommendations from social media networks.

When you visit an eCommerce website, you mostly see photographs of products that are professionally clicked. But that often leads to the question, “Is it truly that nice?” People often think that businesses use professionally edited images to allure them. So, how can you overcome this perception?

Instagram can be very helpful here. Ask your customers to post real pictures of them using their products, which you can use on your product pages. This serves two purposes:

  1. You build trust among your customers, and
  2. You show potential customers that your products are desired by others and help them make purchase decisions quickly.

Take the example of #WhatsInYourKors campaign created by Michael Kors, a luxury designer handbag and watch brand. The brand started the campaign in 2013 and encouraged customers to post photos of the items they carry in their Michael Kors handbag. They received a huge response.


The brand benefitted by creating positive engagement, received access to huge amounts of user-generated content, built trust among potential customers, and encouraged people to purchase their products.

You can do this as well. Encourage your customers to become brand advocates. Ask them to share useful tips that will help other people. For instance, if you deal in fashion jewelry, ask your customers to share tips related to styling and maintaining the jewelry along with their personal photos.

By posting customer photos on your website, you make them feel valued. So there are chances that they will come back to buy more or recommend your brand to their loved ones so that they can experience the same special feeling.


Instagram is no more just a platform to share selfies and personal photos; it has emerged as an effective marketing vehicle. If you are looking for ways to expand your eCommerce business, incorporating Instagram into your marketing strategy is a must.

However, it may not be easy for you to leverage Instagram in a way to maximize the bottom line for your eCommerce store. The above tips will help you create a plan and tap into Instagram’s audience to take your business to the next level.

Jessica Stewart

By Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is the resident marketing analyst at FinancesOnline and a pioneering member of our research team. She believes that data is at the center of business and marketing technology is its enabler, a point not lost in his articles published in major outlets such as BusinessInsider, USA Today and Entrepreneur. Beyond assessing the standard tools for workflow automation, campaigns, messaging, and real-time alerts, Jessica focuses on the software’s bottom-line ROI— how it helps marketers perfect their data-driven method to collect and process customer data, measure the KPIs, and, ultimately, realize profits.

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