Instagram is no longer just a social network for sharing photos with filters. Launched in 2010, the platform has continued to evolve to offer modes of use very different from those of origin. Today, Instagram is also an important sales channel for businesses of all sizes, providing them with the resources to generate revenue, grow their audience and brand image through the platform.
> Download: Instagram Post Templates” align=”middle”/>
In 2019, when it was announced the “Checkout” functionality, which allows customers based in the United States to make purchases and pay without leaving the application, the platform has clearly revealed its positioning as a partner of e-commerce players. Its product manager, Vishal Shah, then compared Instagram to a digital mall where users can “ shopping or keeping up to date with trends or the latest fashions “.
Today, nearly 21 million French people use the platform each month, with 20-24 year olds representing 52% of its audience. Globally, 25,000 brands have Instagram accounts and 90% of users follow at least one business account: figures that highlight the importance Instagram can play in an online sales strategy.
What features can fit into a company’s sales goals? How can they adapt to the development of your brand’s visibility? What are the future Instagram trends to watch closely? Check out this article for tips on integrating them.
6 Instagram features to increase sales
- Reels advertisements
- The “Reel visual replies”
- Instagram Shopping for Reels
- community shopping
- Instagram “Drops”
- Instagram “Collabs”
Optimization of Reels to generate engagement
In June 2020, Instagram launched the feature of Reels, an option to create short 15-second shareable videos, including text, audio, and augmented reality elements. Unlike the functionality of Stories not exceeding 24 hours, the life of a Reels lasts as long as the publication remains active on the account concerned.
Available within the Explore section of Instagram, Reels can be discovered and consulted by users based on suggested content, close to their interests and the brands they usually follow. Companies such as Sephora or even Netflix have been able to explore the potential of this functionality: presentation of contests, product tests or discovering behind the scenes of a company are just as much examples of use aimed at improving the organic visibility of brands on the platform.
If the Reels have already been able to be integrated into the communication and sales strategies of companies in order to obtain higher visibility scores, recent additional functionalities have been added to the available options.
If the so-called “organic” Reels are a lever in terms of visibility for brands, Instagram now offers an additional tool to distinguish and diversify their campaigns on social networks: Reels advertisements.
Deployed in nearly 80 countries, these videos have the features of classic Reels, but offer a duration of 30 seconds. They make it possible to benefit from more precise targeting of potential customers, according to their location, their interests, or even their demographic data. This type of advertising is inserted between two organic Reels, appears on the target audience’s feeds, while giving them the opportunity to comment, share and like the publication.
Combined with non-sponsored Reels, Reels ads can be a complementary tool for online brand visibility, helping to capture users’ attention when viewing similar content.
Reel “visual replies”
Called “Reels Visual Replies”, this feature of Instagram offers a new possibility of interaction between the brand and users. The latter allows companies to respond to comments left by users on “Reels” publications. When a reply is made, the comment appears in the form of stickers as well as in the associated comment thread. The comment and its reply also appear wherever the user shares the relevant Reels. Whether it’s a specific request for a product, or highlighting a reaction to a campaign, Reels Visual Replies can be a tool to respond to customer requests for a product or specific campaign, while offering new possibilities for interaction.
Instagram Shopping integration for Reels
Initially available on fixed posts, the Instagram Shopping functionality first extended to Stories, before having a dedicated tab in the Explore tab. It is now via the Reels that companies such as Adidas have been able to expand their sales strategy on Instagram. With this option, users have the possibility of consulting information relating to products using the “View products” button, of saving them, or of making the purchase via a link redirecting to the company’s website.
The format of Reels is an asset to consider in order to offer an enriching type of content to the public. Due to their short format, Reels offer the potential to highlight a company’s services and products, in the form of tutorials or short explanatory videos.
To enable professionals to measure the impact on their audience, solutions such as video management software are available. Having analysis on customer reactions, managing and monitoring the distribution of videos are some of the features offered by these tools.
Additional features for business visibility
According to the Moderator’s Blog, 23% of French people have already carried out a commercial transaction via Instagram. Instagram is thus positioned as the second social network for generating sales. Since 2020, Instagram has offered French companies the Instagram Shopping functionality allowing companies create a digital and shareable catalog of their products. If for the moment only American users have the possibility of making their purchase without leaving the platform with the “Checkout” option, French companies can benefit from a redirection of customers to their site to complete transactions. If certain functionalities are already made available to the French market, future options, such as “Checkout”, are announced to support their online sales activity.
As part of the recent features launched in France, the “Community Shopping” option is based on the promotion of a product from the publications of a third party. For example, if a user displays a brand’s product on one of his publications, it is possible for the latter to ask to use this image for his own account. In the event that the request is accepted, the publication can then be associated with the existing product within the Instagram catalog. This option can notably help to guide a future customer in his purchasing process by benefiting from the experience of other members. It promotes the commitment of users, brought to participate directly in the visibility of the brand.
Retaining and engaging customers is a key activity for companies. Allowing them to participate and collaborate in the promotion of a brand they support is a strategy that should not be overlooked. If options such as Instagram’s Community Shopping can contribute to their engagement, many solutions exist to offer tailor-made solutions. Ambassador client software helps companies, for example, to design customer loyalty strategies, while offering the possibility of measuring the results of the programs carried out.
Already announced by Instagram in May 2021, Instagram’s “Drops” feature aims to support a brand’s product launch. Based on a sales method consisting of announcing one or more articles before their launch, drop is based on the idea of exclusivity and the curiosity of the audience, the products being made available only for a short duration and with limited quantities. Currently available in the US, Drops allows users to browse, discover and purchase upcoming releases through the Instagram Shopping tab. The latter can also benefit from reminder functions to follow the release of a new article, or consult the collections recently launched by the brand. If the feature is not yet available to French users, the drop technique can however be applied to existing features. For example, the publication of a classic post announcing three days before a collaboration between Rimowa and Supreme in 2018 had allowed the brand to achieve a sales record in 16 seconds of the product featured.
If a drop marketing strategy represents a certain potential for brands wishing to highlight their novelties, it is essential for them to be able to manage all the sales and returns generated by this type of publication. If a business wants to run a campaign through different platforms, multi-channel sales software are tools allowing them to both sell and promote their products, while controlling their data centrally.
Initially launched and available in the UK, India and Ireland, the “Collabs” feature offers a new way to collaborate with an Instagram user. Whether it’s posts or Reels, a user has the option of inviting a collaborator to co-sign content. Visible in the subscribers’ news feed, collaborator IDs appear at the top of the post, while the number of likes and comments are split between the two users. This option notably allows stakeholders to benefit from visibility and engagement with the other’s community.
For brands, the “Collabs” function offers a new way to associate with influencers, but also to gain influence by association, while reaching engaged communities likely to appreciate their content and products.
Influencers are highly trusted by their followers and can help businesses convert their audience into loyal customers. This is one of the many reasons behind the growing popularity influencer marketing with brands in all sectors.
To help companies manage their collaborations with influencers, influencer marketing software are solutions that also allow them to measure the impact of this type of partnership on their image and on their sales.
Social networks such as Instagram have real potential as a business accelerator, and this is exactly why most companies use these platforms to approach new audience groups and gradually increase the number of their clients.
If Instagram’s current and future features can be real allies to support your sales, it is however essential to first target what your needs are, the expectations of your target, before to integrate them into your strategy.
To go further, download these free Instagram post templates and use them in the standard or stories format to renew the design of your posts.