With over 1 billion monthly active users, and 500 million daily active users, Instagram has grown from that hipster image-sharing app your friends were gushing over in 2010 to an integral part of a successful digital marketing strategy.
As a Shopify entrepreneur, strategically sharing your products on Instagram can open a new sales channel for your store. In addition to helping you build your brand, Instagram has made it possible to take customers straight to your store’s checkout with a few clicks.
So why is it extra-important to nail your Instagram marketing strategy during the holidays? In 2017, the average rate of engagement per Instagram post declined throughout the year—that is, until November, when it shot back up and continued to climb through December. This engagement spike during the most lucrative months of the year makes Instagram the perfect platform for ecommerce entrepreneurs to connect with holiday customers.
Before we get into specific marketing tactics, it’s important to set up your Instagram account for shoppable posts. First, check to see if your business is located in one of the 44 countries where Instagram has introduced the feature. Second, install the Facebook channel in your Shopify store with an approved Facebook shop. And finally, switch your Instagram profile to a business account. An Instagram business account will give you rich data on who your followers are, as well as how and when they engage with your posts.
Now that you’ve set up an Instagram business account for your Shopify store, let’s look at a few tactics you can implement into your holiday Instagram strategy.
Tag your products
The 61 days that make up November and December account for an impressive 30% of retailers’ annual earnings. With that in mind, there’s no better time than the holidays to start selling through Instagram.
Tagging your products in posts allows you to create “shoppable” content in both your Instagram feed and stories. A shoppable post takes customers straight from Instagram to your store. These posts will display a shopping bag icon in the top right corner to inform customers they can tap through to buy the product(s) shown.
Instagram lets you feature multiple products in one post, making it easy to showcase complementary items. To use this to your advantage, create a bundle sale in your store and feature the items together in a single post, promoting the sale.
As tempting as it may be to go tag-crazy in your posts, remember that Instagram is primarily a place to engage with customers. Pumping out promotional posts won’t sit well with your loyal followers.
Host a holiday contest
The holidays are a great time to inspire user-generated content with contests. Postmark Brewing has perfected this with their “7-day weekend” photo contest. Though not holiday-themed, the contest encourages followers to share their best photos, focusing on a lifestyle rather than a product, with a worthy prize for the winner.
Asking followers to share their photos lowers the barrier to entry as you’re not asking for something they wouldn’t regularly do. Framing the contest around a lifestyle rather than a product also makes it feel less promotion-y. Finally, to ensure your brand is still recognized, ask contestants to tag you in the photo and include a branded contest hashtag to track entries.
As for the prize, consider a high-value holiday gift basket filled with your best products to keep the focus on your business.
Curate your stories
Move over Snapchat, there’s a new “now-it’s-here-now-it’s-gone” social champion in town. Instagram stories allow users to share temporary content they may not want cluttering up their feed in a slideshow format that lives for 24 hours before disappearing. With over 400 million daily users, Instagram’s stories feature has over twice as many daily users as Snapchat.
So how can you use stories to sell this holiday season? Consider creating curated stories that feature specific products and collections. Show your followers how the products work, look, and feel with video and/or photo tutorials. Once you’ve completed your story, you can post it as a highlight to your profile. This saves and pins the story to you profile, so your hard work doesn’t disappear into the abyss (unless you want it to, of course).
If you need some inspiration from a company killing it on Shopify and Instagram right now, check out Blenders Eyewear’s curated stories.
Partner with influencers
While you may not be able to wrangle Ryan Gosling to model your fall collection, there are influencers within your network you can leverage.
If you’ve never approached an influencer before and don’t know where to start, we suggest browsing through your Instagram followers. Find a few with strong followings and high engagement rates, and work together on a post that fits both brands.
Their followers will be able to see through obvious promotional posts, so cater the post to feel more natural for their followers. Explore Alberta and outdoor enthusiast Callum Snape partnered on a post that follows these guidelines to a T.
Engaging with Instagram influencers during the holidays can be especially lucrative. It’s a natural time for them to be talking about products they love as the shopping season gets busier and busier, and it’s more likely their followers will be in a buying mindset.
Looking for more BFCM tips and tricks? Get our free Holiday Handbook for Shopify Entrepreneurs.