Instagram tips for retailers

Retailers’ Guide to Instagram: Celebrities, Hashtags, Sales and Engagement

by • September 23, 2015 • Retail News, Small Business MarketingComments Off on Retailers’ Guide to Instagram: Celebrities, Hashtags, Sales and Engagement3652

Looking to start an Instagram account for your store? See how pro retailers showcase store products, engage new customers, and drive foot traffic to their shops using Instagram.

You’re probably at least somewhat familiar with Instagram — the prettier, younger sister of Twitter. This photo and video sharing platform owned by Facebook boasts over 300 million users per month!

Don’t have Instagram yet?  Do not pass go, download it here.

Instagram is much more than a great place to follow celebrities, show your friends what you ate for lunch today, and give everyone around you beach envy in the dead of winter. The visual platform has become the place for retailers and brands to build an online presence, gain exposure, convert customers, and make sales. 

A few notes before you get started…
Have A Strategy, But Don’t Over Think it
While you may get a like or two if you go in blindly, having a strategy around your Instagram account is essential! This will help you make the most out of the platform and reach your goals. Whether you’re trying to promote a specific product, announce a sale, make end-of-month goals, connect with with an influencer, or just promote brand awareness, Instagram is a useful tool no matter what your brand’s focus is.

Followers, Likes, and Comments
The name of the game with Instagram can be easily summed up by “followers,” “likes,” and “comments.” These three measures of engagement are a good start towards understanding how to promote your brand, lead potential customers to your products, and engage with your target audience. Here are a few Instagram tips for retailers to increase engagement and drive traffic to your store.

Promote Sales and Products (But Keep Presentations Clean)


A graphic on Instagram is a great way to promote or announce flash sales and promo codes. LA-based retailer Kitson is the gold standard when it comes to presenting fashion accessories and gift/novelties in a cool-meets-kitsch way. Here they promoted a specific product on sale by creating a graphic featuring the item and pricing info on Instagram. More details about the sale can be found in the caption. Instagram captions don’t allow you to link directly to a page of your website, so make the sale information very straightforward and mention it on the homepage of your own site.   

A Gift + Novelties example:

Think you need a graphic designer to add cool looking words to your product photos?  You don’t!  Download the Wordswag app here and you’ll have a design in minutes.

Note: Remember to make sure your product is always well-presented. Instagram users reward beautiful, creative, clean visual content – not a hastily photographed mish-mosh of products shot on your 2011 iPhone. That said, all smart phones today have fantastic cameras – so fire away. Thoughtfully.

You spend time merchandising your shop, don’t you? Now just apply this creative energy to Instagram.

Use Hashtags

Earthbound Trading

If you’re having a sale, launching a new product, opening a new store, or anything else, using hashtags is a great way to get more than just your own followers to see your posts. These keywords, placed just after a pound sign like this, #hashtag, (e.g. #GiftsonSale) are a way to show up in searches on Instagram and across social media. When you search for a hashtag, all posts by all users tagged with that hashtag come up, even accounts you do not follow.

Industry leader, Earthbound Trading, used their own brand name as a hashtag, as well as a major event and popular keyword (in this case #LaborDay) in hopes of being viewed by more people. Research popular hashtags for your industry and use them either in your caption or in the comments of your photo to attract more views.

Insider Tip: You can also use hashtags on Instagram to source product trends. This is huge and all buying teams should be required to check these. Search your product category by hashtag #fashion #giftware #novelties and take notes.

Showcase Influencers and Celebrity “Co-Sign”


Found out a celebrity wore one of your items? What about a well known blogger? Or maybe just one of your customers took an awesome photo of your product for their Instagram and “tagged” you (this alerts all of their followers to your Instagram account)?

Reposting content showcasing a well known person affiliating with your product is a great advertisement and can give your shop great credibility. It also helps a larger global audience of people become interested in you.

Finding a photo of your product on an influencer or celebrity naturally is the simplest (especially of you’re selling a popular product), but many brands also work on partnerships with influencers in exchange for compensation or free product to post to their networks. It’s the original Instagram advertisement. (Read more about how to engage influencers on Instagram.)

Insider Tip: Find out which of your best customers are on Instagram (and who have a nice-sized following) and give them some product in exchange for “tagging” you on Instagram.  Even better?  Just give them a gift and let it happen naturally.

Engage Your Customer

Nasty Gal

As you probably know, people love free stuff, so a contest or giveaway is an easy way to get your audience to like, comment, and share your content. A contest is usually a low cost and low risk way to get more people to like your page and grow brand awareness. When running a contest, you can require people to like your page and comment on the photo to enter, or post their own photo using a custom hashtag to enter.

This contest by e-commerce and now brick-and-mortar shop, Nasty Gal, featured a ticket give-away to a popular music festival, FYF, and used their hashtag #FYF to reach a larger audience. The simple graphic enticed viewers and the caption gave specific entry details. The post got a lot of interactions in exchange for a very small amount of work, posting the Instagram, and a simple prize, a gift card to their site.

Insider Tip: Pay attention to what your competitors large and small do on Instagram. You can easily replicate tactics and strategy for your own account.  How about, “win a shopping spree” inside your shop.

Another Insider Tip: Instagram has officially announced that it is opening up its platform to advertisers large and small worldwide (that means you). We’ll make sure you’re ready! Stay tuned for our follow up post, “Instagram Advertising for Retailers.”

Want to gain more knowledge like this and fill you shop or site with the right high-margin products? Reserve your free ticket here to the next ASD Market Week in Las Vegas, a B2B merchandise trade show and retail education conference in one. And, of course, make sure to @ASDShow on Instagram!


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