By Leslie Youngblood

All the cool kids and the cool brands are on Instagram these days. And it's easy to see why: It's more fun than Facebook and more lasting than SnapChat.

Especially when it comes to small business, utilizing the image-based content platform helps convey a visual message and feeling that the other platforms don't harness. Now, Instagram is upping the ante even further, by rolling out a new Instagram Stories feature that lets businesses tag products so that customers can shop directly within the app.  

Within a Story, customers will now see a sticker with a shopping bag icon, and they can tap on it to see more details about the products shown.

Currently, this new Shopping in Stories feature is only available to a limited number of retailers, but as it begins to roll out to more businesses in the coming months, it could prove to be a real asset to your business.

So to help you prep in the meantime, I've put together some tips for making the most of this Instagram Stories feature in order to increase your sales.

1. Explain The Feature to Customers First

This feature is new to your customers too, so why not create an introduction story to explain to them how it works and how you’ll be using it? They’ll appreciate the education and look for it the next time they see a story from you.

Portrait of happy female customer choosing shirt in clothing store2. Build Buzz For New Products

Use Instagram Stories to share some teasers or behind-the-scenes shots of the product in action. Everyone loves a #BTS because they feel like they're getting a special glimpse into something that no one else is.

You could also try promoting or showing a newer product exclusively to your Instagram followers via Stories first to get their opinion (use the poll sticker!) and see if it’s worth offering to a wider audience. Again, this is another way you're making your followers feel special and a part of your brand.

You can also create a short promo video ad for a new product exclusively for Instagram by utilizing the fantastic services of our partner, Fiverr. We can even save you 20% off your first purchase, too.

3. Keep Content Personal and Casual

Though this new feature can help you make actual sales, it shouldn’t take away from the overall feel of Instagram Stories, which can be a great outlet for authentic and personal interactions with customers. Continue to share more personal and engaging content that your users love and look forward to, but just make sure products are highlighted and tagged.

4. Show the Product In Action 

Instead of just posting a photo of your product in your store or office, use Instagram Stories to provide a more interesting context for your products.

You can show them in styled shoots or just out in the wild so that customers get a different look than what’s included in the simple product photos on your website. Obviously, this works extremely well for retail stores with clothing or fashion accessories because it paints a picture the buyer can aspire to with their own look. Even if you're a car detailing company, if you show a picture of your work out on the road in action, it's more dynamic than a simple shot of a parked car.

Portrait of a smiling afro american woman using smartphone over gray background

Another idea is to aggregate some user-generated content from your customers. You can do this by introducing a product or brand hashtag, share it with your followers, and then invite them to participate and use it with images of them wearing/using/etc. products they've bought from you.

5. Ask for Input on New Products

To encourage even more engagement with customers, you could include them in the process of actually developing your products.

Use polls to ask them about color preferences, size options, and other dilemmas you’re faced with when creating new products so they feel involved and end up with something that matches their preferences.

Try experimenting with other features too. Since last year, Instagram has rolled out over 20 new features within Stories — including Boomerang, @mentioning and linking to other accounts, filters, text overlay, stickers and drawing tools. These new elements help businesses share everyday moments in more fun and clever ways.

And that rounds out my top five insider tips for using Instagram Stories to make your sales numbers jump.

As you experiment, keep an eye on what types of Stories seem to resonate most with your followers. What types of images lead to more sales when you tag products? What format/s leads to more messages from followers?

Keep track of these metrics so you can determine the most effective strategies going forward.

 

Leslie Youngblood is the Creative Director for Excelerate America, the ultimate resource for entrepreneurs. She'd love to have you tag Excelerate in one of your Insta Stories- just use @exceleratebiz. You can also email her your thoughts on Instagram's new feature at leslie.youngblood@excelerateamerica.com.

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