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Should Your Business Use Instagram for Marketing? Six Questions To Ask

Written by Marina Pape on July 27, 2018 Blog, Marketing.

Wondering if your business should be on Instagram? The short answer is that whatever you’re selling, you should consider it. Instagram now has over one billion monthly users — as of January, 2018, 7 percent of internet users in the United States accessed Instagram once every few days.

And if you’re in certain eCommerce categories or selling a visual product, you definitely should.

Here are six questions to ask if you’re weighing whether Instagram should be part of your marketing strategy.

1. What industry are you in?

Instagram doesn’t make sense for all industries, but in some — such as auto, fashion, beauty, travel and retail — there is widespread adoption by brands, and not having a presence is a lost opportunity. Be guided by what the leading brands in your industry are up to on Instagram.

Share of brands that have an Instagram profile as of March 2016, by category

2. Is your product visual?

Instagram is the social media home of beautiful photography and visual storytelling. If you can translate your selling proposition into something visual, you’ll be able to showcase it perfectly.

If you’re selling photographable products, you have an obvious visual. But effective use of Instagram isn’t limited to physical products! For example, a golf lesson company could tag lessons in videos of the perfect swing.

Dina Rakasko makes the most unbelievable cakes -- and sells the moulds to make them on her online store
Dina Rakasko makes the most unbelievable cakes — and sells the molds to make them on her online store

3. Are your customers on Instagram?

If your customers are using Instagram, you have an opportunity to engage with them where they like to be social.

Make it easy for people to engage with your brand on Instagram by adding follow buttons to your website and sharing buttons to product pages. Social proof is an extremely powerful selling tool!

Research has found that pre-purchase social shares are strongly linked to revenue. One study from ShareThis showed that millennial shoppers (those born between the 80s and early 00s) are approximately twice as likely to buy a product they’ve personally shared on social media.

Check hashtags associated with your brand (e.g. #WooCommerce) and industry (e.g. #WordPress, #eCommerce) and engage where the opportunity arises. Keep an eye out for anytime someone makes the effort to tag your brand (e.g. @WooCommerce) in a post — and be sure to respond!

4. Has Facebook advertising been effective? 

If you’ve had success running Facebook ads, you’re just a few steps away from trying similar ads on Instagram and reaching your customers there, too.

Learn more about Instagram advertising.

5. Does your website need some dynamism?

Once you’ve posted a few pics to Instagram, you can pull a feed of your Instagram photos onto your website, adding some life and boosting SEO.

For WooCommerce, you can automate this with the WooCommerce Instagram feed extension.

Using hashtags, add selections of your Instagram posts to any content areas of your store with the WooCommerce Instagram extension
Using hashtags, add selections of your Instagram posts to any content areas of your store with the WooCommerce Instagram extension

6. Do you need a little help making photos look good? 

While taking professional photos of your products for your website is preferable, Instagram’s filters, crops, and editing tools are really helpful. Get into a habit of snapping and posting on Instagram, and you’ll create an image bank you can draw on for your product pages and marketing. Here are some great tips if you’re just starting out.

Two final tactical tips

Don’t make your sole purpose clicks and revenue: To build an engaged audience and see ROI on Instagram, you need to create content thoughtfully — don’t make selling the goal of every post. Figure out how to offer value, without asking for clicks and dollars every time, and balance the cadence at which you will aim to sell (measured in clicks and revenue) versus engage (measured in likes and comments)

If you’re running a cosmetics store, think about what potential customers might be curious to know, and post about that. Perhaps there’s a new product or trend — like charcoal toothpaste! — that you don’t sell, but think the people who might purchase your products would like to know about. Go ahead and share it!

Or here’s a real-life example — TinyTags sells customizable jewelry online with WooCommerce, and use Instagram to not only showcase their products but also share inspirational quotes:

What a great, on-brand nugget of content from Tiny Tags. It might not sell a product today, but it got great engagement 🙂

Do tag your products! Thanks to the introduction of Shopping on Instagram, it’s now possible to tag products in posts and Stories and send people to checkout in a few steps. Historically, links were discouraged and limited to bios, so these Shopping link-outs are a potent new traffic and sales opportunity.

You’ll need an Instagram Business profile to access features like Ads and Shopping — so it’s highly recommended. Here’s how to create one, including how to convert an existing personal account.


The visual, browsable nature of Instagram lends itself to product discovery, and the potential reach is significant. It’s the perfect platform for visual storytelling and makes a good photographer of anyone.

Next week, we’ll cover how to set up Shopping on Instagram — see you then!


7 Responses

  1. technosoups341272817
    July 29, 2018 at 2:08 pm #

    Thank you so much for this post. Your article made a lot of things very clear and also shows that instagram is a very good source for clients and social profile. Actually i want to add one thing as if you need a good instagram profile an best Instagram bio is needed.

  2. Andrea
    July 31, 2018 at 3:04 pm #

    Thanks for the insight Marina – finally a post I can link to that is not trying to sell me anything 🙂 Love how you ask if Facebook ads have been working or not – not a point many raise.

    • Marina Pape
      July 31, 2018 at 5:54 pm #

      Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  3. Andrej
    August 1, 2018 at 10:21 am #

    Instagram is getting more and more popular in my country currently, so it really is something that we should focus on. Thank you for this article.

    • Marina Pape
      August 6, 2018 at 12:06 pm #

      Sure! Good luck using it in your marketing 🙂

  4. Aris
    August 2, 2018 at 5:42 pm #

    Nice one! A lot of businesses are keen on getting into social media particularly instagram because right at this time, instagram influencer marketing is hip and you can leverage influencers together with your social profile for that.

    The fact is that Instagram is not for every business. Is your product visual and are your customers on Instagram – these two are usually enough for a brand to know if they should be doing this kind of marketing.

  5. Lewis Johnson
    August 21, 2018 at 10:35 pm #

    Very interesting to see that the consumer electronics where at the bottom of the list. Although I would have guessed that food should be at the top of the list as the most marketable product on the social networks.