Instagram has serious potential for retailers wanting to make money. With more than 500 million users, 300 million of which are daily active users, this photo editing and sharing app has a massive user base that is actively engaged.

Every day, users “like” more than 4.2 billion photos and share more than 95 million images. In order to successfully make money on Instagram, you’ll need to make sure your account is up to the correct standard. Creating a profile isn’t enough to get you, followers, anymore.

Bio

Your Instagram bio is your chance to introduce yourself. With 150 characters you need to explain what you do and why your audience should care. Make sure you check these crucial things:

  • You don’t need to write in complete sentences.
  • Use two to three keywords for your industry.
  • You can use emojis.
  • Include your unique selling proposition and/or product differentiation.
  • Include a call-to-action (usually to click on the link in your bio).

Bio link

You only get one active hyperlink on Instagram (all other URLs are inactive), this is in your bio. This is very important so use it wisely. Add a link to the next piece of content you want your ideal shoppers to see. That could include a link to a coupon, free opt-in, feature products, shop page or more — whatever it is, make sure it relates to your business.

Captions

If you want to make money on Instagram, you need to use your captions as an opportunity to describe your products, tell a story, attract users to your page, and engage your audience. This –apart from the pictures- is what draws visitors in to click on your link.

Think about your captions. These are very important, make them punchy and engage your audience. You can use lengthy Instagram captions. Try it out and write longer captions that act as a ‘mini blog posts’ to share useful and entertaining information. Make sure you put the most important info at the top. Always highlight vital info at the top where users are most likely to see it. Some people who are new to Instagram might not know what to do next, so tell users what you’d like them to do next. Most companies use ‘like the photo’, ‘tag a friend’, or ‘visit the link in bio’.

Hashtags are very important, these help users find your posts through search, you should try to use up to five hashtags. Another important note is to make sure your captions are easy to read. No one wants to read a wall of text. You can break up the copy by using spaces and emojis. Unfortunately you can’t add line breaks while writing copy directly through the Instagram app.

Photos

Photos are at the core of an Instagram presence. You should create a signature look that matches your branding. There could be a special filter, colour scheme or theme that runs throughout all of your photos and makes your profile feel consistent. Using geotagging when relevant, this shows the location of where your photo was taken, which creates another searchable lead back to your images. An example is if your product is at an event or different place.

However you don’t have to make your account all about your products. Even if you create your account just to sell products on Instagram, your profile needs to be more than that. You can share editorial content that is interesting and useful to your audience as much as you share ads that promote and sell products.

Hashtags

Using the right hashtag strategy will help engage users and let them find your content. You can use a database like Hastagify.me to find popular hashtags related to your industry.

Some companies create their own branded hashtags that guide users to see more from your brand or topic. An example of this is #ALSIceBucketChallenge – ALS Association, this was one of the most popular hashtags in terms of global reach and media coverage, and everyone knew and participated in it. The hashtag was born in a Massachusetts living room and spread globally with celebrities from Rita Ora to Lady Gaga getting involved. Alongside anyone with a social media account and an internet connection, this culminated in a peak of 1.3m mentions in just 24 hours.

Stories

Instagram has added a story feature to the app. Instagram Stories allows users to upload a series of photos and videos with editing features, which are visible for 24 hours. Instead of just using posts to feature your products, you can use your story to sell products on Instagram with pictures and videos. With these videos and photos, you can show ‘a look behind the scenes’, ‘your product in action’, shots from your store, different variations of your product, and unique looks at your brand.

Engagement

To make money on Instagram, your profile can’t be all about you. You must engage with other users and connect with them in different ways. You should follow users that use hashtags related to your industry and users with similar interests will be likely to follow you back.

The use of a geotag search comes in handy to find users who are near you. When you geotag a location, you can click on it to see photos from other users who have also tagged that location. This way you can follow or engage with them to build relationships with nearby users.

Make sure you comment on other photos as well and don’t write generic, copy-and-paste messages. Write authentic notes that relate directly to the user’s post this way they can engage with you.

A lot of companies run contests that focus on user-generated content. You can get your followers involved by asking your users to create content around your brand and then sharing their content through your page. For example, some companies use like and hashtag #yourbrandcampaign and get their followers involved in winning a prize, whether that is money, a product or a discount code.

Plugins and add-ons

There are additional tools that can help you make money on Instagram.

Retailers can add a LinktoKnow.It links in a photo caption. When a user double-clicks on a photo to like it, they receive an email with information about the product. However, this is only useful for connecting with users who have a LiketoKnow.it account. Companies who use this are Sephora, Laura Mercier, TopShop, MissGuided, Star Wood Hotel and Resorts, Etsy and much more.

Have2Have.it is like LiketoKnow.It, this tool makes it easier for users to follow a path to purchase items from an Instagram feed. But Have2Have.it does not require the user to sign up for an account. Have2Have.it generates one URL (that should be placed in the bio link field) that takes users to a page that looks like the Instagram feed and includes options for purchase.

Instagram Layout, this uses one Instagram post as an opportunity to showcase multiple products with Instagram Layout. The free tool allows you to create grid layouts to show multiple angles of your photos, tell a story, or create an interesting look.

Boomerang is another tool from Instagram that helps create extra-interesting content, Boomerang enables users to create mini videos that loop back and forth. This is very popular with celebrities as they use it for effective short videos.

Instagram advertising can take it one step further by your company using paid Instagram advertising to connect with users. Visual adverts always get the most clicks, you can share video ads that are up to 60 seconds long in landscape or square format.

Crowdfire makes it easy to grow and manage following on Instagram. It’s both a web-based application and iOS/Android App. You can use this tool to tidy up who you follow, and quickly follow other users who are likely to be interested in your product or service.

Are you ready to get started? You can start building your Instagram up today with products, reviews and the visual content you need to get your business out there.