Instagram are leading the way when it comes to its users engaging with brands online. While Facebook can boast just 32% of its users engaging with businesses and brands, Instagram has a massive 68% of its users doing the same. Which is why it’s well worth knowing how to utilise Instagram as a marketing platform for your own eCommerce business.

Instagram are going through something of a transition phase right now between personal and business use. They’ve recently introduced a new marketing feature ‘shoppable photo’ as an additional facet of their Instagram Business tool.

In order to make the most of Instagram and all those eager users waiting to engage, you need to build a following, a brand AND know how to market yourself. Here are some steps on how to achieve this:

Find Images That Work For Your Brand

Images that are well received by your Instagram users are worth identifying, especially if you can re-use them, guaranteeing continual success and thousands of likes from them, over and over again.


@clarksshoes haven’t quite nailed it when it comes to images that work on their Instagram page. Their ‘go-to’ images are minimalist and sparse, this works for some brands like American Apparel, but for brands that are smaller- it’s clear these images are reaping a small amount of attention of between 800 and 1,000 likes. It doesn’t seem to be working just yet.


In contrast, @Vans really know how to ‘market’ their shoes. Instead of putting their shoes in stand-alone images, people wear them and are seen engaging in activities like skateboarding, walking or playing tennis, which seem to be some of the most popular. These images receive between 120k-150k likes, on average.

Inspire Your Audience

Using inspirational quotes and beautiful images can help create a buzz around your business and creates a certain lifestyle that you can to sell to your potential audience. More simply, people like to feel inspired by meaningful words, to mull over beautiful images, snapshots of tasty-looking food or even scenic landscapes. Even an interesting filter will usually do the trick!


The @theofficialpandora Instagram has utilised the ‘inspirational’ quote to the fullest, taking stirring and romantic phrases from prominent, literary figures such as Susan Sontag, Victor Hugo and John Milton – helping us say it better than we can say ourselves! These images are also perfect to incorporate alongside occasion campaigns – these specific images worked well for their Valentine’s Day editorial!

Calvin Klein

The @CalvinKlein Instagram page is filter-heavy, with the edgy black and white filter overplayed on top of images having become something of a trademark of their brand. However, the use of a filter can give selfie-style shots, or amateur photographers the same look as expensive, high-end equivalents – filters aren’t just reserved for high-fashion shots – everyone can do it, it’s a level playing field.

Below is a graph showcasing the effectiveness that filter usage has on the popularity and interaction that be created with a filtered image on Instagram.

Be Creative When Highlighting Products For More Engagement

You could simply snap a picture, slap a filter on it and post it, but why not shake things up a bit. Sometimes images that are not directly related to or even referencing the brand itself but encompass a vibe and an image that a certain brand is aspiring to be associated with, are more effective than images that do feature their products.

Urban Outfitters

Just browsing through the @urbanoutfitters page, you can see they’re the masters of Instagram when it comes to images than stand out. For example, the image in the centre top isn’t explicitly referring to or pushing one item of clothing but is generating a sense of togetherness or community, characteristics that the brand wants to embody.

This image alone received 138k likes – more than any other image on this snippet.

Build A Consistent Brand Image

Consistency equates to trust when it comes to Instagram! It’s worth checking out how your brand competitors are doing it, however, it’s no good looking at high-level competitors if you’re a medium-level business, keep your social media goals realistic, take it slow and don’t bite off more than you can chew.

  1. Create consistent visuals
  2. Use influencers and celebrities as part of your brand identity


@Nike Instagram have a clear and consistent Instagram presence. They’ve committed to using even, crisp, clean and clear focus photography across the board, with a sense of vibrancy that extends from the splashes of colour and energetic content of their images. This continuity even extends to the videos that they’ve posted.

Integrate Instagram Photos Into Your eCommerce Website

Having Instagram photo galleries, images or a dedicated link embedded on your eCommerce site are a great way to make your pictures to work hard for your business. Check out the widgets that are available.

1. The Instagram Widget is a free and easy way to show Instagram photos on your website.

2. Tint is an easily embeddable widget for your website that lets you display your own photos, other Instagram users’ photos, or hashtagged photos.

3. SnapWidget is another great, free way to display Instagram photo galleries on your website.

4. Webstagram is a web viewer for Instagram, so you can easily check out what your friends and followers are up to. Plus, they have a pretty fancy-looking “Follow me on Instagram” button you can use on your website.

Another Love

Australian clothing brand Another Love have incorporated an Instagram link-through on their site entitled ‘Shop Instagram’ allowing users to transition between their web page and their Instagram page – to boost sales.

Run A Contest

Adding Instagram contests to your social media mix can quickly expand your reach. There are many different types of contests that you can run, here are a few:

1. Like Or Comment To Win Contests

In a contest such as this one, simply ask for Instagram users to like or comment on an update. All those who do will be entered into the contest, which normally has a deadline of 24 hours and usually, the prizes are their products. These campaigns are good in that they have a quick turnaround time – but create a big social media buzz!

This @Maybelline campaign is an example of a click or comment campaign. With this, they have additional features including a request to view their SnapChat story, which increases the chances of winning the prize for users.

2. Hashtag User-Generated Content Contests

For a hashtag user-generated contests, it’s important for brands to create a contest-specific hashtag and ask participants to share a photo or video using that hashtag to enter.

Marc Jacobs

When massively-popular fashion designer Marc Jacobs announced that the company would be casting models for their next advertising campaign through Twitter and Instagram submissions, social media savvy fashionistas around the world went wild. Participants simply had to post an image to Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #CastMeMarc, and within 24 hours over 15,000 hopefuls had done just that.

The overwhelming success of this campaign led to a second social media contest, and is even credited with starting a phenomenon that came to be known as “selfie-casting,” where fashion brands are using social media rather than modelling agencies to find the next fresh face.

3. Email-Gated Contests

These types of contests for Instagram combine email and Instagram to help you generate leads for your business. They are run by asking participants for their email address to enter. This contest has a two-fold benefit: it’s a great way to build your email list and get unique user-generated-content. The prize of your contest it vital and should relate to your business – it could be a product discount, free items from your brand, or gift cards

This type of contest has a higher barrier to entry, where most users want a quick and easy method of entry.


Teathos who recently created an email-gated contest, ask participants to follow them and to then head over to their website and enter their email address to entered for the prize.

Instagram Video

A relatively new tool, Instagram have introduced video as another way to share brand products and promote identity with users online. Video is changing the marketing game drastically and is a feature that has been incorporated onto all major social media channels.


The @maybelline Instagram page has really incorporated Instagram video seamlessly alongside their images. Video make up around 1/3 of their posts and you can see why. Some of their videos which they use for products test and tutorials can gain up to 274k likes!

Utilise The ‘Shoppable Photo’ Tool

Building a buzz around your brand can be enhanced by ‘Shoppable photo’:

  • The ‘shoppable photos’ feature makes the browsing and discovery of items seen on Instagram more streamlined and accessible.
  •  It achieves this by giving the user additional information about the product they’re viewing, for example, the cost of an item – which is signalled by a speech-bubble effect coming from the item(s) on the screen.
  • The feature also allows consumers to access product information within the Instagram platform. However, it also has a ‘shop now’ feature at the bottom of the image, allowing customers to navigate away from Instagram to an external brand site, in order to browse and ultimately purchase the goods.

When big brands suck up all the page one results on Google and Amazon engulf most of the search results when people search for items – for small businesses and new brands, without relying solely on SEO to generate a footfall, it’s platforms like Instagram and tool such as these that help them out.

It gives businesses the ability to locate where their potential clients are at their source, grab their attention and then make them aware of your store or product. It also gives you leverage against distant and faceless e-commerce giants, allowing you to reach out and communicate with your potential and existing customer base, on friendly and personable terms.

Wrapping It Up

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, getting followers on Instagram is much easier and their engagement with brands and businesses is worth much more.

With Instagram, it’s power and reach is endless, it’s a platform in which small and new business are able to forge a clear way for themselves, where they can be seen and heard by consumers, as well as compete with the ‘big-dogs’ of eCommerce.