Tips for Using Instagram For Retail

If used properly, Instagram can be a powerful way to build your brand, grow a following, and ultimately your sales. Learn these tips to succeed.
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Instagram is a social media giant, having roughly one billion monthly active users. Despite rapid e-commerce mobile app development, Instagram remains one of the largest and most effective ways to promote your online business. If you haven’t had much luck with social media in the past, or are just starting out, this guide will help you to understand more fully how to properly utilize Instagram. 

Showcase Your Brand And Build A Community

Your most loyal customers are loyal because your company stands for something. Humans bond with other humans over their morals and values. In order for a customer to remain loyal to your store, you must be more than just a store selling brands they like.

For example, let’s take a look at Urban Outfitters. Urban Outfitters is a store that sells hip clothing, accessories, art, and wall decor. Their Instagram is filled with pictures that are directly related to their brand and followers. They post pictures of road trips, art, pop culture, anything that is related to the kind of products they sell. Of course, they still post pictures of their products, but it isn’t the only thing they post. The pictures you post should speak to your followers on an emotional level. When you get something new, eat something delicious or see something amazing you want to tell someone about it right away! You want people to feel that way about sharing products on Instagram.

Aritzia encourages their buyers to take a picture of what they bought at Aritzia and use the hashtag #myaritzia. This hashtag has created a community where like-minded individuals can “get together” and share. Sometimes Aritzia will even feature users they have found through that hashtag. If you use this approach, make sure you use a simple hashtag and be sure it makes sense for your brand so it doesn’t backfire.

Showing who you are behind the store is always a good idea as well. Showing your team going to events, staff parties, and things like this help build trust and a relationship with your customers. It’s always nice to see the faces behind the store.


One of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your site is through referrals and using Instagram to do this is no exception. One brilliant way to do this on Instagram is by looking for people on Instagram with a ton of followers.

Target has done a fantastic job of marketing their company on Instagram, in particular in their women’s fashion section. There is an account that is affiliated with a target called Target does it again. Two fashion bloggers, Jen and Laura of Ascot & Hart, go to target and scour the store for great finds, usually women’s clothing, take a picture and hashtag the picture #targetdoesitagain. Their finds reflect their cool, laid-back style. The account currently has over 1.4 million followers.

Holding a contest is another valuable way to gain referrals. A contest is great because you can ask people to share. What might this kind of contest look like?

Say you are a store selling sneakers. You could tell your followers to post a picture or story of them wearing your brand’s shoes and pick a hashtag, such as #mysneakers and have them tag your Instagram @username. Their followers will see this, and so on. I said it already, but I think it’s worth saying again: make sure when you hold a contest asking people to use a hashtag, the hashtag is short and easy to remember.

Use Real People To Sell Your Product

How many times have you gone to a store, specifically an online clothing store and you see a perfect model wearing a shirt you like. You probably would say, “that would never look good on me”. Many companies are starting to realize that people are sick of seeing unrealistic advertising.

Most brands nowadays launch campaigns vowing not to use photoshopped models. They also take the same approach with their Instagram.

For example, three fashion bloggers wearing the same t-shirt, using three very different women. Such posts appeal to a wide variety of women and encourage people to head over to their blog and check out their stories. This approach is great as the fashion bloggers already have their own following of people and are influencing them to make the same purchase.

Use Instagram Photos On Your Website

Once you get people tagging and sharing themselves using your products, you can use those photos in your store. There are different tools available to display social media streams on your website, and specifically pull in photos from an Instagram account or hashtag. Showing real customer photos is great for two reasons:

  1. Seeing real people using your products helps build trust. Customers can rest assured that if others love your products, they will too.
  2. People want what others have. Many people are uncomfortable when making a decision and seeing others happy can influence them to make the purchase.

Putting It All Together

If used properly, Instagram can be a very powerful way to build your brand, grow a following, and ultimately your sales. Remember these tips:

  • Showcase your brand values and inspire your customers to become brand ambassadors
  • Display your products in real-life situations
  • Show some behind-the-scenes personality
  • Connect your customer base to one another through a hashtag
  • Run competitions and encourage people to share photos of your products
  • Leverage the existing audience of industry influencers
  • Display posted photos on your website

-Aston Rhodes

Aston is a content writer and application developer. She does research and discussion on tech-related topics. She enjoys sharing her experiences with a like-minded audience and writes about software development, digital marketing, business, career, and more.