How to Use Instagram for Retail Business


Thu Sep 15 2022

Reading time

Coffee & cornetto

Improve Your Social Strategy With These Ten Instagram Tips for Retailers

We won’t surprise you by saying that social media nowadays really can’t be ignored. Some of you might be already masters in the art, but we bet some others are probably wishing they could go back to the old days— when Reels, Stories, and Engagement Rate were almost meaningless words. Truth is, Instagram has a huge potential in growing your retail business. If you’re wondering “how can Instagram help my business?”, here’s the answer: it can increase your brand awareness, reach new customers, boost sales, drive traffic to your store, and build a loyal community. It needs the right strategy and effort behind though, so if you want to scale up your social media game, these ten Instagram tips for retailers are the ones to know.

Set Up a Business Account

Having a business account makes all the difference when starting your social strategy: it allows you to have access to content and audience analytics, add specific store info such as email and business hours, run ads and promotions, and benefit from special features such as a shoppable feed.

If you don’t have an account for your store yet, you can start a new Instagram business account from scratch, while if you already have a personal profile that you’d like to use, you can simply switch it to a business account. To do that, just go to your Settings, scroll down, and tap “Switch to Professional Account”.

Define Your Audience and Goals

Another important part of getting your strategy started is to define who you want to speak to and what you want to achieve. Are you there to communicate with loyal customers? To reach new potential clients who don’t know you yet? Do you want to increase your online sales? To attract people to your physical store? The Instagram potential is endless, but the best way to set up Instagram for business is to make a list of your goal priorities— it will help you shape a more efficient strategy plan, and when you know your target audience and your objectives it will be easier to create content around them.

You can start by analyzing what your current customers love, who else they follow, what type of content they like, and what they would want to see from you. Are they more into womenswear or homeware? Do they want to know the stories behind your brands or just see your shoe collection? Combine all these takeaways with your intent and goals, and the direction will become immediately clear.

Optimize Your Profile

After setting up your account, you need to optimize it for successful results. Working carefully on the Instagram bio for retail business is essential: it’s only 150 characters long but it’s what will shape your followers’ first impression. Make sure to state what your business is about, highlighting your store’s personality and strengths, but have fun with it too, playing with emojis and tone of voice. Crystal clear and catchy, can you do both?

If you have a website, definitely include the URL in the basic information, alongside email and other relevant contact information you want to share. If you’re a physical store, the address and opening hours can be a handy addition too, while no matter if online or brick-and-mortar, use the Category business feature to let people understand at first glance what you do.

And finally, it might sound obvious but your account name and profile picture are also key parts of this optimization process: always use the official name of the store not to get people confused, and display your logo as the profile picture, sticking to your brand identity.

Tell Your Story With Relevant Content

OK, so now it’s time to start. When shaping your content strategy, remember that you’re there to tell your story. Because that’s the one thing you have that none else has. Your profile needs to reflect your store’s aesthetic, mood, and atmosphere, inviting your followers into a digital experience that’s complementary to the in-store one.

So, what to post on Instagram for business? Show them what you have in store and what you can offer, give them styling tips, tell the stories of your brands, bring them behind the scenes, remind them of sales and promo, and make them always feel part of a community. With respect and care, without being too salesy.

To get started, choose a few topics to focus on instead of trying to do it all. This will help you get creative without getting confused. Make sure to also have a look at what your competitors are doing to find some more inspiration.

And if we can add a very important extra tip: use UGC! User-generated content is a gold mine to benefit from.

Make the Most of All the Features

Instagram is not about Posts only. If you want to win at the social game, you need to embrace all the features that the platform offers.

Start with Stories and use them to share spontaneous and raw content, ask your followers questions and polls, or remind them of special sales with a dedicated countdown. Experiment with Reels and get creative in building video storytelling about your new season bag collection, or your in-store daily life.

Post Regularly and Plan in Advance

Another tip on how to run an Instagram account for business is planning. An accurate editorial plan is the secret of any savvy social media manager, and it needs to be your friend from now on too. Planning is necessary for many reasons: it gives you time to develop relevant ideas, it allows you to never run out of content, it makes sure you don’t forget about important holidays and shopping events, and it takes the pressure off from having to create instant coverage.

Once you have your plan, start to post regularly— choose a frequency of posting you can stick to and keep your customers engaged.

Optimize Your Content

Just like your profile, your content too can be optimized for positive results. Here are some ideas:

  • Captions: don’t just throw words out there but write meaningful and catchy copy that serves your business purpose without being boring or lengthy. Find your tone of voice and let it shine, but also make sure to include relevant keywords for your content to be discovered. Use emojis to shake things up and break up long captions with line breaks.

  • Hashtags: despite the rumors, hashtags are still vital for being discovered on Instagram. Users can search content through specific hashtags, so you need to choose carefully the hashtags and topics you want your post to appear from. Don’t go mad with them though, avoid excessive hashtags and just include the most relevant ones.

  • Geotags: geotagging your posts can help you to establish relationships with your local community. Use the specific geotag of your store when you want users to know exactly where they can find you and increase brand awareness, but try also using just your city geotag sometimes, to reach new potential followers who might not know your business is in town yet.

Build a Community

When running Instagram for small retail businesses, you need to think of your followers as your in-store clients. You would never leave them waiting around too much for an answer, right? In other words, be engaged in the conversation with your audience: reply to messages and comments, like their posts, share the pictures where they’re tagging you, ask them questions in Stories, and so on. It’s a proper customer care service you’re giving and this will help you build a real community.

Review Your Performance

What you want to track will depend on the goals you have set for your business, but a few common metrics to review on a weekly or monthly basis are your follower growth, profile reach, engagement rate, traffic to the website, and direct sales. The overall sentiment on your profile is also very much meaningful even if less trackable.

Partner Up

In our hyper-connected world doing business alone doesn’t work. Instagram is an amazing place to join forces and partner up towards a common goal, so consider influencer collaborations as a valuable tool to increase brand awareness and reach new audiences. You can also explore partnerships with other non-competitor retail businesses, sharing your respective customer bases around specific occasions or topics.

More From our Magazine