It seems that every social media platform has a different culture.
Once you hop from one platform to another, you sometimes find the need to adjust depending on each platform’s audience, way of life, and even aesthetic.
The same is true when selling your merch on different platforms.
Instagram, a popular photo and video sharing app that reportedly has about 1 billion active users as of 2020 is a great place to showcase your merch products.
But the caveat is that you have to be cultured enough to know how to sell your merch on Instagram the right way.
How does Instagram work for business owners?
Before starting out, it’s important to know that Instagram is a photo and video-based platform.
This means that unlike other platforms like Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is less with words and more on visuals, although words are also very important, especially when you’re selling your merch.
Photos and Videos
Photos are of great quality and videos are short but entertaining.
It is also important that as early as now, you take into consideration of Instagram’s aspect ratio when it comes to photos and videos.
Ideally, you may upload square photos of a 1:1 ratio.
However, Instagram has updated their platform by adding a vertical and horizontal option with an aspect ratio of 4:5. The best dimensions for photos should be 1080×1080 pixels.
Your Instagram Feed
Your Instagram Feed is your home page. It is what people see when they go to your Instagram profile.
Moreover, in Instagram culture, your Feed aesthetic matters.
Since your home page consists of all your posts that can be seen as single icons, the cumulative theme of your Feed creates an aesthetic impression.
Some people don’t mind arranging their feeds.
However, as a merch seller that sells something very visual (shirt designs), your home page should look aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
Posts, Stories and IGTV
Your posts are the main content from your home page.
This can be your uploaded photos and videos.
You can also share your stories which are 24-hour snippets of your day that last 15 seconds long.
After 24 hours, your story disappears from your profile.
However, if you intend it to be seen on your profile just above your photos and videos, you can add your story to your highlights.
Most eCommerce Instagram profiles utilize their highlights section for product reviews, FAQs, and shipping options.
Your story also has its own dimension restrictions which are 1080×1920 pixels with an aspect ratio of 9:16.
On the other hand, IGTV is like a live video on Instagram that lasts for 60 minutes.
As a merch account, you don’t necessarily need to utilize this feature, unless you want to explain something really hefty.
How to Sell Your Merch on Instagram?
Now that you know the basics of Instagram, we move on to the different steps that you have to take in making sure you sell on the platform the right way.
It’s pretty straightforward, but the execution and details put into it are crucial in boosting your success selling on Instagram.
Here are the steps to do that!:
1. Optimize your Profile as a Merch Account
The first thing you have to do is to set up your profile in a way that it can present your brand, advocacy, niche, and theme in the best way possible.
It’s important that when making your merch account, you switch it into a “business page” instead of a personal account.
Pick your username
This can be tricky since Instagram holds a unique username policy, just like Twitter.
This means that even if you have had your business name for the longest time, you need to be prepared in case you find out that your Instagram handle has already been taken by someone else.
For instance, if your business name is Tees for Teens, the default handle may be @Teesforteens.
If you find out that it’s no longer available, don’t fret.
You can always tweak the username a bit.
By simply adding a word or number, your username becomes a unique identity.
Thus changing it into @Tees4teens might mean you can save a slot for your own Instagram handle.
Choose your Profile Photo
It might get overwhelming at first to choose your profile photo.
But in Instagram, your logo shouldn’t be too complicated.
Besides, you will be posting a series of photos and videos as your content after you finish setting up your account.
You want people to pay attention to your post rather than by getting distracted with the overwhelming prints and words in your unclickable tiny Profile photo icon.
In other words, go simple with this one. It might be as simple as your logo or an abbreviation of your company name with a simple background.
Make an appealing Bio
Your Bio is simply your profile into, a 150 character profile description center located just below your profile photo.
With this character limit, it’s important to make the most out of it with a simple yet striking store intro.
Make sure that in your bio, people understand what you do, where you are based, and what your brand “feels” like.
This means adding in a bit of personality to your store to catch people’s attention.
One important thing to note is that your bio section as well as your Instagram stories are the only places in Instagram where you can plug in a clickable link.
Instagram for the time being does not allow links within captions and comments.
Thus you will often encounter the word “Link in Bio”, or “Swipe up to know more” in Instagram. Make sure to incorporate your main store website in your bio.
Feel free to update it from time to time.
You can also incorporate hashtags if you want to so your profile shows up in search bars in Instagram.
If you don’t want to add hashtags here, it’s fine.
You can always incorporate them each time you post.
2. Decide the theme of your Feed
What kinds of shirts do you sell? Do they have a gothic graphic theme?
Are they a streetwear staple or loungewear basic? What colors are you using?
These factors can help you decide the overall theme of your Feed.
Since your feed looks like grids that are placed side by side, people will scroll through your profile and will usually look at it at the first few glances and capture the feel of your page.
Since your pictures look like grids, some users use this opportity to make a puzzle, where different images form a pattern when looked at from the feed.
It depends on how artistic you want to get with your feed.
Once you figure out what theme you want to have, you will now have a guide on what you will be posting
3. Strategize your Content
Strategizing your Instagram content is important in keeping sellers and potential leads interested in your profile.
Make sure your content is engaging and not just a catalog of all your products.
Besides, social media platforms are meant to entertain users in many ways.
Thus, think of the different ways that you can make your merch store attractive to Instagram users.
Posting your products is the heart of your feed, but look for ways to make it more attractive.
When posting your product photos or videos, you may want to consider a more catchy background as opposed to plain backgrounds.
If you want, you may opt to edit your backgrounds and add in a few graphics to make your content look appealing.
Make sure that your color scheme and theme is consistent throughout the whole feed.
You can also post product reviews.
Some stores opt to post some of their buyers’ photos in their profiles, of course with their permission to get featured.
Sometimes, it can also be advantageous to them as they can get a free feature to your page.
Adding in buyer photos can increase your credibility among potential buyers.
When posting videos and photos, make sure that you observe the right dimensions and aspect ratios to avoid lowering the quality of your content.
One way to kickstart your post engagement is to write a great caption.
This is also a great place where you can integrate different hashtags.
When people search for these keywords, your posts will come to appear on the results page when you utilize these hashtags.
4. Promote your Instagram Profile through Ads
Ideally, you want to be active in posting content on Instagram in order to increase your engagement.
You want to make sure to upload a variety of content such as photos, videos, and IG stories.
You should also respond to messages, comments, and tags in a timely way.
You also have to make a constant effort to increase your followers.
In order to increase your followers, start asking people from among your family, peers, and buyers to follow your store on Instagram.
However, even with much effort, it can be difficult to promote your business on Instagram times.
Thus, people are turning to Instagram ads as a great way to promote their page outside of their reach, group, and followers.
Instagram has a great way of seamlessly inserting ads into people’s feeds without looking like an annoying ad pop-up.
It’s pretty simple to use Instagram ads.
Simply pick a popular post that you have and click “boost” to advertise it and increase its exposure, hopefully making users like the photo and visit your page.
How to Use Instagram Ads
Here’s a detailed way on how you should do it:
1. Go to your main profile and click ‘promote’ just below your followers
The next thing to do is to select the post that you want to advertise.
After you select it, it will turn grey. Then when you’re done selecting the photo, click ‘next’ located on the menu above.
2. The next thing to do is to connect your account to your Facebook.
If you haven’t done this yet upon setting up your account, you will be asked to connect before you can promote.
3. At this point, Instagram will ask you where you would want to send people who will be clicking on the ad post.
You can select from either ‘Your Profile,’ ‘Your Website’ or ‘Your Shop Front.’
4. Next, you will need to identify your target audience. Instagram allows you to select “automatic” which means they will analyze the demographics of your audience based on your followers.
The second option is to select your audience based on their locale. You can also specific based on age groups and gender.
However, if you mean to target a very specific group, you can choose the third option which is the manual.
This option makes you decide on a number of options to target a very specific audience group.
5. The next thing you should do is to select a daily budget.
Instagram gives you a range of choices for the budget that you can choose from.
Moreover, you can select a duration for how long the ads last.
This means that you will be spending X amount for a duration of Y days.
Click Next when you’re done.
6. Lastly, review your ad preparation.
Review your ad for the last time and then click ‘Create Promotion’.
That’s it, you’re all set.
You will have ads running for the selected number of days so make sure that you post truly engaging content during this time.
5. Collaborate with Influencers
You might roll your eyes over some social media influencers, but believe it or not, you need them.
Besides, they aren’t called ‘influencers’ for nothing.
Hundreds of thousands or even millions of users are following these influencer’s accounts.
This means that with every post, they have a wide range of audience and reach.
If you want to jumpstart your merch business, one of the most effective ways to do is to connect with influencers.
The tricky part is communicating with them.
Usually, they don’t reply to your direct messages as they don’t with their thousands or millions of fans who message them every day.
If they aren’t following you, your message should go to the ‘message requests’ bin of Instagram direct messages.
If you get lucky, they may notice your message.
If you don’t, you may try other options.
Usually, they will have emails or websites in their profile bios for future sponsorships and collaborations.
You may want to contact them through that to increase your chances of reaching them.
But what should you say in your proposal message?
Most merch sellers give influencers free merch in exchange for them promoting the product, plus a fee.
Some ask for upfront costs while others may be humble enough not to.
You can decide what kind of post they will be giving for you.
It can be a photo, video, or Instagram story.
Once they agree to accept your merch product and post it, you will have your minutes, hours, and days of fame, depending on the type of post.
Think of this as part of your marketing and advertising costs, where your merch will reach a far wider audience than your store or your ads will ever reach.
Let’s Wrap it Up
If you’re new to Instagram business, it may be overwhelming to try to catch up with the platform’s trends and hypes.
It takes experience and practice, but eventually, you will have a feel of how it runs and how it works for you and your merch business.
Using Instagram is one of the most effective ways to sell your merch online using effective marketing strategies.
Once you get your name out there in the Instagramsphere, and you’re confident that your merch is awesome, then expect tons of followers a few minutes, hours, or days after the promotion.