Instagram influencer marketing strategies -10 ways to drive sales for ecommerce

Social media has become an integral part of people's daily routines, we are addicted to it logging in and checking our feeds and getting likes on social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. And, they were designed that way. Despite the recent Facebook data scandals, people have become so reliant on interacting on them, that for most people deleting their accounts is not very easy.  The latest data from Pew Research Center’s 2018 Social Media Use Survey indicates social media usage is not going to drastically decline (although some channels may have quarters where new user growth is slowing) or go away.

If you have an ecommerce or B2C product you should be investing in using paid social advertising and influencer marketing strategies to gain brand awareness, traffic or sales. Instagram, now has 35% of adults using it as 2018, which is a 28% increase compared to 2016. According to a recent Business Insider interview with Brittany Hennesey, Hearst Digital Media Senior Director of influencer strategy, "People scroll through 300 feet of [social media] content every day. That's the size of the Statue of Liberty,"  Recent data from media agency Magna, is forecasting that digital advertising sales in the US will reach 108 billion, (a 15% increase from last year) with most of advertising dollars going to paid social content, followed by video and search. Conversely it predicts that TV, print media, and radio ad revenues will be flat or even shrink this year.  

So many large beauty and clothing brands are shifting some of their traditional advertising budgets to using influencers to promote their products, instead of doing TV commercials or print advertising, because the ROI is better. "It's people that are the target demographic talking to the target demographic. And that's what makes influencer content so much different than something a brand would make," said Hennesey.         

So you maybe wondering if you are a startup ecommerce company how can you get more followers, sales and brand loyalty? Well I talked to an eCommerce Instagram consultant, Sean Kelly, who started a custom sports jersey company called Jersey Champs, and has managed to gain over over 1.6 millions followers to his brand’s Instagram account through a variety of methods including; 

  • Celebrity & Social Media Influencer partnerships

  • Instagram Engagement Groups

  • Contests & giveaways

  • Instagram shoutouts

  • Instagram Feed & Story ads

Sean gave me some tips on how eCommerce startups can use Instagram.  

Here are 10 ways your startup can increase your followers and  grow your brand using Instagram:   

1 Instagram Ads Through Facebook Ads Manager

If you aren’t running Instagram Ads in 2018, you are simply behind. Facebook Ads are the quickest way to drive sales to any business and you will see results immediately.

2 Learn How Instagram’s New Algorithm Works

If you’re interested in developing viral Instagram content, you’ll need to understand how Instagram’s sorting algorithm works. The platform uses a variety of factors, including timeliness, post engagement and post location, in order to determine where the post is displayed in a user’s timeline and whether the post makes it to the Explore page.

Three main factors determine what you see in your Instagram feed:

  • Interest: How much Instagram predicts you’ll care about a post, with higher ranking for what matters to you, determined by past behavior on similar content and potentially machine vision analyzing the actual content of the post.

  • Recency: How recently the post was shared, with prioritization for timely posts over weeks-old ones.

  • Relationship: How close you are to the person who shared it, with higher ranking for people you’ve interacted with a lot in the past on Instagram, such as by commenting on their posts or being tagged together in photos.  

Beyond those core factors, three additional signals that influence rankings are:

  • Frequency: How often you open Instagram, as it will try to show you the best posts since your last visit.

  • Following: If you follow a lot of people, Instagram will be picking from a wider breadth of authors so you might see less of any specific person.

  • Usage: How long you spend on Instagram determines if you’re just seeing the best posts during short sessions, or it’s digging deeper into its catalog if you spend more total time browsing.   

3 Regularly Shout Out To Engaged Followers To Encourage Further Participation

As mentioned earlier, content with high engagement tends to attract new followers through improved organic reach. To keep followers happy and regularly engaged, mention them regularly in Instagram posts. Showing gratitude is a great way for brands to keep Instagram users engaged.  

4 Offer Discounted Pricing To Instagram Followers

Incentivize customers to follow your Instagram account by offering discounted pricing to Instagram followers. Some sophisticated eCommerce systems may be able to determine if a customer is an Instagram follower. If you don’t have access to such a system, you can simply share exclusive discounts with Instagram followers via automated direct messages to incentivize others to follow your account.

5 Instagram Shoutouts

A simple direct message to a large Instagram page asking for their shoutout prices will give you the direction you need in order to promote your products on their page. You can get your products put on pages with millions of followers for sometimes really cheap price if you know the right pages.   

6 Instagram Influencers

Companies such as HiSmile and Fashion Nova have blown up their presence by using social media influencers such as Kylie Jenner & Conor McGregor. You will have to work your way up there with influencers at just 10,000 followers or so, but you have to start somewhere.

7 Instagram Live

You should make sure to go live at least once a week to keep your followers engaged with your page. Be sure to host giveaways, Q&A’s & any other contests you feel would do well live.

8 Instagram Stories

You should be posting on your Instagram story every day. Once you hit 10,000 followers you will be able to include swipe up links in your stories which you can lead your customers directly to various product pages. Instagram promotes live video differently from other content formats. Existing followers receive a notification (if Instagram notifications are turned on), and live videos are promoted in a dedicated live video discover tab. This can be a great way for social media marketers to quickly increase account reach.   

9 Experiment With Instagram Shopping To Create A Better Experience For Followers

Instagram recently unveiled Shopping, which allows brands to tag items for sale in an e-commerce store. With just a tap on the tag, an Instagram follower can easily navigate to a product web page and purchase the product—all from within Instagram.

E-commerce brands that have used Instagram Shopping have seen incredible results. Marketers who work for e-commerce sites should use Shopping to delight followers, increase post reach and grow.    

10 Promote User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) is a great way to demonstrate social proof while sharing compelling content. A number of highly regarded brands, including Mercedes-Benz (below), regularly share UGC for these reasons 


Those interested in growing their following on Instagram have a number of tried and true strategies at their disposal. Remember that the most effective Instagram marketers tell a consistent brand narrative through a variety of carefully produced and closely measured pieces of content.