Globally, the average person spends 2 hours 24 minutes a day on social media.
That means if you were to sign up to an account at 12 (the average age) and lived to 70, you’d spend 5.8 years of your life scrolling. Scary.
But, we’re a glass-half-full kind of company, so we see that 5.8 years as an opportunity - and so should you.
How can Instagram help my Shopify store?
Instagram is one of the most effective, free ways to drive traffic, awareness, and sales for your Shopify store.
In fact, 130 million Instagram users tap on shopping posts every single month & 70% of IG shoppers actively use Instagram to find new products.
Here’s how Instagram can help your Shopify store.
Reaching New Audiences
In 2021, the number of people using social media around the world was over 4.48 billion - that’s over half the world’s population using some form of social media.
And in 2022, Instagram alone had over 2.35 billion active users - only growing since.
According to a study by Statista, as of October 2023, there were 5.3 billion internet users worldwide, which amounted to 65.7 percent of the global population.
When you consider that 83% of Instagram users say they discover new products on the platform, it quickly becomes clear how important a good Instagram presence is for your Shopify store.
Staying Top of Mind
And it’s not just useful for finding new audiences - Instagram also helps keep your brand relevant and top of mind for your current audience.
Check out this graph from the Pew Research centre.
38% of Instagram users check the app multiple times a day - and 59% check it at least once a day.
If your posts are constantly popping up everytime your customer checks their phone, chances are you’re going to pop into their mind the next time they need one of your products.
Social media is one of the most powerful ways to build a deeper relationship with your audience.
On social, you have a chance to show off more of your brand personality beyond just the sell-sell-sell side.
According to Sprout Social, 64% of consumers want a brand to connect with them and 70% of consumers feel more connected to a brand with CEOs who are active on social.
So, it’s not just important to think about your brand presence - it’s also important to build up your personal presence to help your customer see the personality beyond the products.
Organic social is different to paid social where you put money behind advertisements to get in front of your ideal customer.
For organic social, posting is completely free - and the more of your audience you can reach through organic social, the less you have to spend elsewhere to get your messaging seen.
Building up owned marketing channels such as organic social, email marketing, and app users is vital for decreasing your costs in the long-run and building a sustainable marketing model.
Personality & Huminization
65% of consumers feel more connected to brands that have a strong presence on social, and according to Sprout Social:
“Consumers want material that humanizes an otherwise faceless brand, and they want the people behind the brands doing the posting.”
At its core, social media is about connecting one person to another - and for brands it's no different.
Customers feel more connected to a brand with a more vulnerable, transparent, and human social presence, leading to a deeper brand-audience connection and improved long-term loyalty.
Retargeting for More Sales
Building up your social presence also increases your retargeting audiences - the members of your audience most likely to convert because they already know who you are.
Facebook’s ad platform allows you to do this simply and easily, and the more audience you build up, the more conversions you’re likely to get.
Social Proof for More Sales
But it’s not just the people following you who are more likely to convert.
If you’re running a digital marketing campaign to new audiences, one of the first places they’ll go to find out more about you is your Instagram profile.
Sure, they’ll check out their website - but anyone can build a good website. They’ll want to know how many other people have bought from you, engage with you, and actively follow what you’re doing.
Think about when you get advertised to a brand you’ve never heard of before. You’ll check out their website, like what they offer, but as you don’t know anyone who’s used them, you need to find out how well-regarded they are. That’s called social proofing.
If you check out their social profiles and they only have 89 followers with a few scattered likes across their posts, is that going to fill you with confidence? Probably not.
Now, what about if they had 10,000 followers and an active audience constantly commenting, liking, and sharing their posts. You’re going to be a lot more convinced of their product and customer support, making it more likely that you’ll purchase, and possibly, add a few other items to your basket.
How to Build an Instagram Following for Your Shopify Store
Building an engaged Instagram following isn’t just a one-quick-trick solution - but it’s worth the effort.
Here’s what you need to do.
Plan your Instagram content
Posting frequently is absolutely vital for building an Instagram following - especially when you’re just starting out.
You could have the most incredible content around, but if you’re just putting out one post a month, the chances of your audience getting to see that are slim. 95 million posts go up on Instagram every single day, so posting more frequently increases your chance of cutting through the noise and getting seen.
The Instagram algorithm works by showing users the content they’re most likely to engage with, so just because someone follows you, doesn't mean they’ll actually see your posts.
However, the more content you put out, the more likely your audience are to see it, and the more likely they’re to engage with it - and the more your audience engage with it, the more likely your posts will be shown higher up their feed.
Now, there is an element of quality over quantity.
Producing posts with terrible engagement over and over again isn’t going to get you anywhere. You need to find the sweet spot between content you can produce frequently that still excites and interests your audience.
And you’ll learn how to do that throughout the rest of this article.
Analyse Your Competition
Work smarter, not harder.
One of the best ways to understand what does and doesn't work for your audience is to look at what your competitors are doing. And don’t just look at their recent posts, scroll back to see how their feed has evolved.
- How many followers do they have?
- What type of content are they putting out?
- How frequently are they posting?
- What type of content is generating the most comments?
- What type of content is generating the most likes?
- What type of content is generating the least amount of engagement?
- What content did they used to do that they’re no longer doing?
- What content are they not doing that you can do to help stand out?
Answering these questions will help you set appropriate goals, inspire your content creation, and tell you what you need to do to stand-out.
Use Content Pillars
Content pillars are key overarching themes that guide your content strategy. Each pillar is based upon the main aim of that content.
The 5 most common content pillars are:
- Engagement: Content aimed to generate as many likes, comments, and shares as possible (e.g. memes, humorous reels, inspirational quotes)
- Knowledge: Content aimed at educating your audience (e.g. top tips, how-tos)
- Opinion: Content aimed at sharing your opinion and making you a thought-leader (e.g. social commentary)
- Brand: Content aimed at educating your audience about your brand and offering (e.g. product updates, sales announcements, brand story)
- Community: Content aimed at engaging with and uplifting community voices (e.g. trending industry topics, user-generated content)
Using content pillars helps to keep your content diverse and entertaining by hitting all of the key areas important to your audience.
Start with an equal split of each, then slowly adapt the number of posts from each pillar depending on audience response.
Naturally, some pillars will gather more positive responses than others. For example, content within the ‘engagement’ pillar will naturally drive more likes and comments compared to the ‘brand’ pillar’. Your opinion pillar may draw some disagreeing or controversial responses.
It can be easy to just post memes and humorous reels as they gather the immediate short-term likes, but that may not be representative of your complete personality. Do what works best for both you and your brand.
Take a look at Gymshark, for example.
They use a good mix of engagement, brand, and community content, with the occasional knowledge piece.
Don’t just look at the number of likes and comments for individual pillars, look holistically at your profile performance as a whole and adjust accordingly.
Use a Range of Content Formats
Different formats bring different benefits, here’s a quick run-down of each.
Standard Instagram posts. One image, nothing more.
- Quick and easy to create
- Can be difficult to gather reach and impressions
- Difficult to include a lot of information
Multiple images posted at once that the audience can swipe through.
- Get shown multiple times on a user’s feed (first image is shown, then the second image is also shown again)
- Can include a lot of content in one post
- Can take longer to create
- Users don’t always like to swipe through
Videos posted to the main feed in a 1080x1080 format. Separate to reels as they don’t get shown in the reel feed.
- Great way to show off a new product launch in an engaging way
- Longer time to create
- Reels have more benefit due to having the additional reel feed
Videos posted in 1920x1080 format lasting up to 60 seconds. Effectively TikTok videos for Instagram.
- Higher chance of virality
- Easy to gain reach and impressions
- Easily get in front of new audiences thanks to reel feed
- Longer time to create
- Can take a while to get right
- Higher chance for negative comments due to reaching new audiences
Images only available for 24 hours. posted to Instagram stories in a 1920x1080 format.
- Quick and easy to create
- Good way to build audience engagement thanks to stickers
- Easily re-post customer content to build relationships
- Good way to test themes/messaging before putting it on the feed as they’re only available for 24 hours
- Only shown to your followers or people on your profile
- Only available for 24 hours unless saved as a highlight
Videos lasting 15 seconds - 1 hour.
- Can post videos up to 60 minutes
- Longer watch times improve profile reach
- Not all users want content that long
- Not shared to reels tab, so not found outside of your profile
Live videos accessible through stories.
- Great way to interact and connect with your audience
- Can be shared to IGTV afterwards
- Can’t edit the video as it’s going out
- Takes time to get used to the format
How to Design an Aesthetic Instagram feed
Once you have ideas for the type of content you want to create, next you need to plan how your feed will look.
Here are 4 tips for creating an aesthetic Instagram feed.
1. Follow your brand guidelines
There’s no point having an Instagram feed that looks completely different to your website. All of your marketing channels should be an extension of your core brand, so make sure that your Instagram feed is a similar style to what you’re sharing elsewhere.
This includes your style guide, tone of voice, mission statement, and brand personality.
If you don’t have a set of brand guidelines, now is the time to make them. Once your Instagram profile is in a natural rhythm, it can help to create a separate Instagram style guide, too.
2. Look at other brands for inspiration
Don’t just limit yourself to your competitors, find other brands who are positively engaging their audience and using styles you enjoy to see what you can replicate for your feed.
For example, Nike and Apple sell completely different things, but often their designs are very sleek, simple, and to the point.
3. Think about your photo style
Something often overlooked in design guidelines is what style of photo you should be using.
However, every photographer has a different style, and in order for your Instagram feed to feel cohesive, you need to stick with a single style.
Things to think about when selecting your photo guidelines:
4. Create a mood board
If you don’t have a Pinterest account, get one.
Pinterest is the perfect place to brainstorm and collect ideas for both content and design inspiration. You can create separate boards depending on your content pillar, messaging, or time of year, and then start collecting content to help drive your own.
It’s also helpful for seeing how certain images or designs work well with one another, too.
5 Examples of Aesthetic Instagram Feeds
3 Tools to Easily Create Instagram Content on a Budget
You don’t need a world-class designer to succeed on social, but it is helpful to know your way around a few basic tools to create more exciting content.
VSCO is a free photo and video editing app available for mobile.
If you’re looking to elevate your product or social photography, VSCO is one of the best tools around. Easily add pre-set filters, stickers, and more to make your photos even more engaging.
They also offer premium plans with additional features ranging from $29.99 to $59.99 a year.
Canva is a free online graphic design alternative to photoshop with a variety of templates and apps to create high-quality designs.
You can use it for everything from post design to highlight covers to your profile picture and more.
The basic plan is completely free, but they offer a premium plan for $100 a year.
If you’ve been anywhere on the internet recently, then you’ve most likely heard of ChatGPT.
ChatGPT is an AI language tool you can use to generate content ideas and captions in a flash.
All you need to do is let it know what you need, provide some context and any additional necessary information, and it’ll generate your request.
ChatGPT-3 is free, but you can upgrade to ChatGPT-4 for $20 a month.
Scheduling your Instagram content
Scheduling is where you create content and set it to post automatically at a later date.
Why schedule your content?
Scheduling your content saves you time in the long-run. Whilst brainstorming, designing, and writing the content takes time, once it’s done, you don’t have to worry about it.
It also ensures your content will be going out frequently and at regular times. When you’re running a Shopify business, it’s easy for other bits to get in the way, so doing as much as possible in advance when you have the time can help to keep you on track.
It also allows you to post at times you may not have otherwise been able to - late at night, early in the morning, or on the weekends - all of the times people are most likely to be on their phones.
From a design perspective, scheduling also helps to see how your overall feed will look in advance. You don’t want 3 or 4 posts that all look similar right next to each other on the feed, so scheduling helps to keep your feed looking dynamic.
Which Instagram scheduling tool is right for me?
The right Instagram scheduling tool depends on your budget, plans, and how important social is to your business.
Make sure to think about:
- Team requirements: how many seats do you need? Is it just you or will you need to pay extra for additional accounts?
- Ease of use: If this is your first time using a scheduling tool, it’s probably not worth jumping in at the deep end. Find a tool that’s easy and intuitive to use from the start.
- Customer support: Does your account come with an account manager? Is there a simple and easy way to contact the company in times of need?
- Reviews: What have other businesses said about the tool? Do they show off any of the businesses that are using them? How do they shape up compared to others at a similar price point?
- Budget: can you afford the tool both now and long-term? Will you need to upgrade to a more expensive plan?
- Supported Channels: Most tools will support the core four: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, & LinkedIn. However, if you’re planning to also use TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat, or Reddit, then you’ll need to check if they’re included.
The 3 most popular Instagram scheduling tools
There are countless social media scheduling apps available, so we’ve cut it down to our top 3 favourites:
Best for Small Budgets: Buffer [Free - $120/month]
Best for Well-Priced Analytics: Hootsuite [$89- $660]
Best for Advanced Features & Complete Management: Sprout Social [$249 - $449]
Giveaways are a great way to reach new audiences, drive audience engagement, and build excitement for your product.
4 Top Tips for Running an Instagram Giveaway or Competition
- Keep the description short:You don’t want people having to read huge paragraphs of text in order to enter. There’ll be plenty of time to tell people about your brand after they’ve followed you - the main thing you want right now is likes, comments, and followers.
- Don’t add too many hurdles: we want to drive as much engagement as possible, but we don’t want people having to do too much to enter, otherwise they won’t enter at all.
- Make sure the prize is exciting: It’s not quite true that the more you’re willing to giveaway, the more returns you’re likely to see back, as psychologically, people are more likely to doubt they’ll win a large prize over a small one. However, offering a cheap and cheerful gift isn’t going to be exciting enough for people to enter. Make sure the prize matches the entry requirements. The more the audience needs to do in order to enter, the higher-value the prize needs to be - and vice versa.
- Boost the post: Boosting a post means to put money behind it in order to reach new audiences. Boosting a giveaway post almost guarantees you result as users are more likely to follow you for a chance to win your prize.
The Best Instagram Giveaway/Competition Template
The template below is a short and sweet way to promote your competition, ensuring that for every one person that enters, you gain two new followers - and the bonus is for every friend they tag, they’ll hopefully tag two more, and so on.
COMPETITION: We’re giving away [Prize goes here] 🎉🥳
For a chance to win, all you need to do is:
- Like this post
- Tag 2 friends
- Make sure you’re all following @yourbrandname
And that’s it!
An alternative to tagging two friends is to get people to post it on their story, but that’s much harder to track.
Boosting an Instagram post means putting money behind an existing piece of organic content to put it in front of new audiences, increasing your reach and engagement.
Boosting posts is a great way to increase your engagement and profile reach, but it can also be expensive.
Equally, it can look strange to your audience if a few posts have 100x the engagement of others.
Our recommendation is to find out what works best for your profile, establish a clear content strategy, and then only boost the occasional post where it makes sense.
For example, as already mentioned, boosting a competition post can be a fantastic way to increase your engagement and following whilst still appearing normal. Competition posts naturally draw more engagement than others, so having additional likes and comments doesn’t look out of place.
Boosting particularly engaging pieces of content or product updates can be a good way to build a positive first impression with new audiences, too.
Meta Ads are advertisements connected to your social media profiles that run on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
By running Meta Ads, you’re already increasing brand awareness, which will naturally trickle through to people finding your Instagram account after checking out your website or searching for you on Google.
However, the ads will also be connected to your Instagram profile, so users who want to find out more about your brand will click-through to your page - another reason why it’s so important to have a well-run feed.
If someone sees your ad, is interested in your product, and then heads over to see a poorly run profile, they’re less likely to convert. But a well-run profile provides confidence and approachability, making it more likely they’ll engage with you and hopefully, make a purchase.
Community management is the act of engaging with your community on Instagram. It can mean replying to comments and DMs, leaving messages on any tagged posts, or even venturing over to other people’s pages to actively engage with them.
Engaging with similar accounts to your own is a great way to position your brand as a natural member of the community.
For example, if you run a fashion-brand aimed at 20-30 year old women, finding influencers in that space and giving them compliments on their work can lead to their followers discovering your brand.
The key is to make it feel natural.
Add something to the conversation, offer a positive message, help someone who’s asked a question. Don’t go around commenting ‘Check out my store!’ or ‘Follow my page!’ as you’ll then appear desperate and spammy.
Tracking & Testing
The only way to know what’s working and what isn’t is through effective tracking.
Instagram has its own built-in analytics platform, as will your scheduling tool, but we recommend starting a separate document in case you end up changing tools or they no-longer show certain data sets.
Having a separate analytics document can also help to compare and contrast against other platforms. Whilst Instagram is the most effective social platform for Shopify stores, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and TikTok all bring value. Chances are you’re using some of those platforms already, but if you’re not, you will do (and should do) eventually.
Try to keep two documents on the go:
A weekly report: this is for more top-level information to help guide your day-to-day decision making.
A monthly report: this is for deeper data and noticing overarching trends.
We recommend tracking the following:
- Total number of followers
- Followers gained/lost
- Number of website/link clicks
- Number of comments
- Number of likes
- Number of shares
- Number of saves
- Total number of engagements
- Engagement rate
How to calculate your Instagram engagement rate
Engagement rate is the most important metric for judging how well your content is being received by your current followers, and therefore, how likely new audiences are to follow you.
To work out your engagement rate, all you need to do is:
- Add up your total number of engagements over a given time period (Likes, comments, shares, & saves)
- Add up your number of posts over the same time period
- Divide the number of engagements by the number of posts
- Divide that number by your number of followers
- Multiply that number by 100
For example, let’s say we had 300 engagements over the last week from sharing 10 posts. I’d divide 300 by 10 to get 30.
We have 1,000 followers, so I’d divide 30 by 1000 to get 0.03.
Finally, I’d multiply 0.03 by 100 to get 3 or 3%. So, our engagement rate would be 3%.
Average engagement rate depends on your industry, but on average, a good engagement rate for Instagram is anywhere between 1 to 1.5%.
Social media is becoming more and more important for Shopify stores.
If you don’t have a good Instagram presence, you’re only making it harder on yourself to build a loyal, retained audience.
To learn more about creating an effective content strategy for your Shopify store, discover our article. Or if you need any help marketing your Shopify store, feel free to get in contact with us and we’ll see how we can help.