ecommerce-instagramThe holidays are right around the corner, with Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday careening toward us at a pretty quick pace. You’ve probably checked your ecommerce site to make sure it’s ready for the influx of consumers, and maybe you’ve given your mobile sites the once over to ensure they’re ready to provide a smooth shopping experience for all. With the heavy-duty work out the way, what else can you do to drive traffic toward your site and influence visitors to make a purchase?

If you’re thinking social media, you’re on the right track. Even if you’ve got your Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts up to date and ready to go, you could still be missing out on one of the most engaging social media platforms out there. Instagram has been proven to provide 25% more engagement than  Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. This fact, coupled with its 150 million users, means ignoring Instagram could be detrimental to your holiday (and year-round) sales.

Maybe you haven’t considered Instagram because you didn’t realize how important the platform really is. More likely, you haven’t considered Instagram because you aren’t sure how to incorporate the images into your marketing and selling strategies. If this is the case, we’ve got six easy ways to integrate Instagram so you can start connecting with customers on a whole new level.

Product Reveals

Perhaps the easiest way to incorporate Instagram for your ecommerce site is through product reveals. With the help of your other social media accounts, you can build a buzz and keep it going until the moment you share the first image of your new products.

If you introduce products on a regular basis, your Instagram followers will know when to expect new items and get in on the excitement with you. You could see social shares skyrocket as customers Tweet their expectations of new products or tell friends on Facebook when to watch for your company announcements.

Product Catalog

Your catalog of products doesn’t have to exist only on your site. By using Instagram, you can show more than just the usual static shots of items against a stark background. Instagram gives you the chance to show these products in various environments, to show how those products can be used, and to show how the products perform.

In addition to action shots on Instagram, you can also make use of the short video option to give buyers an even better idea of how your items perform in real life. They’ll love the ability to see everything out in the real world.

User-Generated Content

Giving your customers the chance to share their own experiences with your products is the best way to get everyone engaged with your Instagram account. Those shared images will reach the followers of your followers, growing your exposure exponentially with each and every new post.

instagram style guide for ecommerce

You can also share those Instagram photos on your site, which will thrill the users who submit them. Seeing their image on your site will encourage them to share with even more friends, who will, in turn, visit your ecommerce site, possibly make a purchase, and then perpetuate the cycle with their own user-generated images.


Contests and campaigns are another great way to make use of user-generated content. Instead of merely sharing the images you receive, enter them into a contest with a really cool prize. The incentive to share images will prompt even more Instagram users to submit their entries. As you already know, each entry will reach out to a much wider range of followers than those already engaged with your account.

michael kors instagram contest

This contest run by Michael Kors, identified by #mktimeless, has generated over 12,000 photo shares from users vying for a new watch. Imagine how many people saw those 12,000 photos in their timelines.


Pairing with another ecommerce company to cross-market is always a winning idea, but only if the pairing makes sense. For example, if your ecommerce site sells wines, you might feature Instagram photos of your wine bottles with wine glasses from another ecommerce site or wine accessories from yet another company. As long as those companies are willing to reciprocate with their own Instagram images of their glasses or bottle openers with your wines, the partnership could help you reach a much wider audience.

Behind the Scenes

A great way to show buyers that your company is made up of real people with real interests is to show what goes on behind the scenes. Images of employees playing pranks for unwinding are great for creating a connection between buyer and seller. Even better, show how the products are made, or where they’re stored, or how your employees love using them, too. With the holidays approaching, you can also share images of how your company celebrates, whether it’s a big party or a charity event to help the less fortunate. However you show your world, you can be sure your audience will feel a stronger connection to your brand.

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll see Instagram is so much more than a platform for sharing pics of your Starbucks cup. A carefully cultivated Instagram account could build your audience, connect your consumers with each other, and drive more traffic and sales to your ecommerce site.


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Photo credit: TheBostonChow

Originally published Nov 15, 2013 2:00:00 PM, updated January 18 2023


Social Media Ecommerce Holiday Marketing