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How to use Instagram Live Shopping

Instagram is already a powerful social media platform for brands and creators to capture leads and grow their online sales. With the launch of various new business features, such as Instagram Guides, Shops, and more recently, Live Shopping, Instagram is working towards becoming the platform for B2C ecommerce brands and product-based businesses.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the fundamentals of Instagram Live Shopping and strategies to use it effectively for your business.

What is Instagram Live Shopping?

In August 2020, Instagram rolled out the Live Shopping feature in the US for Checkout-enabled businesses and creators so they can sell products directly to their audience during an Instagram Live broadcast.

“Live shopping lets people purchase products in real-time when they are inspired by a brand or creator’s live video content, opening up a new shoppable channel for businesses,” Instagram announced in a blog post.

That is, Live Shopping is a nifty ecommerce feature that enables brands with access to Instagram Checkout to tag products from their catalog (or Facebook Shop) to feature on the bottom of the screen for instant tap-to-purchase, straight from the app, during a live broadcast.

Live Shopping thus constitutes a fully integrated shopping experience that can work wonders for brands who want to drive online sales in a more meaningful and interactive way, while making it easier for followers to shop featured products that appeal to them. So, everybody wins.

Live Shopping is one of several new Instagram shopping features launched in recent months, clearly hinting at the platform’s increasing focus on ecommerce.

That’s no surprise considering 70% of shopping enthusiasts turn to Instagram for product discovery, and 87% of people say that influencers have inspired them to make a purchase.

What can you do with Instagram Live Shopping?

Here are a few key benefits of using Live Shopping:

  • Amplify interest: With Live Shopping, you can educate prospects on how to use a product, share a review or recommendation, and answer their concerns in real-time to build their confidence in your products and turn them into leads.

  • Announce new products and promotions: Going live is an ideal way to keep your followers updated about new product launches and exclusive promotions. Live Shopping boosts real-time demand for your products and lets your audience know what you have in store for them.

  • Team up with other creators: You can leverage live shopping to drive collaborative sales with other brands and creators in a more authentic way.

As opposed to pre-recorded Instagram Stories or IGTV videos, live streaming is unedited and, thus, a transparent way for your followers to engage with your brand. Pair that with a direct route to buy without leaving the app – Live Shopping opens up a great big avenue for businesses looking to drive faster sales.

Think of Live Shopping as a major upgrade to the old-school teleshopping of yesteryear, only way more authentic, contextual, engaging, and interactive. Simply put, Live Shopping is a great way to showcase your products, connect with your followers, and partner up with other reputable creators.

Who can use Instagram Live Shopping?

As of now, Instagram Live Shopping is available for business accounts eligible to use Instagram Checkout, which is limited to US-based brands and creators.

Using Instagram Checkout, customers can click to view a product and then finish the payment, all without leaving the app. All they have to do is enter their name, email, billing information, and shipping address the first time they purchase something.

While it’s not known when Instagram Checkout will be available globally, given Instagram’s recent growing emphasis on ecommerce, rest assured the feature will roll out for businesses around the world sometime soon.

Before we learn some strategies to leverage the Instagram Shopping feature correctly, let’s see how to set up Instagram Shopping.

First off, you should already have your Instagram Shop and product catalog set up. You can add up to 30 products to your catalog (so pick the most popular ones) to showcase and you can pin one item at a time while live to feature that product.

Next, to go live, follow the usual process:

  • Click the camera icon at the top left corner of your screen

  • Swipe to Live at the bottom of your screen

  • Tap Shopping

  • Pick the products you want to feature

  • Click the broadcast button to go live

During the broadcast, viewers can then choose to buy or save products pinned on your screen.

Strategies to make the best of Instagram Live Shopping

The raw, uncut nature of going live on Instagram makes it a completely different ball game than posting product photos or videos in your Instagram Reels or Story.

A live broadcast renders a fresh and exciting buying experience for customers. Afterward, you can measure your performance with a powerful Instagram analytics tool.

Here are four great ways to make the most of the intimacy and interactivity that Live Shopping offers for brands.

1. Educate your audience with product tutorials

Posting enticing pictures and videos of your catalog with compelling captions is great, but going live with a hands-on demo or tutorial is even better for engagement.

Watching how your product works in a real-time and interactive setting helps prospects better understand what you’re offering, and even spur them to make a purchase.

Plus, going live also gives you an opportunity to ask for candid feedback that can help you improve your product.

2. Introduce new products

Launching a new product is way more exciting when done live.

So, if you’re dropping a brand new product, make it a special occasion by sharing all the details on a live broadcast. You can answer questions from prospects, and give the launch an intimate touch before it goes on sale for the first time.

You can generate a bigger buzz with product launch reminders that allow people to set a reminder to purchase on the launch date.

3. Collaborate with influencers

The power of influencer marketing needs no introduction, especially on Instagram. It’s simple – people trust other people (in this case, content creators) much more often than they trust a business. And so, tapping into the influence of an authentic creator with a notable fanbase is a surefire way to build trust with a new audience and increase the lifetime value of existing customers.

Keep in mind, the best influencers aren’t necessarily the ones with the biggest follower count. Rather, smaller influencers, including those with less than 10,000 followers, can offer more ROI than bigger influencers with over 100,000 followers or even celebrities.

That’s because micro-influencers have a more engaged audience and are seen as more credible and authentic experts in their respective niche. They have more intimate relationships with their followers as they interact on a one-to-one basis in comments and DMs.

Additionally, the question of fake followers is less of an issue for micro-influencers and you can readily determine if the followers you’re targeting are real people (and not bots).

Simply put, collaborating with smaller influencers and niche creators while leveraging the Live Shopping feature is a solid strategy to not just boost the visibility, engagement rate, and other key analytics metrics of your content, but also to bag more sales.

For example, you could invite a special guest to host a Live Shopping event featuring a curated catalog of their favorite products. Or you could host a live interview with a creator where they talk about how they solve a particular problem, featuring your product at the bottom only when they mention it.

Long story short, teaming up with an influencer in a live setting can go a long way in amplifying your brand’s visibility and credibility in front of a new audience. It will also get them closer to the bottom of your sales funnel and improve your customer retention.

4. Do a Q&A

By hosting a Q&A on your Live Shopping stream, you can help shoppers on the fence to oust any concerns they may have about your brand or product.

Labeling and promoting your live stream specifically as an ask me anything (AMA) session will drive more views from people who are curious about your brand or products, and are somewhat interested in what you have to offer but aren’t yet ready to part with their money.

Knowing that a live stream is more intimate and raw, you’re likely to gain your audience’s confidence faster and in a way that a more refined feed packed with planned and edited posts might not.

The takeaway

The Live Shopping feature is no doubt a useful tool for brands, but don’t go overboard with it. If you use it to stay in a constant state of “sell, sell, sell”, then you’re sure to turn off your audience. Nobody likes an overly promotional brand.

So, a better way to go about it is to properly balance product-driven live streams with content-driven ones. Make Live Shopping streams a special, once in a while occasion, so your followers look forward to tuning in.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.

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