Seller Handbook

Advice and inspiration for successfully running your Etsy shop

Seller Handbook

How to Market Your Business With Instagram

Is your social media stamina dwindling? Hit refresh with this popular app for visual storytelling and building brand awareness.

By Etsy Staff Oct 21, 2019
MamumaBird camera
Photo by MamumaBird

Using Instagram to share materials, processes, and products that make up your visual brand is an easy way to showcase what makes your business unique and connect with followers. This popular photo-sharing app encourages spontaneity and offers an alternative to copy-heavy marketing—through visual storytelling you can build brand awareness. Learn how to make the most of your Instagram presence by following these tips.

Go pro

Once you’re committed to Instagram, set up a business profile. There’s no cost to switch to a business profile, and it gives you access to useful analytics, Instagram Insights. Insights provide information to better understand how your content is performing and who your followers are. Insights are available start from the day you convert to a business account, and include information about reach, impressions, website clicks, most engaged posts, and video views. You can also use insights to learn more about your followers, including their gender, country, and the time of day they’re engaging with your Instagram page. These demographics can help you cater your content and the timing of your posts.

As an Etsy shop owner who migrates over to a business profile, you’ll also be able to add a contact button next to the traditional follow button. If you have a brick-and-mortar store you can even give your customers the option to text, email, or call your business, along with map directions to your shop’s location.

Pro tip: Before you can switch to a business profile, you’ll need a Facebook business page for your brand. Click on the wheel widget on your profile and select “switch to business profile.” Then connect your Facebook business page. Learn more about how to switch on Facebook’s help page.

Experiment and observe

When you first start using Instagram to market your shop, take an experimental approach. Try different things to see what posts resonate most with your audience. During this testing period, take time to analyze what received the most engagement and why: Was it your image quality? The colors? Your caption? Did you tag the image effectively? Was it the time of day you posted? If you’re stumped, try exploring the accounts of other brands you respect and admire. Follow like-minded people and interact with them. If you find yourself gravitating toward a particular type of post, consider testing out similar content on your own channel.

Buried Diamond
Martha Porter of Buried Diamond cultivates an engaging Instagram feed by getting creative with product announcements, and mixing content about her brand with images that inspire her (like the flowers above). She keeps the look cohesive by focusing on her brand’s bright and cheerful color palette. Photos by Buried Diamond.

Add context with captions and hashtags

Use captions that relate to the visual story you're telling about your business to complement the photo or video you’re posting. Our social media experts continue to see longer and longer captions on Instagram driving engagement, so experiment with caption length to ensure that your optimizing your content for your audiences.

Adding a few hashtags that relate to the visual content you’re sharing can help tie your posts together. When you’re just getting started, try using the Explore tab to see which relevant hashtags are popular. You can also try sites like all-hashtag.com or apps like Leetags to find trending tags to complement your content. Using a popular hashtag can make your post part of a larger Instagram trend. For more ideas, you can click on a hashtag to see Instagram’s suggestions for related hashtags. We’ve seen success with between 5-10 tags per post. If you're concerned that adding a bunch of hashtags could make your caption look cluttered, try using the comment field to add hashtags on your photo.

Interact with your audience

When you use social media to promote your business, you open up a new channel for communication with your customers. While Instagram gives you an easy way to keep customers in the loop (for example, letting customers know when you release new products), it also gives customers a way to reach you. Interacting within comments can also help increase your organic reach on the platform and even mitigate repeat questions if someone sees you’ve already answered a previous comment. Be prepared to receive more comments and questions on the platform as your Instagram presence grows. If someone is praising your business or asking whether something is available, answer the questions and respond to say thanks. Replying within 24 hours to customers can help build strong relationships.

Scheduling content and posting on-the-go

Social media platforms are continually developing new ways to empower small businesses: Instagram now has the ability for accounts to schedule content through many third-party tools like Buffer, HootSuite, and Facebook’s Creator Studio. Another benefit of marketing on Instagram is the ability to post on-the-go. We recommend posting one or two new images a day to keep your followers engaged and to keep your brand top of mind. Or, you may want to take a more spontaneous approach to posting, depending on what's going on in your studio on any given day (or go live from your studio to show off your latest creation!).

If you take a few photos of a specific process or technique, space them out rather than posting them all at once, mixing in product shots and other images. You can also try shooting a few less formal photographs when taking product shots. Then you have an image set to pull from when promoting that product. Those photos can be repurposed to build buzz around a sale or restock announcement, for example.

Buried Diamond
Martha Porter of Buried Diamond posts shots from her studio and creative process. In these Instagram posts she shares excitement for her materials, including jars of glitter (above left) and a new mold for shaping her resin creations (above right). Photos by Buried Diamond.

Tell the story of your brand

Instagram is a great platform for showcasing your personality. Sharing behind-the-scenes or meet-the-maker style posts are a great way to build your overall brand voice and connect with your audience. Use your Instagram feed to showcase the tiny details that make your brand special. A few fundamentals to try out: shots of your work, your process, and your workspace. Be sure that your feed remains true to your brand’s aesthetic.

Create a unique visual

When you look at some of Instagram’s most popular brand accounts, what do they all have in common? A unique, but cohesive look and feel. Consider this when creating content for your account. When a casual browser looks at your profile page, they should understand at a glance what you're all about. For example, if your brand is centered around home goods, you might focus on sharing images of scenes taken in living environments.

Create feedback loops

Reciprocity is a driving force behind Instagram, so be sure to like, share, and comment on other people's photos as well. If you “regram” a customer or friend, always credit the original poster. Keep customers engaged by encouraging them to post and tag images of themselves using your items.

You can also use Instagram as a market research tool. Check out the profiles of your followers to find out more about your customer base and spend some time analyzing which products get the most likes. You can also use Instagram to inform your product development. For example, if you sell jewelry you might ask your customers which stones they’re most drawn to or what their favorite chain length is. Creating this give-and-take dialogue gives customers another way to feel invested in your brand.

Follow Etsy Success on Instagram and Facebook for more advice and inspiration on running an Etsy shop.

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