With a whopping 1 billion active users and an engagement rate 58% higher than Facebook’s, Instagram has set out to enhance customer engagement using its newest ecommerce feature: Instagram Live Shopping.
Instagram Live Shopping allows users to market their brand, sell products and interact with customers in real time — all through an Instagram Live broadcast. Businesses can tag items from their product catalog to appear on the bottom of the screen, where customers can then purchase directly from the app during the live broadcast. Or, the business can save live videos to their profile so that customers can continue shopping even after the broadcast has ended.
Considering 44% of Instagrammers use the social media app to shop weekly (using new features like shopping tags and the Shop tab), and 28% of these shopping activities are planned, Instagram Live Shopping is a prime opportunity for retailers to streamline the way users discover and buy online.
In this step-by-step guide, we’re sharing everything you need to know about Instagram Live Shopping and how to get in on the action.
Why Your Business Should be Using Instagram Live Shopping
Amid TikTok reels, Facebook Shops and shoppable Pins, one of the greatest challenges of ecommerce has been the need for improved customer engagement. With face-to-face interactions replaced by screens and chatbots, it can be difficult for ecommerce businesses to understand the wants, needs and concerns of their customers.
Especially post-pandemic, brands can no longer rely solely on face-to-face interactions with customers. With consumers spending more time online and less time in-store, online retailers must learn how to engage customers through one-sided platforms.
Although pre-recorded Instagram Stories and IGTV videos are great ways to market your brand, Instagram Live provides an unfiltered, raw experience unlike any other. Livestream video humanizes the online shopping journey, allowing customers to shop in real time without having to visit a physical store.
Furthermore, users can submit comments and questions throughout the broadcast, allowing for immediate and personable interactions. Not only does this give your business honest feedback, but it also helps build brand integrity and transparency.
Lastly, Instagram Live Shopping can be an ideal channel for educating your audience about your products and services. With live broadcasting, you can share recommendations, answer questions and perform product demos to help build shopper confidence.
What Businesses Can Use Instagram Live Shopping?
As of now, broadcasting with Instagram Live Shopping is available only for U.S.-based users with an Instagram Business account and access to Instagram Checkout. Likewise, only U.S.-based users can shop an Instagram Live Shopping experience.
Although this feature is not yet available worldwide, it’s likely that Instagram Live Shopping will eventually make its global debut sometime in the future.
Luckily, BigCommerce has teamed up with Facebook to unlock checkout on Instagram for all eligible US merchants. Leveraging our native integration with Facebook Commerce Manager, our merchants can seamlessly connect their product catalog to Instagram and allow customers to buy directly on Instagram.
Instagram Live Shopping Features
With the release of Live Shopping, Instagram offers a fully integrated shopping experience that makes it easy for businesses to drive online sales and customers to shop their favorite brands. Here are some notable Instagram Live Shopping features to help make your livestreams even more impactful.
Want to get more views on your Instagram Live? Try leveraging an influencer or partner brand’s following and invite other co-hosts to join your live stream.
Using the Live Rooms feature, the host can invite three more creators or partner brands to their livestream, opening the door to more viewers and better engagement.
To utilize this feature, start your Live video and select Rooms. Then, simply choose your co-hosts and tap Invite.
Customize your video.
If your video is looking a little bland, try spicing it up with face filters, question stickers and other custom content. Instagram offers numerous presets to choose from, or you can even design your own branded content and upload it to your Live settings.
Utilize still images and videos.
To help showcase your products in action, Instagram Live lets you share still images and videos on screen during your broadcast. Plus, you can even upload multiple videos and play a slideshow as a visual throughout your presentation.
So, if you’re speaking about a featured product, you can overlay an image or video to help viewers visualize the product in their day-to-day life.
As an ecommerce business, it’s important to remember that your customers are people, not numbers. Without in-person interaction, it’s easy to forget the human element of online retail.
Luckily, one of the best parts about Instagram Live Shopping is the opportunity for real-time engagement with your customers. As you’re broadcasting, viewers can ask questions and make comments throughout your video, and you can even pin them to your screen for all viewers to see. This way, you can respond to your customers immediately, thus allowing for natural conversations on an otherwise one-sided channel.
By involving your viewers in the live stream, you’ll be able to gain feedback, answer their questions and make them feel seen and heard, just as you would in a face-to-face transaction.
Types of Content to Offer via Live Shopping
Rather than relying on picture-perfect, airbrushed content, Instagram Live breaks the social commerce mold by using raw, unfiltered content to engage viewers — so don’t be afraid to be authentic and show your brand’s true colors.
Here are four creative types of content to make the most out of your next Live Shopping event.
Revealing a new product and/or collection.
With 70% of shoppers looking to the platform for product discovery, it’s safe to say that Instagram is the perfect place for a product launch.
If you’re dropping a new product or announcing a product collaboration with a partner brand, get your customers excited by sharing all the details on a Live video. Boost real-time demand around the product by giving sneak peaks, answering questions from viewers and providing exclusive offers.
Plus, you can even set up product launch reminders on Instagram to remind customers to tune in and generate hype before launch day.
How-to content or product tutorials.
Seeing a picture of a blouse online is one thing, but seeing it on a person walking down the street is likely to give you a better idea of what the product might look like in your own day-to-day life — which is why live, interactive product demos and tutorials are key for engagement.
Use your Live broadcast to model or demonstrate your products in action. Whether it’s doing a makeup tutorial with your latest beauty product or baking a cake with your kitchenware collection, showcasing your products in real-time is a great opportunity for viewers to get inspired and make a spur-of-the-moment purchase.
Collaborations with influencers.
Nearly half (44%) of Gen Zers have made purchasing decisions based on recommendations from social media influencers, which goes to show why influencer marketing is one of the most popular marketing tactics on Instagram. By forming partnerships with other content creators, brands and micro influencers, you gain access to an even wider audience — one that likely already trusts and seeks the recommendation of the influencers they follow.
Instagram Live is the perfect opportunity to team up with these creators and let them work their magic.
Find influencers that align with your brand and target audience, and invite them to co-host a Live Shopping event featuring their favorite products from your brand. Not only can this generate interest around your brand, but it also has the potential to increase traffic to the influencer’s page — it’s a win-win for both parties.
Host an “Ask Me Anything” live stream, where undecided shoppers can freely ask questions and get immediate answers. For customers who are hesitant to make a first purchase, hosting a Q&A session on Instagram Live is a great opportunity to relieve any concerns your customers may have and interact with them in a more natural, casual setting.
Throughout the broadcast, pin frequently asked questions to your screen as you answer them, and then save the video to your profile so that other potential customers can come back to it and watch later.
How to Successfully Use Instagram Live Shopping to Drive Sales
At the end of the day, the ultimate goal of Instagram Live Shopping is to boost conversions and drive sales. Although hosting a live stream may seem easy enough, you’ll need to put some thought into how you’ll promote and craft your video in order to get customers to purchase.
Here are just a few tips to keep in mind before hitting the broadcast button.
Promote your live stream beforehand.
If you want to get the most viewers possible, you’ll need to make sure people actually know about your live stream ahead of time. Promoting your Instagram Live will allow your viewers to make time and plan ahead to watch your broadcast.
One way to promote your live stream is by sharing the schedule or link to other social media channels or to your email marketing list. Or, you can share Instagram Stories leading up to the day to generate interest around your live stream and share details about the event. You can even add a countdown sticker to mark the event and allow users to share it on their own Stories.
Keep it short and to the point.
According to Vidyard, over half of all social media users will watch a full video if it’s under one minute long, but the longer the video is, the smaller this percentage becomes. This means that you only have a short length of time to reel in a user and keep them hooked.
When hosting an Instagram Live, keep your broadcast short and to the point. Make sure your content is easily digestible — if necessary, you can even split up a longer video into several shorter videos to keep your viewers coming back.
Offer high-quality content.
Although driving sales is the main goal of going live, keep in mind that people don’t always want to be sold to — they want to be entertained. Constantly selling to your viewers may be a deterrent for some, so make sure you’re balancing product-driven videos with entertainment-driven content.
On occasion, plan a live stream that isn’t focused on selling to your audience, and instead, just have fun with it! Take your audience behind-the-scenes of your workspace or upcoming event, bring them along to a day-in-the-life of one of your team members or interview a notable thought leader in your industry.
The Final Word
According to eMarketer, the U.S. social commerce market is expected to surpass $50 billion annually by 2023 — needless to say, whether you’re a small business owner or large enterprise brand, marketing on social media is a must, especially if you want to stand out from the crowd, gain content views and drive more sales.
Although many social media platforms have recently hopped on the ecommerce train, Instagram Live Shopping is an especially valuable tool for ecommerce businesses looking to create memorable shopping experiences and boost conversions.
With the help of this guide, you’ll be well on your way to making the most out of your live streams and turning viewers into loyal customers.