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Using Instagram and YouTube Effectively for Ecommerce

Ecommerce marketing strategy has grown a lot since the early days, and now every online shopper is used to seeing the same tactics to sell them things. Every mom-and-pop store online has built out a site with Shopify or BigCommerce, they are all using email and social media to promote their brand and products, and many are using inbound marketing to attract, convert, and delight their customers.

With the digital shelves getting more and more crowded, standing out is becoming harder than ever. No matter how great your product or outstanding your service, if you can't meet users where they are online, you might as well close up shop. With 2017 presenting its own unique opportunities and challenges for ecommerce, where can savvy marketers find new avenues to reach potential customers?


The merits of YouTube and Instagram are well known for standard brand awareness marketing, but recent developments have added some pretty interesting and useful tools to allow ecommerce brands to provide more value than a "meet the team" video or a meme you rewrote to focus on a product. There are plenty of straightforward ideas that will help establish your brand on these content mediums, and some next-level options that help set you apart from the competition. Let's start with Instagram and how you can effectively utilize it for your ecommerce efforts.

Using Instagram for Ecommerce

Most ecommerce brands are already on Instagram, and they are doing the standard types of posts:

  • Product focus
  • Brand announcements
  • Bad memes
  • Behind the scenes in the office/warehouse/factory

Often, these types of posts can be very engaging and help build a creative identity around your brand that extends past the basic level of selling products. But there are several other opportunities to use Instagram in bigger and better ways:

Tell storiesinstagram for ecommerce

Instagram users like Humans of New York have used the platform for years to tell compelling and engaging stories that use several posts to express a feeling and showcase the subject. Not all your stories have to be that intense, but creating a community and atmosphere around your brand and your Instagram account is a good way to keep users coming back and interested in what you are posting.


Give stuff away

You've got the product, you want people to use it, so give some of it to them for free. Crowdsource content for a contest and give the winner a bundle of stuff that they can post and promote. If you've got the budget, connecting with influencers on Instagram can be a good way to give stuff away and reach a new audience.


It's not just about you

Connect with other users, follow all the big names, post comments, follow random people, actually use the app for more than just posting your stuff. Like Facebook and Twitter, you only get out of Instagram what you put in, and a cold, unengaged presence on the network will earn you the same response in return.


Go live and post stories

Figure out something you want to showcase and stream it! Your stream will pop up in the top row of users feeds and will give you a chance for live feedback and interaction. You'll learn quickly if what you are doing is at all interesting or if it was a boring idea, and that's okay. Instagram has room for error as you learn how best to promote your page. Just don't do anything crazy.


Finally, one the latest Instagram features rolling out is also one of the greatest for ecommerce. Instagram has long been a place for people to find items they want to buy, but hasn't had the functionality for brands to get those products to users more directly. Shopping for Instagram aims to change that, and it's already paying off big for brands in the beta test like Warby Parker, Jcrew, and Kate Spade.



When the feature is available to all brands, you'll be able to tag your product in your posts, allowing a pop-up to send users to a landing page for the product, and then to your website to purchase, all from within the Instagram app. Cutting out the relatively inconvenient issue of switching to another app to search for a product streamlines the purchasing process and puts more value in the hands of users and a direct line between your posts and products. Already popularized on sites like Pinterest, this shopping emphasis could pay huge dividends for brands putting in the effort on Instagram to connect with their community. Work on implementing some of these other avenues for Instagram and keep your ear to the ground to find out when the shopping tags will be available for all brands!

Using YouTube for Ecommerce

For many businesses, the prospect of using YouTube is a bit more stressful than posting a tweet or Instagram photo. It feels like there is so much more work and expertise required, but with a high quality camera on every phone, it's never been easier to dive into the world's second largest search engine and get ecommerce value from YouTube. The perceived barrier to entry on YouTube may be preventing your competition from taking advantage of it as well, so there's a real opportunity to provide a resource that customers would appreciate. Lets take a look at some of the ways you can use YouTube for ecommerce effectively.

Just show it

Writing a long blog post to explain your product is pointless when you can make a 60-second video that illustrates the exact same thing. Make a script if you need to, or just wing it, and make videos highlighting your products, what they look like, how they work, and how they can help the customer. These are great for content marketing, amazing on your actual product pages, and have strong SEO juice as well.

Contests and giveawaysyoutube for ecommerce

This isn't rocket science. Like Instagram, getting people involved with your brand not only makes them more loyal and likely to purchase, your contests can generate more content for you to use on YouTube, and the library of videos grows and grows. Best of all, you can get some really great testimonials and video of normal people using your products in their everyday lives. They have awesome cameras to make videos too, so all you have to do is motivate them properly with a great contest.

Spread awareness, not pitches

Nobody wants to watch an ad disguised as a valuable YouTube video. Think about your audience, what they are looking for, what they are searching for? Think about your current customers, why do they say they buy your product and what questions do they have? Make a video answering those FAQs and put it on your site, on all your social, etc, and people will definitely watch it.

Be descriptive

Don't waste your SEO opportunities with your titles and descriptions, these carry a lot of weight and can for years to come, so make sure to write an accurate and unique description for each video, including a relevant link to your website at the beginning of the description.

Finally, like Instagram, there's a specific feature on YouTube that you can really get some use out of for ecommerce. Annotating your videos can allow you to put a link directly to your product right on top of the video. All it takes is an easy verification process. Once you're approved, you can link to your site from annotations on your videos and help direct people to the products you are highlighting!

There are so many great ways to use Instagram and YouTube, and ecommerce retailers can take advantage of the easy ability to create content, grow a community that is engaged with your brand and products, and help direct users to your store. The barrier to entry has been all but eliminated, all you need is some hard work and determination and soon you will be building a library of content that is valuable to you and your customers. Sorting through the wide range of ecommerce solutions can be challenging, but reaching the next level with your YouTube and Instagram promotion is within your reach. With the calendar flipping over to 2017, there's never been a better opportunity to get started! 

Read our guide on creating a best-practice ecommerce ecosystem