How Instagram can create the engagement required for your online marketplace

Much like the rhetoric saying goes, “A picture speaks a thousand words,” the social media universe has recently upgraded from textual ‘status updates’ to visual ‘stories’. If you will look at the most popular photo-sharing social platform, Instagram, it now boasts of a large community of 800 million members. More than 500 million daily users are actively engaging on Instagram, which definitely makes digital marketers all over the world go gaga over it.

But, why is Instagram stealing the limelight in digital marketing?

First things first, the takeaway is visual and it leaves a lingering imprint of the minds of the user. Humans absorb more knowledge when they have a visual aid in addition to reading about the matter. Vloggers and bloggers have been milking this aspect of audience’s attention for years. That makes product reviews and tutorial videos popular on the internet.

Secondly, engagement strategies become easier to materialize when you can have your target customers interact with your campaigns on the go. Instagram, which is essentially a mobile application, provides its users the virtue of mobility and it is extremely flexible that way. The instantaneous approach is what makes it really unique and appealing to the users.

Thirdly, let us talk about the ‘Insta’ vibe that has come into play. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Instagram has a refreshingly youthful vibe. With a relatively large number of users below the age of 30, digital marketing in Instagram has to be extremely youth-centric. New brands are coming in every day and are aggressively hitting the adventurous side of young people, which older brands have yet refrained to do.

Fourth. Instagram is live, yet uniform in nature. Instagram hashtags let your posts become easier to discover as they appear in hashtag searches, ‘Explore’ tabs or on your followers’ Instagram feeds. And voila, instant feedbacks! Who doesn’t love that?

Also, it is not about the wide-screen visibility anymore, it is about anything that can fit into a square view. Be it videos or photos, everything is set into a uniform square format in Instagram making it soothingly simplistic.


In November 2017, Instagram had 25 million businesses actively engaging with their target customers, which was a jump from 15 million in July 2017. The numbers speak for themselves, don’t they? 80% users are following at least one business on Instagram and statistics suggest that in the first half of 2017 over 120 million Instagrammers visited a website, received directions, called, emailed or direct-messaged to learn about a business. Hence, even SME businesses are not shying away from using Instagram as a visual call-out to their web stores, because of its simplistic yet prepossessing vibe.

Online marketplace businesses are thriving, courtesy Instagram

Online marketplaces are trending among retail, tourism and food businesses. An online marketplace is a platform that enables vendors or brands to put their goods or products on display and sale in your store. It is almost like a shopping mall, only virtual, where consumers can make the purchase decision after browsing through a wide range of products from different brands. Globally recognized e-commerce giant, Amazon’s online marketplace is probably the most notable of such an online business model.

Beauty and cosmetic brands marketplace, Ipsy, has a particularly intriguing Instagram success story. With 2.1 million followers on Instagram now, Ipsy’s digital engagement strategy of building an influencer community of its own worked out really well for their business. When popular beauty vloggers collaborated with Ipsy, they brought in their followers to the campaign as well making Ipsy one of the most popular businesses on Instagram.


@micaelakbeauty, can you teach us your natural glam ways? || #ipsy

A post shared by ˗ˏˋ 💄 ˎˊ˗ (@ipsy) on



Popular online fashion store, Nordstrom, has 2.7 million followers and what is unique about their Instagram profile is that they are selling what they are showing. They let you in on their Instagram photos through a ‘like2buy’ URL in their intro and you can literally purchase those exact looks and outfits from their website. It is like having a stylist at your favorite store to assist you with your purchase decisions.


Well-rounded #shelfie. What’s on your shelf? #beauty

A post shared by Nordstrom (@nordstrom) on


Help us pick! Left or right?

A post shared by Nordstrom (@nordstrom) on


Getting the best out of Instagram for an online marketplace

It is a great time to be on Instagram if you have an online marketplace business. The number of paid marketing messages has reached a saturation level on Facebook and the percentage of Facebook users engaging with businesses is drastically falling every day. On the other hand, Instagram marketing strategies have proven themselves to be extremely engaging, yet relatively inexpensive to fathom. To a digital marketer’s delight, organic marketing still works pretty well for Instagram if only one knows how to get the best out of this platform.

Successfully promoting your brand identity on Instagram will be a cakewalk with some of these handy tips.

    • Look around you: Whether you are a newbie or fairly familiar with Instagram marketing, once in a while you need to stop and take a look at what strategies have worked out for others. You can start with listing out your competitors in the market and research their methodologies. It is also healthy to learn about the industry best practices and trends in Instagram marketing.
    • Building a comprehensive strategy: Once you are acquainted with your competitor’s strategy, industry best practices, and trends, it will be time for you to brainstorm over a primary strategy for your Instagram profile. Since the experience on Instagram appeals to the eye; clarity, simplicity, and uniformity should be key elements of your images. Think of your profile as a canvas, which needs to be painted with beautiful pictures that have compelling themes and messages. Decide early on the color palette, themes, and typography that compliments your brand and products.
    • Master the art of Hashtagging: Hashtags allow your posts to appear on organic searches and be discovered by Instagram users. This functionality makes choosing the right hashtags extremely important. Hashtags have to be relevant to your target user segment, your posts and your brand identity apart from being popular. Instagram lets you add 30 hashtags to your posts but research suggests that for optimal results 11 wisely selected hashtags will do the trick. In addition, the stats suggest that among all the popularly used hashtags, 70% are branded hashtags. Create your own brand hashtag and weave the hashtag seamlessly into your campaigns to increase visibility.Online websites like All Hashtag and Iconosquare let you find and analyze hashtags for your Instagram profile.
    • Keep a bird’s eye watch on the analytics: Whether you are spending money on paid promotions or just your time and effort, you should be able to measure the outcome of it all. Even though, Instagram provides user engagement data under the ‘Insights’ tab, with Iconosquare you can also keep an eye on the analytics front in depth. Keep tabs on your posts’ performance, user engagement metrics, follower count and churn rate data all at one place.
    • Be original and creative: Phenomenal photography and photo-editing skills are extremely important when you are trying to stand out in the crowd. Be very creative and keep A/B testing till you find the nerve of your followers and what kind of images work well for them. You can also find or purchase stock images on Pexels, Shutterstock or Flickr. Online editing software like Pixlr and Canva can be useful for editing photos for Instagram if you don’t have one installed.
    • Mind the time: You can’t really narrow down a particular day or time to ensure that your Instagram posts get the maximum traffic. However, if you follow the Instagram insights and your engagement data closely, you will find a pattern after a while. The pattern will suggest which days of the week and time of the day works best for your posts. This will give you an idea of what should be the ideal time for you to post on Instagram.
    • Remember the ‘social’ aspect of social media: If you have learned anything from the Ipsy success story, you will know the significance of collaborating with influencers on Instagram. Influencer marketing is one of the trending practices in social media these days. Influencers have their own set of loyal followers and collaborating with them would mean phenomenal outcomes as far as expanding engagement is concerned. Build a community of influencers. Start small and show compassion for other businesses in the community.
    • Contests will keep’em hooked: Plan fun and interactive giveaway contests. Prizes work as incentives for users to connect with your brand. It’s also a great opportunity to introduce your brand hashtags and use ‘tag-a-friend’ strategy to improve visibility organically.

For years, Facebook has been a go-to platform for digital marketers but seems like Instagram is slowly upping its game to accommodate more and more businesses, especially online marketplaces. Moreover, the prevalent ideas of social media marketing are slowly dwindling because users appreciate visuals more than words, the reason why Instagram is the best marketing platform today. How do you use Instagram for your business? Let us know in the comments below.


Web Stores Vs. Marketplaces Part – II

In the previous article, we talked about how some factors such as development and deployment timelines, budget and competition affect both standalone web stores and multi-vendor marketplaces. We saw that although web stores offer an unparallel degree of control over how you manage your e-commerce business, it fails to provide you the ease of operation that marketplaces enjoy.

On one hand, you can customize your own store to any extent you wish with a library of developer supported plug-ins, a multi-vendor marketplace takes the pain of micromanagement away and leaves you free to concentrate on selling your products which is the whole point of an e-commerce business. However, the differences don’t end at that as there are 3 other major points we must discuss before you can declare yourself reasonably well informed enough to choose which path to follow on the way to set up your online venture.


Why Your Marketplace Needs to Appeal to Millennials?

Now we have read enough trade articles, news reports and marketing blogs to know that millennials are THE market segment that any B2C venture should be targeting right now. I have to agree with each and every one of them too. The numbers say it all. They are larger than the Baby Boomer generation – one of the most economically prolific segments in history, and at least three times larger than Generation X. Add to that the fact that the average millennial’s purchasing power which totals to $1.3 trillion annually far exceeds that of the preceding Generation Y which capped out at a nominal $600 billion per annum.


Niche Marketplaces – What Makes Them Viable?

Amazon may rule the roost when it comes to online marketplaces and with net revenue of $25.36 billion in the last quarter alone, there is little evidence to dispute that fact. However, Amazon and similar marketplaces such as Ebay and Alibaba rake in big business because they cast a wide net. Such horizontal marketplaces cater to a very large number of people because they have an astronomical selection of products on offer.


E-Commerce and the Big Business Holiday Season

It’s no secret that ecommerce is booming right now. Last year, North America’s B2C ecommerce revenue grew by 12.2% to $522.9 billion. With a 26.9% share of the global ecommerce market, overall revenues are projected to grow to more than $600 billion over the next two years with an expected share of 1.86% of the national GDP. That is a lot of money to be made! So if you are in the business of selling online, business is looking good.


Web Stores Vs. Marketplaces Round – I

The eCommerce landscape is an ever expanding territory in a state of constant flux. With every new piece of technology developed and introduced to assist sellers sell better, there is a significant shift in direction. However, with great opportunity comes a healthy margin of risks. The problem of plenty demands a cautious step. Whichever direction you choose to veer towards, the opportunities are fantastic but the possibility of encountering any numbers of traps coexist.