Instagram Post Ideas That Sell

Long gone are the days when brick-and-mortar stores can stand alone.

Modern customers value their time, so they consider online shopping as an option. With a few clicks, they can compare prices and find sales, and it helps to save time and money. Moreover, online shopping is available 24/7 and customers can discover items they may want to buy whenever they can.

Need proof?

  • Ecommerce is growing 23% year-over-year
  • 51% of American prefer to shop online in 2018
  • 96% of Americans have made an online purchase at least once in their lifetime

Yes, online shopping is growing 3x faster than offline. No matter what your business is, selling online isn’t optional these days.

The good news? You don’t need to have a website to start selling online.

With over 1 billion monthly users, Instagram has great sales potential. Just imagine: 80% of Instagramers follow a business, 60% of users find new products on the platform, and 30% of them have bought something they first spotted on the platform.

It’s no wonder more and more businesses set foot in Instagram marketing. However, being present on Instagram isn’t enough to reach your potential clients and turn them into customers.

So, why do many companies fail?

Although there are many tricks for Instagram marketing, the answer is simple: they don’t pay much attention to the visuals.

Instagram is a visual platform where the pictures deliver the marketing message. In fact, 78% of shoppers want to see images of products online.

Thus, your visuals matter.

First things first: what makes a good image?

  • It has a high quality (1080px*1080px as a minimum).
  • It showcases your product.
  • It grabs customers’ attention.

When it comes to shopping online, the visual perception is the main selection criteria for customers. Shoppers can’t try before buying, so they rely on images when making their purchase decisions.

So, wouldn’t it be great if you could learn from the best Instagram accounts?

Here’s a list of Instagram post ideas that sell:

1. Flat lay

A flat lay photo is one of the best ways to attract your target audience’s attention and showcase your product. No matter what your niche is, whether it’s fashion, beauty, traveling, or whatever else, posting flat lays can work well. Moreover, it requires minimal skills to take a photo from straight up above with no angle at all.

Many big companies give flat lay photography a try as they know it’s a big deal on Instagram these days.

Let’s take MAC Cosmetics, for example.

Flat lay photography attracts Instagrammers’ attention, as it looks genuine. Therefore, such photos get many likes and comments. It also helps brands promote their products and turn followers into customers, especially if you use shoppable posts to provide followers with additional information. To sell on Instagram, it’s important to follow its trends, so  consider flat lay photography.

Here’s what you can learn:

  • Use natural light.
  • Add shoppable tags to add more information about the tagged product (description, price).

2. Lifestyle

Truth be told: customers don’t care about your product until it can solve their problems.

Selling solutions works well. Customers want to know what they can expect from buying your product. And if you can create a story that sounds familiar to them, they’re more likely to feel connected to your brand.

The solution? Lifestyle photos!

More and more companies post lifestyle photos to humanize the brand. Capturing products in situations brings authenticity and therefore attracts potential clients. For instance, Converse uses this type of photo and they boost sales.

Lifestyle photos show off your product without sounding too salesy. Since customers want more than to look at your product, it’s important to prove that it can suit their needs and wants. Thus, lifestyle photography is a great way to show off your product in a natural way.

Here’s what you can learn:

  • Display to your target audience.
  • Try to take photos that look ‘unposed.’

3. User-generated Content (UGC)

Modern customers don’t believe ads, and they are more likely to rely on a recommendation from a fellow consumer who uses the product. Thus, customers are looking for online reviews to understand whether this brand is trustworthy or not – and that’s why user-generated content is popular among Instagrammers.

Since this content is created by customers, it proves people love the product genuinely, so UGC helps to build brand trust and loyalty. For marketers, it’s important to understand how to encourage UGC on Instagram so that your followers will be happy to take photos for you.

When it comes to UGC, Starbucks has no problems at all. The coffee chain customers take countless photos of their coffee-style beverages, and the iconic Starbucks cup often appears on social media. For Starbucks, it means a free source of high-quality content that can build brand loyalty.

There’s no doubt UGC boosts engagement – UGC posts shared to social channels see a 28% higher engagement rate than standard brand posts. People want to be a part of something significant, so they feel proud to be featured on brands’ accounts. Plus, other followers become more loyal toward the brand and like or comment on the photo.

Another piece of good news? There’s no need to outsource your calculations to understand that user-generated content creation is cheaper than creating one piece of content in-house.

Here’s what you can learn:

  • Ask permission to use the photo.
  • Tag the author.
  • Encourage followers to send their photos for a chance to be featured on your profile.

4. Product Placement

As a seller, you have products to offer to your potential customers. You know your product inside out, and you can point out all its benefits to your customers in every post.

However, think a minute before doing it.

Nothing kills action like overselling.

Depicting your product is great, but don’t focus on macro photos every time you post on Instagram. Instead, rely on product placement.

It’s a natural way to promote your product without overselling. Moreover, you can attract influencers to create photos, and it’s beneficial for both of you: they get a brand freebie and you get a valuable review. Plus, posting influencers’ photos helps to gain trust and brand loyalty, and therefore attract potential customers.

Have you ever seen a brand tag by your favorite blogger? This is product placement in action.

For example, Vitabiotics has published a lifestyle photo made by an influencer with their vitamins. It looks authentic, and therefore grabs attention.

Many influencers opt for collaborating with brands to earn money, so it’s not a problem to find an opinion leader who is ready to work with you. However, if you don’t have influencer marketing budget, you can rely on micro-influencers to imitate product placement without spending much money.

Here’s what you can learn:

  • Collaborate with opinion leaders to promote your product on both pages.
  • Tag the author.
  • Don’t focus on your product.

5. Influencer Shoutout

Customers crave authenticity, so paid advertising doesn’t work anymore. To enter an already-established community and attract potential clients, promote your product through an opinion leader whose recommendations seem to be genuine for customers.

Influencer marketing is on its rise, and brands collaborate with opinion leaders to increase sales.

Here’s a little case study of this strategy in action by Old Navy. To show off their new products, the brand has invited an Instagram influencer Venita Aspen.

The influencer has a good loyal following who supports and trusts her. Once Old Navy took photos of Venita with their products, they posted pictures on their account and asked the influencer to do the same.

For the brand, it’s a way to show that influencers trust them and it therefore gives followers a reason to consider their products.

Here’s what you can learn:

  • Find an influencer whose following reminds of your target audience.
  • Invite an opinion leader to become a brand ambassador.
  • Feature the influencer on your account with a tag.

6. Limited-Time Offers

With a large variety of alternative options on the market, customers can analyze the market to find the best choice.

To grab and hold your potential customers’ attention, you need to create a sense of urgency that can lead them to decision-making. It’s been proven that people act faster when they’re pressed for time, and many big companies use this technique to sell more.

Passion Planner often uses this technique to boost sales. From time to time, they have a special discount for their followers that allows them to save money.

Limited offers help to build loyalty and encourage followers to take an action fast. It’s no wonder users love such posts – who doesn’t want to save money?

Here’s what you can learn:

  • Offer a solid discount (more than 10%).
  • Define your offer dates.
  • Add short text information to the photo.

Here comes a list of bonus tips that can help you sell more with your visuals:

  • Avoid using stock photos: although these images look professional, they are too artificial to create real emotions. Therefore, Instagrammers don’t love this type of photography. As a result, it may hurt your brand reputation.
  • Show off your product from different angles: online shoppers can’t touch your product so they need to see it from different sides to understand whether it suits their needs. Thus, you’d better share a post with multiple photos. Demonstrating various angles of your product helps to sell.
  • Plan your feed: if you post great photos, that’s good. If your photos make up a great feed, that’s perfect. Your potential customers scroll through your feed quickly and you have just several seconds to grab their attention. Thus, the grid of thumbnails matters. Use tools like Snug or Preview to plan your feed.
  • Pay attention to trends: more and more brands start selling on Instagram, so you should stay creative to engage your audience and keep your followers interested. Thus, you need to know what is trendy and what photos attract attention. For example, photos with faces get 38% more likes.
  • Rely on professionals: taking high-quality photos that sell can be daunting unless you’re a professional designer. If you want to make your product stand out from the competitors without sacrificing money or quality, you can turn to professional creators to take care of your brand presentation and help you boost sales.


Attracting a target audience on Instagram is hard. But turning your followers into customers is even harder if you don’t know how to sell your product without words. Strong visuals are compelling these days.  If you want to increase sales and bring your brand to the next level, pay attention to the types of Instagram visuals that sell. Your visuals should deliver your brand message, so investing in visual creation is a must.

Want more sales? Download my 11-Point Perfect Sales Funnel Checklist or invest in our Sales Funnel Blueprint.

About the author: Hugh Beaulac is a part-time social media manager who runs Instagram business accounts. He also works for MC2 Bid4Papers and contributes to various websites to share his tips and tricks on digital marketing. Follow him on Twitter to stay tuned for more.

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