Nowadays upcoming entrepreneurs are skipping physical storefronts. Instead, they turn to Instagram to conduct their business.
Despite being launched in 2010, Instagram remains increasingly popular. Instagram ranked number three in the most downloaded apps of 2020 in the US, according to Forbes, falling short only to Zoom and TikTok.
Instagram is seen as an appealing platform for entrepreneurs because of its demographic and business-friendly features. Statistics show that as of January 2021, the top two age groups of Instagram users were 18 to 24 and 25 to 34.
Online shopping is prevalent within this demographic and Instagram has worked to make that easy. In 2020, Instagram swapped out the “activity” tab on the app for a new “shop” tab. Now users can go to the shop tab and scroll through endless businesses; from small startups to name brands such as Nike, it’s set up just like an online shopping website.
When clicking on a product, multiple images come up and there’s a description, shipping and return information. The “add to cart” and “buy now” buttons increase the efficiency of the purchases. This system allows users to make complete purchases without ever leaving the Instagram app, partnering with payment platforms like PayPal or just plain credit card information.
Business owners can also post a picture of the product to their account and list the price. Then, buyers can message the owner and send a Venmo payment to purchase the product all in a matter of minutes.
Rachel Braun, a senior at Ohio University, runs her own Instagram business called By Rachel B, which sells customized glassware and typically accepts payment through Venmo.
“I do a lot of communication with my clients to make sure their custom items are exactly what they want, so it’s easy to build relationships and receive Venmo payments,” Braun said in a message.
Instagram’s primary purpose is for posting pictures, which Braun believes makes it suitable for advertising. Instagram stories launched in 2016 and have since been advantageous for entrepreneurs. It allows products to not only be featured, but to give an in-depth look through video as to how they work. If selling clothes, entrepreneurs can show their audience how to style them. If selling bath bombs, entrepreneurs can demonstrate to their audience how they will dissolve.
Katie Nolan and Rylie Miller are both seniors at OU and run a business called Custom Collagez. Miller runs the business’s Instagram and the stories feature has proven to be beneficial for them.
“We rely heavily on our followers engaging with our content, especially sharing it on their stories,” Miller said in a message.
Instagram is Custom Collagez’s main advertising platform.
“From a marketing perspective, Instagram offers many opportunities for reach,” Miller said in a message. “The day Katie created the Custom Collagez profile on Instagram, all of our roommates, friends in Athens, friends from all over, and family followed and posted shoutouts or shared the first few posts. Based on our circles alone, we have been able to get a little over 200 followers. Instagram also offers insights toward reach and engagement, which is very valuable to know. Also, Instagram is free, extremely user friendly, and popular. Nowadays, it’s hard to find someone who isn’t on Instagram.”
Unlike Nolan and Miller’s sole use of Instagram, Braun initially started her business selling on both Instagram and Etsy. Etsy is a popular platform for small businesses that acts as a global marketplace focused on handmade items. However, Braun recently made the switch to solely selling on Instagram.
“Etsy is such a great platform, but it’s very oversaturated and hard to make it on there,” Braun said in a message.
Braun believes that Etsy can become overrun with people competing to sell similar products, making it hard to stand out. On the other hand, Instagram allows a more personalized connection with customers through stories and posts.
“It’s fun to have a creative space where your friends and customers can interact directly with us and check out all of the new stuff we’ve been working on,” Nolan said in a message.
Braun, Nolan and Miller have all had wonderful experiences running a business on Instagram and would highly recommend it to anyone.
“I totally recommend opening a business on Instagram if you’re willing to commit,” Braun said in a message. “I’ve begun posting a lot more content on here to keep my followers engaged and active. It’s fun and you get out what you get into it!”