This article presents a straightforward method for online businesses to master Instagram.

Online merchants are known to use Pinterest to drive traffic to their website by way of referrals. By pinning their own products, e-commerce sites extend their reach and display their products' photos in a visually appealing way.

But if Pinterest is great for driving referral traffic, Instagram takes the lead in customer retention and engagement.

The following practices are only starting to spread, and they will continue to do so as more brands and companies adopt Instagram.

Here are three steps to successfully using Instagram for e-commerce:

  1. Respond to customers who are already sharing.
  2. Channel the sharing.
  3. Ensure content sustainability.

Step 1: Respond to customers who are already sharing

Instagram is now a network of 100 million users engaging every month within the app. This means that if you ship products online, your customers are probably posting photos on Instagram already.

Here are two quick examples to show that:

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image of Thibaut Davoult

Thibaut Davoult manages content and community at Nitrogram, an analytics and social media marketing platform for Instagram. If your brand or company is on Instagram, he's probably following it already.

Twitter: @thibautdavoult