Selling Sneakers on Instagram Has Changed Forever

How we sell sneakers in 2022 is a whole lot different than how we sold sneakers just half a decade ago. The last 5-8 years saw a major shift from eBay and forums to the juggernaut social media app we call Instagram (IG). Through my experience with social media, we all know changes will always happen and the once juggernaut platform will get dethroned by another platform sooner or later. We saw this with Myspace, Friendster, Facebook, Instagram and who knows what’s next. I don’t want to say Tiktok at the moment, but maybe eventually. No doubt Instagram has been the place to be for sneakers in general. From sneaker flexing your on feet photos to selling sneakers – if you were a sneakerhead, having IG was a no brainer. As a result, selling sneakers on the platform just made a hell lot of sense and no doubt it has been very successful for me over the past half decade as that’s where I built majority of my customer base.

At one point, I relied almost 100% of my sales through IG because it just didn’t make sense to diversify away from it because almost everything I tried to sell there sold in an instant. Of course over the years, the “algorithm” that IG dictates on what readers get to see has changed significantly coupled with the changing consumer buying behavior has contributed a less effective way of selling on IG. I remember back in the day when the feed was in chronological order, I would always post my items at 9 PM EST because it was known that that was the best time to post as traffic was at its peak. Numbers don’t lie because that’s when most of your customers would see your items. Nowadays, you can post something and you’d be lucky if just 10-15% of your follower base actually sees it. Hence, the idea of diversifying away from the platform started to make MORE sense. Just about 1 year ago, the one time IG mistakenly disabled my account for about a month quickly made me realize my reliance on them heavily for business was extremely dangerous and I had to look for alternative methods of selling outside of my core customer group on IG. This ultimately led me to move back to eBay and started selling heavy on StockX.

A lot of buyers that have been following us since day 1 probably have noticed a big change in our feed in the past couple of months. We rarely try to sell any shoes on our posts anymore because we find that not only that the IG algorithm has changed, but so has the way we shop for sneakers has changed. One of the biggest issues with selling on IG is that customers don’t want to scroll past more than 12 grids on your profile to see what you have for sale. They are more likely to buy stuff that shows up on their feed while scrolling through their IG “curated” feed. Customers aren’t going to try to stalk your page everyday to see what you have for sale – there are just too many accounts that are trying to sell you sneakers. So the “out of sight, out of mind” quote works perfectly here. If your customers don’t see your posts on your feed…you’re forgotten – simple!

The higher the probability your posts makes it onto your customer’s feed indirectly increases your chance of making a successful sale. This is not rocket science – it’s just basic statistics. However, getting your posts to end up on your customer’s feed is ultimately driven by likes and interactions and the harsh reality is selling sneakers on IG basically does none of this. Trying to sell a sneaker is similar to a classified ad in a newspaper. It’s meant to inform the buyer that an item is for sale and it’s not meant to be liked by users. I mean, how often do we double tap on a photo on IG now anyways? Your post of trying to sell a GR Jordan 1 compared to a video of Lebron James doing a 360 double clutch under the leg reverse jam – which one do you think IG will likely curate into people’s feed solely based on the interactions/engagement? Damn! I would double tap the latter than my own post lol. With that said, the math is simple. Less engagement means less chance of your post finding it’s way onto your customer’s feed, which means less chance your item will sell and ultimately circles back to you wasting time trying to sell.

As we speak today, we are experiencing a major shift in how we buy and sell sneakers. IG certainly is becoming less and less of a platform we rely on to do business and I’m sure a lot of sellers in this space are experiencing the same thing. In just a year’s time, we basically went from 100% reliance on the IG platform for sales to now just maybe 30-40% (or less) and majority of the sales are coming from Subscriptions rather than individual curated sneakers. Part of business is being able to adapt to constant changes in the marketplace. Sure enough I’ve seen many changes over the years and this is just another one we must accept and adapt.

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