Jun 29, 2021 • 11 min read
5 Tips To Running a Successful Instagram Auction.
There is a group of people on Instagram that run social auctions. The successful auctions are typically run by brands that are offering pieces with limited supply and high demand. This can be anyone from Pokémon card collectors to fine jewelers. So how do you organize your own successful social auction?
- Eye-catchy photos or videos displaying the product (or products) you're offering. Keep it simple yet compelling.
- Have a story behind each item to increase interest.
- Have a clear set of rules in the description. This is extremely important.
- Promote the auction and auction items ahead of time!
- Do them as often as possible, but make sure you can keep up.
Create Eye-Catching Images
The rule of thumb for making posts that will catch peoples attention is to ensure it is:
Keep it high-quality
Keep it simple
Keep it to the point
The last point is incredibly important for social auctions.
Make Use of the Carousel Feature
To give your audience the best possible experience include a variety of photos and videos showing the auction item or items. The best way to display these is by using the Instagram carousel feature. Another thing you might want to include is the date of the auction and teh opening bid on the first photo of the carousel. This is another way to grab the attention of people scrolling by and it also creates a sense of urgency!
You can see how we did this on our free social auction template linked below.
DIY Professional Product Photos + Videos
The best inexpensive way to get great-looking product photos is by using a clear storage container, white paper, and some office lights. As seen in the photo below, you're able to easily set this up for less than $50.
Develop A Story For Your Auction Item.
The whole point of developing a story for each auction item is so it resonates better with your audience. The easiest way to do this is to list out characteristics of someone who would normally buy said item. For example, let's say you are auctioning off a custom made live-edge console table like the one below.
You might want to say something like:
"This modernized console table is best suited for a home that loves the outdoors. With a live-edge design and clean finish, it brings the outside in without compromising the high-quality furnishing. This piece is best suited for an entryway or behind a sofa."
I realize that most of you probably aren't interior designers, so let's break this down so you can replicate an explanation for your own auction item!
'This modernized console table is best suited for a home that loves the outdoors': As you can see, right away we are giving the name of the item (console table) and relating it to a generalized audience that aligns with this product (lovers of the outdoors and high-quality furnishings). This allows the reader to make a quick connection to the item and know who it's for.
'With a live-edge design and clean finish, it brings the outside in without compromising the high-quality furnishing': This describes the product.
'This piece is best suited for an entryway or behind a sofa': Give the product a use! Describe how it could be used in everyday life and how this would benefit them.
To summarize, this is how you can develop a story for your auction items in 3-steps
- Name the item and mention which audience is best suited for it.
- Describe the item further.
- Describe how the reader can use this item and why it would benefit them.
Include Clear Auction Rules.
Open + Close Time
The big thing with this is clearly communicating the start and end date-time as well as the time zone. An example of this could be:
Example of this rule:
"Bidding closes tonight (Jan 22nd, 2021) at 9:00 PM PST"
Opening Bid + Bid Increment
An opening bid will set the least amount the item can sell for. Typically, a lower opening bid price will capture more attention, but might also mean more unqualified bidders. A higher opening bid price will capture less attention, but more qualified bidders.
Generally, you want to set your opening bid price of the item to 30 - 40% of fair market value.
A bid increment is the least amount someone can bid up by. That means if you have a bid increment of $5 and the current bid is $10, the next bidder has to bid either $15, $20, $25, and so on. In terms of choosing, you want to set the bid increment as low as possible.
Bidders will feel more comfortable committing to a bid increment of $5 on a $50 item, rather than $15. Thus increasing the number of bids for that auction item!
This being said, picking these two variables is more of an art than it is a science and there isn't one right way to do it. Just use your best judgement, listen to feedback from your audience, and adjust accordingly.
Example of this rule:
Opening bid = $__ CAD
Bid Increment = $__ CAD
How To Bid
Only accept bids in the comment section. If you start accepting bids through stories or direct messages, you not only make it more complicated for yourself but also your audience. Additionally, people want to see other people engaging and bidding in your auction! People want to see that other people put trust in your auction before making the leap to place a bid.
Example of this rule:
"You MUST submit your bid via a comment on this post only. We will not accept requests via DM or email. Place a bid by commenting: Bid for product name at $your bid. Your bid MUST outbid the current bid by the bid increment defined above"
Currency + Payment + Shipping Details
The most important thing with payments is to be completely upfront about it, what currency you're using, and what your shipping rates are. No one likes surprises when it comes to money.
Example of this rule:
"Winning bidders that are residents of the USA and Canada will pay a flat shipping rate of $10. International winners will pay a flat rate of $50 for shipping. The winning bidder will have 24 hours to make the full payment. Failure of full payment results in the watch roing to the next highest bidder."
Promote Your Social Auction
If you build it, they will come. This is a great idea in principle and may work if you build a waterslide park on the side of the road, but keep in virtual world the roads are infinite and the traffic is real-time, so it's easy to get missed. The good news, is there are lots of ways to get attention - some cost money and others don't. Either way, its worth the effort to push a bit of traffic your way.
- Reach out to local micro-influencers within your industry to ask for a paid shoutout or even a collaboration. This can cost anywhere between $250 - $2500
- Sponsored Instagram Ads are always a good way of boosting your reach.
- Post stories at least 5 days in advance to let your audience know what's happening!
- If you have an email-list, notify them as well
- If you're holding a charity auction, reach out to some local press to see if they want to write an article for you.
Decide How Frequently to Run a Social Auction
If you are a business that produces a lot of unique pieces like watches, art, custom shoes, etc. you probably want to run these auctions as frequently as possible. This is just the beginning of a new trend on social media and if you catch the wave early, your brand can be known as one of the first to adopt this new technique. That being said, never take on more than you can handle.
These auctions are a great way to create a new revenue stream, promote engagement, and understand what products your audience will actually buy, but they also require a lot of work to run.
Bonus Tip: Use a Great Automated Auction Tool
As stated above, social auctions can take a lot of effort to run, especially if you're manually keeping track of bids, payment, and shipping information, and also trying to run your actual business or work your day job.
Shameless plug, but this is what we do - or we should say, this is what Bidddy does! What we did was realize how valuable social auctions could be for your business and then built a tool that automated it all! This means we give you access to:
- Automatic Bid Detection + Tracking
- Secure Payment Processing
- Manage Auction + Products
So all you need to do is add an auction, products and let our system take care of the rest!