What kind of products are sold in Instagram online stores?

From my previous post, we learned that some countries use Instagram not only as online photo sharing place, but also as online stores. Here Indonesia dominates the online stores. As a result of posts that I checked on Feb 7, 2015, there are 32,314,170 posts related to online shopping, in which 21% of the posts are from Indonesia. One week later (Feb 15, 2015), I run the script again and it shows 32,789,064 posts. Within a week, there are 474,894 new posts related to online shopping!

This time I collected posts from Bali and Jogja, two major tourism cities in Indonesia. Since there are many foreign tourists in the cities, I hope I could collect English posts from here that will make everything a lot easier. I started the data crawling adventure by using “#onlineshopbali” and “#onlineshopjogja” tags to crawl the posts. In result, I successfully collected 30,133 posts from Bali and 37,010 posts from Jogja. I took a sneak peek to the posts, but it seems there are only small amount of posts written in English. Before answering the research question, let’s take a look who are big players that sell stuffs in Instagram. Instagram only include user id to the posts, so I need to get specific user information (e.g. number of followers) by calling the API again. Here are the big players sorted by number of followers in Bali:

Top 10 from 573 unique users on #onlineshopbali:

  1. @info_dropship (74,073 followers and 8,070 posts)
  2. @kathleenroom (25,280 followers and 402 posts)
  3. @idjasa (20,701 followers and 174 posts)
  4. @promopromolshop (19,606 followers and 185,971 posts)
  5. @media_iklanmu (18,221 followers and 50,006 posts)
  6. @makeuptoolshop (17,025 followers and 1,370 posts)
  7. @mallonlineshop (16,611 followers and 6,898 posts)
  8. @trendshion (15,557 followers and 519 posts)
  9. @detikads (15,176 followers and 325 posts)
  10. @carireseller (13,616 followers and 52,214 posts)

The result is disappointing. When I checked the username, 7 of the users are only advertisers, whereas 3 users are the real sellers: @kathleenroom (sells cute girly blouse and necklace), @makeuptoolshop (sells makeup for girls) and @trendshion (sells trendy watches). On #onlineshopbali, 30,133 posts are generated by 573 unique users. Let’s see how is it different in Jogja:

Top 10 from 1,241 unique users on #onlineshopjogja:

  1. @info_dropship (74,099 followers and 8,196 posts)
  2. @hosofshopaholic (31,045 followers and 493 posts)
  3. @dconvy.id (25,300 followers and 218 posts)
  4. @promopromolshop (19,625 followers and 186,148 posts)
  5. @media_iklanmu (18,235 followers and 50,111 posts)
  6. @mallonlineshop (16,627 followers and 7,038 posts)
  7. @trendshion (15,557 followers and 519 posts)
  8. @detikads (15,176 followers and 325 posts)
  9. @afnirohijab (14,607 followers and 391 posts)
  10. @carireseller (13,670 followers and 52,373 posts)

No difference. 6 users are advertisers and 4 are the real sellers: @hosofshopaholic (sells girls clothing), @dconvy.id (sells long skirt), @trendshion (the same seller found in Bali) and @afnirohijab (sells moslem clothing for girls). But number of unique users is higher, 1,241 unique users generated 37,010 posts. Notice that some are the same users found in Bali, but the number of followers and posts are different although I crawled the data in the same day. In other words, their followers increase rate and post rate are very high! I learned from a friend that plays online store here: the Instagram marketing technique called SFS (shout for shout). I’m not interested in explaining this more detail, but the point is that Instagram advertisers (they are also ordinary users) are often affiliated with multiple number of sellers. They promote each others products to gain more followers faster than selling alone.

Now, let’s answer the research question: What kind of products are sold in Instagram online stores? After seeing the top sellers, I suspect most of the products sold in Instagram are for girls. Well, it makes sense that girls are shopaholic everywhere, Instagram included, but we will see if my hypothesis is true or not from the following experiment. Apart from the cleaning process during previous assignment, I added more process by removing stopwords. I found the stopwords list in Bahasa Indonesia here (1,300 words) and added few hundreds more by referring to the posts. Then, I categorized the products on each post into 9 categories by defining a LIWC in Bahasa Indonesia as below: (I made the categories by skimming throughout the posts)

  1. Clothing (blouse, jeans, skirt, etc.)
  2. Accessory (glasses, necklace, earrings, etc.)
  3. Footwear (boots, sandals, etc.)
  4. Bag (leather bag, backpack, etc.)
  5. Gift (popup card, valentine chocolate)
  6. Home (lamp, bed sheets, etc.)
  7. Health (medicine, herbal, etc.)
  8. Beauty (lipsticks, make up, etc.)
  9. Others (products that are not defined in my LIWC)

For the posts in Bali, the result is as below: (I used the matplot lib for visualization this time)

figure(From total 30,133 posts)

  • gift : 547 posts
  • beauty : 4,071 posts
  • accessory : 4,834 posts
  • bag : 1,491 posts
  • health : 6,156 posts
  • footwear : 3,865 posts
  • home : 48 posts
  • clothing : 5,809 posts
  • others : 3,312 posts


And some of the most common words mentioned here:

  • hairclip: 16,066 times
  • kulit: 15,072 times (it means “skin” in English)
  • catok: 9,135 times (it means “hair straightening treatment” in English)

Now let’s see the products in Jogja:


(From total 37,010 posts)

  • gift : 995 posts
  • beauty : 1,393 posts
  • accessory : 400 posts
  • bag : 2,446 posts
  • health : 1,171 posts
  • footwear : 2,465 posts
  • home : 935 posts
  • clothing : 14,087 posts
  • others : 13,118 posts

And some of the most common words mentioned here:

  • bajumurah: 6,994 times (it means “cheap clothes” in English)
  • kulit: 6,918 times (it means “skin” in English)
  • hijab: 5,412 times (it means “headscarf” for women moslems)
  • dress: 4,554 times

From the most common words in both Bali and Jogja, my hypothesis is true that there are more girl products sold in Instagram. It is interesting to see girls clothing, accessory and beauty treatment are common. Some of interesting examples for health and beauty products are diet pills, height pills, fertility drugs, skin whitening, korean and japanese makeups. Clothing includes wide variety of head scarf and long skirt for moslem women (more than 80% of Indonesian population is moslem). Meanwhile, products for men are mainly found in footwear: leather shoes, sport shoes (nike, adidas, etc.). While there are 3,312 unknown posts in Bali (I put them in “others” category), 13,118 unknown posts are found in Jogja. This is horrible. I should improve the LIWC dictionary next time, to learn more product varieties. My further steps on this project might be:

  • Comparing the products sold in Indonesia with Philippines and Malaysia, there might be more English posts outside Indonesia.
  • Analyzing posts and follower activities made by big players (comparing with time and event throughout the year, I recognized chocolate and valentine related posts in Valentine’s day)
  • What makes Instagram so effective for some people, some kinds of shops, some places.
  • Improving LIWC dictionary to get more accurate results.
  • Separating products for man and women to see the gender percentages clearly. Why are there more girls selling/buying stuffs in Instagram.


I learned three things from this activity:

  • Advertisers/sellers in Instagram do not post captions neatly. They repeat the same words (like spamming) and put a lot of hashtags to reach more people, which make analyses quite harder since the key words are often put together without spaces.
  • Dealing with non-english words is a bit tricky, we need to define stopwords and others by ourselves. But defining our own mini LIWC is pretty useful.
  • As mentioned by Lei Shi, one of my classmates, dealing with data means dealing with big companies. We need to find out how to survive under the RATE LIMIT and RULES.


Please find the scripts I made for this project here: https://github.com/girikuncoro/shopinstagram2




3 thoughts on “What kind of products are sold in Instagram online stores?

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