Instagram is growing up — and moving out of its seemingly snotty teenage years, when it often stayed in its room with the door shut while big brother Facebook was opening up its API. In 2015, the photo-sharing platform broke down its angst-filled exterior (maybe caving to peer pressure?) to allow advertising. And this week, with the announcement of shopping on Instagram, the platform is now proving it’s ready to graduate. We see this is as a game changer for mobile commerce.
As we close in on just over a year of Instagram advertising, a clear coming of age is taking place. Instagram, much to the glee of marketers everywhere, will be launching e-commerce functionality to paid posts. The opportunity is unfathomable, really. Instagram is already the outperformer when it comes to user engagement — standing at “10 times higher than Facebook, 54 times higher than Pinterest and 84 times higher than Twitter” for brands. (Brandwatch, 2016)
Instagram isn’t the first to do this. Facebook has been working this functionality for some time now, with the addition of catalogs for pages. Pinterest has been trying to sell through pins but still hasn’t found much in the way of groundbreaking success. Instagram could be the one that breaks the threshold of direct selling on social, even if it is the late bloomer.
Born This Way
Unlike Facebook and Pinterest, Instagram was born on mobile, and for the most part has stayed true to its roots with the best functionalities remaining inside a mobile platform. This tiny piece of Instagram’s history may be the most important because mobile shopping is the way of the future. Shoppers are already on their mobile devices buying bags, booking vacations and updating their wardrobes. Guess what else they’re doing on their devices — pushing little heart icons under pictures of the very same stuff they’re buying.
From the Instagram for Business blog: “This functionality will bring important product information to the consumer earlier in the journey, all without having to leave the Instagram app to search. Then, if the consumer taps the Shop Now link from the product details view, they’ll go directly to that product on the business’ website, making it easier for them to buy the product they want.”
Instagram is streamlining the social/shopping experience and blurring the lines in the process.
Build It and They Will Like It
Marketers know their audiences are on Instagram — which now boasts more than 400 million active users, 60 percent of them logging in daily. Marketers also know they have built brand loyalty and affinity through social media, specifically through methodical Instagram strategies. And now, Instagram is rewarding them with an instant connection between brand love and brand profit.
The Instagram e-commerce announcement could be the key to social selling on the web because it caters to our human need for instant gratification. Kind of like that rack of candy bars in the checkout aisle after you’ve trekked through the grocery store on a weeknight, tired from a long day — you’re starving, it’s in sight, and damn, it looks good. Onto the belt it goes. Heck, you’ll probably even ’gram about being an adult and having a Snickers for dinner because, #adulting.
There’s a long-standing discussion, and debate, about selling on social in the marketing world. At The Brandon Agency, our social media strategies are executed ways that are meant to drive preference and awareness, and we guide our clients in understanding that selling or converting our followers into dollars is a positive side effect of great social media efforts. This Instagram update will be one more way we can drive outstanding results for our clients while also delivering content the way their audiences wish to receive it. Instagram plans to do a segmented rollout of this offering, but stay tuned to The Brandon Agency blog and social channels for updates on full availability.