Instagram has always been home to the odd nagging annoyance from not allowing links in captions to chronological news feeds, but we’ve got no complaints about it’s new ‘click and buy’ service allowing you to buy products featured in photographs… or have we? We decided to take a closer look at what Instagram Shopping means for brands, consumers and influencers.
The new tool is designed to increase the online sales of brands advertising on the picture-sharing platform by letting them tag products in organic posts. Users can tap on a tagged post in their feed to buy the item directly from the brand’s website in arguably the most significant update to the social network since Instagram for Business launched in 2016.
According to Instagram, over 200 million people visit a business profile everyday and two thirds are people who don’t yet follow that company. In the past month there have been over 180 million interactions between businesses and people on the platform and since launching Shopping in the US last year, half of all active daily users now follow a business selling through the site.
In Britain, the number of Instagram users now amounts to 23 million, including both individual users and businesses. Despite being just seven years old, the platform boasts over 800 million global users, including 25 million businesses and 2 million advertisers – those are some big numbers.
It’s not the first time ‘click and buy’ tech has been used to entice online shoppers into direct sales. In fact we worked with Ted Baker on a “fashion first” shoppable movie called Mission Impeccable two years ago. The multi-channel campaign included storefront websites such as Selfridges.com as well Ted’s own site and YouTube.
A few Instagram Shopping stipulations to be aware of; Brands can sell goods but not services, so think clothing, tech, and homewares etc. rather than hospitality and travel. Up to five items can be tagged per single-image post or 20 for a multi-image post. Brands can also access shopper insights, including a “tap to reveal” function and “shop now” click data for every post.
For brands, including many Little Red Rooster clients, it creates a potentially lucrative new revenue stream on a popular platform. As with all social networks, we work closely with our clients to ensure outreach carries the right message and increases engagement with relevant audiences – Instagram Shopping would be no exception.
Another consideration for brands is the quality of its product pictures as items for sale on Instagram will largely sell on a ‘love at first sight’ attraction. From the first day of working with a new client we stress the importance of having brilliant images available for the media – add Instagram Shopping into the mix and great brand photography becomes increasingly important.
Instagram says Shopping offers users an intuitive “visual storefront” to explore new products from the brands they follow. For many consumers – us included – it’s an exciting and convenient new opportunity for retail therapy on a social network we know and love, especially when it comes to discovering trends, seasonal or otherwise.
So brands are happy, so are consumers (even if their bank balance isn’t), but what about so called influencers? Well for a start they’re being blocked from using shopping tags for brand posts. A spokesperson for Instagram tells us the only way round this is if they have their own line of merchandise.
The clampdown on social media celebrities doesn’t end there after the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) warned they could face tougher rules on how they advertise products in Instagram posts. The regulator says online ads on any social network must be “obviously recognisable”.
Influencers across several platforms have already broken regulations by blurring the lines between editorial and adverts. ASA chief executive Guy Parker said: “Social influencer and native advertising might be relatively new but the advertising rules haven’t changed – people shouldn’t have to play the detective to work out if they’re being advertised to.”
Some Instagram celebrities have come under ASA scrutiny for posting thinly disguised ads on the network. They include former reality TV personality Stephanie Davis who shared a photo of vitamins from lifestyle company Convits along with a promotion code.
At Little Red Rooster we have a clearly defined way of working with influencers and bloggers. We’re aware this rapidly growing area is becoming saturated and if our clients decide to go down that route we advise them carefully on how to navigate the bewildering choice of personalities, fees and what results they can realistically expect.
It’s clear Instagram Shopping could have a considerable effect on brands, consumers and influencers with winners and losers on all sides, but we think it’s an exciting move forward by the social network with bags of potential for brands to build their audience even further.
If you’d like to get in touch to discuss how to promote your brand on Instagram get in touch here.