While social advertising has hit its stride - you can’t scroll past three posts these days without bumping into a sponsored ad - social commerce is still very much in its infancy. Pinterest were ahead of the game back in 2015 with buyable pins, but so far other social platforms have struggled to mirror their success. With an average spend on Pinterest of US $50, you can see why other platforms would try.
Twitter’s buy buttons (which are instantly purchasable) remove heavy clicking off-site or out-of-app when making a purchase. Facebook allows you to embed your store on the site, making social commerce super simple. Yet, with consumers uncertain about buying directly at the point of promotion, and slow uptake amongst millennials, there are challenges in making social commerce work. Can Instagram's new tool make it worthwhile?
Where Facebook and Twitter are primarily used for information gathering and user engagement, platforms like Pinterest and Instagram are the go-to tools for inspiration and lifestyle curation. The former’s success offers real hope for Instagram shoppable posts becoming a strong tool in a brand’s sales and marketing arsenal. That, and it being a mobile-first platform in a mobile-first world, it makes sense to trial it at the very least.
Brand trust is also a consideration here. Consumers are more likely to take on board the recommendations of their online peers, friends and family than they are brand promotions. Placing point-of-purchase close to where recommendations are being made makes sense. Targeted advertising, focusing on your follower’s networks or people with similar interests, can provide stratospheric reach for brands too. Instagram has 800 million active users, after all.
As social commerce helps to raise brand and product awareness, how do you ensure it performs at its very best? With Instagram and the other platforms removing as much friction as possible for both businesses and consumers in making a purchase, user-experience is less of a worry. AnInstagram business account, linking to your Facebook store or eCommerce store through Instagram’s business manager, allows you to tag and pull in pertinent product information easily.
Product names, details and pricing can all be pinpointed directly to the product on each image. A handy shopping bag marker is then displayed on shoppable posts. Would-be customers can then view, learn more and if interested, click through to the advertiser’s website to directly buy. Simple. In these early days, trialling exclusive offers, new product launches and top sellers, all targeted at influencers and segmented audiences, provides the potential for creating and capitalising on buzz.
With beta-testing taking place late 2017 and roll out still taking place across the US alone in early 2018, it's too early to say. Yet, with Instagram's position as a lifestyle influencing platform, its link with Facebook (though not currently connected through social commerce) and its potential for highly targeted reach, is it wise to ignore it?
As with all new digital marketing tools, testing what works for your audiences is key here, and with the potential to convert social media into an ROI wielding-platform, it is certainly one to watch.
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