October 2, 2018

Soon, Instagram will not just be about sharing photos and videos with friends and family. The company recently announced it is diving into the ecommerce space with IG Shopping, an app that will let users purchase directly from the retailers they follow within Instagram.

The new app will allow companies to tag posts that feature specific products, which will then allow consumers to shop directly from the photos. For example, a garden center may host a special event for gardeners and then, in order to sell certain perennials or gardening equipment, may create short descriptive tags next to the items in the picture. That way, if the buyer likes the way a certain plant looks, they can click to see a description, its price, and a link that takes them directly to the garden center’s website for purchase.

Ecommerce is, of course, revolutionizing how we shop and even what we shop for. Amazon currently owns about 50% of the market, that in total is worth about $252 billion. Giving retailers deeper access to social media apps expands on that because it creates a more dynamic conversation with potential consumers. Instead of directing messages in one direction, this kind of ecommerce marketing opportunity is a two-way conversation, and one without much — if any — words. Buyers are motivated primarily through images. The more persuasive the images, the greater the likelihood the will click through to purchase.

For marketers, this is an entirely new way to brand products. To achieve success they need to create a strategy that involves tagging multiple products within single posts or creating Instagram “stories” that spread awareness to consumers that certain products are for sale within the platform. The nature of the platform also requires marketers to create campaigns that are less about mass impact and more about rapid iteration.

Overall, shopping via social networks is an example of how authentic, tailored content adds value to the experience. But apps like IG Shopping go much deeper. By personizing content in quick visual snippers, brand have an opportunity to get closer to their most loyal buyers, or buyers who happen to show an interest in a certain product and/or the lifestyle it represents. This kind of micro-segmentation embraces the idea that creating individual experiences for specific audiences can more valuable than the one-size-fits-all approach.

Marketers who create visuals that are agile and eye-catching to a highly-targeted audience may see a greater return on their efforts. Getting there requires a two-pronged approach: First identifying that audience and then having the creativity to reach them in instant but visually impressive bursts that fit the medium.

But even when these new marketing campaigns hook users, they may only be comfortable with sharing intimate spaces with brands if they see the value: Content that teaches them something, is particularly entertaining, or offers discounts and deals. Instagram may have found a way to get products in front of buyers faster, but they still need to convince users why purchasing through social networks, and therefore giving up some of their personal information, will work for them long after hitting that “like.”

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