Most brands use Instagram for brand awareness and visual marketing. By posting beautiful, stylized shots or videos of your product, you can increase the likelihood of people leaving Instagram to search for the product in order to buy it. But chances are pretty slim. To be honest, there’s no easy way to shop from Instagram and it’s even harder (almost impossible) to track what sales were triggered by a post.
The good news is that there might be a new feature, not yet released, that could turn this social channel into a powerful, highly effective tool for product sales.
At the beginning of this month Instagram announced the testing of a new feature, in collaboration with 20 retailers. They can attach price tags and “Shop now” links to their image posts, allowing customers to buy these products instantly. If you are in the US right now and you have an iPhone in your pocket, you might be one of the selected people who has access to the feature. (I checked, but I wasn’t lucky)
Some of the profiles that are participating in this experiment are: J.Crew, Target, KateSpade, Macy’s, Coach, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Levi’s brand.
If you’re not one of the chosen ones that can see this on Instagram, you can still get an idea of how this feature work, by watching this short video:
Right now we don’t know for sure if Instagram will roll out this feature publicly. It depends on the results of the experiment, but we keep our fingers crossed, because this sounds like a great idea.
The other visual social platform, Pinterest, has proven to be a fantastic tool for driving sales. Apart from Facebook, it’s the most effective social channel in sending people to online vendors. This is one of the reasons why I’m expecting taggable products to have the same effect.
I can already imagine some ways publishers could be using this to monetize their Instagram accounts. Here are some ideas:
1. Sell your book or magazine
Huge publishers like Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins post beautiful compositions with their books, to highlight the beautiful cover. Others share the cover image on a simple background. It’s not that important what style you go for. With the new feature you could add a buy tag to this kind of posts and start selling ebooks or printed books straight from Instagram.
Magazines could use the same strategy to sell subscriptions for digital and print.
2. Product placement
Fashion magazines usually suggest readers cosmetics and fashion items. Tech magazines present gadgets. Architecture and home decoration magazines include furniture, light fixture ideas and other similar items from brands. Even though it doesn’t look like an ad, these product placements are the result of a collaboration between brands and publishers.
Oftentimes these products make it to their feeds on Instagram, and retailers are paying magazines for product placement on this channel. With shoppable products, magazines could deliver sales reports and charge more for posts like these.
3. Better ads
In a similar manner, magazine and book publishers could push more ads from print to Instagram, without starting an advertising campaign. Taggable, buyable posts could deliver better results due to the fact that they are truly native, looking 100% like regular posts.
The challenge for the publisher is to understand the platform, and make sure these ads look 100% like the kind of content they usually post. As a regular user I don’t like seeing ads that don’t blend well with my feed. In fact I hate them. If these posts look like ads, it will certainly hurt click through rates and conversions.
What other opportunities do you see with shoppable products?
Let us know in comments!