To say that Instagram is just a social networking platform would be a huge understatement. What started as an app for the simple sharing and editing of photos has turned into one of the largest social networks in the world with an incredibly far-reaching influence. Over 7 million people use Instagram to post their most “gram-worthy” photos, see what their friends are up to, and most importantly for marketers, interact with their favorite brands. For many millennials and younger users, it’s hard to remember a time when brands did not have a presence on the platform either via their own profiles or carefully-crafted influencer placements. As a result, Instagram shopping is now officially a “thing”.
Brands that effectively use Instagram in tandem with multiple marketing channels maximize their social referral traffic and, in turn, e-commerce conversions. The percentage of e-commerce conversions brands see coming from social, and Instagram specifically, is only expected to increase over the next few years. So how exactly did Instagram lay the groundwork for becoming a shopping mecca and, more importantly, what does this mean for both consumers and brands?
How Instagram Shopping Came to Be
There are a few things about the platform that primed it perfectly for mobile shopping.
1. Pleasing aesthetic and layout: When people are shopping online, and especially on mobile, they want an easy navigation experience. Instagram’s clean feed and grid views preemptively (and likely unknowingly) established a great shopping foundation.
2. Mobile-first nature: When Instagram first launched, it didn’t even have a desktop version available. It has always prioritized the mobile experience and it remains incredibly easy to use on the go.
3. Social enablement: Instagram is obviously a social networking platform, but the ability to easily interact with brands and people has helped it become a place where users can get customer service while discovering new products.
4. Facebook acquisition: When Facebook invests in something, it tends to do well. Being acquired by Facebook means that Instagram will grow and evolve, and marketers will continue to have access to shopper demographic information and sophisticated ad targeting.
Instagram Shopping and Its Impact on Consumers
Mobile-savvy shoppers use Instagram to do extensive research. And this research extends way beyond looking into pricing and quality. Instagram users can utilize brand accounts, hashtags, and influencer or friends’ posts to see exactly how a piece of clothing will fit, how a specific color of paint will look, or how a certain brand of sunscreen will affect sensitive skin.
Being able to see a product in action whenever a user chooses to look at their phone has changed the nature of online shopping. Add in the fact that shoppers can converse with brands to get help or feedback all from their phones, and it becomes very clear that Instagram has paved the way for the ultimate mobile shopping experience.
Instagram Shopping and Its Impact on Brands
Brands and e-commerce sites with millennials as their target demographic have no choice but to embrace Instagram. This means more than having a profile with nice pictures and shoppable posts. The platform should serve as a two-way communication channel between consumers and brands. It’s crucial to respond to messages quickly, guide consumers through the buying journey from beginning to end, and follow up as needed with brand messaging. This kind of conversational commerce can help keep shoppers engaged and increase mobile conversions. When you optimize the Instagram shopping experience, you optimize for more sales.
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