Each week Instagram continues to morph from a social platform into social commerce, as it takes another step closer to becoming the one stop shop for discovery, inspiration and purchase. With the introduction of Instagram's shopping tab in its Explore environment, the opportunity for social sales is now bigger than ever. The shopping tab groups together posts from brands you already follow, along with ones the algorithm thinks you'll like based on your activity on the app.
It's clear that Instagram is doubling its efforts to make the app a seamless shopping experience, shortening the path from inspiration to purchase. With over 500 million people using Instagram daily, and often opening the app multiple times a day – this is a good way to amplify their reach and juice the conversion channel.
While people may initially go on Instagram with the intention of checking up on friends or to browse their favourite influencer feeds, many will find themselves discovering products and buying them within just a couple of clicks.
So what can you do to enhance your retail business through Instagram?
1. Quality content is key. Consider the shopping tab, filled with product posts all vying for the user's attention. Yours needs to stand out, resonate with the user and showcase the product for the rest of the magic to happen.
2. Prioritise quality. There is enormous competition out there, a substandard approach or recycled generic product shots from your website just won't cut it. People have access to endless options at the touch of a button and are overwhelmed by choice. Your content must capture their attention in a split second. Make your product shots engaging by investing high quality, clear and well-lit photography.
3. Think Instagram first. Shrinking marketing budgets will often put the pressure on assets to be used across multiple platforms, but if you do have the luxury of creating content purely for Instagram, it's well worth it. The discipline of creating an image to fit into a square grid, which can compete amongst other content and stop a scroller in their tracks, can be very different to the way you would create an ecommerce optimised image.
4. Show diversity. In ecommerce, a customer being able to see the product on someone who looks like them can be extremely persuasive. Particularly in the fashion and beauty world. Before committing to purchase, audiences increasingly demand diversity. While model and flat lay shots are popular, one of the reasons influencer marketing has exploded is because audiences respond well to seeing items worn by real people. In using a diverse mix of models and ambassadors, you increase the chances of customers seeing someone who resonates with them.
5. Create enough content to be ‘always-on'. It's never a good idea to spam your followers, however consistent posting builds momentum and gives your more chances to be discovered, interact and build relationships with your customers. While it used to be the case that a brand would create a bank of assets per season and drip feed them over the coming weeks, they can now re-gram user generated or influencer content to keep their feed always looks fresh.
It's important to note that merchants should still work to develop an unmediated relationship directly with their customers, encouraging them to bookmark their sites or sign up for newsletters. This new Instagram shopping platform is a great way to promote and boost business sales however – like other social media platforms this new shopping tab for business could disappear with a change to its algorithm, and whilst popular for the moment, – retailers must always be ready to stand on their own two feet.