Instagram’s rolled out a new feature that’s going to change how we use Instagram, but it’s not available to most users. Shoppable posts will allow brands to tag specific products in unpaid posts that will lead users out of the Instagram to a brand’s website where the tagged product can be purchased.
Originally made available in beta for big brands like Warby Parker, Kate Spade, and J.Crew, but are now available for all Instagram business accounts. Though the feature isn’t available to all users, it’s a momentous change that may have influencers and brands adjusting to new best practices for advertising on Instagram.
The Instagram influencer market is worth over $1 billion, and this new feature has the power to shake up how part of a billion dollar market functions.
The product tagging feature allows businesses and brands to get deeply specific with regards to the type of content they’re displaying and promoting. No longer do brands have to tailor post promotions to a single central link listed in the bios on their profiles. Instead, they can tag up to five separate items in a single photo — a specific hat, a book, a pair of glasses. Users can follow a tagged product link to find more information on the product or purchase it.
This is significant because it’s a huge step forward in advertising cooperation between brands and Instagram outside of Instagram’s native advertising (that is, sponsored posts purchased through Instagram’s ad platform). Shoppable posts allow brands and businesses to get creative and create sophisticated promotional content within unpaid posts.
From a post creation standpoint, using the feature is dead simple. It’s a matter of tagging a product or a portion of the photo and linking out. What brands do with the post after it’s created is another matter, though.
If a brand already has a loyal and engaged following on Instagram, shoppable posts may have an immediate impact. But that’s not always the case, and brands are often looking to reach audiences outside of those already on-side enough to follow them on Instagram. That’s where influencers come in.
Influencers running personal Instagram accounts (as opposed to business accounts) won’t be able to use the product tagging feature on their profiles. That doesn’t mean they can’t be a part of the effort behind posts tagged with specific products, though. In fact, influencer partnerships have the power to take on a whole new level of impact with shoppable posts.
By featuring influencer content or photos on its own profile, a brand will be able to capitalize on the draw of the influencer as a tastemaker while also attracting an audience to its Instagram presence and to specific products featured in a single post. With shoppable posts, the interaction between influencer and brand presence within Instagram may well take on a whole new meaning.
Furthermore, shoppable posts create an opportunity for Instagram to become something of a hub for ultra-specific product promotion on other platforms. In the context of influencer partnerships, for example, an influencer would be able to post a link to a specific post from a brand with tagged products on their other social channels. For example, a tweet directing followers to a brand’s post featuring the influencer that has product tags becomes beneficial not just for a specific campaign, but for a brand’s Instagram following, and for Instagram as a platform.
With this feature, influencer marketing doesn’t only consist of asking an influencer to post a photo, write a caption and put a link in a bio. It becomes a sophisticated ecosystem where influencers and brands exchange content and develop campaigns that are designed to reach audiences in the most elegant, most convenient, and most authentic way possible.
The key takeaways from Instagram’s newest feature don’t revolve around the specifics of a shoppable post, but rather what shoppable posts mean for brands and influencers.
The Instagram influencer market is huge and it’s growing quickly. If brands and users adopt shoppable posts in a big way, it’s going to change the way that influencer partnerships function on Instagram. But make no mistake — influencers are still going to be a vital part of advertising on Instagram. In fact, there are ways in which influencer marketing may become even more important.
Shoppable posts don’t change the need for authenticity in advertising (in fact, as Instagram moves further into e-commerce, paid sponsorship disclosure becomes increasingly crucial). People respond better to people than they do to brands, regardless of the number of tags and links that brands can include in a single post. Influencer voices are key to engagement, and a post without engagement is all but worthless.
This feature offers a new method for forging strong and organic connections between brand, influencers, and audiences. It’s impossible to predict all the ways in which shoppable posts might be used, but it’s immediately clear that they have the potential to fundamentally alter the fabric of the advertising landscape on Instagram and beyond.