More and more consumers are spending the majority of their daily social time on Instagram. It now ranks third behind Facebook and YouTube. Of the one billion users accessing the platform every month, 80% of them follow at least one business account and 50% of them are scrolling through their feed every day.
The new opportunities are due to:
- Their new direct checkout process
- Improved discovery and search
- The viral acceptance of Stories
Social media platforms like Instagram are becoming powerful tools for direct selling, not just advertising. Instagram should be part of your marketing and branding strategies for eCommerce. Of the nearly two-thirds of online shoppers who have ever clicked on a social media ad, 33% made a direct purchase. According to a separate study by GfK, the percentage of shoppers who said social media “is quickly becoming my most important shopping tool” surged to 45% last year from 29% in 2015, as tech-savvy millennials and Gen Zers began to embrace social commerce.
Depending on your target audience and your desire to grow your eCommerce business, this platform is providing cutting edge opportunities other platforms are now trying to mimic (Here’s a comprehensive list of Instagram user statistics).
New Direct Checkout Process
Social commerce has been talked about in the past year as a huge opportunity, although the data currently shows otherwise. This may be about to undergo a dramatic change with the introduction of Instagram’s direct checkout process, allowing a consumer to go all the way from discovery to checkout without leaving the site.
When you tap to see a brand’s products in the post you will see the standard shopping tag, but once you tap into that tag you will be able to customize the size, color, and any other variables and then check out all the through the Instagram prompts. This offers a wonderful new convenience for shoppers. You only need to enter your email, address, and credit card information once and Instagram will remember it.
Think about that in light of the fact that in the past, “the most common actions people said they took after seeing products or services in Stories were browsing the brand’s website to get more information and looking for the product or service on eCommerce websites.”
With it’s new Instagram is creating a new base camp for providing shoppers with means to have fun in the discovery process of shopping versus just using Amazon to acquire things.
Instagram in the past year has accelerated its eCommerce development to leverage its reach among its more than 1 billion users worldwide. The app in September introduced a dedicated shopping channel in its Explore tab and added it to Stories, the popular feature that strings together several images into a single post that disappears after 24 hours.
In November, Instagram added a collection tab to let users save products tagged in Stories and posts, shoppable videos and a shop tab on business pages to showcase all the products from a single brand or merchandiser. Instagram extended the tool to 55 creators and five publishers for testing last month. All of this points to that Instagram is seeking to build itself out as an eCommerce platform.
How can this benefit your brand now?
- Allowing consumers to check out right on Instagram, brands, and retailers may be able to inspire more impulse purchases because consumers won’t have to go through a laborious checkout process where they might get frustrated or just change their mind about the product
- Selling directly through content creators on Instagram can boost merchants’ ability to capitalize on social media’s influence by making conversion simpler (58% of consumers say social media influences their purchase decisions)
- In-app checkout use by influencers will allow brands to track that influencer’s effectiveness more directly
Look at the high-end DTC products that have jumped into this shopping channel including Nike, Adidas, and Outdoor Voices. There is over 23 total at this point, several who have never sold on an alternative platform.
Currently, consumers will only be able to see the checkout function on brands that they follow. How many followers do you have on Instagram? Is it time to install their new checkout app on your site?
The platform allows you to bring your brand to life in a very immersive way unlike the limitations placed on you by Amazon regarding the presentation of your product (small thumbnail images).
Instagram is pushing eCommerce because the market opportunity is, in fact, greater than marketing: In 2018, US retail e-commerce sales totaled $513.6 billion, up 14.2% year-over-year (YoY), per US Census estimates. US ad sales are about half that, totaling $207 billion in 2018, up 6.9% YoY, per Magna estimates.
Improved Search and Discovery
Digital changed things. IF a shopper knew what they wanted Amazon provided the vehicle to use the hunter mentally to acquire it. But shopping for your high-end outdoor products is a different mentality; the discovery mentality. This new platform and what you can do with your e-commerce site means that the true exploratory, immersive discovery is going to initially begin more frequently through the digital space.
Think about how your feed streams on Instagram. It’s not one query that is happening. Meaning if you type something on Amazon and press search or type something on Google and press search there is one result that is coming back: Page one, page two results. If you want to change your search you have to type in something else.
With Instagram, if you are looking at a feed and you like something and scroll down again, they are literally re-querying: I like this therefor next query maybe you combine two things together and then maybe you combine three things together and that is much more how people have conversations in real life in a store.
Instagram sees its biggest opportunity in product discovery — which can “broaden the spectrum” of what a user is looking for. More than four in five Instagram users say the app helps them to make purchasing decisions, with 83% saying it helps them discover new products or services.
Consumers are providing input, after input, after input and changing how the platform searches and the type of information returned. All of this input allowing Instagram to personalize to their interests, all the while staying in the same platform.
This is super powerful because it marries this idea of having multiple conversations that refine getting you to an outcome you really want versus this single process that is happening on Google and Amazon.
This is another critical juncture for brands that engage in DTC and sell through brick and mortar to work with retailers to improve their product experience in-store. A key reason why consumers still go to physical stores is for the discovery experience. As this new immersive digital discovery experience being offered by Instagram grows, retail will be further challenged to be relevant.
Since introducing Stories, Instagram has seen user engagement exploding. Their engaging format is providing a means for consumers to be quickly immersed with a brand. Stories are on track to become the main format for social media consumption, providing brands with a massive and vital opportunity to reach consumers. Engagement rates for Instagram Stories are already high, with Instagram revealing one in five stories gets a direct message from viewers.
Brands need to pay attention to what they need to do in creating successful Stories campaigns that consumers want to watch and don’t create overexposure.
“Did you know that videos hold our attention 5x longer than still images?”
Developing your brand’s own Stories campaign is something you and your internal staff can do with this article from HubSpot or which you can leverage your team’s resources and supplement with outside help. Brands looking to build successful Stories campaigns and make meaningful connections with customers should incorporate the following best practices.
- Update your current social media brand kit to ensure you have consistency across platforms in the areas of fonts, colors, style of product presentation, filters used, and tone of voice
- Utilize readily available templates for the creation of consistent Stories branding and rotate between the two or three you select that best fit your needs
- Utilize your brand logo
- Shoot vertical content that’s uncluttered
- Post no more than seven Stories within a 24-hour period
- Your key message should be short, sweet and to the point in an Instagram Stories
- The new trend with Instagram Stories by brands is to have them feel more authentic, real and ‘home-cut’
- Create a strong call-to-action in your Stories
- Utilize the carousel feature to lengthen engagement
- Add music