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Brand, Campaigns & Content October 15, 2018

Is Instagram rooting for a full experience with the new Shopping function?

dept agency - instagram buying

Not too long ago, Instagram users were using the app to merely edit, post and view different photos and videos of their friends, loved ones or favourite celebrity. However, in the last few years, the app has quickly grown towards a full-service app. Users can hardly keep up with the new functions: after Stories, GIFs and IGTV, along with their recently new shopping feature that rolled-out in April 2018. Instagram came up with this feature to facilitate user shopping via Instagram whilst providing them with a seamless experience. However, is Shopping via Instagram as of today, as successful as the other functions the app carries? Let’s find out.

Instagram’s Shopping function

Previously, both businesses and brands added a so-called ‘link in bio’, a website link in their Instagram biography, with the CTA in the copy under their posts. After every new post, the bio needed to be changed. Understandably, this was not a very efficient method for businesses and brands, as everything on Instagram moves at such a raging tempo. In comes product tagging which gives users a simple and fast solution to the problem. With the new function, tagging products is as simple as tagging people. Businesses and brands simply choose a photo, which they can tag up to five products per image or up to twenty per carousel, and they are good to go. By tapping on the shopping post tag, users are given quick access to pricing and product details. A second tap will redirect users to a different Instagram page where they can see additional information, extra pictures. Once the user has learned more about the product and is satisfied, they can tap “Shop Now” and are redirected to the business or brand’s mobile shop where the purchase is made.


Along with the introduction of Shopping on Instagram, the platform added a new tab to the retailer’s account that makes use of the product tagging function, called ‘Shopping’. When users tap on this tab, all posts are sorted where products are tagged, so you don’t have to scroll through the feed. Like Instagram says: ‘Give your customers a new way to shop. Shopping on Instagram turns your business into a visual storefront for our community of one billion to explore your best products with a single tap.’

Instagram – one app that has it all?

Although it may seem far-fetched, by comparing the Instagram of 2018 with ‘the one app that has it all’ WeChat from China, you’ll find that it’s a quick match. Is Instagram aiming to become a full-service app through continually adding new functionalities providing users with the full experience? They may be close. The app WeChat, with over 650 million users in China is advanced, and the most used app since its launch in 2011. And for that reason, because WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube and Google are off the limits in China. They simply can’t use any app that we know here, just WeChat.

WeChat is originally a chat app, similar to WhatsApp. But next to chatting, you can do almost anything you want in the app: play games, order a taxi, make video calls, order food, send your location, read the news and even schedule a meeting with your doctor.
Back to Instagram. Is Instagram aiming to deliver an app similar to WeChat? As of now, we can view photos and videos, like them, comment on them, send DM’s, make a group video chat, IGTV and since recently, also shop via Instagram. Technically Instagram disables apps like Facetime, Facebook, Facebook Messenger and YouTube by offering all the functions to their users. What’s next, a collaboration with Uber or Tikkie?

we chat

The facts

After only six months, there are already 25 million business accounts using the Instagram Shopping function, and 90 million users clicking on tagged products in posts worldwide. Therefore, we can safely say that the new feature fulfills the needs of today’s users given Instagram’s smart anticipation to market demand.

Recent research shows that users keep up to date with their favorite brands by monitoring their Stories, giving them more in-depth knowledge about certain products and subjects they may like. Moreover, early adopters like to check Instagram for the latest trends. With over 400 million Stories users every day, users are now closer to the products they want to buy. Since June, Instagram has been testing the Shopping function in its Stories feature by using product stickers, and since September this option is available in 46 countries. They also added an extra tab in the ‘Explore’ tab that shows personalized products for users.

IG iphone

Possibilities for brands

In fact, the new feature is an addition to every company seeking to sell something through Instagram. All that you need is a coupled business Facebook and Instagram account. Once the two accounts are linked together, the next step is making a product catalog on Facebook by adding products. Via Business Settings you will find the ‘Shopping’ function. Select the catalog, add up to a maximum of five products, and you’re ready to start product tagging on Instagram. Good to know: if you have tagged at least nine posts, you will be ‘reviewed’ by Facebook. Once Facebook approves, and an extra Shopping tab will be added to your account so that users can shop more easily for your products, instead of scrolling through your whole feed. Much easier! As with all posts and stories in a business account, you can easily check statistics and see how many times posts have been seen, how often the payment link has been clicked on, and which photos are popular.

For every new feature, a new content strategy is needed. Instagram users often want to be inspired and like pretty visuals. If you really want to encourage someone to buy, you’re better off using a different strategy for Shopping on Instagram which is more in line with your webshop content. On your website, you want to show the best pictures of the products you sell and make sure everyone knows what the product specifications are. Therefore, regarding the photo which you’re posting on Instagram, you should use the Instagram strategy: visually appealing, likeable content. For the photos that the users see when they tap through, use the webshop content strategy: clear product photos along with additional information.

In short, try out different methods to see which one works best for you and your followers. The easier, the better! Eventually, Shopping on Instagram will have a positive influence on your number of website visitors.

Stay inspiring

With the introduction of product tagging, Instagram has taken a smart step towards stimulating shopping on its platform. Beforehand, the process was much more of a hassle when searching for a product on a webshop after you saw it in a post. Moreover, you had to leave the app. After expanding its features, Instagram now keeps the users in the app and is serving its users without losing them. When you have seen the product in the app, and eventually decide not to buy, you’re back in Instagram with just two simple taps and are back to scrolling through your feed. For companies that actively use Instagram, product tagging is an absolute game changer. And if you combine product tagging with a fine dose of inspiration and creative content while challenging the users to tap-through, Instagram Shopping delivers you a whole new target audience!

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