With the recent news of Instagram rolling out a dedicated shopping tag imbedded in the stories, how can entrepreneurs ensure they up their social media game and use every post to their advantage?
2018 has been a challenging year for the British high street. Over the past few months, retailers of all shapes and sizes have downsized their bricks-and-mortar operation – or even closed their doors entirely – in favour of e-commerce. This has led to a natural increase in competition in the online space, forcing brands to adapt or risk being left behind.
While embracing emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have been mooted as potential ways for businesses to stand out, what if the answer was actually in the palm of our hand?
Since launching in 2010, Instagram has grown into the millennial generation’s go-to platform for visual storytelling content. This year, however, the platform may have also provided an unexpected competitive advantage for online retailers through its newly announced features such as shopping through Instagram Stories and shoppable posts - intended to bridge the gap between social media and e-commerce.
But how can businesses capitalise on Instagram as a shopping hub? Here are some top tips.
Effective use of stories
Businesses have already spotted the potential an Instagram story brings for brand engagement. It’s evident by the fact that a third of the most popular stories are posted from business accounts.
Until now, brands’ Instagram feeds have focused on professional product images with stories showcasing a more conversational, behind the scenes side to the business. However, now that Instagram has added an option to buy products straight from a story, it’s more beneficial for this to be balanced with a more commercial, profit-focused approach.
Because a user has actively clicked on a story they will naturally be more engaged. Brands can leverage this by populating their feed with simple product shots to generate interest and then use stories to include more detailed information on corresponding products such as price, materials or colours, to engage and convert interested customers.
Making the most of each post
To encourage your followers to pay more attention to individual product posts and click through to associated shoppable tags, brands should take inspiration from how style catalogues are laid out. For instance, carefully curating each post to encourage seamless browsing helps in accelerating engagement and River Island, the British fashion brand does this particularly well. Brands could also broaden the product range showcased in each post to give greater context to individual products.
In the case of fashion businesses, you could include entire outfits or product ranges using shoppable tags to allow customers to shop the look immediately after seeing it. Homeware companies could use high-quality lifestyle images of certain rooms and tag various hero products like sofas or coffee tables in a living room setting.
Engagement is key
It’s also important to consider the value of each post. The reach that every post has depends heavily on the Instagram algorithm, which in turn relies upon the quality of engagement each post attracts and not the number of posts a business makes – a common misconception.
When a post is first published, it will only be visible to around 10% of the business’ audience. However, as users engage with the post by clicks, likes, comments it then becomes more visible to a greater proportion of the total audience, appearing higher up in their feeds.
Less is more
An over-abundance of posts could prove counter-productive through quickly over-stimulating casual browsers, thus increasing cognitive load and potentially making them swipe away in favour of a competitor. Instead, brands should focus on fewer, tailored posts which contain high-quality images.
Overall, Instagram as a shopping channel is not going away anytime soon. Indeed, looking at the early success of shoppable tags where around 90 million people are tapping on a shopping tag a month – it’s highly likely that Instagram will explore this avenue further.
Only time will tell how Instagram will further bridge the gap between social media and e-commerce. So it’s a good idea to invest more resources into your social media marketing team as this might be the new curve your company needs.