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Instagram, the New Frontier of Social Commerce

Social commerce has been getting a lot of traction lately. We talked about the overall phenomena and some of the important channels including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Chirpify in a previous blog post. Today, we will look at how Instagram is catching up with the big players in the field. Social media platforms are driving traffic to e-commerce websites resulting in sales. It’s a sign of the way that commerce is changing.

User-generated content drives engagement, awareness, and loyalty. Facebook and Twitter have been ruling as the primary platforms for brands to connect with their consumers. Instagram is catching up very fast and this highly visual channel is definitely one to watch. Pinterest has already established its importance with brands like Nordstrom and Target displaying top pinned products on their websites and sometimes even in-store. Needless to say, it drives a lot of referral traffic to websites.

Due to its constant and continuous nature, social media commerce trumps television or billboard advertising. In the latter cases, the life of the advertisement does not prolong beyond the 15-30 seconds of eyeball attention that it gets. Instagram on the other hand, is a visual channel that captures a viewer’s attention for a longer period, and it’s one that the viewer accesses on their own time. This means that it is more consumer-centric and the user has the intention of consuming content.

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Source: www.eMarketer.com

According to a report by eMarketer, Instagram usage surged by 35% in 2013. What is even more noteworthy here is that Instagram users are more likely to access the platform through smartphones than Facebook and Twitter users. Mobile is an indispensable part of any company’s marketing strategy now. In the changing world of commerce, businesses have to make sure that they keep up with the infinite channels that they can use to connect with consumers.

Due to the graphical nature of Instagram, it can be used to capture, retain, and involve viewers in delightful ways, especially for categories like apparel, fashion, and cosmetics. Many high end brands like Michael Kors, Burberry, Lancome, Yves Saint-Laurent, and even retailers like Saks, have a very active presence on Instagram.

Instagram has several advantages for brands:

  • It easily incorporates content from other channels like Facebook and Vine.
  • Its format is conducive for driving traffic to e-commerce sites.
  • It has good branded hashtag capability, allowing brands to build campaigns using it. They can then filter the activity around the hashtag and further promote the images that get more engagement.
  • Their developer API allows brands to access content easily and build it into their own apps and services.

Zappos recently ran a campaign where they asked people to post a selfie on Instagram with the hashtag #nextOOTD (Outfit of the Day). The people that did this would get personalized recommendations from a Zappos stylist based on that image and their overall Instagram history. This is part of what we would call a “product-aware” experience, i.e. the process of shopping is personalized and catered to an individual’s taste and preferences. Such an approach eliminates the possibility of targeting consumers with irrelevant offers.

Channels like Instagram and other social media platforms are enabling this new product-aware level of commerce. With infinite channels, come infinite possibilities.

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