On March 19, Instagram launched its new checkout feature, which does what it says on the tin; when a customer finds a product they like, they can buy it there and then without leaving the app.
When they view a product from a brand’s shopping post, they will see a “Checkout on Instagram” button on the product page. Once selected they can choose from various options such as size or style and are able to proceed to payment without leaving the social platform.
Customers will only need to enter their name, email, billing information and shipping address the first time they check out. Once they have made their first order their information will be securely saved for the next time they shop, which is great for those who do a lot of online shopping and want a quick and efficient service. The platform is also set up so that customers can receive notifications about shipment and delivery within the platform meaning they can keep track of purchases all in one place. Instagram is currently Beta testing the Checkout feature in the US with 23 brands including as Adidas, Dior, Kylie Cosmetics, MAC and Zara. As yet there is no word as to when the feature will be rolled out to the rest of the world.
This is certainly a really interesting development for the social platform and one that we welcome here at Talent Village. Many have said that Instagram is a bit late to this party given other social media sites are already playing in this space (and doing it well), including Google who recently tested shoppable ads within Google Images. However, given this functionality could well be a game changer for the consumer shopping experience, in my opinion it’s something well worth waiting for. We all know that consumers want quick and easy shopping experiences, so anything retailers can do to simplify the checkout process is going to improve conversion and result in better sales. Likewise, given that shoppers will not need to migrate to a separate webpage, they will benefit from a more seamless experience which should keep them coming back for more.
However, one thing that hasn’t been so widely discussed by brands and marketeers alike, is what impact this ability to purchase within the platform will have on the quality of the content on our social feeds whether it will become less authentic. Yes, sure we all want ease when it comes to purchasing items, but we also like our social platforms because they are an escape from reality, a way to switch off and a way to absorb all types of content in many different ways. If Instagram simply becomes a brochure or menu from which to buy items, we may well find that people switch off from the feeds.
As such, it will be up to those working with creative Talent to continue to hold themselves to the same high standard set out by the platform and ensure that the influence landscape continues to remain authentic to all those that use it. We all know that the less authentic a channel becomes, the more likely it will lose followers. This means it will be more important than ever for brands to post a good mixture of compelling content alongside any sales focused posts.
With this in mind, we wanted to offer three tips to help brands get the most from their Influencer Marketing campaigns to really engage their audience and ensure their activity (and by association the brand) is seen as authentic and credible, rather than just another sales channel:
Connect with real talent
Fashion models, athletes, visual artists and other high-profile talent have real credibility and authentic value in their space. They can connect with a brand’s audience in a way like no other can. Pick the right influencer for your brand that resonates with your customers. Likewise, be sure to push out a mixture of posts that offer both compelling content and brand authority messages, alongside any more sales focused posts.
Authenticity is key
Brands must be sure they don’t start trying to turn the Talent’s feed into one long brand advertisement. Brands will need to use talented influencers to demonstrate authenticity in posts whilst ensuring their natural creative voice shines through. The key here is working with talent, over and above working with influence. It’s a subtle point, but one that will make a big difference to brand advocacy.
Use your data intelligently
Get the most out of your results by really scrutinising your data. By understanding your engagement metrics, you will be better able to adapt future campaigns and most importantly learn from previous posts; if something hasn’t worked, interrogate the data to find out why and learn from it.
Only time will tell as to whether the new Instagram checkout feature will be a hit, but with it being the fastest growing social channel in the world, now with 1 billion users per month, the benefits of the improved functionality will most likely outweigh any of the negatives.
Whatever the case, one thing is for certain; we, as brand strategists, need to make sure we are up to speed with all these changes and that our marketing strategies evolve and adapt accordingly. We need to ensure social feeds continue to be engaging, offer new and compelling content and most importantly feel authentic. If we miss a beat on this, we risk losing not only customers and sales, but also brand fans.
- Talent Village is an influencer marketing platform, offering influence solutions for brands to build meaningful campaigns with highly engaged influential talent on Instagram.