Facebook’s takeover of Instagram becomes more apparent by the day. We’ve seen ads, selective algorithm driven feeds, business pages and other features. Some good, some bad. Now, we get online shopping, too. We already have ads popping up in our feeds as we browse. Now we’ll start seeing them inside the posts themselves.
Facebook’s own “marketplace” seems to have completely taken control over the iOS app. I’m constantly being told about tat that people have for sale in various groups with no way to shut it off. Hopefully, Instagram’s new shopping implementation will be a little less annoying.
Instagram say that they offered the new feature to 20 US-based retail brands for testing, including Kate Spade, JackThreads and Warby Parker. These brands will share posts that have “more depth”. They say that it will make things easier for Instagrammers to review, learn about and consider purchasing items that show up on their feeds.
On the face of things, it actually doesn’t look too bad. Each post has a “tap to view” icon in the lower left corner which puts tags on various products shown in the images. Tapping one of those tags brings up the product page itself. From there, you can check out accessories.
All of this happens within the app itself. If you decide that you want to buy, then you’re sent out of the app and to the brand’s website. At the moment, this ability is limited to just those 20 companies that are testing, but it does hold interesting possibilities for the future.
If we want to sell our own products on Instagram, will we have to turn our personal profiles into business pages? Will we have to tie our website’s store up to Instagram’s API? Will individuals even be able to sell through their feeds? Or will this be limited to huge known brands?
The idea of being able to sell our own products directly to an audience we already have is a potentially wonderful opportunity for many small businesses. Landscape photographers, for example, may be able to more easily sell prints of their work to fans without having to play email ping pong.
Of course, it also has the potential to turn Instagram into one giant eBay-like fleamarket. An app filled to the gills with all kinds of useless tat constantly shoved in our faces demanding that we Buy it Now!
Instagram haven’t said when this feature will start to become available for everybody. I wouldn’t expect to be selling your wares via Instagram any time soon, though.
What do you think? Will this be a good thing that empowers small businesses? Will it let us sell to a wider market? Or will we just become bombarded with ads? Is this potentially the beginning of the end for Instagram as a useful platform? Tell us what you think in the comments.