“While browsing and discovery is easy on mobile, finding more information about the specific products you see isn’t always as simple. On a platform known for its power of mobile discovery, today we’re excited to announce an easier experience to shop the products you love on Instagram.” – Instagram for Business blog update



Social media continues to consume the lion’s share of the Web’s offerings. Over the past year or so, digital destinations like Facebook have evolved from places to stay connected with friends to bona fide shopping destinations.

Adding to social’s driving force to become a full-fledged lifestyle platform is the fact that shoppers are consistently leveraging applications to a much greater degree, making their mobile offerings prime real estate for product purchases.

Following suit with Facebook’s foray into eCommerce, Instagram announced via its business blog that it too would be ramping up its sales efforts. This comes hot on the heels of several other updates to the platform.

This news is no surprise to most considering that the company recently stated that one out of every three of its 500 million users made a purchase based on items discovered through its posts.

The new feature, which is not to be confused with the platform’s year-old ‘shop now’ ad-integrated button, seeks to allow users to gain additional product information before committing to a purchase.

The social network is partnering with 20 U.S.-based businesses like Kate Spade, Target, Macy’s, and Levi’s to conduct the so-called ‘experiment’ in which product information and shopping features will become integrated into brand posts. The company describes the functionality of the feature as follows:

“Each post will have a tap to view icon at the bottom left of a photo. When tapped, a tag will appear on various products in the post—showcasing up to five products and their prices. Once a tag is selected a new detailed view of the product will open. This functionality will bring important product information to the consumer earlier in the journey, all without having to leave the Instagram app to search. Then, if the consumer taps the Shop Now link from the product details view, they’ll go directly to that product on the business’ website, making it easier for them to buy the product they want.”

Additionally, Instagram has made it a point to mention that it will not be receiving any proceeds from sales.

The new offering effectively benefits consumers who are interested in products they find on the platform as well as assists companies in removing roadblocks in the sales process because consumers will be able to buy items directly from the in-app browser.

All of this leads us to the big question: How can small businesses leverage the sales component to further their goals?

Posting Prosperity

Instagram effectively denies its users the ability to add outside links to any updates, and this has long posed problems for brands that seek to leverage the site as a way to generate sales.

The new feature now allows for business owners to integrate product details into posts and, more importantly, seamlessly enable shoppers to make purchases directly from their Instagram feeds.

The new element, combined with the network’s recent integration of Facebook’s ad technology, serves to make a profound impact. Business that have yet to advertise through Instagram just gained a considerable reason to begin doing so.

In the coming months, it is advisable that brands begin to increase their presence on Instagram alongside their ad budget for the platform in order to build increased awareness. Doing this will better serve small businesses once the shop-able updates go live on a global scale; not to mention that they are likely to gain purchases through the ads themselves.

With the ability to provide consumers a more immersive brand experience through ‘shop now’ adverts and purchase-focused product posts, Instagram is beginning to position itself as a more eCommerce-friendly social platform than most in existence. Moreover, these new features help to create more informed consumers, which for brands means more qualified leads.

Don’t blow your entire ad budget on Instagram just yet, however. These features are still in a testing period which is currently dedicated to iPhones only. Granted that all goes well, the company does have plans to expand to Android devices.

While Instagram is presently calling the new add-ons an “experiment,” it is almost guaranteed that the Facebook-owned enterprise will turn this into a permanent fixture of the platform. This was even hinted at in the network’s blog post when it was stated that, “As we roll out further, we’ll explore product recommendations, ways products are showcased to shoppers, global expansion and the ability to save content so Instagrammers can take an action later.”

Instagram has already made tremendous contributions and a significant impact on the world of social media since it first launched in 2010. Since Facebook acquired the company back in 2012, those strides continue to grow.

As a Facebook property, Instagram will see to it that these shop-able posts are a success because this poses an opportunity for both networks to pull more businesses onto their platforms and generate additional revenue through advertising.

This is fantastic news for small business as well. As Instagram creates new opportunities for company leaders to generate qualified leads and sales, there is the possibility of significantly increased revenue, brand awareness and loyalty; granted that organizations can create a truly meaningful experience for consumers, that is.

Take this opportunity before global rollout to audit and ramp up your Instagram presence, retool your budget to account for additional ad expenditures on the platform, and prepare for a flurry of product posts that will hit the social media website in the near future.