How to Maximize Instagram's New Shopping Functionality

Hélène Heath
November 18, 2016
Last Updated On
phone with Topshop sale campaign

Behold! Instagram shopping is now actively being tested on some users by a select group of brands. Below, we're examining how you should navigate this potentially game-changing functionality once your marketing team gains access.

Ever thought you'd live to see the day? Of course you did. As a smart marketer, you never lost hope that the time would come where one of your most image-centric customer touch points would also become a retail opportunity. It's the chance of a lifetime: being able to reach people through visual storytelling as well as taking them all the way down the sales pipeline. The monetization holy grail.

A lot of brands are going to be embracing this new twist. While it's going to make Instagram one of the most straightforward, efficient ways to promote a company, the fact that it's opening itself up to be on the receiving end of impulse purchases doesn't take away from it being one of the most important brand vehicles for every business that targets millennials. If anything, it's also a critical discovery tool used by account holders to find things they like and ultimately, wish to buy. Aka the premise for influencer marketing.

The Facebook-owned company is making strides towards being the most business-friendly social platform by having released an onslaught of functionalities that serve them well. But unlike its parental unit, Instagram is also seemingly trying to remain in regular users' good graces by keeping things [mostly] organic. They've so far managed to have struck that ever so difficult balance of pleasing all parties. A far cry from, cough, others.

Once the shopping function becomes available to the masses, your followers will have the chance to buy stuff directly from your posts, which is deemed to be only a minor interruption when considering all the hoops they have to jump through now if they see something they like in one of your photos. But they'll also have the choice to keep scrolling if they're not interested in the products you've chosen to feature, leaving the user experience intact. (We all know how much people like change 🙄)

It's going to be more important than ever to follow your true north, to keep honing your strategy and to carry on doing what you do best, pivoting where you need to. How does one make sure to do that?

Get Stellar Results

This new opportunity for brands can mean huge returns if executed well. While it's going to be tempting to get all transaction trigger-happy, moderation paired with a sensible strategy is going to be the key to successfully navigating the new era of conducting business on the 'Gram. The Dash Hudson platform is going to be more useful than ever for smart marketers who are dedicated to informed and measured staging.

These four essential tips will help you maximize Instagram's new shopping function once it's live to everyone.

1. Keep Perfecting your Narrative

Now is not the time to stop telling your brand story and turn your account into a mini store. That is the last thing your followers want. Be thoughtful with what you're selling - placating your feed full of commercial posts is not going to appeal to most audiences who are drawn to the organic type of content made popular on the app.

Millennials don't appreciate being overtly marketed to. They see right through inauthenticity, are not brand-loyal like previous generations, and need to appreciate something's value before committing to it. Think of the new shopping function as a way to nudge your consumers into a purchase, not an in-your-face transactional space. Instagram is used by people for discovery and inspiration - taking that away from your followers could be detrimental.

2. Assess Your Content

Does it feel like all of your Instagram initiatives have led up to this very moment? Don't choke now! Understanding and measuring your content performance is more crucial than ever. Having a firm grasp on what your audience most resonates with can be the ultimate driver to a well-integrated Instagram shopping strategy.

The best way to gain insight into your content's potential is with Dash Hudson's Boards tool, which allows you to group your content pillars together to asses in what capacity each one is delivering results. Once you're accomplice to that information, the Insta galaxy is your oyster: make that best-performing content the shoppable one and let your other pillars act as useful contributors to your brand narrative.

3. Don't Ignore the Data

Something you should never ever do is overlook data. We've learned that it's not a sledgehammer, but more of a whisper, and witnessed how imperative it can be to devising a powerful Instagram strategy. Looking at the hard numbers can prove to be the ultimate performance propeller, which translates to ultimate monetization in the age of shoppable Insta.

4. Prioritize Your Audience

Instagram is a space where accounts live and die by their followers' whims. Some people go as far as establishing their worth according to likes and comments. It shouldn't be any different for brands, especially when the fact that whether or not a company stays in business depends entirely on customers.

Being on Instagram means being part of a community first, which is something brands often forget when establishing a content strategy. Engage and encourage engagement, and don't be afraid to interact with your community. Having a human touch will give you the edge, create emotional connections and forge a more positive, likely path to purchase.

This announcement was nothing short of epic on Instagram's part, one that a lot of companies had been waiting for for quite some time. While it has the potential to damper the app's mostly organic nature, it's going to be up to the brands that use the functionality to keep on a path that favors both their followers and their bottom line.

Maximizing your brand's Instagram activity is going to be paramount when this update drops. Having the tools to understand and assess the performance of your owned, earned and paid content is going to be more significant to success than ever.

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