It seems these days that all the images we view online come to us filtered, cropped and rotated within an inch of their lives. Pictures at the moment seem to have had every one of their pixels ironed out and perfected to the extent that their original forms are scarcely recognisable. Responsible for all the image distortion is one site and one site alone: Instagram. Instagram is the social media buzzword of the moment and not only is this platform becoming the default site that most images go through before they appear on secondary social networks, but the sheer volume of its users is also ever-increasing.
The obvious potential for businesses through this platform lies in engagement. A brand can achieve wonders by having a strong presence on an image-driven site like Instagram.
Whereas previously Instagram kept marketers at arms-length, things are starting to change.
According to Forbes, social media users are 58 times more likely to interact with brands on Instagram than they do on Facebook, and 120 times more likely than on Twitter.
So how can marketers take advantage of this massively-engaged Instagram audience which is hungry to interact with eCommerce brands and retailers?
Instagram doesn’t allow links on images in the way that Pinterest does, but there is still potential to effectively drive traffic towards your eCommerce site. Social media teams can place relevant URLs in the comments underneath posts, for example when someone makes a specific enquiry about the products in the images. These links are not clickable though, unfortunately, but there is the ability to put clickable links in the description section of your profile page.
There are third party companies out there that are helping brands to provide purchase functions through their Instagram pages, through a ‘like’ function. Retailers can include a Like2Buy link in their bio sections, which will take users through to a page featuring all of the brands Instagram posts, with items available to buy. Once on this new page, consumers have the option to click through to the products landing page in the brand’s eCommerce store, when they click on the related image.
There’s also a very cool ‘wishlist’ function available through Instagram that collects together everything you’ve ‘liked’ from one particular brand’s page.
Similar to Like2Buy is the ‘LiketoKnow.it’ tag, where users will be sent an automatic email featuring links to buy the items relating to the images that they have liked. Although a clever marketing service that requires little in the way of input from eCommerce retailers, LiketoKnow.it is only available to users who have signed up to the service.
If third-party workarounds don’t exactly scream best practice to you, you could instead go down the ‘sponsored photo’ route, introduced by Instagram in September. This, however, has not proved very popular, with sponsored ads scarcely ever appearing on the site.
Despite these options for generating revenue through Instagram, let’s not forget that its primary strength as a platform lies in its ability to engage users and increase brand interactions. This is hugely useful for eCommerce sites and should be a key objective for any retailers signing up.
Through Instagram, companies are driving brand equity, building relationships and improving loyalty – metrics that are absolutely crucial to your business.