Instagram, now 400 million users strong, is being hailed as the next big engagement platform. Not only is organic reach still very much alive on the Facebook-owned visual network, studies indicate engagement on Instagram are is up to seven-times higher than on Twitter and Facebook. And as a mobile-first platform, Instagram is in a prime position to power the future of mobile and social commerce.
Social networks have gotten serious about social shopping, with nearly every major network implementing buy buttons. Instagram was one of the more recent networks to provide a call-to-action tools in the form of “shop now” and “install now” buttons.
According to Stephanie Trunzo, chief digital officer at the digital marketing agency PointSource, all signs point to the rise of socially enabled mobile commerce. She pointed to the intimacy and immediacy of Instagram as a mobile-first platform as the biggest factor in the platform’s current and future success.
Trunzo told SocialTimes:
These aggregator apps like Instagram leverage the intimacy and immediacy of the [mobile] channel, and I think that’s what makes Instagram feel like such an authentic experience.
This authenticity and intimacy is also what drives the high engagement on Instagram, Trunzo said, particularly as it relates to user-generated content. Indeed, on social media and among the millennial generation in particular, recommendations from friends and other social influencers has more credibility than, say, branded content.
Trunzo noted that this isn’t necessarily a new phenomenon:
Personal recommendations and references, that’s nothing new, it just took a different form [on social]. We’ve seen this trend trend coming over the past decade and we just have more platforms where people are able to contribute, where before they couldn’t.
With the implementation of call-to-action tools, Instagram isn’t just a marketing platform anymore; it’s also an e-commerce channel. Not only does this reduce the number of clicks it takes for a user to get to the point of purchase, it makes tracking sales on mobile much easier for brands. In fact, tracking engagement to conversion on mobile is notoriously difficult.
You may do some pre-browsing or shopping on your mobile device and actually make a purchase in store. These ‘buy now’ channels actually give the ability, rather than just being a point in the journey, they actually become the point of conversion.
The challenge for brands, Trunzo said, is that the addition of more commerce channels complicates the process of developing customer profiles. She added that it’s on the brands to figure out how to map all of the different pieces of the customer profile together and reward buyers appropriately.
And for the many retailers who haven’t waded into the mobile or social commerce space, because of infrastructure related challenges, call-to-action tools make mobile-first platforms like Instagram are a good place to start.
The really encouraging thing is that aggregator channels like Instagram and Pinterest might be a good first step to start capturing some of the mobile revenue, while they work on their backend systems to make themselves a more mobile-ready company overall.