Instagram is to let influencers use the app to tag and sell products directly on the grid; a move it claims will enrich the shopping experience for users.
The Facebook-owned app is initially testing the tool with a number of celebrity influencers, including Kim Kardashian West, Kylie Jenner and Gigi Hadid.
Nars and Michael Kors are among the first brands to experiment with the new format.
Until now, only Instagram pages owned by brands have been able to link out to specific products using ‘shoppable’ posts. Now, advertisers will be able to enlist high-profile creators to sell to Instagram’s some 1 billion users on their behalf. Celebrities with their own brand – like Jenner or Kardashian West – could also use the feature to link out to their products.
Offering some insight into the feature, Instagram wrote in a blog post: “Creators are a cornerstone of the interest community on Instagram and people love getting that spark of inspiration when they learn about a new skin care routine or see their favourite musician in that perfect denim jacket.”
It added: “And, unlike seeing the jacket on a rack, when they see it on someone they look up to – or someone who looks like them – suddenly it's relatable and even attainable.”
When it comes to measuring sales, both creators and brands will receive “shared insights” from Instagram.
Instagram Shopping initially launched last year, directing links from organic posts to product pages and websites. A few months later Instagram rolled out the ability to buy things through its ephemeral Stories service.
Last month, the business launched ‘Checkout’ which lets customers purchase products without leaving the walls of the app.
Due to these updates, fashion and cosmetics brands in particular have been giving Instagram a higher place on their media plans. UK retailer M&S told The Drum in November that Instagram Shopping had become a “really important part” of the brand’s mix.
In the US, Adobe says social commerce is picking up speed. It noted that visits to social networks as a ‘last touch’ channel had doubled in their visit share between 2016 and 2018, rising by 110%.
Though Instagram is pitching the move to businesses as a new way to reach engaged audiences, opening up the system to influencers could pose a range of new challenges – particularly when it comes to how sponsored, shoppable content is labelled on the site.
Although Instagram has its own sponsored template for influencers to use, some creators use different methods including hashtags like #ad or #spon to signpost when a product or service in a post has been paid for, while some eschew labels altogether – much to the chagrin of regulators.
If influencers are sharing shoppable or affiliate content via Instagram’s latest tool, they’ll have to figure out the best way to label it appropriately based on the rules in their local market.