For as long as I can remember, Facebook have always emphasized Instagram’s role at the top of the marketing funnel.
“Engage with Instagram, convert with Facebook”. This was the unanimous mantra spoken by Facebook execs at conferences (remember those?) around the world.
But Facebook’s actions didn’t correlate. The rollout of Instagram’s shoppable posts in 2018 and a separate shop-front in the app, which was cleverly named… “Shop” has proven Instagram has a role at every stage of the marketing funnel. Later in 2018 Instagram launched shoppable stickers for Instagram Stories. Then in October 2020, they announced shoppable functionality in both IGTV and their latest format Instagram Reels sealing the deal for e-commerce enablement across all 4 media types in the app (Posts, Stories, IGTV & Reels).
I spoke about this with Ticker TV’s Ahron Young:
With the shopification of Instagram now complete, the app is not only taking on the heavily impacted bricks ‘n mortar retail industry but also the online behemoths: Amazon, eBay and the long tail of e-commerce stores.
Instagram is serious about shopping. Its proven this through the aggressive roll-out of shoppable content throughout the app (Instagram Reels being the most expedited – just 3 months from the launch of the format to the first testing of shoppable Reels). Add to this, the launch of Facebook Pay – Facebook’s own payments platform for handling in-app payments in Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp. At the time of writing Facebook Pay has launched into 146 countries and is growing. While Facebook doesn’t have a great track record with payment technologies, they’re doing everything they can to capture a slice of the global payments pie – an industry McKinsey & Co estimate to be worth $2.7 trillion dollars globally by 2023.
In the lead up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020, Instagram made their boldest move yet. I spoke about it with Ticker TV’s Alana McLean:
Instagram replaced the Compose tab and Activity tab in the navigation bar with a new Reels tab and Shop tab respectively. While this may not seem like big news, its actually the biggest change Instagram have made to their navigation bar in 10 years.
Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram said in a blog post “we don’t take these changes lightly – we haven’t updated Instagram’s home screen in a big way for quite a while.”
But as with every change Instagram makes, users weren’t happy with the Activity tab being replaced by the Shop tab…
WHY did IG put the shopping tab at the bottom and not the top????? I give more fucks about the interactions on my posts than shopping. Did they not think that would be more useful?????
— ali the holly jolly hoarder 🎄 (@hardbackhoarder) December 2, 2020
Why did insta replace the notif section with a shopping tab, who tf shops on Instagram
— t (@AhhEtssMhee) November 29, 2020
I refuse to go into the shop tab on Instagram
— Luis 🌞 (@lv_in_lv) December 3, 2020
In fact, this one might take the cake…
I hate the new Instagram layout, so I designed the Shopper Stopper so I never click the shop tab when I really wanted to go to my notifications. pic.twitter.com/FiLDQQLOJt
— Unnecessary Inventions (@mattyxb) November 23, 2020
If history can teach us anything about user behavior and app changes its that the initial outrage dissipates pretty quick and we all move on and accept the new changes.
The Shop tab at its heart is an algorithmic curated feed of the perfect products for you based on what you’ve bought, who you follow, where you browse around the web, what you interact with and many other signals. We can expect to see curated shopping feeds roll out on the other social channels too but for now Instagram is a first-mover.
Like what we’ve seen with the News Feed and its ability to create echo-chambers of information to reinforce and clarify one’s world view; we’ll start to see algorithmic shopping feeds heavily influence what we buy and don’t buy. These algorithms will pattern-match and make product recommendations based on lookalike behaviors among other people. These algorithms will be incredibly successful at putting the right products in front of us at the right time. It’ll almost feel like the algorithm knows what we want to buy before we do.
These changes on Instagram hint to this brave new e-commerce world but its not in the distant future, its here today. Interesting times ahead!