Instagram was founded in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. The app focused on photo-sharing, which, at the time, was not very prominent. The years to follow brought Instagram great success. In April 2012, Instagram raised $50 million from venture capitalists with a $500 million valuation. Facebook had been looking at investing in the app. On September 6, 2012, the deal between Instagram and Facebook officially closed with a purchase price of $300 million in cash and 23 million shares of stock. And as they say, the rest is history. 

Instagram’s evolution as an app for businesses is quite evident. Brands began to team up with individual influencers to form ad deals. Popular fashion brands started seeing the app as a good way to do business. Hand-picked photos of elegant objects easily attracted audiences. Thus, brands saw this as an opportunity to expand their reach. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Instagram found its way into this vast market. Its unique features, wherein both business and consumers use the same platform to post photos is fascinating to say the least.

Engagement with users and Product Discovery 

As social media continues to evolve, engagement with users is becoming all the more critical. Facebook explains: “Interacting with people is associated with a greater sense of well-being… On the other hand, just scrolling through your Facebook feed, passively reading or watching without interacting with others, tends to make people feel worse.” Hence, engagement is a great way to see whether your content is resonating with your audience. In general, social media posts with more active and thoughtful interactions will get more reach. 

Authentic communication ensures the empowerment of the audience by the brand. It gives them a voice to be heard. It’s also important to monitor how that engagement impacts the business. Constant communication is known to give back a good Return on Investment (ROI).  

Instagram is also beneficial when it comes to product discovery. With targeted advertising, businesses and influencers can use Instagram as an eCommerce platform. A study done by Facebook revealed that 54% of the people surveyed said that they made a purchase either in the moment or after seeing a product or service on Instagram. Successfully proving that Instagram is as profitable as any marketplace for businesses and consumers alike. 

Instagram’s Shoppable Catalogue and Its Features  

Then came their shoppable catalogue feature. When it comes to shopping, many people opt for regular brick-and-mortar or online websites. With Instagram’s advent, there came a rise in demand for more convenience. People have always come to Instagram to shop and discover new products. According to Instagram, 87% of users say influencers have inspired them to make a purchase, and 70% of avid shoppers turn to the platform to discover new products. 

Instagram shopping lets the consumer purchase anything in any photo or video that people post. It is a customizable storefront that taps into people’s behaviours and sets up a business for the consumer. In this case, the visual media is supremely responsible for the users’ purchases. The highlight of Instagram’s shopping catalogue is to help people discover emerging brands and meet with their founders. 

Instagram has a robust catalogue of tools that cater to their shopping experience. Product tags allow businesses to highlight products from their catalogue in stories and ‘in feed’ so that people can learn more. Other available resources include Instagram collections, product detail pages, ads with product tags, checkout and live shopping. Instagram “Drops” is a special tab that showcases the latest releases by brand names and trending designers such as Adidas, Versace, FCUK and many more.  

More than 130 million users tap on an Instagram Shopping post each month. Instagram Shopping has indeed eliminated many of the previously inefficient marketing strategies for brands. And this goes to all social media platforms in general. 

Social Media’s Presence in the Retail Shift to Ecommerce 

Traditionally, brick-and-mortar physical retailers had taken on functions of retail most of the time. Then the shift happened. Ecommerce stores packed a serious punch. These days, social media outlets have taken our shopping experiences to the next level. Social media features a rich user experience, dynamic content, scalability, openness and collective intelligence. Coupled with in-app shopping, it almost kills the need for physical retail stores. 

Social media for retailers is centred around the consumer’s journey. The beauty of social media for retail is that you can engage with people at just about any time. Adopting a robust omnichannel presence, supplementing marketing strategies as well as interaction is equally important. And with enough time and dedication, you should see the benefits roll in.