Last week, Instagram launched "Checkout on Instagram," a feature which allows consumers to shop directly for products featured in Instagram posts and ads without leaving the app at all. The feature launched with 23 brands in closed beta, including Adidas, Burberry, Michael Kors, Prada and Warby Parker. In the company's latest announcement in a series of big announcements, Instagram promised more brands will be coming soon and shared that they will take an undisclosed percentage of transactions generated through Checkout.
So, is this a game changer for Facebook, or for mobile commerce? Most important, is this move a game changer for your business? To find the answers to these questions, I turned to the smartest person I know on the topic of social media advertising: Dan Kerpen, who is our paid social director at my company, Likeable Media (yes, he's my little brother.) Dan and I talked about this latest move and its implications and these are the insights I took away from our conversation:
What This Means For Small Businesses
It depends on your industry. For most industries, it won't matter. If, on the other hand, you can figure out how to sell something that can be displayed in a natural looking photograph (preferably with a human in it), then you can work towards a strategy than might fit well with a buy now option on Instagram.
So if you're in the fashion, clothing, makeup, accessories, food, consumer products, or household goods verticals, start thinking about how your Instagram strategy might change with this new feature available. If you're in another industry where you think you can create natural photographs that include your product, go for it! If, on the other hand, you think that would be a stretch for your business or category, it's probably not worth the effort.
What This Means For The Social Media Landscape
Facebook is clearly vying for more click attribution, because most sources weigh it more heavily/seriously than view attribution. They are also quietly combating Pinterest, who has had "buyable pins" up since 2015 with moderate success for certain key verticals.
Facebook / Instagram's Challenges
Facebook has two challenges here:
1. Getting users to click more.
At Likeable, we usually see a fair amount of view attribution on our Instagram ads, whether the ad is a link post or not. And this makes sense if you talk to people about how they interact with ads on the platform. Many people notice what they like, close the app, and then search for it. And often they only look for things that stick out in their minds later.
2. Not annoying users with the wrong content.
I don't think this will annoy most users, as long as it stays within certain verticals. Instagram for makeup and fashion, for instance, has historically been good, whereas link ads on the platform for many other industries really haven't been a good fit. So one big challenge could be how to find other products that fit and don't annoy users. Facebook chose their initial launch partners very carefully, aware that they'd need big wins to justify expanding this feature to other partners.
The Bottom Line
For some industries, Checkout on Instagram could be a game changer. It could be the answer to the challenging question of how to sell on mobile phones that ecommerce companies have been trying to solve for a decade. For other industries, Checkout could be a total non factor.
What industry is your business in, and will you test out Checkout on Instagram when it becomes available to you? Let me know your thoughts in the Comments section below.