U.S.-based brands now have a new opportunity to promote their products on Instagram.

After a trial run that began last November, the Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform is allowing more businesses to add product info and links to their photos. Instagram users will be able to tap the links and buy the products.

Additionally, Instagram is also adding a self-serve tool so that brands can list a product for sale as easy as tagging a friend in a photo.

As of March 21, any U.S.-based jewelry, beauty, or apparel brand that has uploaded its product catalog to Facebook can apply to use Instagram Shopping. Instagram's sales team will select which applicants qualify.

There Is No Commission Taken

The good news for marketers is that Instagram doesn't take a cut of the sales. So there's no commission expense to worry about.

That's the case for now, anyway.

Also, brands can only enable shopping in single-photo posts. They can't add shopping to video or carousel content, according to Jim Squires, Instagram's director of product marketing.

They Compete With Pinterest

The new feature competes with Pinterest's Shop the Look option, that enables users to tap a brand's post to learn more about featured products. It should be noted, though, that Instagram Shopping debuted before Shop the Look.

Instagram also offers direct-response ads to brands. However, those cost money.

Some brands, including Warby Parker, Macy's, and Lulu's have already tested Instagram Shopping. They found that the feature works as advertised: users can tap a shoppable post, view detailed information about the product advertised, and even shop on the brand's site with Instagram's in-app browser.

What The Testing Shows

During the test phase, Instagram saw that 19% of people who tapped a photo for more product info went on to visit the brand's site. However, only 4% of users who saw a shoppable photo decided to view the product info.

Later in the testing phase, Instagram added to the marketability of a shoppable post by displaying dots at the top of the photo once it had stayed on someone's screen for a few seconds. But Instagram won't reveal how much of an impact that had on the conversion rate.

During the testing period, Instagram also determined that it needed to make it easier for brands to post shoppable photos. Initially, companies had to work with software engineers to add the "Show Now" link.

"There was no self-serve component to the test," Squires said. "Everything was manually pulled on the back-end, and we did the setup for the marketers for each post."

That led to limited usage of the new feature for brands like Lulu's, even though the company saw that 33% of users who tapped shoppable posts also visited the site.

"The main reason we haven't been doing it for every single [post] is it's very time consuming to do it because they haven't created a tool for it yet," said Noelle Sadler, VP of marketing at Lulu's.

More Is Coming

With the addition of the self-serve tool, Instagram has made it easier for brands to create shoppable posts. Soon, companies will be able to tag products for sale as easily as non-commercial users tag friends in photos.

Instagram also plans on adding on analytics tool in the near future. This is just one of many reasons business are flocking to Instagram marketing.

Published on: Mar 30, 2017