Ever since the rise of influencer marketing, editorial advertisements have been alive and well in the form of aesthetically pleasing photos gracing your Instagram feed. Long gone are the days of in-print, commercial advertising, and now these subtle placements are being brought straight to the palm of your hand.
The trend of Instagram has always led towards one thing: monetizing. You’ve been able to shop on the app directly ever since brands have been able to add their catalogs, and now you’ll be able to shop directly from your favorite influencers’ feeds. So, what does that mean for marketers, influencers and the consumers?
For marketers, we will have to adapt to the new format and weigh the pros and cons of being able to shop via influencer.
On one hand, it cuts out the middleman and brings a favorable option for the user to shop (easy access). This minimizes “drop-offs” for the consumer, as they’re able to buy with a couple of clicks through Instagram itself.
Assuming you’d be able to track the purchases made through each influencer post, it could help prove influencer ROI, which has always been difficult to do. This helps validate influencer marketing as a whole and also tells us which influencers have an engaged, loyal following.
While tracking purchases made through the post could help provide influencer ROI, it could take away from the overall bigger picture of influencer marketing. There is an argument that a lot of the process works off the grid (for example, a potential customer discovers the brand but doesn’t make an actual purchase until months later). This could end up potentially hurting marketers if they also don’t see large sales through this avenue right away, and brands could become easily discouraged if they only focus on conversions instead of the qualitative benefits.
Also, influencer marketing works mostly through its subtlety. The reason it’s so effective is that it feels real and authentic, and not too sales-driven. As soon as you start putting direct purchases on your post, it can come off as self-serving and give people the wrong impression.
But what does this mean for influencers and content creators themselves? I asked a couple of the influencers within our network about their thoughts on the matter.
“I love them and think it’s the future of instant shopping. “ - Alicia Pettit, Influencer known for @aliciawillspettit
“I don’t actually have the ability to post shoppable links directly within my Instagram profile, [but] I have very mixed feelings about it. If you’re a macro-influencer and receive endless DM’s about pieces you tag, then directly linking a shopping link is convenient, and it benefits both the content creator and the brand. However, as a micro/nano-influencer, the element of communication that accompanies answering people’s questions is what fuels a more organic, authentic relationship between followers. “- Sasha Mei Huebener, Content Creator known for @sasha.mei
“I think this is an exciting new feature and I’m excited to see how it performs, and how audiences will respond to it.” - Delaney Childs, Influencer/Blogger known for @thestyledseed
“I actually really enjoy the shoppable post feature that's appearing on influencer posts. There have been so many times I've been on someone's page and while they might tag the brand it's such a nightmare having to actually find the piece on their site, or, maybe it wasn't disclosed in the caption that the piece isn't out yet.” - Stephanie Arant, Content Creator known for @shhtephs and unconsciousstyle.com
“Yes, it’s easier than any other monetized platform.” - Alicia
“I’m worried that Instagram is already too much of a marketplace - it’s very commodity and sales driven. I guess we’re already there though, so why not just go full force with it.“ - Sasha
“I think it will help make shopping more accessible for followers! However, they also may not like the new feature as sometimes change is a hard thing to get used to.” - Delaney
“I definitely think that it creates a bridge from the swipe up feature and regular Instagram postings. The great thing about the swipe up feature is that you can directly link a piece of clothing which my followers really appreciate. On the flip side though, not everyone who sees your static post sees your stories and visa versa so this in my eyes makes it a lot easier.” - Stephanie
“The brands would be able to see where the traffic is coming from on their sales [for better insights].“ - Alicia
“I don’t really know how it will affect my relationship with brands, given the fact that I’ve never tried it. I do think that it affects my perception of brands that are tagged/do request to be tagged. I haven’t yet concluded whether it leaves a positive or negative impression; it’s more of an awareness.” - Sasha
“I believe this will create new analytics for brands to look at, which is great information for both parties.” - Delaney
“I think it creates a better relationship with brands. It's a way to continue building out analytics [and also] gives people a direct link back to the brand’s site. At the end of the day, you want the least amount of work to get from point A (influencer’s page) to point B (a brand’s website to purchase).” - Stephanie
“Yes, why not!” - Alicia
“In my opinion, a good Instagram post does not need shoppable links to drive conversion. Past posts that inspired me drove me to search through websites myself, often prompting interest in other items along the way. At this point, I don’t think I would use the feature myself.” - Sasha
“I would if my audience enjoys it. If it’s something they aren’t liking or if it bothers them I’d probably use it less.” - Delaney
“I definitely would use it! I really enjoy sharing brands with my followers and fellow content creators and it's a direct way to introduce yourself to new and exciting brands. I think it makes the shopping experience a lot more streamlined.” - Stephanie
“Absolutely.” - Alicia
“It depends on the influencer, and it depends on how often they post.” - Sasha
“Yes! I’ve definitely bought things straight off of stories so I wouldn’t be opposed to shopping off of posts.” - Delaney
“Personally I would. Especially when you see something you really love and click on it only to realize it's a lot more inexpensive than you imagined haha.” - Stephanie
While whether or not this new direct-to-consumer feature is actually beneficial or negative still remains to be seen. However, it’s clear that all parties involved (marketers, influencers, and consumers) will have to adapt, and quickly!
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Sara is a Social Media & Influencer Manager at Hawke. When she’s not strategizing content for brands, she runs a fashion and lifestyle blog in her spare time - check out her website www.lovesarafaye.com