Instagram recently announced that effective April 18, 2022, all U.S. Instagram users with public accounts have the option to include product tags in their Feed posts (Stories are in the works). A feature previously only available to brands and creators, Instagram is giving all users freedom to “inspire those closest to them” in just a few simple steps.
TechCrunch notes that the ability to tag a brand’s products will require that those businesses are set-up with Instagram Shopping, and that business owners will be notified when one of their products has been tagged by a user.
Brands will also have control over who is allowed to tag their products, as well as the ability to remove tags if they see fit. This is designed to handle any malicious use of tags.
In the announcement on Instagram’s blog, author Liz Kim notes:
“From supporting brands you love to helping your friends and family discover new products they may like, sharing products on Instagram just got easier.”
But what does this new ease of sharing truly mean for brands, advertisers, and the users who will ultimately be using these product tags?
We sat down with Crystal Duncan, SVP of Influencer Marketing at Tinuiti, and Avi Ben-Zvi, VP of Paid Social at Tinuiti, to get their perspective on the why, how, and what we can expect next from Instagram…
Q. What do you think are the primary reasons and goals behind expanding product tagging on Instagram to all U.S. users?
Crystal Duncan: We all know that people are purchasing products because of recommendations from friends, family, or Influencers, so I believe Instagram wants to accelerate that, and make it easy for brands to capitalize on this behavior. By allowing for product tags it just makes it that much easier for people to talk about their favorite products, and to allow their followers to get them themselves.
Avi Ben-Zvi: This is all about Commerce. Year-over-year, Instagram has become a one-stop shop for consumers, and this will integrate more with that behavior. This is especially true if we think about the proliferation of nano influencers throughout the digital landscape, which has really taken hold the last one to two years.
Q. What limitations or restrictions currently exist in regard to tagging products on Instagram that will make this update more impactful for some brands than others?
Crystal Duncan: Because you can only tag products from brands with Instagram storefronts, this will obviously limit the availability of products Influencers can tag. This could also inspire more brands to build their storefronts on Instagram, which I’m sure is also a goal of these advancing features.
Avi Ben-Zvi: This is more opportunity for smaller influencers to partner with brands; and on the flip side, more opportunity for brands to find more content creators at more cost-effective rates, with Commerce being top of mind.
Q. Is this just a small part of the bigger social commerce expansion picture on Instagram, encouraging brands to adopt Instagram Shopping?
Crystal Duncan: Yes, for both Instagram and social media in general. I think we have barely scratched the surface in the shopping innovations we’re going to keep seeing on social platforms—Instagram has already teased out Affiliate opportunities for Influencers + Creators, YouTube has been tinkering with Shoppable abilities for Creators, and I think we’re going to see more and more platforms following suit to allow for easier shopping experiences.
Avi Ben-Zvi: Yes, it’s just the beginning. As I mentioned, Instagram has been angling this way more and more over the years, and this is just another step towards an all-out Shopping platform. More so, users want to know where and how they can buy a lot of the items they see on Social platforms like Instagram, so it’s playing into what consumers are yearning for as well.
Q. Is there any element of ‘Influencer Scouting’ in this update, with Instagram potentially looking to see which of their everyday users have influencer potential based on engagement with their product-tagged posts?
Crystal Duncan: The beauty of Influencers these days is anyone can be an Influencer; you don’t have to have millions of followers. So what I think this really does is allow for a more seamless experience for potential customers, and attribution to the folks that are making these impactful recommendations.
Avi Ben-Zvi: Influencer creative is on the rise YoY, and this is no exception. It’s playing into the nano influencer trend.
Q. What types of businesses do you anticipate will see the greatest impact from this update, and why?
Crystal Duncan: I think so many brand verticals could benefit from this, but the no-brainers would be beauty, fashion, some CPG, and electronics. What will be interesting is seeing how brands from verticals like travel will implement, and if they change their ways of doing business to capitalize. I’m sure more innovation will come out of this; I think this is only step one of many to come.
Avi Ben-Zvi: Really anyone that has a product to sell. I think the only area where it may still be tricky is Luxury, but that’s because the consumer behavior is more of a long-term purchase due to the high-ticket item.
Q. In what ways do you expect this will impact advertising on Instagram?
Crystal Duncan: Based on past rollouts, I would expect Instagram’s algorithm to potentially favor those who are using Product Tags as they are going to want to get others interested in this new feature. So from an organic standpoint, this could greatly impact Influencers/Creators and help drive more purchases from storefronts.
Avi Ben-Zvi: I agree with Crystal. While we don’t know for sure, I bet there will be a favor towards content that has tags because it will probably drive more user engagement, which the algorithm craves. So I expect to see a lot more content like this—especially as the Instagram feed evolves into one that integrates Stories, Reels, and your regular feed into one.
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