What an Instagram Shopping App Would Mean for Influencers

What an Instagram Shopping App Would Mean for Influencers

The rumor mill has been spinning for the past week about Instagram’s alleged plans to develop a dedicated e-commerce app. 

Historically, Instagram has been a challenging platform for brands to use in trackable ways because of the inability to hyperlink in descriptions or comments. More recently, Instagram has enabled swipe-up links in users’ stories. The success of this feature (early estimates showed 15-25% of users swiping on linked story posts) and Instagram’s recent 'shoppable posts' feature for business accounts may have inspired Instagram to create a dedicated e-commerce app themselves. 

The shoppable posts feature requires an Instagram business account that is connected to a Facebook shop with catalog items, so is very useful for brands but a little bit of a stretch for influencers. Fashion influencers have long been using tools like RewardStyle and LiketoKnowit to facilitate an easy, shoppable product experience for their followers. However, a standalone shopping app would make the experience totally seamless. 

So how could a standalone app change the way that brands work with influencers on Instagram?

The primary value that influencers provide to brands is twofold:

  1. Access to a trusting audience 
  2. Access to brand-right influencer content (photos, videos, words, etc.)

The first item there is not going to go away. Ever. 
We’ve talked before about how influencer marketing is not new-- it’s just the most current iteration of brands borrowing on the trust of interpersonal relationships and asking for endorsement from individuals who are ‘expert’ in their topic area. As long as Instagrammers are fostering great conversations and building strong communities on the platform, brands will always need to tap into that power. 

However, the second item on the list may become more appealing. 
We speculate that the number of deals in which a brand pays for content outright will increase if Instagram creates a standalone shopping app. Because brands will now have another channel to populate with appealing content (and many brands are already having trouble keeping up with a strong social presence). If brands need to create a beautiful, shoppable presence on an additional platform, they will most likely turn to influencers for lifestyle product shots, product modeling shots, or custom video content. Some brands will continue to do it all on their own, but many will need to rely on expert content creators to convey the desirability of their products in this new environment. 

Obviously we’re all just speculating at this point. The verge, who originally reported this insider leak even mentions that the project could be totally abandoned before it even becomes a reality. We’ll keep our eyes and ears open for updates. 

Photo by frankie cordoba on Unsplash

Creative Community Director at Snapfluence. 

There is often a pen stuck in my hair.