Instagram has created its own celebrities and allowed millions to share their selfie obsessions with the world. Until recently, though, it was limited as a marketing tool for e-commerce. That may be about to change.
Instagram's new advertising solution allows external links that take potential customers directly to a order page, or to a more in-depth description than the picture-dominated site currently allows. This creates an exciting and potentially lucrative bridge between a glossy, stylish image and the e-commerce fulfilment house, snaring the customer's payment along the way. It also means that the smallest companies can have a truly international presence, which will change the way we look at e-commerce fulfilment services around the globe.
Social media has become an integral part of many e-commerce businesses' daily like and it succeeds due to its targeted, international reach, low cost of entry and relatively frictionless path to buy. Instagram did not have this frictionless functionality before, so while it served as an excellent shop window, it was not as attractive a proposition for sales.
With Pinterest moving to a more ad-based system, Instagram has responded. As it is owned by Facebook, the two will obviously become more integrated over time and Instagram is already feeling the benefits of Facebook's new technology and its uncanny ability to target the relevant audience and bring your products to the people that will buy them.
Instagram's sponsored posts will largely follow the format that has already been honed on Facebook's pages and there is inevitably the opportunity to take the end-user to a company Facebook page.
More than 300 million users log on to Instagram every day and an astonishing 70 million new photos are generated. That means there needs to be a way to cut through the noise and sponsored posts, as well as strategic alliances with industry specific influences.
So if you work in e-commerce and you've previously ignored Instagram, it's time to get your account up-to-date and make yourself aware of its potential. This social media platform is not just a bunch of pretty pictures anymore; it's a powerful, global sales tool that could work for you.