Just in time for the holiday season, Instagram has expanded its offerings for brands handling their e-commerce through the platform, while also giving users the ability to track how much time they spend scrolling through their feed and Stories.
New shopping features include the rollout of clickable video product tags, collections and a special "Shop" section for businesses selling on the platform. Meanwhile, a "Your Activity" dashboard helps users track how much time they spend perusing their friends' posts and favorite fashion brands.
Here are some takeaways for communicators from the updates:
"Collections" feature steals Pinterest's thunder. Just like Pinterest lets users can save their favorite posts to boards, Instagram's new "Collections" feature allows users to bookmark their favorite offerings from brands and peruse them later. While these collections are private, they could serve as valuable top-of-funnel cues for brands.
Once a user saves an item they plan to purchase or review, brands could potentially retarget that user with boosted posts or Story ads. (That is, if the Instagram gods ensure those metrics become available to business accounts). It will be interesting to see if Instagram woos the lion's share of brands still using Pinterest the same way it has won over former Snapchat devotees.
Another potential use case: Saving competitors' posts for research purposes, then reviewing them as you put together your next campaign.
Clickable video shortens route to purchase—and ROI. As Instagram users view a video ad, an "In This Video" list can be pulled up with the products featured by tapping a button on the lower left of the video clip, which lists the product name, price and allows users to purchase items directly. This will make the consideration-to-purchase route considerably faster and easier for consumers. Finally, a way for communicators to tie their video efforts directly to business outcomes.
A new "Shop" section separates e-commerce from snackable content. If your brand shines on Instagram for its entertaining video or photo content, your followers might be turned off by "salesy" shoppable posts that appear in the same place as your other content. But a new "Shop" tab separates e-commerce from other content on business accounts, ensuring followers find exactly what they're looking for.
"Your Activity" dashboard monitors over-use. Whether you spend hours window-shopping on Instagram or watching your friends' Stories, Instagram will now allow you to see just how much time you're spending on the platform. The "Your Activity" dashboard allows users to set daily limits on how much time they spend in the app, as well as offering the option to silence notifications. A notification is set once a user hits their limit, although they can still opt to keep scrolling if they choose.
For marketers and communicators, the main takeaway here is one of minimizing distractions. While social media is a big part of many communications professionals' daily work, it's easy to get sucked into a habit of endless scrolling. Setting time limits can allow the social media-minded to quickly carry out their daily tasks without getting too absorbed.
Follow Sophie: @SophieMaerowitz