Instagram is about to make buying directly from creators much easier. There will be winners and losers.

At the recent Facebook F8 Conference, there were a few interesting announcements. But one really caught our eye.

Coming soon, influencers working with brands that are part of Instagram’s Check Out feature will be able to link directly to products in their post.

As Instagram says on their business blog pages;

Starting next week, people will be able to shop inspiring looks from the creators they love without leaving Instagram. With the ability to tag products in their posts, creators can make it easy for people to shop their favorite (sic) styles on the spot.

Influencers and content creators will no longer have to force ecommerce URLs in a post’s comments or clutter their personal bio with links. Creators will be able to directly link to products through their post images by tagging specific items.

One sticking point for now is that this feature is strictly limited to a small number of content creators and only works for brands participating in Instagram’s Check Out.

Instagram is changing direction

But the writing is on the wall. Instagram wants to become a shopping portal and keep users in the app as long as possible.

For many brands this is going to sound like very good news indeed. However we think there are a couple of cautionary points of which brands should take note.

Winners and Losers

The first is that Instagram are not opening this up to every brand and every content creator. There is no suggestion that they won’t in the future. But at the same time there is no certainty that they will. If Instagram decides that they are going to limit this feature, brands and content creators whose names are not down, are not going to be happy.

The second point that we would make is that this new feature has the potential to divide content creators into those who will post for any brand as long as there is payment on offer and those that only post for brands they have a relationship with.

As brands see the potential of this new feature, some will want influencers to include links in as many posts as they can. But our experience is that content creators do not see themselves as merely a shop window for the brands they collaborate with. So they will become even more discerning about which brands they work with and what they are prepared to post.

If our prediction is correct, then brands that invest in relationships with influencers and creators will reap the rewards.

For ‘influencers’ that have no brand loyalty and will post about any brand and any product, engagement rates are already very low. The new shopping feature will make their relative lack of value even more obvious. Brands that choose to work with these people will soon realise that there is a lot of smoke and mirrors and not much commercial substance.

On the other hand, creators that have a long-standing, mutually beneficial relationship with a brand will be much more open to posting with links to the brand’s online outlets. And because these creators only post about brands that they genuinely love and align with, their audience will be much more likely to make a purchase.

The win-win for brands and creators in established relationships will be even more valuable.     


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