200 million users of Instagram visit at least one business profile daily. It makes Instagram a great platform to take advantage of. It lets retailers increase not only brand awareness but sales as well.
Instagram’s potential advertising reach is 849.3 m users - an enormous deal for marketers and brands. No one can omit using Instagram to sell or promote eCommerce products. If you have been ignoring this medium so far - it's high time to start paying attention!
To properly leverage its potential, online sellers need to keep their eyes on all of Instagram’s tested and released features:
"We simplified Business Manager, our tool for managing campaigns, to help businesses more easily create ads that align with their goals. We are continually making these basis point improvements to help advertisers save time and money – and build their business" Instagram says.
As the new year is unfolding, there is no better time to take a closer look at the top 5 updates that Instagram has made in 2019:
The next step in enhancing the shopping on Instagram experience.
Instagram revamps the Explore tab to ensure brands' presence in the center of culture.
Instagram and IGTV are supported by Facebook’s Creator Studio now.
Make Instagram content influential and distinct by using Instagram Stories stickers.
The new way of advertising on Instagram presents a brand voice through influencers.
130 million Instagram users tap on shopping posts every month. This proves that people are eager to make purchases directly from Instagram. Announced in March 2019 the new feature is to complete the purchase without leaving the app. This outstanding functionality will have a definitive impact on eCommerce and marketing.
So far it has only been made available for selected brands and it’s kept still in closed beta. Now, it’s testing promotional emails that encourage users to shop from brands through Checkout on Instagram. It’s truly worth keeping an eye out to see when it becomes open to everyone.
By tapping to view a product from a brand’s shopping post, the customer sees a “Checkout on Instagram” button. They can select from various options.
The next step is to provide the name, email, billing information, and shipping address. Once the first order is done, customers’ information is saved.
It's happening for the convenience of the next shopping. Users will receive notifications about shipment and delivery right inside the app.
Instagram Checkout remains in closed beta, and have only been rolled out to a small group of globally known brands. To set up this feature in their accounts retailers must to go through a series of complicated steps and pass the eligibility criteria. BigCommerce’s integration is one of the ways you can get on Instagram Checkout beta, assuming all the right criteria are met.
This new way of monetizing social commerce is definitely a step forward in improving attribution and smoothing the customer journey.
As the process for customers is slight and seamless as for retailers it’s getting a bit edgier. Advertisers need to understand a few detailed issues:
- Checkout is reserved only for stores selling physical products.
- Linking to external websites is no longer possible (for US customers). Tags instead move through the checkout process directly on Instagram.
- Only products with prices in USD are supported by Checkout. If you tag products in other currencies, they will link to your external website ( for International customers).
- Instagram’s commerce policies and merchant terms are obligatory. Some of these relate to customer service as to an inventory.
Checkout complements plenty of shoppable features provided by Instagram recently. It follows shoppable posts and stories and the Ad placement in the Explore tab. We find it an outstanding step further in improving the customer experience.
Explore Section Improvements
The Explore Section is one of the best places to connect with people, companies, and creators. Every month, over 50% of Instagram accounts use it.
Currently, 80% of users follow at least one brand or company on Instagram. The Explore section helps them find more content of their interest. Users look for contact with their favorite brands. They want to shop, read messages or learn the latest trends. This is why this section is so important for the platform but also for brands and businesses.
Instagram revamps the Explore tab to ensure brands' presence in the center of culture. This way business accounts may reach new audiences. Followers who are focused on discovering new things.
As Instagram explains :
“When you go to Explore, you’ll now see a newly designed navigation bar. It features shortcuts to IGTV and Shopping. They are followed by topic channels tailored to users' interests, such as Food, Art and Travel. “IGTV” and “Shop” shortcuts are pinned to the front of the bar. It makes easier to find products and videos from brands and creators you love."
What is another great news is that Instagram added ad placements in the Explore section. While scrolling through a feed compiled by Instagram’s algorithm customers see ads just like in the regular feed. Explore section is usually used to discover new accounts, brands or products.
Now marketers have a better chance to capture users’ attention. The advertiser can extend the campaign by using easy-to-start automatic placements. It's easier than ever to reach audiences on the Explore section. There are some predictions that say this feature might stabilize the costs of ads as well.
This is a chance both for sellers to win the competitive feed and for users to improve product discovery.
How to set up Ads on Instagram Explore Section
To run ads on Instagram, you need to have a Facebook ad account and a Facebook Page. Note that ads may only run from published Facebook Pages. You can create Instagram ads using Ads Manager, Facebook Pages or Instagram Professional Account
- Navigate to and edit a new ad set or the desired one, use filters to get to all the Ads Sets you’re looking for.
- If you have several Ad Sets to which you’d like to add this placement, you can select the campaigns they are a part of.
- Go to Actions, select Instagram Explore in the Placement Section
- The green icon next to your ads set says that they were added correctly and are ready to publish. So don’t hesitate and go get it!
Desktop Publishing Access
Instagram and in particular, IGTV required intense usage of mobile devices. This usually was rather time-consuming and uphill. If working from the desktop, updating Instagram from mobile was a true burdensome.
Thankfully Instagram and IGTV are supported by Facebook’s Creator Studio now. So you don’t need third-party apps to set the content from desktop. Now it’s just about linking the Instagram account to Facebook Page. Starting here you can pull images and videos and later on create, upload, and schedule content. Facebook Creator Studio allows as well to manage direct messages through the desktop.
How to Post to the Instagram Feed From Desktop
The new Creator Studio does offer the option to post and schedule both Instagram feed posts and IGTV videos. There isn’t currently an option for Stories.
To get to Creator Studio, go to http://facebook.com/creatorstudio.
You’ll automatically be logged into the accounts and pages you’re connected to with your Facebook account. There is an Instagram icon at the top of the page to view your IG content and insights.
Create your content - upload photos or videos - you can upload up to 10 items into one carousel post
Edit your content, crop the visual one, write your caption, add a location and simultaneously post to your associated Facebook account.
Publish and schedule. Buttons are located next to each other. Publish posts now or choose the schedule option and select the date and time.
Note: Once you’ve posted or scheduled a post via Creator Studio, you can’t edit the post from desktop. Go on a mobile device and to the live post on Instagram.
This is one of the greatest updates nobody was expecting and a huge advantage for busy marketers. Now sellers can provide quality content without investing in a third-party app.
New Stickers Features
It surely isn’t an exaggeration to say that last year Instagram released a tone of new story stickers. They can be used to create brand-related or advertising stories.
Instagram maintains this trend for some time. It makes the stories one of the most important tools. This dynamic feature builds users’ engagement in contact with advertising or brand-related content.
A larger range of interactive stickers is followed with simplified management. Up to 60% of businesses on Instagram Stories use an interactive element every month. At the same time, one-third of the most-viewed Stories are from businesses. No wonder that Story Stickers are considered one of the best improvements.
Through stickers, users can take plenty of actions. They can donate to verified organizations or ask questions. Quizzes, counting timers to product launching are other possibilities to engage the audience.
Brands can promote events, remind them about sales and releases. In general, dynamic stickers are used to build a customer-centric strategy. All available stickers can be customized with text, emojis, and color schemes.
See the list of stickers available:
- chat sticker
Start a conversation in a new Direct thread with a group of followers.
- polling questions sticker
Gather audience preferences on a variety of topics, check your followers pulse and acknowledge w what type of content they want
- countdown clock sticker
Enable users to set reminders for the item launch date, preview the product details in-stream, and then make a purchase as soon as a product is available.
- donation sticker
Allow people to donate to a nonprofit that your brand care about.
How to Add Instagram Stories Stickers
Best way to master using this feature is to start experimenting as Instagram Stories are easy and self-explanatory. Here you have a quick self- teaching guide on how to add tickers to your story:
- add a photo or video for your Instagram Story
- add stickers by clicking on the square smiley icon
- open the sticker tab and select the type of the desired one
- if it’s needed fill in additional information
note: Most stickers are ready to use fonts, emojis, or icons. Some, such as: location, mention, hashtag, and questions require an additional step.
- simply drag and drop the sticker to chosen place on your Story
- reshape and resize your stickers - by pinching and zooming
- to delete the sticker just drag and drop it on the bin icon
Interactive advertising on Stories starts with the stickers now. It allows companies to build better relationships in a more interesting and fun way. This is the perfect way to highlight ads and to improve the campaign’s performance. It encourages viewers to watch for longer. The survey sticker, for example, increased the number of 3-second video views in 9 out of 10 beta campaigns.
Branded Content Ads
U.S. Marketers spend 69% of their influencer budgets on Instagram. We are all aware of the role of influencer marketing nowadays. There is no secret with brands paying Instagram influencers between $100 and $2,085 per post.
Instagram decided to answer the increasing need of many advertisers. So now it’s easier to include brand-related posts in their strategy. The App created the right tools for companies and creators. The advertisers can promote organic influencer posts with brand-related content as ads in their Feed and Stories.
As the partnership is once established, creators enable their partners to promote content as ads. This is managed in the Advanced Settings section. The post is visible in the Ad Manager, under already existing posts. It can be displayed as an ad directly from the business partner account. The ad may appear in the Feed or Stories and is labeled as “Sponsored” with the name of the brand in every post. The platform provides transparency and enables optimizing and testing. The measurement of the effectiveness of those campaigns is crucial.
Brand-related content is a constantly evolving ecosystem. The new way of advertising on Instagram presents a brand voice through influencers. This is the perfect path to reach new audiences, not just those watching the brand’s or creator’s account. Thanks to that marketers and brands can sell more in authentic and engaging ways.
Last year was extremely intense for Instagram. There was at least one update and functionality appearing every month. Many of them significantly influenced online shopping. Many will affect the process in the future.
Instagram definitely focuses their attention on managing creators and brand relations. They don't lose their interest in sponsored content as well. In general, they have continued big developments to Shoppable Instagram tools.
It is hard not to be extremely curious about what upcoming months will bring. There are plenty of interesting features in-testing and we see some game-changers there.