Instagram has become infamous as the place to filter, edit and curate your life so that it appears picture perfect to the watching world. The social media platform’s appeal is primarily driven by the aspirations of its users, and it’s now the most popular platform on which to interact with brands. Consequently, it’s vital for retailers to recognise and respond to followers’ desire-led, inspiration-seeking, impulsive mind-set if they are to truly engage their audiences.
Key to lighting shoppers’ fire, is cutting through the ‘auto-pilot’ scrolling that characterises usage; a mode that falls somewhere between shopping and perusing friends/celebrities’ X-Pro-ed lives. One tactic is to showcase a product in isolation – giving it much more focus than it might normally receive in store. Placing items on a pedestal like this has the power to turn interest into ‘I want it’ emotion and then purchasing. ‘Product laydowns’ have also been shown to provoke great responses from Millennials by recreating how they plan their outfits. Even more engaging are automatically playing Boomerangs or hyper-lapse videos, while ‘instacollages’ create visually engaging product launches that fanfare the new.
Instagram was never designed as an e-commerce platform and has strict hyperlinking rules that allow only one in the brand bio. Thus brands have to get creative to encourage purchase. Instagram edits and product codes are the most immediate way of doing this, but many brands are experimenting with third-party sites. Like2Buy replicates Instagram images with links to product pages, while Liketk sends emails with the products details of posts that Instagrammers ‘heart’.
Besides directly promoting product, maintaining a dialogue with customers and sharing behind-the-scenes brand gossip promotes a sense of belonging. Most retailers have dedicated hashtags for leveraging the classic selfie, but the most impressive examples are often found amongst premium brands who, naturally seeing their customers a little less often, go so far as to provide an opportunity to ‘check-in’ – building loyalty: #coachfromabove and #artofthetrench. Nothing makes a customer smugger than their favourite brand complimenting them!