How to Use Shoppable Features on Social

In the past, a huge challenge for brands has been creating content that causes consumers to take action, driving them down the purchasing funnel. But now, the gap between content and commerce is shrinking. New shoppable features are being introduced across social media, transforming the digital shopping experience. With shoppable, customers no longer have to leave their current app to physically search for a retailer’s site – they can satisfy their desire to purchase immediately simply by tapping a button. 

A huge number of channels are adopting new shoppable formats, in different yet equally exciting ways. Here’s all you need to know…

Grab it from the gram

Instagram shoppable posts are creating a huge buzz amongst marketers, and for good reason – 130M Instagram users are tapping on shopping posts every month (source: Instagram Internal Data, March 2019). Introduced in April 2019, shoppable posts allow users to, as Instagram puts it, ‘See. Tap. Shop’ both in-feed and on Stories (source: Instagram Business). Business accounts can tag their products as easily as tagging a friend, and link their products to their retail site.

In the US, Instagram has gone one step further, introducing a checkout feature where customers can purchase products directly in-app, selecting everything from size to colour to quantity. This feature is yet to be released worldwide, and only certain brands – like Burberry, Dior, MAC Cosmetics and Uniqlo – have access to the feature. However, Instagram have made it clear that they are making ‘long-term investments in shopping’, so this feature is one to watch out for in 2020 (source: Instagram Business). 

From pin to purchase

Pinterest Shop the Look pins are very similar to Instagram shoppable posts. Customers click the shoppable pin and are directed to the relevant retailer’s checkout. This is a vital feature for Pinterest, since the platform is widely regarded as a visual discovery engine where people gather to find lifestyle inspiration (source: Pinterest Planner UK 2019). 

Want to know more about visual discovery? Our blog on visual search would be a great place to start! 

YouTube joins the shoppable club

At the end of 2019, YouTube launched its first shoppable ads just in time for the festive season, targeting consumers with ads related to their recent Google or specific YouTube searches. YouTube shoppable ads are therefore fresh off the mark for 2020 and not to be overlooked. 

The shoppable clock is Tik-ing

TikTok has also been busy testing shoppable features, including Shoppable Hashtag Plus, where users can shop in-app from campaign hashtags. This feature allows brands to directly sell their products through a tab called ‘discover’ on their campaign hashtag page. Kruger, an American grocery brand, recently tested the feature with their #TransformUrDorm influencer campaign. 

Play and purchase on Snapchat 

Last year, Adidas were the first brand to sell content via a game on Snapchat. On Baseball’s Next Level, players were able to directly purchase products that the game’s athletes were wearing, including Adidas’ Icon V Cleats. With gaming continuing to be such a huge trend, in-game shopping will be a great opportunity for marketers and avid shoppers alike.

For more on marketing to gamers, take a look at our related blog ‘Gamers: Marketing to the Fastest Growing Consumer Tribe’. 

Shoppable dos and don’ts

While shoppable features mean that brand content doesn’t have to work as hard, creating inspirational content to make meaningful connections with customers is still the impetus. After all, content is the new digital shop – it should therefore energise and entice potential customers. Here’s what marketers need to know… 

Avoid overload

Brands should refrain from over-saturating their feed with shoppable posts. Modern consumers don’t want to be sold to, at least not overtly. Brands should mix shoppable posts with organic and authentic looking posts, ensuring that they work together to tell their brand story. 

Get micro-influential

We all know that digital consumers are most influenced by reliable and authentic content when making that final purchase decision. 50% of customers agree that the chances of them buying from branded social increases with UGC content (source Curalate Consumer Survey 2017). Similarly, Experticity and Keller Fay Group research found that 82% of surveyed customers were more than likely to follow a micro-influencers’ recommendation (source: Marketing Dive). So, brands should combine their micro-influencers’ and reposted UGC content with shoppable features to transform the age-old question “should I buy that?” into “I should buy that.” 

Ephemeral editorial

Shoppable tags added to Instagram Stories is an equation for success. With Stories, brands can create longer narratives which build up as the user taps, providing more meaningful context behind the products. And with ample time to unravel a product story across multiple frames, there’s greater opportunities for users to tap and shop.

H&M are a brand that optimise their content by using shoppable, narrative-driven stories. Their ‘Weekly Trend Treasures’ edit, showcases products through evocative editorial and design. With the ability to shop every jumper, dress and necklace featured, customers can instantly act on their desire to recreate the look and feel in their own wardrobe.

For more on the power of stories, check out our post on brand storytelling! 

The magic of a moment

For ‘life inspiration’ platforms like Instagram and Pinterest brands should create educational content. Top tips, how-to posts, mood boards – however they choose to do it, brands should help customers make more of life’s moments. That way, shoppable features seem like a helping hand, directing users to useful products for special moments, as opposed to a sales push. Interestingly, unlike many other platforms, 78% of people on Pinterest actually feel that brand content makes the platform more helpful (source: Sprout Social). 

So, for pinners, snapchatters, YouTubers and ‘grammers alike, there’ll be no more panicking over their ‘new year, new me’ shopping. Shoppable features + inspirational content = 2020 sorted. To get your 2020 marketing plans sorted, download our latest guide, ‘Trends 2020: Marketing Trends with a Global Reach’.

Natalie Thomas
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