Instagram rolls out a new shopping feature

Instagram will let influencers add shopping tags to posts.
Image: instagram

It was only a matter of time: Instagram is handing over some of its new shopping features to influencers. 

Beginning next week, a few dozen influencers and publishers can start tagging specific products, which can be purchased through the Instagram app, in their posts.

This move doesn’t let influencers hawk their own products, but it does allow them to add Instagram’s shoppable tags to their posts. When they tag a brand’s product, their followers will be able to buy the item with Instagram’s new checkout feature.

Previously, only a handful of brands could use shoppable tags, and only in their own posts. But with this change, a group of high profile accounts will also be able to use the tags. The initial group includes celebs (Kylie Jenner, Gigi Hadid), publishers (Elle, GQ), and a handful of fashion and beauty influencers. 

Instagram has been ramping up its shopping features, and these kinds of moves are key to future growth. There are only so many ads Facebook can place in Instagram feeds and in Stories. Shopping, on the other hand, can be integrated throughout the app. And many businesses already run on Instagram. By having its own shopping and checkout features, Instagram can capture some of the money its users are spending.

Image: instagram

The company notes that many high profile accounts already tag brands in their posts and that the shoppable tags feature is a natural extension of this. That may be true, but it’s also a much more effective way to get people to actually buy stuff in Instagram.

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For now, Instagram isn’t allowing influencers to get a cut of sales that result from these posts, but it’s not difficult to imagine the tags becoming part of the sponsored content deals creators are already making. For brands, the ability to include tags that link to specific products you can buy without ever leaving Instagram is likely much more appealing than your typical #sponcon. 

It also lays some important groundwork should Instagram opt for a version of the feature that includes revenue share between brands and influencers.

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