3 Predictions For IG Shopping and the Future of Ecommerce on Instagram

Instagram is rumored to be building a standalone shopping app, IG Shopping. But what would a separate shopping app mean for the future of ecommerce on the platform?

Social media marketer, Thea Neal, investigates.

With more than 25 million Instagram Business profiles, and more than 2 million advertisers, Instagram is constantly evolving, testing new features, and experimenting with new ways to increase the value businesses can get from its platform.

For example, in June 2018, Instagram unveiled its latest standalone app, IGTV. The vertical video app was poised to be a challenger to YouTube, and positioned as a long-form video hub that would focus on creators and not on content found via search. Then, two months later, The Verge published a report that Instagram is developing an additional standalone app dedicated to shopping.

In this post, I’ll take a look at what a separate ecommerce app could mean for the future of Instagram marketing.

How IG Shopping could change ecommerce on Instagram: 3 Predictions

1. An opportunity for Instagram to increase conversions

The Verge noted Instagram’s shopping app-in-development will likely be called IG Shopping. Within the app, users would be able to “browse collections of goods from merchants that they follow and purchase them directly within the app.”

Instagram continues to grow by adopting features from other platforms, like its Snapchat-like Stories or the Pinterest-inspired “Collection” save button. Next, Instagram needs to find a way to harness the purchasing power of eCommerce giants like Shopify and Amazon.

As Instagram grows, so does its importance to Facebook’s bottom line, and Andy Hargreaves, a research analyst with KeyBanc Capital Markets told Recode that he expects Instagram to grow to about 30 percent of Facebook’s ad revenue in two years, as well as nearly 70 percent of the company’s new revenue by 2020:

In order to achieve these targets, encouraging more and more advertisers to invest their ad spend on Instagram will be essential — and one way to do this could be the rumored IG Shopping app. With Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger resigning from the company, we could also see Instagram adopt a more aggressive approach to monetization.

Shopping on Instagram features, that enable users to buy products featured in images and stories, have existed for less than a year, meaning consumers still need to learn they can shop on the platform securely and confidently on a regular basis.

Talking to Refinery29, Instagrammer and regular online shopper, Tamiracle Williams, says she would worry about the quality of products and trustworthiness of the merchants on an IG Shopping app:

“I believe the app would focus on quantity over quality. I used a third-party app awhile back to purchase my best friend a hoodie and it ended up being a Polaroid-sized print on a massive hoodie.”

But despite these worries, brands are definitely seeing success with the current version of Shopping on Instagram. Since the features rolled out, accessories brand Natori has seen a 100 percent week-over-week increase in revenue from Instagram. This could easily be translated to IG Shopping, if users are willing to shift their shopping behavior to the new app.

2. Decreased in-feed Instagram organic reach, but increased intent-to-purchase

Organic page reach on Facebook has plummeted in recent years, forcing marketers to increase paid Facebook posts and move organic-only content to Instagram.

If IG Shopping does make it to our phones, it seems likely that Instagram could take a similar approach by throttling business reach on the feed to encourage brands to move to IG Shopping. The only clear reason a brand would opt to use IG Shopping over Instagram’s feed (paired with shoppable posts) would be to grab eyes from shoppers who have a true intent to purchase, rather than intercepting them in their usual feed. On a platform where your brand isn’t competing with baby and dog photos, content could drive more conversions on IG Shopping.

But could IG Shopping reveal itself as a branded echo chamber? And how would paid ads work on a platform that exists for brands only?

3. Increased sales opportunities for influencers and DIYers

It’s our assumption that IG Shopping will require a business account to post on the platform. Since many influencers have business accounts already, ecommerce platform, Shopify, should be nervous about how this will make things much easier for influencers and small-scale DIYers who use their platform now.

If IG Shopping unveils itself as a highly-integrated ecommerce platform without requiring an entirely separate site to operate on, it almost certainly will steal business from other ecommerce platforms.

Do consumers want another standalone app?

Instagram’s vertical video app IGTV was released in June 2018, and as of August 2018, the feature’s launch partner’s recent videos received about 6.8 times as many views on their feed videos than they did on IGTV posts.

via Techcrunch

As Techcrunch noted, “if IGTV’s launch partners that benefited from early access and guidance aren’t doing so hot,” the platform likely has bigger problems on its hands. The standalone IGTV app has only peaked at #25 overall in the US iPhone app downloads.

How long will it be before Instagram Stories is a standalone app? Instagram Messenger? The future of ecommerce on Instagram relies on how easy it is to shop on it, but the continued development of more apps will likely contribute to the adoption rate of the platform.

After all, why would you shop on IG Shopping when you could keep shopping on the Instagram app you already have?

But however it’s executed — a standalone app or increased shopping features within Instagram’s main app — it feels clear that Instagram sees eCommerce as hugely important, and lucrative, part of its business going forward.

What are your thoughts on IG Shopping and ecommerce on Instagram? Let me know in the comments.

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13 tips for getting more Instagram likes and much more Instagram News…

How to Get Instagram Likes: 13 Tips that Actually Work from a recent Hootsuite Post…

Want to be ‘liked’ by a billion people on their mobile devices (mostly)?

What a self-esteem booster that would be.

Of course, only the greatest ad ever known to man-or-woman-kind could do that.

But, that’s how big Instagram has gotten, with 85.5 million of those 1B users in the U.S. Only Facebook is bigger. Being #2 ain’t so bad, eh? Yet, Instagram is numero uno in growth per quarter, at 5%.

Watch out FB, Instagram is coming.

Instagram is the photo-and-video-sharing network behemoth for consumers and brands. With users sharing 95 million photos and videos per day.

And for your biz?

eMarketer estimates Instagram ad revenues will balloon to $10.87 billion by 2019. A 37.7% increase since 2017. Snapchat is for slightly more mature markets, using broadband and high-end mobile devices, mostly for millennials. Instagram however, is attracting even younger people in mobile-centric, emerging markets. Most users are between 18-29 years old.

With this humongous community, how are you going to get after it?

To get your brand in front of new fans?

Read on… we’ll show you how. Let’s get straight to it.

Oh wait, silly me… forgot one thing first…

What are Instagram likes?

“And why does it matter?”

Good questions.

Like with the other platforms, just click an icon to ‘like’ what you see and hear. Though unlike the others, you don’t have to be a follower.

‘Likes’ matter because they’re often the first contact between your business and a new follower. This makes it easy for anyone to appreciate your post.

On Instagram, the ‘like’ icon takes the form of a heart.

More likes = more cred for your brand.

Think of it as a long-term, stay-top-of-mind, marketing strategy.

Onward to the tips, for reals this time.

13 real ways to get more Instagram likes

1. Share high-quality photos and videos

Of course, great content requires thought and planning. That is if you want people to actually click that heart. Three tips to help:

• Show your face. Or someone else’s. To increase your odds by 38%.

• Know your colors. Primarily blue pictures get 24% more ‘likes’ than red ones. Single versus multi-colored also increases ‘likes’ likelihood by 17%.

• Choose your filters. Thoughtfully. Filters that increase contrast, correct exposure, with a warmer tone get the best results. Just ask Yahoo and Georgia Tech. Use Instagram’s editing tools over their pre-programmed filters.

Keep things unique and varied, too. Instagram has tools for this. Here’s just 3 of them:

• Boomerang to create video loops, frontwards and backwards

• Focus to blur the background while keeping the face in focus

• Superzoom to automatically zoom in while playing a dramatic so

Here are some more tips on how to edit Instagram photos for maximum likeability.

2. Use hashtags wisely

Otherwise, you’ll make users angry. And Instagram, too.

You did your best to create great content, right? Keep up the pace with hashtags. These help others find you, even non-followers.

Finding you is the first step to liking you.

Best practices for appropriate hashtagging include:

• Use relevant tags. Otherwise users will select the ‘Don’t show for this hashtag’ option.

• Place them just right. Say, 2 or 3 of your most important tags in the photo caption.

• Need more than a few? Fine, Instagram allows 30 per post. But post them as a comment, more out of the way than your main hashtags. Find out how to do this in our Instagram Hacks post.

• Vary them up. Don’t use the same list for every post.

Which hashtags should you use?

Not the ones everyone else is using. Sure, #like4like is popular. But it’s pretty obvious to your followers that you’re fishing for ‘likes’ rather than connecting with like-minded peeps. Bots love these, too. Your stats will be meaningless, just like those tags.

Lebron James got in on the act with a vintage photo using #tbt (short for #throwbackthursday). That netted him 265,000 likes. Nice one, King James. Swish again.




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Wanna be one of the first to Congratulate you on this accomplishment/achievement tonight that you’ll reach! Only a handful has reach/seen it too and while I know it’s never been a goal of yours from the beginning try(please try) to take a moment for yourself on how you’ve done it!

The House you’re about to be apart of has only 6 seats in it(as of now) but 1 more will be added and you should be very proud and honored to be invited inside. There’s so many people to thank who has help this even become possible(so thank them all) and when u finally get your moment(alone) to yourself smile, look up to the higher skies and say THANK YOU! So with that said, Congrats again Young King 🤴🏾! 1 Love! #striveforgreatness🚀 #thekidfromakron👑

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One could write an entire article, just about hashtags. And we did.

3. Tag relevant users

Why tag someone? To encourage them to engage with your post and share it with their followers.

Or to credit them, if they took the picture/video.

Tag other Instagram users featured in your photos with an @-mention in your caption. Or, use Instagram’s tagging functionality. Either way, they’ll receive a notification.

4. Write darn-good captions

I was gonna say ‘damn-good’, but thought not to.


A nice visual plus text is like peanut-butter and chocolate. Readers will go ‘ahhhh’ (and tap the heart).

Write your captions with some TLC.

Tell your story, using words and pictures. Unlike Twitter, there’s no character limit. Make it long, or not. You get to decide. But make it count.

Some ideas:

• Ask a question. It can make the reader lean in, with interest. Sounds less promotional, too.

• Let your hair down. A little humor never hurt nobody. That ‘suit and tie’ approach… sucks. Especially for this crowd.

• Show some love. Got followers praising you? Cool. Mention them in your caption.

• That ‘less is more’ thing. True that. Sometimes a minimalist caption will highlight a striking image. Also, it can be a stylistic way to impress followers. One-liners, quotes, song lyrics… you’ve got options.

Short on caption ideas for your photos or videos? Get inspired.

5. Tag your location

Tagging your location puts your business on the map.

And, makes it dead simple for people to discover your photos and videos.

Plus, users view posts more that are tagged with a location.

Here’s how simple it is:

• Tap ‘Add Location’

• Search for your location

• Select it and post the photo or video

This becomes a clickable field for the user. Clicking on the location shows all photos and videos for that place. Your brand is now associated with this location, like a shop, hotel, or head office. Or, make it more general, for a city or town.

We good? Moving right along…

6. Get on the Explore tab

Also known as the Explore page.

What is it?

Curated topics and personalized content you will adore. At least that’s what Instagram believes, based on your previous actions and engagement patterns. Wired calls it, “the most honest place on the internet.” Ah, how nice. Click on the magnifying glass to see for yourself.

Why use it?

For your brand to become more recognized. Placing high on the Explore tab can get you new followers and a steady flow of traffic.

How to get on it

It’s not completely known, but most likely, Instagram uses these criteria to place content in the Explore tab:

• Content similar to what users engaged with

• Content with high engagement

• Content from accounts similar to accounts the user already follows

How to improve your chances

• Know your audience. Like: your target customer, their interests, and who they follow. Create a persona to target your content.

• Listen closely. Tailor your content based on how your audience is engaging with theirs.

• Use hashtags. We talked about this above. Don’t skip it.

That’s the abbreviated version. Learn more in our post on how to get on the Explore page.

7. Post consistently


• People will know what to expect. This keeps followers engaged with a consistent, versus overwhelming, flow in their feeds.

• Establishes authority and credibility. You’ll be considered a thought leader in your industry.

• Your brand will be recognized. By consistently sharing content with your target audience. 93% of organizations depend on this.

• Engage with your audience. Which makes them come back for more. Loyal customers generate more revenue. Cheaper than acquiring new ones.

• Generate leads. Give people useful, interesting content, they’ll knock on your e-door to learn more.

8. Post at the right time, too

Which is 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday.

That’s what we do. Because our audience scrolls through Instagram during their lunch hour. Since we’re B2B, our strategy is weekday focused.

Instagram moved away from the reverse-chronological feed, but timing still matters. They explain on their blog, posts are ordered based on:

• Likelihood of their interest in your content

• One’s relationship with your brand

• Timeliness of posts (an emphasis for us)

• Timing is everything. What’s yours?

Find out by:

• Knowing your audience

• Testing different times

• Measure what works, what doesn’t. Do more of what does.

9. Run a “like-to-win” contest

Say I offered you a free flight to your next holiday destination. You only needed to post a cool photo of yourself on vacation.

Would you do it?

Of course.

That’s the seductive play of an Instagram contest.

There’s a few types of these contests. We like the like-to-win one best.

It’s simple to do. Just ask users to like an Instagram photo of your brand, so they can win a prize. It’s a great way to connect with your audience and get people excited about your brand.

Set goals and metrics to see how it’s working.

• For building brand awareness, measure follower count, engagement, and website traffic

• For an annual sale, measure purchases, year-over-year engagement, and landing page traffic

You get the idea.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that reveals the exact steps an adventure photographer used to grow from 0 to 110,000 followers on Instagram with no budget and no expensive gear.

Get the free checklist right now!

10. Ask your followers to tag their friends

You can also encourage your followers to tag their friends in the comments. For example: “Tag someone you know who needs a vacation!” This can help expose your Instagram account to a larger network of people.

11. Comment and ‘like’ posts of others

Do this and Instagram will reward you, because they care most about engagement.

When a post receives a bunch of likes and comments, Instagram sees this as quality, engaging content that more people will want to see. So then…

• Get on and scroll your feed

• Like what you like

• Write useful comments (not patronizing ones)

Participate in a social community that actually cares about each other’s posts. Not much more to say than that.

12. Share your Instagram posts on other channels

No need to keep things to yourself.

Increase your reach by sharing your posts on other social sites. But, alter them a bit versus just posting as is. So it works best for that platform and audience. For instance…

• Address your Facebook friends differently than your LinkedIn connections

• Edit your message to fit Twitter’s 280 character count limit

• For Pinterest, post just the picture

Use formats wisely, too.

Multiple hashtags work well for Twitter and Instagram. But on Facebook or LinkedIn, you might not get the same results.

13. Use Instagram ads

Remember that $10.87 billion in revenue by 2019?

You want some of that, right? Just like 2 million other companies.

Here’s some ads to help you get more likes on Instagram:

Photo ads

Use these to tell your story and showcase your products using compelling images.

Parachute Home used these to promote a 60-night trial of their bedding, using a Shop Now call-to-action.

Their beautiful stuff aimed at 18-54 year-olds, for their core customer profile. The result? A 3.7 times return on spend. With a click-through rate 2 times that of ads on other platforms.

Video ads

As we now know, Instagram users are crazeeee about videos.

Videos were posted 4 times more than photos in 2017, compared to 2016.

Seems you should do the same.

OGX, a global hair care brand, created a video campaign around ‘Rock What You’ve Got”. This featured women celebrating their diverse hair textures and styles, targeted to millennial women.

This reached an impressive 61 percent of the target audience in the US. The same in Canada, UK, Germany, and Australia combined.

Video ads can be up to 60 seconds, but OGX shows a solid video doesn’t need to be long, as theirs was only 15 seconds.

Carousel ads

These let users swipe through a series of images or videos, with a call-to-action button connecting them directly to your website. Use more creative freedom to tell a longer story.

That’s what Kayla Itsines, founder of fitness empire Bikini Body Guide did.

She created and published a series of carousel ads for her workout app, Sweat: Kayla Itsines Fitness.

This showcased short fitness sequences demonstrating how users could exercise anywhere, anytime with the app. She targeted women aged 18 to 42, reaching 6.4 million people. With an incredible 21-point increase in brand awareness.

Woohoo! Gonna work on my bod right after completing this post. I’m inspired.

Sight, sound, and motion to inspire people around your brand and products.

Stories ads

These are full-screen ads appearing to users between Stories they’re already viewing from people they follow. 400 million Instagram users view Stories every day.

Choose how often people see your Stories ad. Stories expire after 24 hours, ideal for sharing limited-time offers and promotions.

Stories ads look like a regular post. The call-to-action works like a swipe-up feature, taking users directly to your website.

Good stuff for getting more Instagram likes using ads. Read even more about how to advertise on Instagram.

And that’s the story of how to get more Instagram likes

Now you know how to get more likes, which will get you more followers.


But that’s not the only way to get more followers. Here’s 21 more ways.

A marketer’s job is never done.

And we can help…

Save time managing your Instagram presence using Hootsuite. From a single dashboard you can schedule and publish photos directly to Instagram, engage the audience, measure performance, and run all your other social media profiles. Try it free today.


Facebook VP Carolyn Everson: The Future Of Ads On Instagram, WhatsApp

Facebook’s VP of Global Marketing Solutions, Carolyn Everson, sat down with The Wall Street Journal’s Media and Marketing Reporter Lara O’Reilly at Advertising Week and discussed, among other things, the future of Instagram and WhatsApp as far as marketers and advertisers are concerned.

IG and WhatsApp are two of the highest profile acquisitions Facebook has made, and their global success is a major part of what makes Facebook so powerful from a marketing perspective—especially Instagram, the rising star of social media.

At the same time, both platforms are becoming the subject of intense scrutiny as Facebook continues to use them as vehicles to drive ad dollars, much to the chagrin of their founders. Everson discussed the public acrimony between Facebook and its portfolio companies—check out the main takeaways, below.

[Click here to read Everson’s thoughts on the future of Facebook]

Instagram is not about to become “another Facebook” for consumers

Instagram’s co-founders recently stepped down from the company, and as the former head of Facebook’s News Feed steps into the leadership role, some have worried that Instagram will become a Facebook clone—which is exactly what many Instagram users don’t want.

Everson says that turning Instagram into “another Facebook” would be a mistake.

“We have every incentive for Instagram to have a unique value proposition… that would completely destroy its value,” she said.

Marketers, however, want a simplified backend across all Facebook platforms

While consumers may not see big changes to the Instagram user experience any time soon, Everson did note that a goal for the company was to “simplify” the infrastructure for marketers.

“We have a unified backend infrastructure so that marketers can upload their creative, we can help adapt it to different platforms… and just simplify their life,” she said.

“My team around the world is one unified team to the marketer, because a marketer doesn’t need to have four different meetings,” she added.

Instagram Stories is still the best deal for brave marketers


O’Reilly asked what Instagram would do to increase monetization of the platform’s Stories, which has become an unexpected hit for the company.

Everson responded by noting that monetization always takes time to catch up to a new user behavior, citing the company’s switch to mobile as another recent example.

But when it comes to the prices of advertising on Stories, Everson said that the company wouldn’t raise prices arbitrarily.

“Marketers are rewarded for bravery for moving into new ad formats,” where the prices are just less expensive, she said. “The real savvy marketers have really figured that out and are shifting rapidly into Stories.”

[We’ve been telling you to invest in Stories for awhile now, by the way.]

Small business is the driving force of advertising on WhatsApp

Facebook has moved more cautiously with messaging app WhatsApp when it comes to advertising. Everson pointed out that it took time to understand the “consumer value proposition” of the app, which is now revealing itself without Facebook creating a tool to manufacture one.

“People are already communicating with businesses.You go to India—the majority of businesses have WhatsApp accounts, they don’t have websites,” she said. “We saw that people wanted to communicate with businesses… we saw that behavior and started to build out those tools.”

Expect 2019 to bring changes for WhatsApp

Everson emphasized that the company would be “very cautious and slow moving” on WhatsApp overall—but that 2019 would be a year of new things for the app, such as targeted ads.

“What we’ve talked about publicly is that in 2019 we’ll talk about ads in Status [the WhatsApp version of Stories] in WhatsApp,” she said.

For the full conversation, head over to Facebook Business to watch the video.

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

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Instagram Is Working On Letting You Hide Hashtags

Nothing screams desperation more than a social media post with a ton of hashtags. Soon, you may be able to flood your post with tags while saving face.

Discerning brands, influencers, and content creators know that they can’t overload a post with hashtags; those that do look like they’re dredging the social media floor, looking for followers.

But according to ace developer Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane), Instagram is testing a feature that would let you hide your hashtags from your post, without limiting the number of hashtags you can use (at least for now). That way, your picture of an incredible meal can show up in the feed for posts marked #food, #foods, #deliciousfood, #noms, or any other trending concept you’d like—without giving you away to your core followers.

Another upside to this is that users’ Instagram feeds will be much less cluttered. Feeds will be more about what makes Instagram so likeable—the photos and captions—and less about an endless stream of words jammed together.

Why would Instagram do this?

Wong offered the perfect explanation for why Instagram would make this change, explaining that people and brands are misusing hashtags in order to promote their content:

“#because #people #like #posting #with #captions #like #this #in #hope #of #boosting #the #engagement #but #it #ruins #the #user #experience” she wrote on Twitter.

How can brands and marketers benefit?

The rules for a smart branded post will still apply to those marketing a product: Posts that are sponsored will still likely need to prominently display “#ad” or #sponsored” in the caption.

But this will open up the playing field a bit for brands that want to expand the reach of their post, but didn’t want to risk ridicule by overloading their captions.

It appears that the hashtags will still be available for users to view—but they’ll be packaged together behind a lead hashtag (i.e., “#NewYork + 6”), keeping them out of sight and out of mind.

Because the feature is still testing, a lot could change between now and the time it’s rolled out—Wong estimates in 1-3 months—but so far this appears to be a promising development by a platform that will need plenty of new press in the coming weeks as it deals with the departure of its co-founders.

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

The post Instagram Is Working On Letting You Hide Hashtags appeared first on Social Media Week.


Facebook Has Been Hurting Instagram’s Growth — And It May Be Intentional

This week, Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger announced their decision to leave the company they sold to Facebook six years ago. Subsequent reports of a fall out between IG’s visionaries and parent company Facebook are exposing a nasty rift.

For months, it has appeared that things between Instagram and Facebook, and between Systrom and Mark Zuckerberg, couldn’t be better. Both social media platforms have benefitted massively from being intertwined with one another—Facebook has boosted IG’s profile and instituted lucrative marketing changes, and IG has become the hip, less-bloated alternative to its scandal-ridden big brother.

Changes to the relationship between the two platforms, however, reportedly incensed Systrom and Krieger and induced them to announce abrupt departures.

When Facebook bought Instagram, there was a public and sustained effort for Facebook to stay out of Instagram’s way. This autonomy allowed Instagram to avoid a lot of the backlash that Facebook has received in recent years.

As of late, that mindset has changed, and not to Instagram’s benefit.

How Facebook kneecapped Instagram

You might think that Facebook would want to continue to promote and champion Instagram, the company’s crowning acquisition, considering it was recently named social media’s most-loved platform and use is skyrocketing.

According to Recode, that’s not the case: Facebook recently dialed back how much it promotes IG within the Facebook app, a decision that came directly from Zuckerberg. This apparently affected weekly referrals—a drop measured in hundreds of thousands of users.

Facebook also began downplaying the role Instagram has played in photo sharing across both platforms. In the old days, photos shared to Facebook via Instagram were actually labeled as such, reminding people that IG is the place to create and share your masterfully edited (or even just your #nofilter) photos. That label is gone now, making it look as though users are posting photos directly to Facebook even when they’re not.

This may not seem like the biggest deal. Facebook owns Instagram, so if you post to Instagram, you are in a sense posting to Facebook. But to Instagram employees, including the founders, it looked as though Facebook was taking credit for engagement that they weren’t driving.

Whether you want to look at this as Facebook simply doing less for IG than before, or Facebook wanting to take more credit, it drove a wedge between the higher-ups that couldn’t be repaired.

What does this mean for Instagram?

Adam Mosseri, head of product at Instagram, a former Facebook exec, and reportedly part of Zuckerberg’s “inner circle,” will take over IG.

Not surprisingly, the loss of the platform’s creators and the installation of an extension of Zuckerberg has some worried that Instagram is “about to suck.”

If Instagram does begin to suck, however, that won’t happen for some time. The platform has too much momentum as a social media powerhouse at the moment, and the kind of institutional changes that Mosseri and Zuck might come up with would take a long time to implement.

But if IG soon begins to resemble its parent company in ways that have turned off many former Facebook users, expect social media historians to point to this moment as the beginning of the end.

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

The post Facebook Has Been Hurting Instagram’s Growth — And It May Be Intentional appeared first on Social Media Week.


Why Instagram Is Focused On Shopping In Stories

Instagram’s “Stories” feature has come a long way from being a Snapchat copycat. It’s now the focus of the platform’s push into the world of shopping and e-commerce

Stories—the temporary photos or videos that users post separately from their permanent feed—have been popular with advertisers since it launched in 2016, and brands are finding traction in the format as wel.

To capitalize on that interest, IG is expanding its shopping capabilities specifically within Stories. A trial feature that allows advertisers to tag posts with links that direct people directly to their e-commerce arms is being expanded to businesses in 46 countries, according to The Drum.

Stories on IG was originally seen as an add-on feature, incorporated to nullify the advantage that upstart Snapchat had over the platform. People ate up Snapchat’s Story function, and now you can find a near exact replica on Facebook and Instagram.

How did this afterthought become the focal point for IG’s Shopping experience, ahead of the company starting a standalone Shopping app? There are a few reasons:

Stories is the rising star of social media

Instagram, in general, is the most-loved social media app out there. The open secret about the platform is that Stories has become the star of the show: Stories “has attracted more than 400 million daily users” according to Recode.

Brands love it for its “BTS” feel

Just like people love Stories for the low-pressure, low-stakes vibe—you can post shaky, blurry, weird, funny (or not funny), and/or experimental photos, and if they don’t land, they’ll be gone in a day—brands love it as a medium for posting genuine, authentic, often “behind-the-scenes” style content that resonates with users.

Brands like Asos have already raved about how Stories has helped supercharge their marketing campaign. Expect companies to continue to explore how they can turn viewers into shoppers with these new capabilities.

They’re a great place to convene with influencers

Influencer marketing is exploding right now, and brands are finding that creating partnerships with influencers that are exclusive to Stories is a win-win for all parties.

For the brands, users aren’t as likely to skip past the influencer’s sponsored content when it’s posted in Stories as opposed to the feed. For the influencers, they can relegate their #ads to Stories, cycling quickly through campaigns that don’t work for them and re-upping on those that do.

It’s clear that Facebook and Instagram are ready to take on the world of e-commerce in a big way. And with hundreds of millions of daily users ready to find tags that link out to brands’ e-commerce sites, they have a huge advantage over other platforms in the space.

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

The post Why Instagram Is Focused On Shopping In Stories appeared first on Social Media Week.


AJ&Smart Has Generated More Than €2 Million in Sales from Social Media: Here’s How

  • Product design and innovation studio AJ&Smart has generated more than €2million from clients who first discovered it on social media.
  • Ninety percent of AJ&Smart’s new clients now come from social media referrals, replacing word-of-mouth as the #1 source of new business.
  • Social media has helped AJ&Smart’s client base to go global.

It was a cold January morning in Berlin, Germany, and Jonathan Courtney was feeling a bit stuck.

Nearly six years had passed since he founded design agency, AJ&Smart. And though the business had been a huge success — winning multiple awards and building a roster of big-name clients — Jonathan felt there was much more to come for his agency and team.

“But what?” he wondered to himself. “How can we take AJ&Smart to the next level?”

After much deliberation, Jonathan made a bold decision.

“Do you really want to do this?,” one advisor asked.

Other CEO friends in Berlin shared similar feelings. “Not only did they not understand it, they thought I was actively damaging the company,” he told me.

So what was it that sparked such impassioned responses from his friends and advisors?

Jonathan wanted to share everything that happened at AJ&Smart on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, giving followers behind-the-scenes access to the agency.

Yet now, 18-months down the line — and despite the initial pushback from advisors — AJ&Smart has generated in excess €2million in revenue from clients who first discovered the agency on social media.

‘We invested almost all of our profits in building our brand’

Whether you love his work or not, Gary Vaynerchuk is hard to ignore in the social media space.

If you’ve ever listened to his podcasts or stumbled upon a few of his tweets, you’ve probably heard some variation of his ‘Document. Don’t create’ blueprint. It was this strategy that encouraged Jonathan to take the plunge into the world of social media.

Trying to create content was always a big issue for Jonathan. He liked the ‘Document. Don’t create’ strategy because it was focused on simply showing people what was happening day-to-day and it didn’t require him or his team to spend hours planning what they’d publish.

“People think that you’re damaging your brand if you’re not being super careful about it. But while other agencies are thinking about what they should post each week and writing their social media guidelines, we’ve produced and published like 20 hours of content in that same amount of time and already have people engaging with it.”

Jonathan Courtney (@jicecream)
CEO & Co-founder, AJ&Smart

Once Jonathan and the AJ&Smart team had decided to embrace social media, they went all in. “We invested almost all of our profits in building our brand,” Jonathan told me.

And though his strategy was a little out there for a creative agency — most agencies keep their cards close to their chest, Jonathan explained during our call — there was a strategic reason behind it.

AJ&Smart helps clients with product design and innovation as well as working closely with the Design Sprint creator (& NY Times Best Selling author), Jake Knapp. But it’s a competitive space.

“We’re in a commodity market,” Jonathan says. “We could compete on price or just rely on the quality of our work. But I didn’t want to do that.”

Jonathan wanted AJ&Smart to stand out alone in the field of design agencies. He wanted the business to have its own brand. “My belief was having a highly engaged audience would benefit us more than simply just focusing on client work,” he explained.

‘Instagram is our social media hub’

AJ&Smart decided to go all in on social media when Instagram launched Stories. “It was a super low friction way to create content and a great way to get started,” Jonathan said.

AJ&Smart uses Stories to be provide an authentic look at what the agency is like day-to-day and tries to show as much of what’s happening in real-time as possible.

For example, in its Stories you might see behind-the-scenes at a client workshop:

Or the team traveling to meetings with clients:

This type of content is super interesting for AJ&Smart’s followers, but it also provides talking points for its clients. “We’ll go into an office of a client and because of Instagram they’ll know the whole journey we’ve gone on to get to them. They always talk about it when we arrive,” Jonathan explained.

When it comes to the Instagram feed, it posts highly curated content that’s focused on design-related hashtags it wants to reach:

Hashtags are important for AJ&Smart to reach its target audience on Instagram. “A huge thing for us is designers following us,” Jonathan explained. “Designers follow us and then when their boss is looking to hire an agency, they recommend AJ&Smart. It’s made sales so much easier for us.”

Instagram has also evolved into a central hub for all of AJ&Smart’s content and it uses the Stories Highlight feature to showcase its content across platforms.

For example, one highlight showcases its podcast:

And another talks about its ‘Innovation Hackers’ Facebook Group:

“We’re big believers in re-purposing and re-packaging content tailored to the platform. We usually find that when someone starts following us on one channel, they’ll very likely soon start following us across our other channels too, which is fantastic. It also keeps us on our toes to always be putting out interesting, fresh content that is specific to the platform.”

Laura Faint (@laurafaint_)
Head of Growth, AJ&Smart


‘If you’re just focused on the numbers, you’re not going to succeed’

Social media success rarely, if ever, happens overnight.

After a couple of months of investing heavily in social media marketing, AJ&Smart had only picked up a few hundred followers here and there. And it took about eight-months in total before potential clients would contact the company saying they found it on Instagram, YouTube or any other social channels.

“If I hadn’t have been patient I’d have given up long before we started to see the benefits of social media. If you’re just focused on the numbers, you’re not going to succeed,” Jonathan explained.

The ROI of social media marketing

Just over a year-and-a-half after AJ&Smart went all in on social media, it’s seeing massive return on its investment:

  • 90 percent of its clients first discover the agency on one of their social media channels
  • Social media has been responsible for a minimum of €2 million in revenue
  • Its client base has expanded globally thanks to its social media presence

“If a company interviews us and two other agencies and the work and costs are similar, they tend to book us,” Jonathan says.

“They will choose AJ&Smart because they can get an insight who we are from social media, they feel we’re an authority because of the content we create and sometimes clients even ask for certain team members after seeing them on stories.”

“Having a strong social media presence is massive for us. To the point where almost every customer coming through our door already trusts us, knows who we are and what we stand for. It’s not only how many of our clients find out about us, it’s usually what convinces them to choose us over our competitors.”

Brittni Bowering (@brittnibow)
Head of Media, AJ&Smart


How to start grabbing attention and winning clients

AJ&Smart has been incredibly successful on social media by being authentic and sharing what goes on at the agency every day. It doesn’t spend hours planning content or creating elaborate, highly-edited videos. Instead, it just shares the processes its team goes through and the work they’re doing.

To get started all you need to do is pick up a phone, open up Instagram or Facebook and start talking about your work and the things you care about.

As Jonathan said on our call: “There’s little or no reason not to be talking with your audience every single day now.”

Find AJ&Smart on Instagram or learn more about the agency here.


How to Sell on Instagram: A Stories Strategy That’s Generated ‘Hundreds of Thousands’ in Sales

  • Kettlebell Kings has used educational content to build an audience of over 79,000 fitness enthusiasts on Instagram.
  • It generates 400-600 new leads per week from social media, with half of those leads coming directly from Instagram.
  • ‘Hundreds of thousands of dollars’ in revenue can be directly attributed to leads generated on Instagram.

Read on to get the full story and learn exactly how Kettlebell Kings uses Instagram to grow its revenue.

“We all had what I guess you call ‘real jobs’,” Jay Perkins told me.

Back in 2013, Jay worked at Bigcommerce, an e-commerce software provider where he learned about what it takes to have a successful online business.

But Jay could only hold back his entrepreneurial ambitions for so long.

After kicking around business ideas for a year-or-so, Jay and his two business partners decided to take the plunge and launch an online store of their own.

Fast-forward to 2018 and Kettlebell Kings is a leading kettlebell equipment supplier based in Austin, Texas, generating mid seven-figures per year in revenue — with much of its new business coming directly from leads generated on Instagram.

‘Most of our biggest deals and business development relationships have come through Instagram’

There was a time, when Kettlebell Kings first started out, that Google AdWords campaigns and a compelling free shipping offer — “the first of its kind in the kettlebell space,” Jay said — were its main marketing tactics.

Yet as the company grew, social media took over as the #1 way to generate new business and Instagram is now Kettlebell Kings most successful marketing and acquisition channel.

“On average we get 400-600 leads per week from social media, with half coming from Instagram,” Jay told me over email.

When it comes to revenue generated directly from Instagram “it would be in the hundreds of thousands,” he revealed (Kettlebell Kings uses Hubspot to track its conversions).

But Instagram hasn’t just helped Kettlebell Kings to generate one-off sales to consumers, it’s also an important channel for business development.

Jay explained:

“Most of our biggest deals and business development relationships have come through Instagram — we have even signed deals with national gym chains from leads generated on the platform.”

Instagram didn’t become a lead generation goldmine overnight, though. It took a lot of work.

‘We’re very strict on the posts that go into our feed’

The first step to a successful Instagram marketing strategy is creating content for your Instagram feed that your audience wants to see and engage with.

In the Instagram feed, Kettlebell Kings focuses on sharing educational content and workout examples — this strategy has helped it to amass an audience of over 79,000 followers. It also reposts images and videos from customers and this user-generated content angle has lead to the hashtag #kettlebellkings being used more than 20,000 times on Instagram.

Key takeaway: User-generated content

“Back in 2016, we started to embrace user-generated content for our Buffer Instagram account. In the first year, this strategy helped our account grow by almost 400% – 4,250 to 21,000 followers. Now we have over 40,000 followers.”

Brian Peters
Digital Marketing Strategist


“We’re very strict on the posts that go into our feed,” says Jay. For a post to make it to Kettlebell Kings’ Instagram feed, the content must:

  • Feature good use of a Kettlebell Kings product ✅
  • Show good form (when using the kettlebells) ✅
  • Provide a ton of value to the viewer (helping them to learn something new, improve their technique) ✅

But with stories, Jay believes there’s more freedom to post less-polished content at a higher frequency.

Kettlebell Kings can also repost and feature more of its customers using stories than it can within the feed. “We can repost 10-12 customers who tag us on a daily basis through stories,” says Jay. Being reposted by the Kettlebell Kings account is highly engaging and rewarding for those featured and it also encourages more and more customers to share their content on Instagram.

Here’s how that strategy plays out…

Within the Instagram feed, you might see a video of a perfectly-executed kettlebell workout:

Or a shoppable, high-quality image of a Kettlebell Kings product:

Then on Instagram Stories you might see a Kettlebell Kings customer working out:

But how does this all translate into leads and revenue?

Instagram Stories: The lead-gen secret weapon

Now we move onto the conversion focused part of this strategy.

Here’s how Kettlebell Kings drives hundreds of leads per week directly from Instagram.

1. Share engaging content to stories

First, Kettlebell Kings will share content to Instagram Stories. Often these posts will be workout examples or reposts from customers:

On average these stories will be viewed by around 10 percent of Kettlebell Kings’ followers, sometimes up to 15 percent if there’s a CTA in a feed post to ‘check out stories’.

2. Include swipe up CTAs to drive traffic to a landing page

Next, Kettlebell Kings will include a CTA to ‘Swipe Up’ for workout examples or more content within one of its stories posts:

Writer’s note:

The Instagram Stories ‘Swipe Up’ feature is now available to all Instagram business accounts with 10,000 followers or more.

If you don’t quite have 10,000 followers, here are some resources to help you grow your account:

Ash Read
Managing Editor


Once a viewer swipes up, they will be taken to a landing page or an article where they can read more about a topic and enter their email address for more exclusive content:

These pages tend to convert visitors to email addresses at around 25-45 percent, depending on the traffic source. So 100 visits would generate between 25 and 45 new leads, on average.

3. Create custom email flows for each landing page

Finally, once the visitor has shared their email address it will be entered into one of many email workflows Kettlebell Kings has designed to serve helpful emails about kettlebell workouts and techniques from experts.

“We have unique workflows depending on how someone has entered our system,” Jay explained. All its workflows are about building value and trust with new leads. Kettlebell Kings purposely includes product photos in its emails but rarely sends offers or tries to make a sale. Instead, providing high quality content is the number one goal.

Due to the work Jay and his team put in ensuring Kettlebell Kings’ Instagram feed is always filled with fresh, engaging content the company constantly has batches of new followers — “about 1,000 new followers per week right now,” Jay says — to check out its Instagram Stories and enter into its email funnels.

Over to you

This strategy has generated ‘hundreds of thousands’ in revenue for Kettlebell Kings and there’s no reason you can’t also implement within your own social media plans.

How does your business use Instagram Stories? Let me know in the comments below.

Feature image: Vibetality / Kettlebell Kings on Instagram


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