Instagram launched Reels in August after a year of testing, and now the platform is getting serious about its leadership in the e-commerce space, and more specifially competing with the likes of TikTok, through some bold real estate changes that give it direct exposure on the main screen.
Here’s a look at some of the updates brands and marketers can expect on their feeds and how to lean into them as a way to connect with their audiences.
Prioritizing the short-form video feed
In the new redesign, the Compose button and Activity tab are relocated and now accessible at the top-right of the home screen, while the center middle button now belongs to, you guessed it, the Reels icon. Previously, Reel videos were mixed in with other photo and video uploads found on the Explore page or in your feed if someone happened to share onee. This led to the platform testing new layouts over the past couple of months as early users dubbed the content hard to find. Now, the Reels button takes you to a dedicated page of curated content organized by people you follow and your previous engagement patterns and interests.
As far as if we can expect ads to pop up in Reels soon, the quick answer is yes. Instagram Head Adam Mosseri shared in a statement to CNBC, “I think that we can leverage the story ad format [for Reels] because it’s the same immersive experience, so that’ll be helpful because you don’t need to get advertisers to create a bunch of new creative.” This may pave the way to more welcomed advertising opportunities for brands especially amongst younger demographics who crave experiences from the content delivered to them.
If 2020 has underscored any actionable learnings, a top one to pocket is that consumers want to be engaged with in the spaces they’re already interacting. This is what translates into successful, genuine action and loyalty needed to rise about the clutter.
Fueling inspiration, commerce and support of small businesses
By some estimates including those from analysts at IBM, COVID-19 has accelerated the shift to e-commerce by at least five years. Instagram has been virtually shoppable since 2018, but to stay abreast of the current evolution of e-commerce and consumer behavior patterns, the platform wasted no time taking drastic measures to pivot accordingly.
Earlier this summer, Instagram began testing the Shop tab in place of the Activity tab in July, directing users to an updated version of the Instagram Shop. Here, they had the capability to filter by brands they followed on Instagram or by product category. Most recently, the platform is displaying this tab more prominently upon seeing an uptick in younger demographics looking to influencers for buying inspiration.
“…We’ve seen an explosion in short, entertaining videos on Instagram. We’ve also seen an incredible amount of shopping move online, with more and more people buying online and young people looking to their favorite creators for recommendations on what to buy,” Instagram head Mosseri shared in the official announcement.
Specifically, with the push users can more easily access personalized recommendations, shoppable videos, and new product collections as well as browse editors’ picks curated by the @shop channel.
Finding a balance between speed and simplicity
The overarching goal with the design revamp as explained by Director of Product Management, Robby Stein, is an expanded suite of products underpinned by simplicity and seamlessness. Put differently, there’s a clear and a designated spot for posting your own content, a specific spot to go when you want to be entertained, and a distinct hub for making purchases.
In the announcement, Mosseri also reiterated the platform’s biggest risk is not the pace at which it evolves, but that it remains stagnant and inevitably becomes irrelevant. This is a particularly relevant point when taking into consideration how people create and enjoy culture has fundamentally changed and what this means for marketers. Adaptability is inevitable and a necessity in order to foster long-term relationships. The key, however, is doing so purposefully and with a bias toward simple, easy actions driven by authentic digital experiences.
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Feature image credit: marketingland.com