Big Changes in the Social Retail Game


Retail brands have been struggling for years now to measure  the direct return on their social marketing programs. Many are only just coming to realize that it’s not about a hard sell but more about resonating with a common interest and building a loyal community around what the brand stands for. This is not going to change, and if anything will continue to challenge brands to think deeper about their organization and marketing communications. 

However, there is a light at the end of this continuing tunnel for marketers. The newly announced “buy now” buttons for Instagram and Pinterest are going to change the game for retailers. They’ll now be able to correlate direct sales to their social marketing campaigns. 

Olsy Sorokina, a blog contributor for Hootsuite, explains the functionality for both platforms well.


Sorokina explains that, “users will be able to filter their products by price and even color, and pay for the purchase using Apple Pay or a credit card. Buyable pins are expected to roll out to US users first; interestingly enough, the feature will be available to iOS mobile and tablet users first and will be rolled out to Android and desktop afterward. This is undoubtedly telling of Pinterest’s user behavior trends that may be relevant for your brand.

She continues to say that, “in the first few weeks, only a select few retailers—big names such as Macy’s, Nordstrom and Michaels—will offer their products for purchase through buyable Pins. However, the platform is promising to speed up the e-commerce process for other brands, especially those who use the online commerce platform Shopify.”

Sorokina warns marketers that, “before you get your products Pin-ready, first revisit some of these best practices of using Pinterest for business. If you have any Promoted Pins in circulation already, take a look at the numbers and see which ones perform best. Remember, since the user won’t be visiting any additional pages before making a decision about the purchase, your Pin should contain all the necessary information and show off the product in its full glory for maximum buyer satisfaction.”

She says that, “since the feature is launching on mobile first, check out how your Pins stack up against others on a smartphone screen—you may be surprised at what you see.”

Instagram’s Shop Now

Instagram Shop Now Image 

Sorokina continues to explain that, “Instagram’s developers found themselves between a rock and a hard place: On one side, the network’s skyrocketing user base made Instagram the natural place to go for social media marketers, and the focus on visual media made it an attractive network for advertisers. On the other hand, Instagram has striven to maintain its seamless browsing experience.”

She says that the, “The new call-to-action buttons, shown for the first time on Instagram’s official blog, are a win-win for the network and its advertisers. Just like the “Sponsored” tag did before, the actionable buttons fit right in to the familiar interface. The mock-up design revealed a variety of choices for calls to action, from “Shop Now” to buttons directing users to install an app, sign up for a service or simply “Learn More.”

Sorokina continues to say that that the, “addition to the new ad format, Instagram is promising brands enhanced targeting based on the users’ demographics and interests. It’s not difficult to imagine how this feature will play out, knowing the robust analytics available for Facebook advertisers. However, Instagram’s official statement hints at features that will be uniquely tailored to Instagram’s functionalities: “Advertisers also want to target their messages in more effective ways and reach people not just because of their age, location and gender, but because of the people, places and things they love.” If you’re wondering where Instagram would learn about the users’ interests, Instagram’s global head of business and brand development James Quarles told Adweek that the network will also be relying on its parent company, Facebook, for that information.”

“Another challenge standing in the way of most brands was the exclusive nature of the opportunity to advertise with Instagram. When the sponsored posts were first rolled out to US users, the network only allowed a select few certain brands to take advantage of Instagram ads. Now, with the new ad format and API changes, Instagram is promising businesses of all sizes an opportunity to promote their posts—also using Facebook’s existing ad buying infrastructure to accommodate the demand. And with the reported results from Instagram ads, the feature is sure to be popular among brands: according to a Nielsen Brand Effect survey cited on Instagram’s blog, ad recall from sponsored posts on Instagram was almost three times higher than Nielsen’s norms for online advertising.”

Sigma’s Director of Media, Kerri Koppel said, “we are going to see more seamless integration between brand, device & retail to address the current consumer journey. Making it easy to purchase products through social media is just one piece—as consumers continue to use technology to build and customize their mobile shopping experiences, marketers will look for ways to integrate branding and attribute ROI.”

So how do you go about capitalizing on all of these? Spend time to truly understand how your audience wants to interact with your brand. Understand and appreciate their likes and dislikes. Get out of the sell, sell, sell mindset and encourage your team to start developing more meaningful content that will actually convert when this new social retail tech officially rolls out.




Photo Credit: Intagram and Pinterest

Source: Olsy Sorokina


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