Instagram recently got one step closer to in-app shopping, releasing Check Out on Instagram in closed beta. Currently, the feature is only available to select brands, primarily beauty brands.
With the release of this feature, many are talking about what this means for brands and shoppers. The feature is intended to make in-app shopping very easy, saving users from needing to go to the website to check out. Brands will have to pay a selling fee, but that may not matter if it means they can convert more impulse purchases.
One other group of people no one seems to be talking about is influencers. What effect could this have on influencer marketing? After all, influencer marketing played a huge role in shaping Instagram into an e-commerce app.
Even though the feature is still in beta, Instagram has said that it intends to roll out the feature for future brand and influencer content along with additional shopping features. So we ask, what are the potential ramifications of in-app buying on influencer marketing?
Influencer Partnerships May Become Closely Tied to Sales
While there are certainly ways to attribute influencer campaigns to sales, in-app purchasing may make attribution even easier. Engagement metrics can be closely tied to sales.
This may also mean that brands may hold influencers accountable to product sales because users don’t have to leave the app to make a purchase. The barrier to buy will effectively disappear.
As it is today, influencers are primarily compensated for their time and content, not for sales. If it becomes easier for brands to track sales from in-app links, perhaps compensation models will change.
Influencers and Brands Will Value Sales Over Engagement
For influencers and brands who dedicate most of their time to Instagram publishing, making money from the app will likely become easier. This could in turn mean more brand and influencer content that is focused on sales rather than engagement.
Brands will need to evaluate what is most important to them: sales or engagement. If a brand is all about moving product, will it risk losing followers and more importantly, brand loyalists as a result of less authentic or even “salesy” content?
Influencers will have a similar decision to make. Is increased commission worth potentially losing followers? Is conversion rate more important than engagement rate?
More Influencers Will Launch Their Own Brands
Check out any influencer with a large enough following, and you’re more than likely to see Instagram Stories full of product swipe-up links. Influencers use Instagram, especially Instagram Stories, as another way to earn commission for product sales.
Currently, shoppers have to check out while the app is still open for these bloggers to get commission from an Instagram Stories link. Affiliate links won’t apply if a user closes the app or transfers from mobile to desktop. This friction makes it difficult for bloggers earn their rightful commission.
In-app purchasing should streamline this process and make it easier for influencer to earn a more accurate pay. Although I’m sure there will be limitations as to who has access to Checkout, I foresee influencers finding creative ways to convert more sales through Instagram– perhaps even launching their own brands to get the most out of the platform.
Bloggers who already have a loyal, established Instagram following will have an easier time starting a new brand because they have additional platforms, like their websites, on which to drive sales. I predict that we see more Instagram influencers making the jump from monetizing content to monetizing full brands.
Only time will tell what effect Instagram’s move to e-commerce will have on brands and influencers, but we expect that both parties will continue to utilize shoppable features and focus less on engagement. This might mean that the Instagram we know today could become a thing of the past.