The impact of social media shopping on online businesses

30th November 2018 - Social Media
The impact of social media shopping on online businesses

Social media shopping is a relatively new phenomenon which has transformed the way that online retailers advertise and sell goods. The introduction of Instagram shopping has allowed businesses to sell as well as advertise their products via the platform and as one of the most frequently used social media sites in the world, business has been thriving. Data shows that over 40% of small businesses prefer their customers to visit their Instagram rather than their website. Join us as we investigate the full effects of Instagram shopping on online businesses and make some predictions for the future:


Instagram is currently one of the most popular social media platforms in the world, making it a great choice for online businesses. It’s an ideal platform for brands to connect with their consumers in a way that they once couldn’t. It’s reported that Instagram has over 800 million users, including 25 million business accounts and two million advertisers. Amy Cole, Instagram’s head of business development, tells Marketing Week: “Brands tell their story in the same way an individual person does, so it creates a direct relationship and levels the playing field for small and big businesses.”

Instagram’s Shopify feature increases accessibility for consumers as brands can link directly to the products, making the shopping experience easier. These “shoppable posts” allow users to click-through these links straight to the website. At the time of research, 600,000 businesses were reported as using Shopify, and more than $63 billion (£48 billion) worth of products has been sold through the platform.

How are brands connecting with social media users?

Brands have been effectively using social media as a tool to connect with their core consumers for a number of years now. Currently, 30% of the most viewed stories on Instagram are from brands. This suggests that people enjoy seeing what a business is up to and connecting with their favourite brands in this way. Plus, one third of messages sent through Instagram Direct each month begin with an Instagram Story. Keep your Stories updated and maintain a connection with your customers through this feature as preparation for Shopify on Stories. For instance, why not show your consumers what goes into the making of the latest piece?

Selling products via social media is a sound strategy for brands. The new feature also looks more natural for users of the platform; as products are already advertised on Instagram, consumers are already used to seeing them and linking directly seems to make sense. This is unlike the other options of Instagram advertising where you choose from photo ads, carousel ads (with multiple pictures), video ads and Stories ads. Encourage users to click-through into the image with a call to action in the caption, such as encouraging them to learn more about the item by following the Shopify button or offering them the option to see more detailed images.

Business benefits

It has been predicted that online jewellery companies and clothing retailers will benefit greatly from this new addition. Whether it’s wedding rings, engagement rings or simply a gift for a loved one, jewellery is not often a quick purchase decision for consumers. The interaction that customers can get with their brand through social media therefore plays on this, as it allows them to build a relationship and connect with a brand by following what they do online. In fact, 80% of people follow a business or brand through Instagram and more than 150 million people have a conversation with a business through the platform’s direct messaging feature (Instagram Direct) each month.

Online shopping has made it easier for brands to advertise and sell their products to their specific target audience. This is because it allows people to discover the brand naturally on the platform without being exposed to it through other means. Through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, social media users can leave comments when they like a piece, or tag someone who they think it would make a nice gift for. Perhaps the purchase won’t happen straight away but situations like this, which wouldn’t occur without social media, start to increase brand awareness.

Additionally, the influx of celebrities and influencers using social media has helped to boost advertising opportunities further. Individuals on Instagram with a high number of followers talk about or feature a product in their post — influencing followers to purchase it too. Jewellers can use this strategy and encourage people to feature their products in posts, often leading to an increase in following and interest in the product. It is clear that social media allows brands to connect with their customers in more personal and natural way. But, with the introduction of shoppable Instagram, keeping in touch with your customers through the platform could mean more sales as well as increasing brand awareness.

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