OPINION: Who are Instagram really competing with?

Is Amazon the real competition when it comes to Instagram, and will Instagram see out its vision of social commerce?

We’ve noticed something strange about instagram over the last couple of years. It is becoming less like a traditional social media platform as ‘shoppable’ becomes part of all core functionality on the platform.

Social Identity Crisis. 

To further highlight the identity crisis it is facing and in a very anti-social media move, they have toyed for a long time about removing likes. They have come under the microscope for portraying an unrealistic version of life (think the instagram versus reality memes), which promotes mental health issues and for this and many other reasons have extensively tested the permanent removal of the feature. 

As of today (May 26th) this is now an option for all – how much it will be taken up is another matter, but we will be keeping a keen eye on it. 

So if it’s becoming less of a traditional ‘social’ platform, then what is it to become?

Redesign Focussing on Shopping & Social Commerce

In a recent redesign they moved their TikTok rip off ‘Reels’ and the shopping tab to the home screen. Both the Compose button and the Activity tab have been relocated to the top-right of the home screen, while the center middle button now belongs to Reels.

At the time this was done I think the hype and conversation was around TikTok versus Instagram, however a key part of the redesign was to move your ‘Activity’ button (the bit where you see your likes and comments etc) and replace it with the Shopping tab focussed on Social Commerce. I don’t know how many times that week I ended up browsing shops by accident!

There have also been the introduction of shoppable posts – be that feed or now even lives, this has been a really innovative and integrated way to show off products and kickstart the purchase cycle, particularly when paired with influencers and paid activity. 

But we don’t think they’re stopping here. There have been leaks this week showing a new Shopping sticker, allowing people to deep link products into stories. 

This week Instagram have also launched another new feature, building on their product reminders feature and renamed ‘Drops’.

The feature will have its own destination within the ap at the top of the ‘Shop’ tab, consumers will be able to sign up to future drops and browse previous ones.

Amazon ? Retailers ?

One of Amazon’s biggest weaknesses is the clothes shopping experience. In 2019 Nike announced it will no longer be selling its products on Amazon. This was a move described as part of their direct to consumer strategy, utilising their website and app more and controlling the brand experience. Makes sense, right? However, if you look at the Nike account on Instagram you can see a tonne of shoppable posts and how deeply integrated into their (current) strategy social commerce is. 

What happens if more retailers and big name brands go this way? Surely one of the many benefactors to this would be Instagram / Facebook. 

This is just a theory, but with every new product release from Instagram our hunch is becoming more true. Nike and the likes could pull the plug on social commerce as quickly as they have with Amazon too, but as far as trends are concerned we’re keeping a close eye on this one.