The update to Instagram may just be a game changer. Please forgive my use of the expression.
Now before you decide I am not worth reading for use of that expression, consider the video, then read on. I firmly believe if we look at this latest evolution by Instagram in it’s broadest sense, then, we can see just how far reaching this can be. Game changer is much maligned and overused as an expression, but it this is a HUGE enabler, if used right.
Firstly, let’s see how our friends in China have already achieved this. If you haven’t heard of WeChat, you will know about it after this video.
Timing is right for Facebook to roll this out now – consider the end users of the data they currently hold – Corporations, governments and everyone in between.
Critical mass is key here, WeChat – 1B users + Facebook 2.27B – DOUBLE !! Between them this is just under 50% of the global population. Taking the negative connotations with both aside, we can start piecing together just why this evolution of Instagram, allowing ecommerce payments, has the potential to be even bigger than we first consider it to be. At the time of writing this, Facebook is in the process of combining processes and platforms of Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. Each has their own nuance and user base. Most significantly, at the time of writing this, Whatsapp Business App is 1 day old for iOS.
One other key differentiator – for the first time ever we will have a truly mobile experience.
Facebook messenger has rolled out family recognition, which iOS has had for 12 months. But the synergies for these 2 far-reaching companies is interesting to watch.
So purchasing by instagram, firstly, it looks awesome.
** You are already “in” the brand
** Two way flow already in effect
** Likes mean social reciprocity
** Easy to purchase (for certain categories)
** Enables impulse purchasing in a way we only see through Prime day/Black Friday
** So it changes retail merchandising and promotions – no more store launching first, or online sales only, flash sales etc – for marketing and “sales” it blurs the lines in favour of online over store, mnaybe for the first time ever. It is to online selling what Netflix has been to broadcasting companies.
Let’s consider the evolution of this simple concept –
You are on instagram/facebook watch or the next iteration of IGTV and you notice Kylie Jenner and she is wearing a new sweater, piece of jewellry or most likely something from her latest range. Then pops up the buy now button, mid show, with a simple finger print imprint, you purchase – no thought needed, no intent required. No ad spend. This is the new world we are embarking on in fast fashion eecommerce. The catwalk will become a mini-marketing mall.
Now consider that – if you were a brand owner, your distribution strategy is global and no longer predicated on complex rollout plans.
In 2003, I wrote my dissertation titled MTV, how a brand cultivated a generation and moved from being a brand to a lifestyle. In it I referenced Carl Jung and how the then increase in TV consumption could be classed as the narcotisation of a generation. The more media that we consume, the less we engage in “finding” things out for ourselves and become more prone to responding to mass communication in this fashion. We are now at this tipping point and there is no going back. It begs the question of how much longer our existing direct response advertising methods will continue to be effective. Or maybe it just explains why it plateaus – always. Increased doses of mass communication, lead us to make fewer decisions or think for ourselves.
My digression is to demonstrate how and why the media that keeps us in their environment the longest will be the one that gets our attention, money and eventually a loyalty borne out of habit.
This will not be successful for every brand – this will have sob stories. Brands we love will die.
This could flop. Engagement on Facebook dropped when advertising took over. Of that there is no doubt. But the Instagram user seems to be in a different category. They are crying out for this change. It will not work for every brand, let’s not kid ourselves. I even wonder will they allow full catalogue rollouts – I would not personally – limit the saturation of product. It is imperative.
In the same 5 day period, there was another significant announcement – Google Stadia
This well-received and kind of quiet announcement poses some interesting questions in the Verge article linked above. But consider that both of these strategies are defensive. They keep you in “eco system” – In App is kind of a fallacy for the small and mid-tier guys now. This is a land grab on both fronts of the highest order and it is clear to me why. At what point will google shopping products be purchasable in Youtube videos, games or through streamed eSports events. The possibilities are widespread and don’t exist today in the way we think they can. Have you ever heard of eSports? No, course you haven’t.
Significantly for me, these evolutions; payments by Instagram and streamed games will be pivotal moments in the evolution of contextual and passive commerce in years to come. 2019 is to be remembered as a pivotal year. And we have covered genders, non-genders, generations and set a bedrock for the future.
Now finally back to WeChat……
You are home on Instagram, chatting to friends, scrolling, consuming and watching.
You decide you need a haircut, you search barbers close to me, or you know who @barber is locally
You share a pic of your new do
They share a pic of you arriving, getting your free champagne
You tag each other
You say thanks
They say you look awesome – it gets 200 likes by the way
They share your new “do” as the in style thing to have
30 more people book the same
You then feel great and see there is a local bar doing 2 for 1 cocktails and free nibbles from 8pm
Rinse and repeat… The in game scenario is the exact same.
All through Instagram – never leaving the app, never needing to.
If they get this right, we may just be on the cusp of the hyper transformation of commerce as we know it – and weirdly the building blocks, infrastructure will be the same as it was in 1997.