In March, Instagram unveiled its in-app checkout experience, which allows users to shop without even leaving the platform. And it’s not alone – other major players are making moves to better accommodate a rising consumer expectation to shop anywhere and anytime with minimal friction. New initiatives like Google’s Shoppable image ads and Pinterest’s Shopping Ads represent a growing shift to social commerce.
As the lines between channels blur and customers expect seamless interactions with brands (like the ability to purchase a product without even entering a store or a website), your business needs a plan to integrate commerce with social media. With major brands like Nike, Dior, Warby Parker and Uniqlo on board with Instagram’s new shopping function, time is running out to catch up.
Between Pinterest, Instagram and Google, brands and retailers have a variety of options for implementing shoppable advertising campaigns. But each offering looks different, and marketers and advertisers must take different steps to get their content ready for each platform.
With that in mind, here’s how to succeed on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest:
Perfect Your Product Feed
Your product feed is the backbone of all of your advertising efforts across platforms. But you can’t just drop content directly into a shoppable social ad. Each platform requires different specifications for factors like image size and background color, product descriptions and more. For example, while Google requires images of products against a simple white background with straightforward product descriptions, Instagram allows you to be much more creative with images and formats.
Additionally, you’ll need to clean up product data and ensure it is of the highest possible quality to create an easy, informative shopping experience for buyers. This means your product data is:
Standardized: Use the same nomenclature across your product feed. For example, is your laptop an HP, an hp or a Hewlett Packard? Pick one and be consistent.
Complete: Your feed should include thorough descriptions of your products. Make sure all required attributes are filled in and try to include as many optional ones as possible.
Consistent: Don’t show one price on Instagram and another on your website feed. All of your product data must be updated and consistent across channels.
Coherent and readable: Your customers will likely view your products on their phones, and they’ll be scrolling quickly. Ensure your product data is easy to read and free from HTML, incorrect spellings or unnecessary capitalization and whitespace.
Leverage Unique Channel Features to Tell Your Story
Beyond perfecting your product feed, you also need to play to the strengths of each platform. You can’t paint in broad strokes. Your approach must accommodate the way consumers use social media and engage with content. For example, someone searching on Google is in a very different state of mind than someone browsing Pinterest. On Google, users are actively shopping or browsing for products. If they’re looking for a brown sofa, they’ll search “brown sofa.”
It’s easy for you to match those exact keyword sets with product content.
This isn’t so straightforward on social platforms. On Pinterest, users explore content looking for ideas and inspiration. And on Instagram, users experience brand content among updates from their friends’ vacations and social lives. Given that users don’t necessarily have purchase intent, you’ll need to highlight products in a much more emotional and personal way on social. Bottom line: context is everything.
Additionally, the tools available to you on each platform differ. For example, Facebook and Instagram allow you to show product carousels to highlight several items from a collection or related products. Using channel-specific capabilities like this, you can take your shoppers on a journey to tell a broader product story, in a much more creative manner than one could on Google, for example.
Use a Product Data Optimization and Feed Management Partner
As a marketer, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the number of platforms to master — especially as they become more and more relevant. Maintaining an effective presence across platforms is challenging and leaves little room for error when it comes to your product data. Poorly configured images, inconsistent product information and compliance issues can derail your social strategy and frustrate your customers.
With that in mind, many brands find success using feed management partners to organize and optimize data across platforms. Using these tools, you can make changes to product information and enrich product photos in bulk, all while ensuring compliance to differing standards across channels. This technology allows you to focus on telling the most compelling stories to your audience without worrying about fumbling technicalities and platform specifications.
Social commerce is here. Brands that can provide a seamless experience to consumers directly on the social channels they love the most will reap the rewards. Your ability to deliver polished, error-free content across Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and will set your brand apart for the better.