Instagram tests shoppable photo tags

Our round up of this week's social media news and insights:

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Instagram tests shoppable photo tags

Instagram is testing shoppable tags on photos in the US with the participation of 20 retail brands such as Kate Spade and JackThreads. The retailers are able to tag products in their images, which are hidden behind a ‘Tap to view products’ button. After selecting a product, users see an in-app details page listing the product’s price, description, additional photos, and a ‘Shop Now’ button to buy it on the web. The product pages load rapidly inside Instagram, rather than redirecting to a browser, and the shopper can swiftly tap back to the feed. Instagram will not charge for any sales, and instead plans to monetize the product by allowing brands to pay to show their shoppable photos to people who don’t follow them. The social network’s approach is derived from the emergent behaviour of celebrities tagging the products they’re seen with - which often come from their sponsors. Instagram’s VP of monetization James Quarles says shoppable tags will eventually expand to video posts, photo carousels, and other countries. Kate Spade CMO Mary Beech said her company's customers often use social media for inspiration, but the process of going from inspiration to shopping online had been ‘very clunky,’ until now. Beech noted that the percentage of its website traffic originating from mobiles had seen a ‘drastic’ increase since May 2016, and while Instagram had previously served mainly as a brand awareness tool, features like taggable products could drive a focus on actually selling through social. Instagram has always been about selling a lifestyle, and this move takes it to a logical conclusion, positioning the platform most definitely as a business. But could it herald the end of the hipster's favourite app? Given the outcry from users when it first introduced ads, such an obviously profit-motivated move may risk killing the creativity and artistic edge that made Instagram popular in the first place. Making it easier for users to get shopping value from Instagram could keep it on people’s homescreens. Meanwhile, brands might eventually pay to show their shoppable photos to more users, or buy ads to get more followers who’ll see their products organically in the feed. It’s been a natural progression that Instagram would eventually embrace shopping, but the execution demonstrates its dedication to prioritising a clean user experience so its community keeps growing.

PR and Marketing in Social Media

Twitter rolls out chatbots for brands

Brands can now use chatbot-style tools inside Twitter’s direct messaging feature to improve their customer service. An automated welcome message can be activated every time a customer begins a conversation with a brand’s business account. The new feature allows firms to create multiple greeting messages and deep link directly to a specific welcome from Tweets, websites or apps. Meanwhile the ‘quick replies’ function asks users for more specific information about their requests. For example, if a consumer Tweets a brand with a complaint, the company can immediately begin a private chat in order to find out more. Buttons can then be used to prompt the user to give further details so the issue can be resolved on Twitter’s platform. Brands such as Tesco, TfL, Pizza Hut and Airbnb are among the first to use the service. Twitter’s customer service product manager Ian Cairns said when brands use the two features together they can cut down wait times and educate customers on the best way to interact with them. ‘They can enable faster resolutions by helping customers more easily provide information to solve problems before an agent sees the first message, or they can simplify automated services and transactional flows that were difficult in the past’, he said in a blog post. The social network claims customers who receive a prompt reply to a Tweet are anywhere between 3% and 20% more likely to shop with that brand.

Social Media Brands...

Food is now the ‘hottest social currency’, according to Waitrose survey

One in five UK adults shared a food photo on social media or with a friend last month, according to a new study. The annual Waitrose Food & Drink Report also found that 44% of people make more effort with their cooking if they think a snap of their dish may be posted. The grocer polled 2,000 adults of all ages as part of the review and found consumers were interested in creating photogenic plates of food, with Australian-style ‘freakshake ice-cream desserts and colourful ‘spiralised’ vegetables, all highlighted. The food fads of 2016 were identified as churros, seaweed, seeds and Asian steamed buns, while the grocer predicts consumers will be enjoying American-style vegetable yoghurts and Hawaiian raw fish next year. The food industry is responding to the trend for sharing images of food. Last month, Italian restaurant chain Zizzi joined forces with popular Instagrammer Leanne Lim-Walker to train its staff ‘to help diners capture the perfect foodie snap’. Waitrose’s managing director Rob Collins said: ‘As a nation we’re expressing ourselves through food as never before. From healthy eating, to the explosion of food photography on social media, to our desire to entertain others through cooking – food is the hottest social currency; through it, we tell others about ourselves.’

Facebook posts can indicate mental wellbeing, according to research

How people engage on Facebook may give an insight into their mental health, with posts and likes revealing early signs of depression and schizophrenia, experts have revealed. Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Stanford believe examining how people behave on the social network may be more effective in detecting mental health disorders than real life behaviour. This is due to people’s, especially teenagers’, motivation to share much larger emotional indicators than they would do offline. Experts suggest the photos liked and posted by users, language, emoticons and topics appearing in status updates could provide subtle clues to predict their offline behaviour. ‘Facebook is hugely popular and could provide us with a wealth of data to improve our knowledge of mental health disorders’, lead researcher Dr Becky Inkstar wrote in Lancet Psychiatry. She noted the broad reach of the social network, which stretches ‘across the digital divide to traditionally hard-to-reach groups including homeless youth, immigrants, people with mental health problems, and seniors’. Dr Inkstar suggested that Facebook could also play a role in treating mental health problems by providing relationships for people with low self-esteem and offering companionship for the socially isolated. ‘We know that socially isolated adolescents are more likely to suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts, so these online stepping stones could encourage patients to reform offline social connections’, she said.



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