Why you should check out Checkout on Instagram

Vamp co-founder Aaron Brooks says the newly-announced function offers brands a great opportunity.

There’s a popular meme on Instagram that says: “I wish that every time I ‘liked’ an outfit on Instagram it would magically appear in my closet.” Well thanks to Instagram’s latest announcement, that dream is closer to becoming a reality.

The long-awaited ‘Checkout on Instagram’ launched in the US this week. The new function gives users the ability to purchase in-app. No link in bio, no redirection. They can simply tap on a shoppable tag, taking them to a screen with a checkout button, where they can purchase with stored payment info. With less time and more distractions than ever, this streamlining caters to modern consumer behaviour.

It also follows a predictable route for Instagram. Shoppable tags, an in-app booking system and a much-discussed standalone shopping app (which never materialised) were all precursors. With its growing number of users and functions, the app has been busy securing itself as an essential component in any marketer’s social media plan. It has become a one-stop-shop for inspiration, entertainment, discovery and now shopping.

For now, only organic posts from the 20 or so chosen US launch partner brands will feature checkout buttons, and ads aren’t eligible. However the option is expected to roll out, in the same way shoppable tags did. That makes it more important than ever for brands to cultivate an engaged following. After all, an engaged follower could convert to a shopper in just a couple of taps.

So how do you best leverage this new functionality?

Up your game with quality assets
The competition is stiff out there. A substandard approach to your Instagram imagery, or worse using generic product shots you have on your website, just won’t cut it.

People have access to recommendations they can trust at the touch of a button and are much more careful about what they choose to buy. Make your product shots shareable, relatable and diverse to cater for the social commerce shopper.

If it’s a fashion item, they want to see what it looks like on a real person. Customers will often search for the outfit on Instagram to see it worn on people with a variety of body shapes for inspiration on how to style it.

Create enough content to be always-on

While it’s never a good idea to spam your followers, consistent posting builds momentum and gives you more chances to interact and build relationships with your customers.

One of the reasons influencer marketing has been so popular is that it provides brands with a wealth of high-quality content that can be shared within owned channels. While it used to be the case that a brand would create a bank of assets per season and drip feed them over the coming weeks, they can now have hundreds of content creators making assets for them, ensuring their feed always looks fresh.

Be discoverable
Up your hashtag game. Don’t just stop at your Instagram post. Make sure all your stories and your bio include relevant hashtags. Lightning doesn’t strike twice – ensure you vary your hashtags in your brand captions. Then leverage influencers with already engaged followers to drive traffic back to your platform. For smaller brands, this is a great way for potential shoppers to discover your feed.

Don’t overlook Stories

With all of this new potential in posts, you may be tempted to shift focus away from Instagram Stories, but they remain an important tool for growing an engaged audience. With 500m daily users and more interactive stickers being introduced all the time, Stories are a great place to connect with your audience. The more time they spend with your content, the more the algorithm will show them. So keep them engaged and don’t forget all of the tried and tested rules around added value, before going for the hard sell.