New Instagram Shopping Feature

Instagram consumerism and marketing techniques


Photo courtesy E. Johnson

Emma Johnson (12) poses in a sweatshirt to sell on her Instagram shopping account.

Sarah McMeekin, Entertainment Editor

An Instagram user may not know they need a product until stumbling upon it on their Instagram feed. This targeting is the intention of Instagram’s new shopping function that will help push Instagram into the ecommerce, or online marketing, world. However, marketing is not a new concept to Instagram, as targeted ads and store accounts are familiar to the app.  

The new Instagram Shop feature allows companies to integrate their product catalogs into their Instagram profiles. The shop tab on the new Instagram update allows app users to easily and accessibly view a company’s products while staying on the Instagram app. There is also a feature where an image can be tagged, allowing the name, price and linked website of a product to appear when users click on the imageThis method of shopping is easier for customers, which results in more viewing of products and revenue.  

Ally Dunlavey (12) is familiar with the Instagram shopping function. She finds the app easy to use as a shopping platform. 

I’ve bought off of Instagram from their shopping feature and closet accounts of people I know; iis easy to find cute clothes from all kinds of places for good prices. I have a closet account myself but have sold only a few thingsit’s great way to make money off of things I don’t wear anymore!” Dunlavey said.  

Through social media, companies can effectively connect with customers directly and target their audience. Product promotion can be incorporated into Instagram stories and posts with the tagging and shopping options, which is a more direct and seamless method compared to just tagging the company’s website in its Instagram bio. The shopping explore tab is personalized to the user through an algorithm which takes into account the user’s interests and previous purchases.   

Although targeted ads are beneficial by creating a direct audience, they call into question the invasiveness of Instagram’s targeting algorithm. Instagram opened up the app for advertising in 2015 and now has about 500,000 advertisers. The algorithm to direct this multitude of advertisers requires a company explaining the demographic their product is for and Instagram matches their targeted demographic using information gathered on users through Instagram and other apps, such as google. The debate over whether Instagram’s accessibility to information outside its app is relevant, as receiving an ad on information just Googled outside Instagram can be startling.  

Deacon Cox (11) has received targeted ads on his Instagram feed before.  

I have had a targeted ad on my Instagram feed. It was kind of creepy, but it was also helpful because it showed me another site that had the thing I was looking for,” Cox said.   

The new IGTV Shopping feature uses the Instagram video feature as a shopping platform. Instagram Shopping is already available for feed posts, Instagram Stories and Instagram Live, with plans to test shopping for Instagram Reels this year. IGTV viewers can make purchases either directly on the video or with Instagram checkout on the seller’s website. This platform allows companies to present their products in a more dynamic way using video.  

Instagram Chief Operating Officer Justin Osofsky believes expanding Instagram’s shopping platforms is beneficial to sellers and consumers.  

“Digital creators and brands help bring emerging culture to Instagram, and people come to Instagram to get inspired by them,” Osofsky said. “By bringing shopping to IGTV and Reels, we’re making it easy to shop directly from videos. And in turn, helping sellers share their story, reach customers and make a living.”