In November last year, Instagram announced that they were testing a new option called Shopping Tags , a tool with the potential to change the game for Instagram marketers.
As you can see, Shopping Tags enable brands on Instagram to tag specific products in their images. Users will see a "Tap to view products" notification in the bottom left of the image, which, once tapped, reveals a set of tags that appear overlaid on the post, denoting available products and their prices. Users are then able to tap on the tags to find out more, taking them to a specific product page for each item. And if you want to make a purchase, you can tap through to be linked to the relevant product page on the web.
It's simple, non-intrusive, and, as noted, could be a game-changer for Instagram marketers.
And now, it's being made available to more businesses.
As explained by Instagram:
"Based on encouraging early results, we're rolling out these shopping features to thousands of businesses that sell apparel, jewelry or beauty products in the coming weeks. Instagrammers in the US will soon be able shop and browse products from these businesses from posts in feed, on profile and in explore."
That's right, tags are coming - starting in the US, but, as noted, rolling out to 'thousands of businesses'. And given their potential value for brands, you can expect to see a lot more of them in your Insta feeds very soon.
In addition to this, Instagram's also adding a new self-serve tool for product tags.
"Once a business has a product catalog connected to their account, tagging a product is as simple as tagging a person in a post."
As you can see in the below GIF, eligible brands will be able attach the new manual tags by choosing the relevant image and selecting 'Tag products'.
Once you've chosen the item you want to link to from your product catalog list, you can move the tag around on the image to denote the right item.
As noted, brands that want to utilize this functionality will need to upload a product catalog first, which can be done via Facebook Business Manager.
Instagram also notes that they'll soon be adding additional data insights to their business analytics to show brands "how many people tapped to see more product details or clicked on "shop now" on their product tags".
Instagram's seen a huge spike in popularity in recent times, rising to 600 million monthly active users, and gaining their last 100 million in record time. And these users came after the implementation of Instagram Stories, their Snapchat-clone option which some feared would turn users away, with the platform shifting further away from its image-focused roots. In addition to this, five million businesses have now signed up for an Instagram business profile, and, according to Instagram, 80% of their users now follow an business account.
Given the audience, and the accompanying business data, there's clearly a lot of opportunity for marketers on the platform - and shopping tags will add to that significantly. The data on their use thus far is fairly limited, so it'll be interesting to see how Instagram users respond once the tags are more widespread.