Social Media Update: Instagram's Affiliate and Shop Features

Updated: Aug 25, 2021


Instagram is betting that it can cash in on e-commerce and affiliate marketing and is adding two new features to give its community of content creators more opportunities to make money: affiliate links and a shop tab.


Overview: As a hub for creators, Instagram has always been focused on making it easy for people to share their experiences for business or personal purposes. Affiliate links let you link your posts to products you mention, so when someone follows that link and makes a purchase, you’ll earn a commission. You’ll see the option to add an affiliate link at the top of your bio when logged into the Instagram app.


Over 65% of affiliate marketers connect with their customers on social media."

For creators who use shop functionality on Instagram, shop tabs will also be launched in a few countries so there is any easier way for people to find and explore offerings on the platform. The photo and video sharing social network quietly began rolling out the ability for select influencers to monetize by adding links that lead to online shops and beacons which track what products are being viewed on their posts. This move puts Instagram in direct competition with services and affiliate networks like Amazon Associates, Infusionsoft and Rakuten Linkshare. The feature will be limited to a small group of accounts for now. Instagram is currently testing the feature with “a handful of creators” and will be inviting more people over the coming months. It expects the feature to be available to larger businesses later this year.


Possible down-side to this feature

This is a major change for Instagram and these tools will be available to everyone, not just for large brands, verified content creators or retailers. Affiliates can be anyone promoting any product. However, that does raise the question and concern whether brands will have much control over how their product/services are being published, as well as who. There is also another caveat we see to this feature and that is the risk of duplicate content. If you’re planning on leveraging this feature to drive sales, then it’s important to consider the risks.


What could this mean for brands?

An interesting idea that will certainly open up new pathways for monetization as well as creating an even more competitive space for brands and the increasing incentive is definitely there to push creators to post more often. This feature will also provide more avenues for direct promotion, massively expanding audience reach and essentially streamlining the on-platform selling process. On the brand side, this feature could open the door to smaller retailers who don’t have the budget necessarily, as well as increase the demands for brands to focus on their community management.


Every month, 130 million Instagram users click on shopping posts."

In Conclusion

Instagram is a constant work in progress and the latest updates are yet another piece of evidence. The new affiliate program means marketers can get their influencers to promote products on other platforms without risking getting caught for not following FTC guidelines, which should result in an influx of content from influencers as they will be able to rely less on brands. And with better ecommerce features that allow them to streamline processes like refunds or shipping notifications, it’s no surprise that this could lead to more people working with social media marketing agencies (like us!) who can help them take advantage of these changes. Have you considered how your company might benefit by partnering up with one? Reach out to one of our Marketing Specialists today.


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