Instagram Is the New Shopping Destination Over 1 billion Instagram users actively engage with businesses, according to Meta

By Ravi Sundararajan

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While Instagram has remained a popular social medium for years, it's only now that businesses are tapping the platform's potential to drive conversational engagement with consumers. Using Instagram's recently introduced features, brands can engage and transact with customers via private conversations. This is already transforming conventional e-commerce.

Over 1 billion Instagram users actively engage with businesses, according to Meta. Around 90 per cent of these users follow at least one company. For brands that want to engage with customers aged 18-34, Instagram is the most vital platform, followed by WhatsApp. Companies are leveraging Instagram to reach present and prospective customers, tapping into the power of conversational marketing, commerce, and support.

According to a study by Meta, almost 50 percent of buyers use social media and messaging platforms to engage in conversational commerce, with 90 per cent of them stating that they do so on Meta platforms (Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram). We already see several companies using Instagram to enable personalized, two-way interactivity throughout the pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase journeys.

Here are three ways to transform customer engagement with Instagram:

1. Product Discovery Simplified: Close to 83 per cent of users discover products and services on Instagram. Nearly 130 million people tap on shopping posts every month, and this number continues to grow. Research findings from Meta reveal that 40% of global conversational commerce consumers made their first purchase through chat. Clearly, Instagram is transforming into a discovery platform where people go to explore goods and services. Many brands are already implementing artificial intelligence (AI) - enabled chatbots using Instagram Direct Message (DM) Automation to help users find products. Rather than manually analyzing views, likes, comments, and DMs on Instagram, companies can now use DM Automation to build a Call-to-Chat action driven by AI and initiate a two-way dialogue with followers. This solution shortens the discovery-to-purchase conversion cycle and increases revenues, making up-sell and cross-sell efforts more effective.

2. Prompt Query Resolution: Instagram can be utilized to answer pre-purchase queries as well as to assist with post-purchase issues. AI systems implemented via Instagram Messaging can answer simple customer questions, such as when a user enters "price please," has questions about the status of a purchase or requests a refund, or has queries regarding pricing, order processing, withdrawals, and other topics. Chatbots can provide quick information to consumers, but when more sophisticated questions arise, chatbots can transfer them to a human agent. This will lead to quicker response times, shorter waiting lists, and higher overall consumer satisfaction.

Additionally, by making use of Instagram features such as Quick Reply, Product Templates, and Ice Breakers (which allow businesses to plug in conversation starter topics via DMs), businesses can share additional information with consumers to guide them towards action-oriented conversations, thereby increasing brand loyalty and lowering abandonment rates.

According to Meta, 45 per cent of conversational commerce shoppers have messaged a company for product information. Around 35 per cent said they do so to obtain a quick resolution.

3. Increased ROI from Ad Spends: From "Shop Now" and "Fill a Form" call-to-actions, Instagram has moved on to allow firms to add better buttons such as "Click to chat" directly on the promotional content. As a result, companies can produce "Conversation Qualified Leads" by collecting more contextual data than before. This is a significant improvement from older techniques that redirected customers to company web pages.

Some Indian brands are already taking the lead in enabling an end-to-end shopping experience for their consumers on Instagram. Vicco, a leading personal care brand, is using an intelligent chatbot to help consumers easily discover products and add them to the cart, make payments as well as get service/support instantly - from right within their Instagram channel.

Every brand realizes that Instagram is fast becoming a powerful digital commerce medium. For Direct to Customer (D2C) brands, Instagram is fast turning out to be the new jet ski to transform customer engagement and aid faster growth, leaving the competition far behind.

Ravi Sundararajan

COO, Gupshup

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