Instagram Products Tags Turn Everyone Into a Shopkeeper

Of course, Instagram benefits, too

  • Instagram will let anyone tag products in their posts. 
  • Marketers will be able to track campaigns. 
  • Users will no longer have to google to find that cool thing they saw in your Instagram feed.
High-angle, city view of someone holding a smartphone that displays Instagram on the screen.

Jakob Owens / Unsplash

Instagram will soon let any user tag a product in their posts. It's the end-game for Instagram's transition from photo-sharing site to virtual shopping mall. 

Until now, only holders of business and creator accounts have been able to tag products. If these users operate an Instagram shop, the tagged products are automatically added to that shop. It's already a good way for sellers and marketers to track the efficacy of their Instagram marketing activity, but also a good way for you to quickly find that cool thing you saw in that photo. And it's about to explode. 

"Product tagging on Instagram makes it even easier for influencers to highlight a brand and then get followers to make a purchase with the tags as links to e-commerce sites or right on Instagram," professor of mass communications at the University of Florida Andrew Selepak told Lifewire via email. "No longer will audiences see an influencer promote a brand and then have to do a Google search to find the product on Amazon, now they can do their shopping on Instagram.

Tag, You're It

Imagine you have an awesome new hat. You will be able to share a link to buy that exact hat as long as the product has been approved for tagging. And users, of course, will fall in love with that hat, or bike, or desk, or pair of really, really expensive speakers, and be able to shop for it without leaving Instagram. 

More interesting is that this creates an opportunity for anyone to make money from affiliate programs via Instagram's affiliate shops. If somebody purchases a tagged product in one of your posts, you would get a cut. 

"Ads are good and all, but having a friend recommend a brand is always better."

This makes Instagram a more compelling place for reviewers and how-to video makers. It also means that anyone can act like an influencer without getting paid directly to shill for a company.

"Product tagging on Instagram is Meta's attempt to cut into Amazon profits and Google AdWords," says Selepak. "Non-influencers will also be able to tag products on Instagram which can help brands see which accounts might be influencers they were not aware of bringing in sales and sales traffic."

The benefit for businesses is also evident. Tracking tagged products makes it very easy to see how word is spreading. 

"Tagging products mean that business owners can track links to their business from consumers and use this information to create marketing campaigns," Sumeer Kaur, CEO of fashion brand Lashkaraa, and user of Instagram for marketing, told Lifewire via email. 

The Good

Clearly, this benefits Instagram and its parent company Facebook most of all, and then come the businesses and the professional shills. But product tagging might also be good for regular Instagram users too. You won't have to ask people where they got that amazing purse or pair of boots in the comments or waste time Googling (and possibly finding a better alternative). Instead, you'll be able to see, tap, and buy. 

Closeup on a smartphone screen displaying the instagram app in the App Store.

Souvik Banerjee / Unsplash

"The customer benefit is twofold. It allows Instagram to better curate the type of ads you will receive. If you are tagging products in your photos, that gives them a better idea of what you like," brand marketer David Irwin told Lifewire via email. "The second benefit is that you will see what cool things your friends have tagged. Ads are good and all, but having a friend recommend a brand is always better."

Some of us might be uncomfortable tagging products, but then again, if you like something, why not make a little money out of it? Amazon's associate program offers the same kind of thing but is usable across the entire web. Because it is contained entirely within the Instagram app, though, tagging may be easier to use. 

We have yet to see how this all shakes out. Will Instagram offer regular users a kickback for successful sales through their tags? Will people start to open their own Instagram stores to cash in? We don't know. But if nothing else, this addition makes one thing very obvious. Instagram is no longer a photo-sharing site. It's now a very compelling, very sticky marketing platform that uses your photos and videos to sell stuff.

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