• Anisha Sharma

Instagrams’s AI: The next ‘super tool’ for brands and marketing

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

About Shopping on Instagram

With the rise in the number of Insta users, Instagram has become a deeply engaging storefront for users to explore and shop your featured and best products online. With the help of Instagram shopping, sellers and retailers can create their advertisements and share their products along with its features and increase their customer base.

Users can discover their products, either by clicking on these suggested advertisements or by going through the stories and posts shared by the seller or just by searching for the product on the Search & Explore tab of Instagram.

The instant, a user clicks on the tag of your product or item, or a sticker in the story you have shared, they will be immediately redirected to the product description page created by you, where they will be able to view:

  • The product image from your post or story.

  • A detailed description of the manufacturing and various features of your product.

  • The price of your product.

  • The link that will redirect the user to your website or app, in case they wish to purchase your product. This will also result in an increase in the activity of your website or app.

It has been recorded, that almost 90 million Instagram users click on a shopping post or tag every month, because of the simplified way Insta uses its content to reach a larger audience and active shoppers, nurture their interest and help them in easy purchasing of the products.

Why do Brands use Shopping on Instagram

Due to the advent of active shoppers on Instagram, the company is moving towards magnifying their shopping features and attribute; and brands are ready to adopt these change.

But the question is, “Why brands are so ready to embrace these change?”

The answer is because of the huge amount of profit being created due to the involvement of the engaging audience, willing to try and explore the products these brands share on their Instagram posts. Taking full advantage of the interactive mobile and laptop screens, Instagram offers businesses an attractive, seamless, and a relaxing platform to increase their market.

A brand only has to create one shopping post in its feed to activate the ‘Shop’ feature of Instagram in its business profile. To increase engagement, the brand can feature more than one product with various tags and stickers; while making sure not to overdo it. After that, Instagram does all the work for them, thus a ‘relaxing platform’.

Instagram shopping in no doubt has become a very powerful and engrossing tool for brands. Hence, they have come up with a new tool called ‘Explore’ which is still in the beta testing phase. Explore will act as a new shopping channel for users who show interest and involvement in browsing products and items on Instagram, helping shoppers follow their interest.

Another interesting feature of Explore is that a brand’s shopping post and stories will be shared with users who don’t yet follow their business profile. Thus, creating a rise in customer base and an increase in the market flow for brands.

Along with that, recently Explore released a new feature called ‘Save’ which will help the audience to save the products they have liked from the posts and stories. As soon as this product or item is saved to a collection created by the user, he or she can visit it anytime and explore its contents whenever they feel like. Shopping on Instagram could not have been easier!

Instagram’s Explore Tab and the AI involved in it

Instagram has never been very secretive about the algorithm and technologies it uses. Recently, it revealed new deets on how it implements Machine Learning to provide content to its users. It also focuses on how it makes recommendations in finding accounts that people are the most likely to enjoy, instead of finding individual posts.

In Instagram, people tend to move from one account to another such as a travel-focused account or a food-blogging account. All this information gets recorded and sucked up by the machine learning algorithm of Insta and it further analyses and inspects them. Actions like ‘see fewer posts like this’ or ‘block account’ can also cause significant relevance to the inspection as well.

The process of ‘Seed Accounts’

Before I explain to you what ‘Seed Account’ is, let me just brief you with why it is needed. In the Explore Tab, Instagram tries to limit the billions of accounts and posts to just a mere dozen so that it becomes easy for you to find relevant information and the posts that cater to you. This is done by optimizing the billions of posts based on the posts that you have already liked or saved. These posts can be called as the ‘seed accounts’ as almost every relevant piece of post or account that you get recommended on Explore comes out of them like branches.

The process becomes easy because of machine learning as it is connected to every post, topic and account itself, so sorting through billions of them to find relevant posts is ‘as easy as a pie’.

Let’s take an example. Imagine you have a friend that loves red marbles, and you wish to find some for them. In case you choose to dive your hand into a sack of marbles, it is unlikely that you will find one immediately or even within a short span of time. Now, imagine you pour the entire sack over the floor and try to hunt for a red marble. The probability is very less that you may find it quickly.

But what if you had already organized them in a coloured manner and put them in separate sacks. Finding the red marble would have just taken you seconds as you will already know which sack has it. All you have to do is reach out to the red marble sack, and take it out with a guaranteed probability of finding the red marble at one go itself.

That is exactly how the machine learning algorithm of Instagram works. It organizes the accounts based on location, type, behaviour in a virtual space. The closer the accounts are to each other in that virtual space, the more similar they are supposed to be, topically. Therefore, the major process of paring down millions and billions of posts to a set of dozens is easily accomplished by the way the accounts have been classified and organized in the virtual space.

This process makes it easier for not only the users to find their target and interesting products, but it also makes it very easy for brands to increase their engagement, and target the right customers for their products.

How do brands increase their engagement?

Instagram acts as your visual upfront. Marketing in Instagram is all about how visually creative you can be.

  • Keep the content simple

Most brands entwine their customers by providing the features of their products in a visual story-telling experience. The content needs to be simple and relatable to the audience to employ their interest. Brands can tag up to four or five products per image in their feed and around twenty products per cycle. You can bring more innovation to your post by adding products to videos and images as a ‘product sticker’.

  • Reach your target users and shoppers

When a brand creates an Instagram post on some shopping item and tag their products to it, these post will be shared with your targeted Insta shoppers as well as on Explore, where the engagement of users is quite high; that is around 200 million users visit it daily. Also, a brand needs to wait for the right time to post a product by exploring and researching the time slots, your potential customers are most engaged in.

  • Cultivate Interest

A brand needs to make sure that they are not only showing their products in action but also continue exploring the trending hashtags to know about the current visuals that are more likely to stand out and create interest amongst the massive audience.

  • Using Analytics to learn about the audience

There are many brands who prefer to use various Analytic platforms to explore more about their target audience. These Analytics platforms make it easier for brands to view their growth post-by-post, providing them with an idea on which tags and visuals to be used that creates the maximum engagement and impact on the target audience.

  • Utilizing Instagram Influencers

Influencers are those who have a vast following and presence on Instagram, making it easier for them to connect brands to their audience. It is one of the most enlarging and fastest-spreading customer-acquisition methods. Influencers help build a loyal and organic community by integrating a call to action on the posts that are sponsored by various brands, which in turn not only lands value for their followers but also help brands reach out to a larger user base and gain new customers rapidly.

  • Focusing

Instagram is a completely visual platform, makes it free from any muddle. Users are restricted to only 87 characters, till the caption displays the Read more option; making it free from overcrowding and explanation. Hence, it is solely dependent on the customer to visualize and interpret the content of the post. Based on that factor, Brands need to have creators that innovators that produce content which is visually attractive and concise, having the ability to tell stories through images and pictures, not words.

Where else does Instagram implement Big Data and Artificial Intelligence?

Boasting about its 800 million active users, Instagram is a platform owned by Facebook. Instagram has shown a lot of progress and has been coming up with features on its app on a regular basis. But what makes it stand out from the crowd of hundreds of similar apps on the Play Store? Maybe, it’s the way they have implemented and approached the techs like Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. We know it, and you will too after you have gone through the next segment below.

1. The Explore Page and Searching

With machine learning and big data, Instagram uses tags and trending information to display users with the posts that they will most relate to. Using tagging, the search tool of Insta also helps in discovering the most interesting topics among millions of posts.

2. Target Advertisement

Instagram aims in making its data values, and to do that it needs to extract insights from their customers. The algorithm of Insta analyses the search pattern and preferences of each and every user. Instagram uses this information and sells it to companies that wish to target such customers that may have an interest in their products. With the use of their techs, Instagram makes it easier for brands to find their target customer profiles.

3. Enhancement in the User Experience

Instagram wishes to provide its customers with a customized feed that is not ordered in a reverse chronological manner. With millions of posts added every day, it becomes a challenge for the company to sort out through them and provide the user with information that will interest him the most. The company has switched to machine learning to overcome this challenge.

4. Spam Filter

This is a very important feature of Insta which is much-needed for every social media platform. Instagram uses AI to filter spam and remove them which may be posted in any of the following nine languages: English, Chinese, Arabic, Russian and a lot more.

5. Cyberbullying and Deletion of Offensive Comments

Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are the three topmost affected platforms for cyberbullying. Like Facebook, Instagram also uses machine learning that automatically detects offensive comments and messages, and deletes them immediately while also recording a report for that particular account.

6. Study of Human Condition

Instagram recently conducted a study where it went through almost 100 million Insta pictures to know and understand the global trend in clothing and fashion. What might seem like an impossible task to you, this was made relatively easy by the machine learning algorithm implemented by the Company.

Is Instagram Shopping all worth it?

Instead of winding up in interpretations conjured about what the image contains, its price or having to reach out to the community inquiring about the price of a product and it’s availability, features and its manufacturing details; Instagram posts and feeds make that easy by providing all the relevant information about the product in one post itself, creating a self-serving and actionable experience for the audience.

Recently, a UK based online fashion and beauty retailer ASOS released a statement saying that the number of users viewing their content and posts, and the traffic caused due to that in their respective website has increased to almost a double within a span of six months itself.

Rakhee Jogia, the VP of strategic partnerships and supply of Rakuten Marketing also commented on Instagram Shopping that the users of Instagram are savvy and use the platform as an inspiration to explore the latest trends and must-have products. She also mentioned that Instagram is responding and adapting to evolving customer behaviour and making changes in its platform by providing a frictionless product buying experience; which is, purchases being made within the platform.

Nonetheless, with the launch of Instagram’s new ‘Mute’ button, based on user’s feedback and response; it clearly suggests that probably some of the audience is becoming a little too overwhelmed with the ongoing Instagram Shopping features and changes.

Brands cannot overlook the fact that Instagram is currently one of the most trending and engaging platforms for social media users. Its prevalence along with the launch of various shopping features and channels like explore has made it more enticing for brands to market their products.

Currently, there are more than 27 million businesses on Instagram that use people on Instagram to cater to and sell their products. More than 500 million people actively use Instagram on a daily basis out of which 33% of global users are found to be between the ages of 25 to 35.

This provides an excellent possibility for brands to reach out to a younger and engaging audience, and make use of all the features provided by Instagram to increase their market value in terms of sales.

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