Amid the explosion of engaging, entertaining videos on social media during quarantine, Instagram introduced a new visual feature to its platform to rival its competitor, TikTok.
Now it’s proving to be a fruitful asset to Black-owned businesses who have set up shop on the app.
With many people sheltered-in-place, online shopping saw a huge uptick in traffic prompting many shop owners to turn their attention toward their online stories and digital platforms to incorporate shopping-friendly features in their content.
Back in November of last year, Instagram launched its Reels and Shop tabs — both efficient and fun ways for brand owners and entrepreneurs all over the world to connect with consumers — in an effort to accommodate this booming era of e-commerce.
The way these new features work for businesses on the app provides a better shopping experience for consumers looking to discover new items and brands. Users are able to see a Reel with tagged products, where they can then tap “View Products” to buy, save, or learn more about select items.
According to Leigh Belz Ray — editorial lead of Instagram’s @shop account, over 90% of people on the app follow a business so the platform wanted to make it easy for anyone to see something they love and shop it at the moment of inspiration — whether it be in the feed, story, IGTV, or Live.
Following the rollout of the Reels feature, Instagram also noticed that users were starting to share their favorite outfits and products, so they introduced the product tag option allowing anyone who comes across a video to learn more before deciding to purchase for themselves.
In addition to innovating a creative way to merge the biggest digital and consumer trends of 2020 into their platform, Instagram also tailored the app to help uplift small, Black-owned businesses as well.
“Small businesses have always been at the heart of Instagram and we hope that features like Shopping in Reels will make it easier for people to shop from them directly,” Belz Ray shared. “We also recently launched the Buy Black sticker on Instagram which allows the community to share info on their favorite Black-owned small business with their followers. We are always thinking about ways we can make it easier for small businesses to thrive on Instagram, whether that’s making it easy for people to shop from their account or highlighting and celebrating them through stickers and on our very own @shop account.”
Black business-owners have seen firsthand the positive impact that Instagram’s support has had on their brands, like fashion stylist Neumi Anekhe — founder of Oma The Label.
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“Instagram has had a tremendous impact on the traffic we’ve gained from new customers the past few months,” Anekhe shared. “I would say that almost all our new customers have either discovered us on Instagram or been influenced by the platform before they take the leap and purchase an OMA piece for the first time.”
Anekhe attributes this uptick in business to a combination of hard work, consistency, and the amazing support Instagram can offer businesses, if utilized well.
One of the biggest advantages that businesses like Oma The Label have living on Instagram’s platform is allowing brands to be their own marketing team and highlighting posts as they see fit in addition to promoting their actual store.
“There are so many advantages to being featured on such a powerful platform, number one being that it is FREE. It offered me the freedom to explore and promote OMA, the brand identity and control to some extent the brand image,” Anekhe shared. “If you are a small business with a limited marketing budget, Instagram is ideal. It’s your time to start getting creative with how to best take advantage of it. I can honestly say when I first felt really confident in starting a brand is when I realized that Instagram gave me a voice and a chance to represent the lack of diversity in the fashion industry on my terms. I didn’t need to wait on some big publication or retailer, I could do it on my own.”
The rise of Black-owned businesses reached an all-time high last year following the social uproar in June, making it even more crucial for platforms like Instagram to use their influence to support these brands.
Through the power of Instagram’s millions of users, brands like Oma The Label are able to see an ROI from subscribing to the platform.
“The Instagram platform has made it possible for OMA to show who we are as a brand. We actually went from about 1,200 followers in May to 51,000 followers as of today,” Anekhe concluded. “I can without a doubt in my mind say because of all the support we got from the Instagram community, we were able to get new loyal customers and supporters.”
During a time where people are asking for more transparency across the board from brands as they shop more and more from home, Instagram hopes to continue making it easier for consumers and businesses to connect and discover each other on its platform.
For more information on Instagram Reels and Shop tabs, click here.