Digital Monday: Pinterest and Instagram want you to buy now, but do you?

In All, Digital Monday, Digital Marketing, Social media by Coraline0 Comments

Last Tuesday was an eventful day in the social media sphere. Indeed, both Pinterest and Instagram have unveiled their plans to ramp-up their e-commerce capabilities by introducing a “buy now” and “shop now” buttons, respectively.

The social media platforms aren’t the first to jump in the buy button bandwagon. Facebook and Twitter have already experimented with similar features earlier last year, and, according to a Wall Street Journal report published last week, Google is also about to launch a “buy” button which will appear alongside the “shop on Google” paid search results section.

Whilst Instagram and Pinterest are both highly visual platforms, each has its own positioning and purpose.

The Pinterest buyable Pins case

The introduction of a “buy now” button seems to be a natural move for Pinterest. Indeed as users create boards of “things they love”, the ability to buy straight from the platform makes perfect sense.

In the official blog announcementt, Tim Kendall, head of product management at Pinterest, teased the upcoming features including Shopify integration, upcoming Android and desktop integration and a secure and dedicated mobile checkout – all of this for free.

Buyable Pins still let you control the shopping experience—Pinterest doesn’t take a cut from your sales and you still get to handle shipping and customer service the way you always have. (Pinterest Blog announcement, 01/06/2015)

Pinterest could definitely be a great case for social commerce. It already has the users in the right mind-set and the addition of a buy button will probably be welcome by most. It might also unlock a new shopping behaviour that differ from the traditional shopping process. Indeed buying via Pinterest means that users might discover products not on the brand site itself but on Pinterest.

The drawback in this case might be one of consistency. Indeed after reading Pinterest announcement it appears that brands will have to add the “buy now” button themselves. I doubt that all pins from a given brand will be buyable form one day to the next, which might leave the users confused or disappointed. This is when the marketer’s work will come into play – insuring that the experience is elevated and clear.

The Instagram shoppable ads case

The Instagram “Shop now” button differs from Pinterest in many ways. First it is an ad (i.e: not free). Instagram is planning to make the clickable links available on the new post carousels ads, which allows for the brands to share stories through a sequence of branded images.

Instagram shop now

© Image by Instagram (

The new ad format will allow for the users to take action directly from an Instagram post by buying a product, downloading an app or again signing up to a website.

The move to e-commerce doesn’t feel as natural for Instagram however the social media platform has one major asset: data. Facebook and Instagram have a wealth of data on their users that will allow to create extremely targeted ads.

Indeed, in the official blog announcement Instagram vow for “more relevance through enhanced targeting”

Later this year, we will continue to connect businesses to the right people through expanded targeting options. Working with Facebook, we will enable advertisers to reach people on Instagram based on demographics and interests, as well as information businesses have about their own customers. We will also improve the feedback mechanisms within Instagram to give people greater control and improve the relevance of the ads they see. (Instagram blog announcement, 03/06/2015)

Whilst the data will allow for better targeting, I am unsure of the e-commerce value of Instagram. Indeed the platform is currently more a branding tool, allowing for brands to share moments with their audience, engage and inspire. The addition of ads and commerce could be perceived negatively by the users who could quickly switch of and avoid ads all together.

One thing is sure, last week’s events have brought back the talk about the value of social commerce. It will be really interesting to witness the adoption by the users of these new features, which could definitely unlock new opportunities for the brands who will use them wisely. It also reinforce the fact that social seems to be moving more and more towards being a bought platform rather than an earned one.

Now onto you Google, show us what you’ve got!

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