How Instagram is changing fashion and how we shop

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  • Ever wondered how to become a fashion influencer on Instagram, or how to create your own shop? From spotting trends to creating the most engaging content, Layla Amjadi, Director Product Management at Facebook, gives us the lowdown on how to make the most of the social media platform, and what exciting launches are to come.

    When did fashion really start breaking through on Instagram?

    When we started on Instagram, it was definitely open to however the community wanted to use it most creatively. And fashion actually popped out as a vertical that the community was rallying around pretty early on. I joined Instagram about seven years ago. One of the first things I worked on when I was working on Explore, at the time when Explore was more of the popular page was a feature around events. And one of the first events we slated actually, the first event we did for real time curation was New York Fashion Week.

    That is really what laid the ground for us to be able to even do commerce, right, because we we build around what we call latent demand. We build around where people are trying to use the product. And all of the relationships that people had been building with brands and influencers over the years, naturally lend itself to commerce activity. And that’s where we took it next.

    Users now turn to Instagram for fashion trends that they can buy into. Was this an organic process?

    Yes, absolutely. We, in general, are always looking to see how are people trying to use Instagram, and how can we make it easier. We say you come for your friends, but you stay for your interests (90% of people on Instagram follow at least one business). And fashion is such an interest. Because the content that these fashion brands are sharing is so visual, it has become a place where people come to get ideas. So that’s been really cool to watch. And again, that has laid the ground for Instagram shopping.

    What percentage of users use the shopping tools?

    250 million people are using shops or visiting shops every month. And that is across Instagram and Facebook. I think it just speaks to when you build for what the community wants, you know what brands wanted, which was an easy way to answer the question of, ‘this is the handbag you’re asking me about’. And when you when you build something for people that helps them answer their question in that moment, or helps them more easily window shop, as we call it, magic happens. And so we’re really excited to see how both the you know, the shopping community on Instagram, and the brand commute Instagram have gravitated around these tools.

    What does a brand have to do to stand out?

    Firstly, use all the tools that we have at your disposal to communicate who you are, authentically. By naturally communicating who you are authentically and consistently, you’ll attract the best community for you and for your brand. You then want to show up for them, like you might for a friend. For example, I’m a big Kylie Skin brand evangelist. I love their moisturiser and I’m always happy to share and tag the brand.

    I really love when they DM me back with a little heart or a thank you. Or when they take the time to reply to comments,  or there’s Q&A, the interaction between brands and community is so critical for standing out.

    How can you stand out as a fashion influencer?

    You know, we just launched affiliate tool on alpha in the US, and that is something inherently commercial, affiliate links brings with them a commission. But especially in those conversations, the influencers I speak to are really concerned about authenticity. They have built their community off of being authentic, their community counts on them for recommendations that they believe in.

    Influencers are really excited about the many brands on Instagram, and the likelihood that they can find and amplify, and evangelise a brand new set of products that they actually genuinely love and is in their closet, or is in their beauty bag, is really high.
    In general, the consistency around content is key. What are you talking about day in day out with your community? They’re following you, because they have some sort of knowledge that they want to gain. And then over time, they also want to learn more about you and behind the scenes. So these different formats that we have, whether it’s feed post, or stories, they have like a different vibe to them. You can use these different formats to express beauty to the person who  is looking at your profile and wants to consider following you and then stories to tell about your brunch in your weekend with your girlfriends to someone who has now become invested in you as like, as a human being beyond the beauty.

    What is the future of fashion and shopping on Instagram?

    One of the gaps that we saw on the market was that people are coming to Instagram to fill this gap around what we call window shopping. You go shopping to a high street with your friends, maybe you buy something, maybe you don’t, maybe you revisit that shoe. But it’s shopping as a hobby in and of itself. And that is the gap that we have now started to fill with the shop tab.

    On Instagram, we call that your very own personalised mall. That’s a big area investment for us, and will continue to be this year. So a lot more features coming there and making a lot more personalised and entertaining. Our belief is that if we do our jobs right, most people will probably end up discovering brands, and products or other people on Instagram.

    There’s so many options. Like I’m Persian, I follow a Persian influencer, we have the same eye colour and hair colour. So if she finds a red lipstick, that works for her, it might work for me. And that really narrows it down for me. And so I’m really excited about helping people discover products more easily through tools like affiliates and creator shops.

    Another area that is continued priority for us is on site Checkout, the ability to buy without having to leave the app. We are currently available to all businesses in the US to use on site checkout and it’s now available to a small number of shops in the UK as a test. Now that I have my credit card stored on Instagram, it really makes it easy to get more of the stuff that I love.

    Don’t forget to check our Marie Claire vouchers site before you shop for the latest offers and discounts from your favourite brands – think, John Lewis, Flannels and MYTHERESA.

    I’m really excited about what we can do around reconsideration in fashion for both the brand and the shopper. You might see a trench for autumn/winter but not want to buy it straight away and take the time to think about it. When you’re looking at these products from your feed, you’re catching up with friends you’re doing so many other things, Instagram will help you find the item later.

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