Instagram Unveils Latest Plan to Monetize Platform: Product Hashtags

Instagram currently monetizes through sponsored posts that show up in users’ feeds, but now the company wants to follow the path of its owner, Facebook, and tap into the growing world of mobile commerce.

Today, more than 84% of smartphone users in the US browse, research or compare products via a web browser or mobile app, according to eMarketer.

“On a platform known for its power of mobile discovery, today we’re excited to announce an easier experience to shop the products you love on Instagram,” the company said in a blog post. “Starting next week, we’re testing a way for our community to learn more about the items they view within an Instagram post.”

To test the new experience, 20 US-based retail brands will share posts; each post will have a tap to view icon at the bottom left of a photo. When tapped, a tag will appear on various products in the post, showcasing up to five products and their prices. Once a tag is selected a new detailed view of the product will open. This functionality will bring product information to the consumer without having to leave the Instagram app to search. Then, if the consumer taps the Shop Now link, they’ll go to that product on the business’ website.

“While consumer research informed the first step of this test, we expect to learn a lot from the businesses we’re working with in this early test,” Instagram says. “During this initial phase, the new features will be available to a group of people on iOS devices within the US. As we roll out further, we’ll explore product recommendations, ways products are showcased to shoppers, global expansion and the ability to save content so Instagrammers can take an action later.”