Web Clicks: Retailers Can Finally Monetize Instagram “Likes”

Web Clicks: Retailers Can Finally Monetize Instagram “Likes”


Trying to monetize Instagram as a retailer is no easy task. Turning to those who follow you on the Facebook-owned site, however, may be worth looking into as a way to make this social platform pay some real dividends.

Technology providers like rewardStyle and Curalate are helping retailers by essentially latching onto Instagram’s top users and “encouraging” them to post images promoting a particular product, brand or retail location.

“Getting users to ‘like’ something on Instagram is great,” began New York-based photographer Jim Cummins. “However, if you’re a retailer you haven’t really been able to get them to buy directly from the site. They have to leave Instagram and spend some time digging around to actually buy an item.”

According to analytics and marketing platform Curalate, social media users interact with brands on Instagram 58 times more than they do on Facebook. And a startling 120 times more than on Twitter. As a result of numbers such as these, Curalate recently developed a service dubbed Like2Buy. It essentially makes Instagram far easier to shop for users.

What the Curalate technology does is allow the user to click the one link Instagram permits (atop a brand’s profile page) and then displays a grid of all the items up for sale from that retailer’s feed. Another click takes that user to the store’s secure mobile site.

It appears as though the stepping off point for Instagrammers getting the attention of these companies is around 100,000 followers. Additionally, payment falls in the $700–$1,000 range for a specific product-endorsing shot they post. Obviously, the more followers, the more money per endorsement.

One of the agencies that has sprung up in the middle of this picture-profiting frenzy is Manhattan-based Mobile Media Lab. They claims users with over 500,000 followers are taking in upward of $8,000 per shot.

“Liking” a Win/Win

The liketoknow.it tool from rewardStyle is aimed more directly at Instagram content creators; it is set up to tell consumers exactly where to buy the items the content creator is featuring. The tool allows the public to receive details on how to buy what’s in an Instagram image by “liking” any item that features the liketoknow.it logo. The content creator takes a cut of the sale, paid by the retailer, once the purchase has gone through.

“Tools such as these are allowing both content creators and retailers to finally capitalize on the incredible burst in product images being posted across not only Instagram but Pinterest and other outlets as well,” Cummins explained. “And it’s about time, as these sites have become very powerful influences for consumers.”

This may work particularly well for imaging retailers. And that’s because the common thread tying the retailer and consumer together is photography related. Getting an Instagram user jazzed up about posting an image of a photo product or service they purchased in your store would seem like a fairly seamless play. They win in the form of a payout provided they have a large enough following. The retailer wins for the publicity generated by what will undoubtedly become very loyal brand ambassadors for the store.

Nordstrom began using Curalate’s Like2Buy platform late last year. More retailers have followed this year, such as Target and fashion retailer Charlotte Russe. This wave has apparently just begun to roll ashore.

“Photo retail would seem a natural fit for this, as the topic of conversation is already familiar to both ends of the chain,” Cummins added. “These guys would appear to potentially have a front row seat to all of this.”