Can Shoppable Social Networks Rival Instagram?


There's a lot more to being an influencer than just promoting products on social media.  Many of Obviously's favorite influencers are artists, chefs, parents, and activists first.  These creators got their start simply sharing what they love online, and as their followers continued to grow, they caught the attention of brands.  (And our attention too!)

Social media has changed significantly, even over just the past couple years.  Remember when you couldn't link to or tag any products on Instagram? That was only 2016, and yet I barely remember it.  Even with the ability to link to products, however, Instagram has resisted the pressure to become a totally sales-focused platform.  Sure, you can access brand's websites through the app, but you can't literally go shopping on Instagram. You still need to leave Instagram and go to another website to actually make a purchase. It continues to be a primarily social network where people go to connect and to share.  This is great for creators, because it keeps your content feeling authentic and real.  However, there's no denying the fact that social media has become a lot more sales-focused.   There are networks that are attempting to re-create what Instagram has done in a completely shoppable format, with varying degrees of success.  Obviously even did some great collaborations experimenting with Project September.  (RIP) . While none of these networks has really taken off, we remain hopeful and interested in the concept.  

 Here is my (brief) review of two of the most popular shoppable social sites and whether they're primed to be the next Instagram. 

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Amazon Spark

Launched around this time last year, Amazon Spark felt like it was going to be a huge deal.  Articles like this one predicted that the shoppable network, which was being compared to Instagram and Pinterest, was going to take off and maybe even pose a threat to those major platforms.  So why have so few of us heard of it?  

Pros: The name Amazon gives a lot of legitimacy to the platform right off the bat.  The feed looks very nice, and shopping is insanely easy because it's Amazon, duh.  In terms of sheer volume of products available, there's really no beating it.

Cons: While Amazon Spark looks great and is easy to use, you have to be an Amazon Prime member to actually post and shop.  Non-members can only view others' feed.  This severally limits the number of people who even have access to the platform: not a good thing when trying to build a social network.  On top of that, influencers (called enthusiasts by Amazon) can't make any affiliate cash when someone makes a purchase through their feed.

Will this be the next Insta: As long as they keep it limited to only Prime members, not likely.

Keep is very cool concept from a fresh and up-and-coming company.  They're the scrappy underdog compared to Amazon, but they have a lot going for them.

Pros: SALES! If you find something you love anywhere online, who can save it to your Keep profile.  The website will then let you know if the product goes on sale or if inventory runs low.  You can also follow others to see what they are shopping for.  Also, they recently did a serious re-design of the site, and it looks super cute.

Cons: The concept is still a bit confusing. It's unclear whether they really want users to save items from elsewhere on the internet, or just shop through the site.  There aren't always clear benefits to buying through Keep rather than just buying from a brand's website.  If there isn't a sale or special discount, I'm not quite sure what the point is.

Will this be the next Insta: The format is too different to really rival Instagram.  However, the concept has a lot of potential if they can clarify the benefits and continue improving the user experience.  

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So will either of these take over IG anytime soon?   Probably not.  But the internet is a crazy place, and you never know what the next big idea is going to be. 

Have you tried either of these shoppable social networks?  Have you tried different ones?  We'd love to hear about your experience!



Emily BarozComment