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Shopaholics and hermits, rejoice! Instagram and Pinterest are both launching new, instant shop features that put the world of consumerism at our very fingertips. No longer will Valley Girls gather after 6th period and cry out, “let’s go shopping!” Instead, they, along with recluses, the lazy, the compulsive and creepy Clint who lives in grandma’s attic, will excitedly whip out their smartphones and declare, “let’s get pinning!”

For Pinterest, this has been a long time coming. Their version of this feature is the “Buy It” pin, a blue icon that appears right alongside that I-dare-you-to-click-me red pin that posts up all your hopes, dreams and desires to your virtual board of wants. A feature like this is tailor-made for Pinterest. Instead of simply pinning that amazing pair of boots to a wish board, the “Buy It” pin allows you to purchase it in the comfort of your own home. You want it, you click it. Mr. Wallet probably won’t be too happy, but it sure graduates the Pinterest model from delayed gratification into instantaneous territory.

As for Instagram, it can be viewed as either a nuisance or a bridge for some of its shortcomings. More so than even Pinterest, Instagram is a carefully curated feed of visuals. It’s visual to the zenith. While it may be the most popular social platform out there right now, that visual aspect has been a bit of a curse to brands and the actual usefulness of the platform for social marketing. Instagram doesn’t allow links to be placed in content, or actions to be taken to engage with said content besides a double-tap on the photo to pass along a heart, or a poorly written comment, because, you know, it’s all visual and who needs grammar these days? The best brands could hope for with Instagram is that their visual content be so alluring that it persuades people to seek out the brand and product on their own.

Well, not anymore. Instagram will now enable brands to include call-to-action buttons with their posts, such as a big “Shop Now” button that will appear right under a user’s content. These fit into Instagram’s interface pretty seamlessly without disrupting the scrolling flow of visuals too jarringly, and the platform is promising enhanced targeting techniques for advertisers utilizing the robust analytics from mother-platform Facebook to target wider audiences. Ironically, the layout and aesthetic of these call-to-action buttons eerily resemble the ones present in frenemy Twitter’s visual advertising tool, Twitter Cards.


Essentially the same feature, it’s telling of the public’s perception and expectation of each platform what the gut-reactions have been. Honestly, I’m surprised it took Pinterest this long to institute a feature like the “Buy It” pin, and it seems many other pinners have been clamoring for it as well. A survey conducted by Shopify found that as many as 93% of Pinterest users plan purchases using the platform. Now, they can both plan and buy with hardly any additional effort. The same study found that an average purchase made through Pinterest is around $50, the highest out of any major social platform. Bottom line: this feature is very much in Pinterest’s wheelhouse.

Instagram is a bit of a different story. As previously mentioned, its functionality and interface isn’t as advertiser friendly as Pinterest’s. Add to that the fact that people use Instagram primarily as a tool for showing off, filtering away imperfections and legal stalking, and you can see why some are grouchy about the disruption these call-to-action buttons might pose to the Instagram experience. A feature like this, however, is yet another ingenious hook designed to keep people sequestered in the mobile and online realm, further narrowing the need for us to actually step foot into the real world. Bravo?

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