Small businesses and home-bound creators who have financially struggled because of the COVID-19 outbreak will have a new money-making opportunity, thanks to an unexpected Instagram policy change.
The Facebook-owned social network is expanding access to its Instagram Shopping feature to smaller creators and influencers who have products to sell.
Since 2016 – when Shopping was first introduced – Instagram has given select retailers (and celebrities) the ability to tag products with pricing information that’s viewable in-app. This directs users to a website to complete the purchase (replacing the old “link in bio” method), or complete the purchase in-app for some select items. As of March 2019, Instagram says that 130 million people tap on Shopping posts every month.
The somewhat opaque restrictions on which businesses qualify for Shopping are now being loosened to include creators, small businesses, influencers and anyone with a business account, as an Instagram blog explains.
“Whether you are a candle business making a foray into e-commerce, a musician selling merch or a food blogger expanding into your own cookware line, any eligible business or creator account with at least one eligible product can use shopping tags to drive people to their website to make a purchase.”
To make this possible, the company rolled out new Commerce Eligibility Requirements, which set out which creators and businesses will be able to sell products directly in the app.
The requirements are largely what you would expect, including following Facebook’s Terms of Service and making sure the Instagram page has clear product and returns information. But it’s not entirely clear what type of business or creator qualifies to sign up.
For example, one area of the new eligibility requirements explains that businesses must “demonstrate trustworthiness”. This goes on to say that businesses must have an “authentic, established” presence, which likely refers to accounts that buy followers or engagement. But it doesn’t expressly say how trustworthiness is measured overall, nor how many followers a user needs to be considered “established”.
However the blog update does say that more guidance and details are on the way. “We’ll also update our sign-up flow to give clearer guidance to businesses and offer more transparency into the types of businesses that we are best suited to support, such as creators who wish to grow their business on Instagram.”
The new rules will go into effect on July 9th, users who want to participate will need to set up an Instagram business account and follow these steps and be resident in a country where Instagram Shopping is supported.
As is already the case for existing businesses that operate on Instagram, new sellers may have to pay a fee to the company for using its Shopping service, although some fees have temporarily been suspended until June 30th to help “reduce the economic burden” on companies that sell through the social network.