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Instagram Announces ‘Drops’ For Product Launches

Instagram Hopes New Drops Will Help Build Brand Buzz

Instagram has announced another buzz-building feature as it continues to arm itself in the social commerce war.

The platform has already started to roll out in-app purchases of products, which helps feed the machine and grow revenue while also providing additional sales outlets for brands and marketers.

Instagram Drops is a new feature that should help sellers create some noise around upcoming product launches. When you place an item on Drops, it'll only be available in small numbers or for a tiny amount of time – which should help to generate a buzz and increase demand.

There will soon be a dedicated place inside the Shop tab within Insta, which will let potential customers browse and view upcoming launches and view products that have already dropped.

Instagram diversification and data

Any Drops purchases will be made directly through Instagram via its Checkout, which will eventually let the platform collect fees from each unit sold.

However, for now, fees have been waived to support businesses through COVID-19 and should help Instagram gain ground on competitors like TikTok.

Earning revenue from methods that aren't advertising is also more important after Apple's iOS 14 crackdown on privacy and how data is used and sold. However, this appears more of a longer-term game, according to Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook number two.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook Chief Operating Officer

"For the foreseeable future, ads are going to be the vast majority of our revenue in this area and that commerce vertical is so important to us.

We don't need commerce itself or fees to become a big part of what happens in order to make the investment worthwhile, but we really have to focus on helping more businesses move online and have a great experience on our platform. And that, makes this a very worthwhile investment for us."

How does it work?

Brands are already using Drops. Fashion, streetwear and beauty companies have already used the feature. Drops let brands organise product launches in one place, making it easier for potential customers to browse and shop.

However, brands need to use the product launch feature to be eligible for inclusion in Drops. This is available to businesses on Checkout with Instagram.

Inside Drops, customers can view an individual brand's page to see when products become available and other information like pricing and general item details. Users can also add products to a wishlist or share Drops with their mates in Insta DMs.

Within Drops, users can also return to their Cart or view their Wishlist and still complete the purchase.

There will also be an option to align a Live shopping schedule with a product drop. If you go Live for a drop, there'll be a cool on-screen countdown followed by an explosion of confetti when your product goes live.

Drops builds on product reminders

Drops is pretty similar to Instagram's product reminders, which was launched in 2019.

Instagram Business Team

"We wanted to make it easier for people to discover and follow upcoming product launches from brands and creators they love. The product launch sticker in Instagram Stories and product launch tag in feed lets people set reminders for the launch date, preview product details and buy as soon as a product is available without leaving Instagram."

Product reminders let brands provide alerts to users based on their previews. Helping brands to boost awareness of upcoming products and help launches to be as successful as they can possibly be.

If this sounds similar to Drops, it's because it is, as Drops will collect all those notifications into the same place and will give users updates on related product launches.

Last year, Instagram shared some interesting Drops in action, with collaborations being a particular focus in 2020.

Instagram Business Team

"McDonald's Taiwan collaborated with high-end fashion designer Apujan to create a series of stylish package designs and jet-black burgers. Collaborating with a fashion brand made the global fast food company feel elevated and attracted a younger generation of consumers."

According to Instagram, by announcing a limited release product on Instagram, McDonald's positioned its familiar burger as something never-before-seen and found new customers in the process.

Fostering a sense of urgency around posts tends to be a little easier via Instagram Stories due to their already fleeting nature. The countdown clock is naturally quite a good fit within Stories. To do so around product releases, marketers have first to be approved for product tagging.

You must be approved for Instagram Shopping and have finished the setup before adding product stickers to your stories. Instagram Shopping availability is live in most markets now, although Checkout with Instagram is still rolling out.

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