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DIGITAL MARKETING NEWS

Instagram Launches “Gift Cards” For Businesses To Sell

New Story Stickers Allow Cash-Strapped SMEs To Cash In

Small business represents a sizeable part of Google and Facebook's global turnover.

Therefore, over the past month, both have rolled out a variety of features to help support businesses impacted by COVID-19 during this time.

While both have ad credits and funding on the table, the reality is this will achieve little for most SMEs, due to issues with scalability and timing.

For example, Facebook recently announced a $100m ad credit which it will make available for 30,000 businesses impacted by COVID-19. However, there are over 100m active organisations on the platform. A noble gesture, no doubt, just mostly ineffective.

The more significant impacts that either can bring about will be felt with new, improved and expanded organic marketing opportunities within their respective marketing ecosystems.

While these are a tad light on the ground, they are beginning to trickle out, with Instagram's new gift card, food order, and fundraiser stickers and features a notable mention.

Instagram announced that business and creator accounts can now include Stickers in their stories that direct people to a website where they can order food delivery or buy gift cards.

People who see the stories can also share the stickers to their own stories to further spread the word. Helping turn positive word of mouth into sales for cash-starved small businesses. Businesses can also include stickers that link out to a fundraiser built on Facebook.

Lastly, these features can be added to businesses' profiles, too, as an Action button.

Making The Most Of Instagram Story Stickers

Facebook cloned Snapchat Stories for Instagram in October 2016, and in the process ushered in the Story format for social channels more broadly.

Even LinkedIn recently announced its own version.

Since then, Instagram has iterated on the Story format and could now be rightly seen as the product leader, setting the standard for the rest of the industry.

One of the main elements in leveraging Instagram Stories for marketing communications is the Sticker feature.

Instagram Stickers are dynamic graphic elements that can be added to both image and video stories. Some are animated, some are clickable, and others even allow users to interact directly with the story.

Stickers Is Where The Clever Stuff Lives

While it's easy to dismiss stickers as mere quirky, visual overlays, they pack a punch when it comes to driving marketing outcomes.

So much so, that Instagram introduced interactive elements in stories ads in 2019, starting with the polling sticker.

Given the recent drop in Instagram Story reach, driving more direct interaction with audiences via stickers will increasingly become a must.

Hence, the new Gift Card sticker joins a burgeoning array of new Instagram features and functions.

Food delivery and Gift Card stickers are now available in the US and Canada with a global rollout planned for the "coming weeks." Fundraisers are supposedly "coming soon."

Setting Up Instagram Gift Card Stickers & Action Buttons

To add a Gift Card sticker to your Instagram story, select a photo or video to upload to your story, as usual, open the stickers tray, and add the Gift Card to your story.

Next up, select your gift card or delivery partner. At launch, Instagram supports a range of well-known partners, including the usual suspects like Uber Eats and Square, alongside a host of other more US-centric players. Much as it does with Action Buttons.

Action Buttons launched in 2018 and allow businesses to add extra functionality to their Instagram profile. While any business can access these features, at this time, there remains a limited number of providers for these action buttons. Instagram plans to expand this list over time to cover partners across all countries.

Alongside Gift Cards, which is still rolling out globally, you can add the following Action Buttons to your business account on Instagram:

  • Book: Book an appointment
  • Reserve: Make a reservations at a restaurant
  • Get Tickets: Get tickets for an event
  • Order Food: Get food delivery or take-out from a business

To do this, head to your profile, tap Edit Profile and then tap Action Buttons. Here, you can select the type of Action Button you'd like to add to your profile, which in this instance eventually would be Gift Cards or Order Food. As with the story stickers, the next step is to get set up with a partner.

Only one action button can be displayed on your profile at a time. Keep in mind that you need an existing account with a partner to select them.

Now, when a user sees a gift card or food order sticker/button, they'll be able to tap it and make a purchase through your partner's site.

For businesses severely impacted by COVID-19 in 2020, advances and expansions in platform functionality like this will help far more than PR friendly ad credits and token gestures.

Learn with SMK W/C 4th July 2022

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