After a little over two years, Meta has announced it is pulling the pin on Live Shopping.
The live stream culling sees Meta shifting its focus to Reels, with the discontinuation of live shopping pencilled in from October 1, 2022.
From that date, you will no longer be able to host new or scheduled live shopping events on Facebook.
Facebook launched live shopping in August 2020, providing an interactive way to sell items and connect with viewers. The launch solicited much fanfare at the time, with the feature mimicking similar functionality that is popular and highly lucrative within Asian social apps. However, for Meta, the offering has not yielded the results it hoped for; hence we see yet another product dev rollback.
Meta’s latest social commerce rollback follows hot on the heels of its social audio/podcasting kill-off, with Meta yet again citing its Reels focus as a key catalyst.
“You will still be able to use Facebook Live to broadcast live events, but you won’t be able to create product playlists or tag products in your Facebook Live videos.”
Shopping was brought in two years and was designed to give brands and creators a way to sell items and gain new customers, so the marketers who used it and who liked it may feel like they’ve had the rug pulled from under their feet.
Meta is now encouraging brands to use Reels, but that’s not the same thing and requires utterly different content strategies and ideas.
No live shopping!? But why?
The changes are being made to focus on short-form video, says Meta.
“If you want to reach and engage people through video, try experimenting with Reels and Reels ads on Facebook and Instagram. You can also tag products in Reels on Instagram to enable deeper discovery and consideration.”
Facebook has put a lot into live shopping over the past few years. Live Shopping for Creators was being tested as early as Nov 2021, while Live Shopping Fridays featured big-ticket brands such as Abercrombie and Fitch.
However, the lukewarm response to live shopping – especially as physical distancing requirements have eased – means that the industry hasn’t enjoyed the success many anticipated.
Tag products in Reels instead
As per the updated Meta Support, Meta advises leaning in product tagging within Reels instead.
Admittedly, tagging can be helpful as it lets interested Reel-viewers tap on your product to buy, save or learn more about it. Brands could use the feature to boost organic exposure of products or even sell more via affiliates that work on commission.
If you want to follow Meta’s lead and start tagging products in Reels, the process works as follows:
- Be approved for Instagram Shopping and complete the setup.
- Tap the + button to select Reels.
- Create your Reel.
- Hit next.
- Select a cover image and write a caption. Tap cover and slide the image at the bottom of the screen.
- Tap Tag Products and select the products or a collection you’d like to feature.
- Tap Done and then Share to publish your Reel.
Meta says that there are several benefits to tagging products in Reels. It can drive product discovery because millions could see your Reel via Instagram, allows you to collab with creators to drive sales for merch, and it can help you connect with new and existing audiences if you create entertaining, educating or inspiring content.
It must be said that live shopping is still possible on Instagram, but given TikTok’s struggles in this space, who knows how much longer it’ll last?
TikTok’s struggles shed light
To be fair to Meta, it’s not the only one to drop live shopping, as TikTok has recently shelved plans to expand its live shopping to the United States and parts of Europe. Live shopping has been a phenomenal success in Asia, so social media apps have looked towards the lessons learned from that market for inspiration in the West.
However, success has been hard to come by. TikTok was going to release the feature in Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, followed by the U.S., but those plans are now on ice.
The Financial Times recently reported that awareness and adoption are low in the U.K. and that live streams are struggling to sell products despite brands and influencers throwing their weight behind it.
And as you know, where TikTok goes, Meta will soon follow. It seems like live shopping, as marvellous an idea as it is, simply doesn’t connect culturally with Western audiences.
Alas, it seems like its time in the sun might well be short-lived.