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Amazon boosts social prowess with Snapchat, Instagram, but more needed

Amazon, which has been slow to jump onboard with social media, is making a bigger push into Instagram and Snapchat in time for the holiday shopping season, reflecting social’s growing influence on the customer journey.

Last week, Amazon kicked off its Black Friday specials by announcing that it will start posting deal codes to Snapchat, which is the third most popular social app among millennials. Amazon has also made its Instagram feed shoppable, something that a number of other retailers, such as Nordstrom and Target, have done of late.

“Amazon is attempting to push the envelope on both these platforms by incorporating a more performance based strategy – this is a huge move,” said Esha Shah, manager of mobile strategy and innovation at Fetch.

“We hope this becomes a new trend and many more brands can benefit from direct acquisition based formats on Instagram and Snapchat,” she said. “In this way social is able to move beyond branding campaigns and becomes a measurable way for brands to track progress.”

Performance-based strategies
In the past, Instagram and Snapchat have both been leveraged for branding and awareness related key performance indicators, per Ms. Shah.

For example, Instagram was mainly a place for brands to post beautiful imagery of products and other brand related content.

However, increasingly marketers are looking for performance-based strategies in social.

For example, brands such as Groupon and GrubHub have attempted  to use Snapchat as a way to drive users to their app and make purchases by advertising flash deals and contests.

Additionally, Macy’s is offering its customers a first look at some of its Black Friday specials via Snapchat this year.

Amazon is taking the strategy a step further providing deal codes on Snapchat.

Ramping up
What is unique about Snapchat is that its messages disappear after a pre-set amount of time, adding a sense of urgency and excitement to the shopping process.

The Amazon codes can be redeemed during checkout on the Amazon site.

Amazon has by no means ignored social media. It has a presence on many of the leading social sites such as Pinterest and Instagram.

It also reportedly sees a significant volume of sales already originating on social.

However, for a company that is a leader in ecommerce and mcommerce, it could be doing more to capitalize on the significant potential that social holds for influencing purchasing.

Promises of more Snapchat
More brands are likely to start looking for ways to leverage Snapchat going forward, given that it has a strong user base that is active and highly engaged.

“Brands must see this as an opportunity to test and learn marketing tactics on Snapchat,” Ms. Shah said. “Throughout this year Snapchat has introduced new features like location based filters, event stories and now sponsored stories to users.

“Snapchat is slowly understanding how they’d like to monetize their app but it also seems like they want to introduce ads in a nonintrusive way,” she said. “Branded location based filters and sponsored stories are presented in the app as engaging content rather than standard advertising.

“This is a new and intriguing concept for more marketers as Snapchat might be the first social network to introduce native advertising in its truest form.”

Besides ramping up its social strategy, Amazon continues to look for other ways to enhance the experience for mobile shoppers.

For example, earlier this month the online retailer updated its iPhone app and introduced the ability to search for products using voice at the same time (see story).

Amazon was also one of the first merchants to embrace iOS 8’s Touch ID (see story).

From a social perspective, Amazon may be exploring new social networks as Facebook makes it harder for retailers to take a promotional approach.

“With Facebook’s recent algorithm changes, a promotional approach to social content will not lead to a robust presence on that social network,” said Toni Box, director of social media at PM Digital. “As a result of Facebook’s recent News Feed initiatives, it makes sense that Amazon is concerting its social efforts elsewhere.

“By extending their social reach through new channel presences, Amazon is also widening its audience to include a younger demographic – one that spends roughly 5 hours/day on social media from their mobile devices,” she said. “The timing of this deal is also significant in that Amazon recognizes that Black Friday shopping will be inherently mobile this holiday season.

“Shoppers will be glued to their phones, and in between mobile searches, they will be checking their Instagram and Snapchat feeds. Allowing promotional deals to live on these social platforms will enhance Amazon’s presence among in-store shoppers.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York