Product lead for Instagram Shopping, Instagram
This year, Instagram established itself as a shopping destination, and Instagram Shopping project lead Layla Amjadi said her team is just getting started.
NYC-based Amjadi, who’s worked for Facebook since 2013, led Instagram’s Explore tab before signing on to tackle Instagram Shopping in 2017. The feature was driven by the number of users reporting that they go to Instagram to shop, she said. She spent 2018 answering how Instagram could facilitate that, making it easier for shoppers to shop and sellers to sell, before laying down the vision, communicating the vision internally and rallying teams around it, and hiring the team needed to carry it out. 2019 was then focused on launching two of the big pieces of the puzzle: Checkout and Shopping from Creators.
Amjadi said she has taken a “slow and thoughtful” approach to rolling out the tools, with a plan to get them right before scaling them. Both are still in beta mode, offered to a limited number of brands. She said, typically, the Instagram community uses tools in ways Instagram hadn’t anticipated, which works to steer the company’s next moves and subsequent builds.
The first phase of Instagram Shopping was based on solving for discovery — to show users where they could find a featured dress, for example, by allowing the brand to tag it like users tag people,. But users became vocal about not wanting to leave the app to make a purchase, she said, and brands wanted to do right by the customer by making it easier for them to shop. And thus in-app Checkout was born.
“We’re building and supporting an ecosystem of shoppers, businesses and creators,” said Amjadi. “And we’ve had the chance to co-create commerce with our brands and businesses.”
For users, Amjadi’s goal is for Instagram to be the leading mobile e-commerce destination and a personalized mall, allowing them to shop their interests, whether or not shopping is their interest. She said influencers play a key role in that, as they curate options relevant to users. She used the example of Will Smith’s followers shopping his “Fresh Prince” merch, announced on the platform.
“We want to exceed the expectations of a shopping experience in a way you’d expect Instagram to, which is highly-personalized, very visual and, frankly, entertaining,” she said, calling “window shopping categories” of fashion, beauty and home decor big opportunities for the company.
As for influencers, she wants Instagram to be the ultimate incubator, providing a clear path and set of tools that allow them to graduate from curators to business owners.
Amjadi is basing the future of Instagram Shopping on three themes: One, she said, is culture in real time: “Instagram is a real-time conversation about what’s happening more broadly in the world within your interest community. Shopping will do well when it shows up in that cultural moment and conversation,” she said. Second is products that are by and for interest communities, where people see themselves reflected in the products because, for example, they had a hand in their development through polling. As a result, they feel invested. Third is authentic conversations. Subtlety doesn’t work when it comes to selling through Instagram, she said. “Shoppers want a genuine commerce conversation, where businesses give it to them straight.”
She said the perfect storm of those themes was Instagram’s launch of the product drop reminder feature in late September.
Where subtlety is preferred is when brands serve up shopping opportunities in-feed, when shopping is often not a user’s intention. To meet user expectations, while also offering brands with a range of follower counts access to shoppers, Amjadi said Instagram has been greatly investing in shopping destinations within the app. In addition to a multi-brand destination within Explore, Instagram has opened up for brands the opportunity to feature a shopping tab on their business page — it’s the first product-first experience Instagram is offering.
“We want shopping to be successful, but first and foremost, we want to make sure that Instagram is a success,” she said. –JM
We want to exceed the expectations of a shopping experience in a way you’d expect Instagram to, which is highly-personalized, very visual and, frankly, entertaining. ”
Head of fashion and beauty partnerships, YouTube
As head of fashion and beauty partnerships, Derek Blasberg knows that creating content for YouTube is not easy. Filming quality videos that any number of the platform’s 2 billion unique monthly users actively want to watch requires time and planning. But a key part of his job over the last year has been getting big names like Louis Vuitton, Naomi Campbell and Alexander Wang to feel comfortable enough to create content for YouTube on a weekly basis. Many of those big names on YouTube come from Blasberg’s previous life in the fashion space. He was the host of CNN Style, editor at large for InStyle.com and Harper’s Bazaar, and host to a Vanity Fair web series called “Conversations in the Backseat.”
In September, Blasberg and his team officially launched YouTube.com/fashion, a vertical dedicated to all things fashion, style and beauty. In September alone, the channel saw 110 million unique visitors. By Nov. 1, that number was up to over 200 million.
“It has been incredibly compelling to see that the eyeballs are here, and they’re excited to see this fashion and beauty content,” Blasberg said.
The channel is a place for brands, publishers and fashion professionals, like models and hair stylists, to post everything from their latest runway show experiences to makeup tutorials.
A large part of Blasberg’s job in the last year has been informing the fashion world what kind of content performs well on YouTube. Prior to joining YouTube, Blasberg said he noticed most brands simply reposted ad campaigns or branded videos to their channels.
“The biggest discovery I’ve made since I came to YouTube is that the real YouTubers, the viewers, are a super savvy group of people who are not coming just to see heavily-branded content,” said Blasberg. “The sort of stuff I’m looking for on YouTube is a little bit longer than most social media platforms. It’s more in-depth. It’s revealing more secrets — and by secrets, I mean services, like how to tie a bow tie or the secrets to [a] perfect red lip,” he said.
Those insights have led to the launch of LVMH TV with Blasberg’s help. In February, Louis Vuitton created a video featuring Emma Stone getting ready for the Oscars. It was less than one minute long and had no dialogue, but it showed up-close details of the dress Stone wore and got nearly 81,000 views. Next, Louis Vuitton posted a video of Sophie Turner getting ready for the Met Gala. That one saw 1.6 million views.
“The reason it did better is because it was longer, about four minutes, and Sophie is speaking directly to the camera. When you sit down with Vuitton and say, ‘Let’s look at why the Sophie Turner video did better,’ it becomes apparent to them,” he said.
Louis Vuitton now has over 360,000 subscribers and regularly works with endemic YouTube creators like Emma Chamberlain, who has 8.51 million subscribers. A video of Chamberlain getting ready for the Louis Vuitton Cruise 2020 show, posted five months ago, has over 2 million views. –KR
Direct-to-consumer darling Allbirds is on the move. The company, which launched in 2014, now has 14 retail locations, with plans to open 20 more in the next year — and not just in the U.S. With the brand’s ongoing global growth, CMO Julie Channing has a big job. Not only is she working to introduce the brand to new markets, but she’s also strategizing to unite the Allbirds community worldwide. In 2018, the company was valued at $1.4 billion, and its raised $77 million in funding.
What’s been your greatest challenges in the last year?
It’s one thing to sell your products internationally, but it’s an entirely different thing to build your brand and actually stand for something meaningful and unite people around the world. We are now selling in 18 countries, and that means we’ve really had to adapt the way we work and start building a marketing infrastructure that can support that global storytelling.
What marketing channels are you relying on?
Word-of-mouth has been a major driver of our brand since day one. We’ve continued to interact with our fans in our social communities and nurture those relationships. Beyond that, we’re continuing to put a lot of effort into PR and podcast ads, where other, credible voices that we have come to know and love can do that talking for us. And finally, we’re focused on channels that allow us to story-tell in a highly visual way. Instagram and YouTube continue to grow in importance for us, especially as we start to scale up our spending.
As DTC evolves, where will Allbirds fit into that equation?
What’s so exciting about this DTC industry growing is that it has really emphasized a renewed commitment on customer experience above all else. That’s incredibly empowering for brands and marketers. It also comes with great responsibility to do something useful with that information, so you’re ultimately enhancing the experience people have with your brand. The brands that take this responsibility seriously and are always trying to improve based on what they are hearing are the ones that are ultimately going to thrive. –KR