Facebook and Instagram Double Down on E-commerce


Seamless social shopping is the latest evolution in social media. E-commerce is growing at a rapid pace and the biggest names in social media want a piece of the action. Platforms not historically used for e-commerce are sitting up and taking notice of the abundance found in the online commerce world.


This platform expansion is opening up doors for small online retailers to take a foothold in e-commerce. Brands can use these tools to increase brand awareness and reach new audiences, while also streamlining their purchasing process. There’s now a larger distribution network where businesses can attract, engage, and sell to a customer—all in one fell swoop.


We’re going to take a look at two of the most successful social platforms in the e-commerce sphere: Facebook and Instagram. What is their role in the online selling movement? And how will this impact your store’s ads and competition?


People sitting near the wall using gadgets



It seemed only natural for Facebook and Instagram to break into e-commerce. They were already advertising platforms. The next logical step was to sell products found in Facebook’s pre-existing ad space.


Facebook was one of the first social media platforms to break into advertising for online stores. This is likely because Facebook has an extensive advertising platform that works well for small business and large corporations alike. From paid ads and sponsored posts to groups and business pages, brands have many options at their disposal to get in touch with their loyal fans.


Facebook makes it easy for businesses to redirect viewers by linking out to landing pages or web pages. You see an ad, you can click on it, and you’ll be led to the business’s FB page, website, or landing page. From there, you have control over that prospect to advertise and sell as you deem fit.


This works to an extent, but it’s still technically “advertising” as opposed to direct platform selling. A customer sees an ad and then goes to the business page.


The future is e-commerce selling on social media sites directly.


Facebook was one of the first to have advertising of this extent—but they’re one of the last to implement on-site shopping. Why? Facebook still has a lot of security issues. There are still complaints about Facebook’s privacy and data breaches. People are much more wary about their financial information being stolen than their pictures, so consumers are still hesitant to trust Facebook with the transfer of money.


If Facebook can fix this issue of trust, though, they could be poised for exceptional e-commerce growth. It’s worth noting that Facebook hired Ken Chenault, the former CEO of American Express, to their board of directors to help Facebook improve their “direct commerce” functions.


Still, Facebook does have two unique e-commerce aspects that we should discuss:  video ads and Marketplace.


Read: How To Target Audiences With Facebook Ads


Video Ads

Facebook video is huge. There are over 8 billion daily views with over 100 million hours of video watched daily. It’s become one of the top places for viewers to watch videos ranging from funny animals to political news to brand stories.


While watching a video on Facebook, you’ll likely see an ad interrupt for a few seconds in the middle of your video. Viewers are usually okay waiting around for a bit to watch an ad because they’ve already put in a time investment to watch the first half or so of the video. They’re not entirely resistant, so there’s already some engagement with the ad.


Often, Facebook will include a banner below the video that leads you to the app or website. Phone apps will show ads on mobile video, so you can download the application right from Facebook. This works well because customers don’t have to input their financial information, but app developers are getting that initial download that they need. (Or they’re sending customers to the app store to purchase the application if it’s paid.)


"This platform expansion is opening up doors for small online retailers to take  a foothold in e-commerce."  -Click to Tweet-



Facebook Marketplace is like a classifieds section on your favorite social networking site. It’s available on desktop and mobile, and it makes it easy to find unique items for sale.


There are a few benefits for users on Marketplace. They can find cheap goods nearby from local sellers or they can browse some companies’ products (like Overstock). Consumers can find discounted items—and they can see the seller’s Facebook profile with ease. This takes away some of the “mystery” of other classifieds platforms and gives a more direct connection between buyer and seller.


However, Marketplace isn’t yet poised for companies to take over and sell their private label like Amazon or eBay might.


What Does This Mean for your Business?

Some businesses choose to sell on Facebook Marketplace but it’s not incredibly common. There’s likely not much of a future with Marketplace selling.


Video advertising on Facebook is rapidly expanding and definitely worth looking into for online retailers. Video is the future of advertising—with video accounting for 78% of mobile data by 2021—and Facebook is the top platform for this.


Facebook makes it easy to create top-notch videos, insert advertisements, drive awareness, and boost your sales. You can choose from different types of videos and advertising means, so you can find something that meets your needs and budget. Start creating a Facebook video ad here.



Owned by Facebook, Instagram is currently the victor in e-commerce integrations. The visual nature of the platform lends well to the strategic placement of aesthetic product ads, seamlessly fitting in with users’ feeds. Instagram also holds a lot of trust with consumers,  so these ads can quickly turn to conversion-worthy landing pages right on the app itself.


Instagram has even brought shopping to their Stories. Instagram Stories recently took on Snapchat, and they’ve prevailed with almost 300 million daily active users on Stories alone. Now, Instagram is taking it to the next level by making it easy to browse and buy directly from brand advertisements in a Story.


A user will be catching up on their friends’ stories, and a photo or video story will come up that is actually from a sponsored brand. (It will say “sponsored” under the Instagram handle in the top left-hand corner.) There will be a button at the bottom that encourages them to learn more, shop, or buy now.  If there is a shopping bag sticker, a user can purchase that product through the app. They’re then brought to a web page (still on the Instagram app) for more details about their purchase.


Interestingly enough, customers don’t actually mind these ads. There has always been resistance to ads interrupting TV, videos, and now social media. Surprisingly, though, most consumers seem to be accepting of the e-commerce addition on Instagram feeds and Stories.


This is likely because the ads are aligned with the high-end visual style of Instagram, and they’re tailored directly to consumers based on their previous likes and follows. This creates highly targeted content that consumers actually engage with. Learn more about the importance of personalization in ecommerce marketing here.


Smartphone in a hand


How to Take Advantage

Instagram currently has a foothold in social network selling and it ’s one of the most promising e-commerce platforms. They have created one of the most seamless browsing processes, effortlessly blending shopping into everyday social interactions with friends and brands. And customers actually like it!


What are the benefits of advertising and selling with Instagram stories and feeds?

  • A large, active user base

  • Easy to create

  • Can test new ideas without a lot of investment

  • Lots of features (drawing, stickers, filters)

  • Conversion-worthy wipe-up links

  • Focuses on brand awareness and drives traffic


You can pay for ads separately—or you can even just post through your Business Instagram. This allows you to quickly and easily create short-term campaigns that allow for interactions with your followers. Create a beautiful visual, link to a landing or purchase page, and start getting conversions!


Learn how to set up your Instagram shop here.



Facebook and Instagram aren’t the only platforms integrating e-commerce. In fact, e-commerce is permeating nearly every aspect of the Internet.


This bodes well for small online retailers. There are more opportunities than ever to advertise to a large, engaged audience at a low cost. You can go where your customers are, speak their language, and drive up your sales.


Interested in learning more about marketing and selling through social channels? Contact us for a free consultation to get started! Our expert team is excited to create a marketing and sales campaign that will get you in front of your online audience!  

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