How Instagram is tapping into online shopping – and the presidential campaign

Shopping on Instagram

If you like what someone is wearing on your Instagram feed, you no longer have to comment, ask the user where to purchase the item, and wait until you get a response – if you ever do.

That’s because Instagram is now tapping into the online shopping market with a new feature. Starting next week, users can shop directly through an Instagram post with just a few taps. Participating retailers can tag products in their posts, and users can select the tags for more details about the items. Then, tapping the “shop now” button will direct you to the product on the retailer’s website.

Instagram has tested this feature with 20 U.S.-based retail brands, including Kate Spade, Warby Parker, Levi’s and more.

With this new feature, the popular app is now tapping into a nearly $100 billion industry. Online shopping now accounts for about eight percent of total sales in the U.S.

Instagram reactions to the election

“A lot what we like to do at Instagram is watch what people are doing and try to make it way more easy to do, and that’s what it really came out of,” co-founder Mike Krieger explained on “CBS This Morning” Friday. 

“So right now, it’s just about getting people connected to the product,” Krieger said.

Now a social media giant with more than 300 million daily active users and over 95 million daily posts, it’s hard to believe Instagram was only launched six years ago. 

“Looking back, I mean, [in] 2012 we were just getting started – baby company, right? We didn’t have video... we didn’t have Instagram stories yet, and then this campaign, we’re seeing both, people engaging voters, talking about what they care about,” Krieger said. 

Instagram also has the power to exert influence on the presidential election. In what’s perhaps been the most rancorous presidential election in American history, Instagram has launched a campaign called “From Where I Stand 2016” to take voters back to the issues that really matter.  

Artists installed a giant mural on the ground in Flatiron Plaza in New York City featuring illustrations of key issues, from health care to education and more. In a call to action, Instagram invited users to share photos or videos of them standing on the issues that motivate them to vote most, using the hashtag #FromWhereIStand2016. 

“And actually, the one that’s gotten some of the most interesting photos is an area that says ‘First Time Voter.’ So we’re hearing a lot of people who are voting for the first time. And they’re sort of saying, ‘Hey, let’s get back to the issues.’ There’s a lot to talk about here beyond just sort of the bombast of the campaign,” Krieger said.

The presidential candidates themselves are also active on Instagram, both with over 2.8 million followers.

“And most of those are people who are 18 to 35, so again, young, many first-time voters there too,” Krieger said.

Despite all its positive growth, one unfortunate downside — typical with social media platforms — is the barrage of hateful comments. Krieger said he and his co-founder, Kevin Systrom, have been devoted to tackling cyberbullying since the very beginning.

‘We had actually spent some of our time in the very early days deleting like bullying and negative comments, which maybe wasn’t the best use of time when we’re just this tiny company with two people. But we care really early,” Krieger said. “No-jerks policy on Instagram.”

Krieger said weeding out the bullies has now become “much harder” to do. But they’ve developed a way to help users “control and police” the negative comments by moderating them on their feeds. 

“If there are words that people are saying on your own comments, we think of your comment as your space — like, you should be able to control that,” Krieger said. “So this is actually available to everybody now. We’ve been rolling out in the last couple of months where you can say, hey, if you use a sudden set of key words, it just gets invisibly blocked on your page, which just starts reducing some of that noise on your own profile.”