why nobody wants to buy Zuckerberg some sneakers

The other ‘bluff’ of Facebook: why nobody wants to buy Zuckerberg some sneakers

Instagram has done away with the purchase button in its app. It is not just about a redesign, but also about the failure of shopping on Meta’s social networks, a tool that was sold as the future, but that has never caught on

The Instagram purchase button will disappear from the application interface. If you are not a user of the social network, you probably do not even know what that is. If you have an account there, the strange thing is that you have ever entered. Be that as it may, the question goes far beyond mere redesign. Meta has realized that very few want to buy through its platform, which became known as social shopping. It is the umpteenth bluff by Mark Zuckerberg, who will already be considering a question that transcends this case: if hardly anyone wants to buy real sneakers on Instagram, who will want to spend money on, for example, virtual clothes in his metaverse?

The announcement also supposes a certain collection of cable regarding the changes that had been implemented in Instagram in recent months, which ended up turning it into something very similar to TikTok, but with less promising results. In any case, the director of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, has assured that this function is not going to disappear, although the truth is that this redesign means putting purchases under the rug.

“Meta is reducing its commercial ambitions after internal debates about its strategy, the slowdown in sales and the worsening of the crisis in its advertising revenue,” they warned a few weeks ago in The Information. The project had its peak during 2020, when Zuckerberg decided to dedicate more resources to this division, encouraged by the heat of the pandemic.

According to this medium, the boss even dropped the possibility of competing with Amazon, since (and he is right there) the company’s platforms have billions of users whose interests they know by heart. However, his expectations were too far from reality. If the pandemic hangover has ended up giving the king of e-commerce a major whiplash, it is easy to venture what happened to those who were just wannabes. But that is not the only thing that explains the failure of purchases on Instagram.

The reason why you don’t buy on social networks

Technical issues have been partly to blame for what happened. In the United States, Meta tried to include the payment gateway in Instagram, but in the rest of the world it never implemented this model. In other words, the only option was to link the website of each business with the social network. “I have created many stores, and here the process was never as simple as it was painted,” explains Emiliano Pérez Ansaldi, a specialist in marketing and digital commerce for more than two decades. On this point, he explains that this union of ecosystems only worked well in very specific cases, such as those marketplaces developed with Shopify. “In others it was a nuisance, even if you started from scratch and needed to use someone who had certain knowledge.” Also, even though the entire process was done on Instagram, in the end you had to end up leaving their website to make the payment in the store itself. “No social network likes that, because you abandon their ecosystem,” he emphasizes.

“When Meta launched shopping, they wanted to attract everything that had to do with merchandising and content creators, something that would give them more data about what their users are interested in and what they buy, as is the case with Google,” recalls Esteban Mucientes. , head of digital marketing for the clothing store FootDistrict. One of the ways to attract content creators was the subscription service, a kind of OnlyFans within Instagram, something that hasn’t quite caught on either. “They don’t have the same attraction for people to pay. They were promised a lot, but that has not been fulfilled and they have ended up moving away.” This specialist also relates this to Facebook’s reputational crisis, which began with the Cambridge Analytica scandal and, years later, shows no sign of improvement. “Users have more and more doubts about their privacy and it does not seem that they are about to leave their card to Meta”, he drops. They are a series of issues that made sales never go very far.

“Instagram or Facebook contribute a lower weight in purchases compared to traffic. In the end it is a lot of effort for real profitability compared to other channels such as Google Ads, which continues to be a great traffic collector and where navigation is easier”, develops Mucientes . All in all, he acknowledges that Meta’s social networks continue to be “a great showcase” because “you play with the sales funnel and generate desire in the consumer.” At Pompeii, one of the first Spanish shoe brands to generate the vast majority of its income through Instagram, they agree with this point.

“On Instagram, advertising serves to gain visibility and remind the user of what you offer and your news, but the internalization that payment is made on your website is difficult to change culturally,” says Jaime Garrastazu, one of the founders of the firm.

“Our customers come to buy from the web or the physical store because they see it on Instagram. It is a showcase, but it has not become a store.”

For his part, Pérez Ansaldi stresses that the model has worked in some places. “In Latin America it is used much more, even through WhatsApp Business to buy food. There is a very big difference with Europe, where the consumer pays attention to issues such as return guarantees. When buying in the app of a social network, that part is skipped, but there the price is sought more, and that is why it has worked better”. It is something that helps explain why the shopping option will continue to be present on Instagram, but hidden.

“If I had seen the reef in countries that interest them more, I don’t think it would have prevented them from developing something closed and better.” One of the most striking aspects of the Meta movement is that it goes in the opposite direction to its commitment to the metaverse. According to Zuckerberg, these spaces would be a succulent business niche, where users would spend real money on different virtual products. “I dare not say what will happen, but I don’t think it will be how they sell it: people will prefer to continue buying real clothes,” says this specialist, who recalls that these spaces are closely related to cryptocurrencies, which They have been falling for nearly a year and with few signs of improvement. “If they went to hell, all this too. Meta already had to shut down its virtual currency project.”
TikTok doesn’t care about this
It is something that contrasts with the fact that TikTok, which has taken the sector by storm, has continued to promote purchases within the application, a point in which they do not seem to redeem. “TikTok has a certain bias for being a Chinese company,” says Mucientes, who emphasizes the cultural differences with the Asian country.

There they have WeChat, a super app where you can do everything you want (and pay for it) without leaving the platform. “We see it from the western prism, but it doesn’t shock them at all. They have other mental schemes. Meta has given up on that westernized point of view and TikTok can take it as a niche, since younger people are more familiar with that culture, but in the US and Europe I see it as very complicated”. In fact, Musk has said on occasion that Twitter was the first step to build a project of this type in the West, although it seems difficult for it to succeed.

“TikTok is missing a little step, but I don’t know how it will work because the public is different, it is not consolidated from other networks, as happened with Facebook and the migration to Instagram,” considers Pérez Ansaldi. “I don’t know how they are going to do it, but it makes sense that they create their own store. I don’t think they will stay halfway like Meta, but they are going to set up their own online store ecosystem and link it to the TikTok profile,” he warns. . For now, its current model is very similar to that of Instagram. “Organic visibility is much more powerful, which is normal when platforms are growing, but it is also difficult for them to buy directly on the web,” they say in Pompeii, who opened their account on the Chinese social network a couple of years ago. years. “The algorithm is very good at going viral, but it is not as prepared as Facebook to invest in users with a high probability of buying. In our experience, that is its great challenge,” he concludes.

Rachel Maga
Rachel Maga is a technology journalist currently working at Globe Live Media agency. She has been in the Technology Journalism field for over 5 years now. Her life's biggest milestone is the inside tour of Tesla Industries, which was gifted to her by the legend Elon Musk himself.