If Instagram doesn’t have enough product links for you, you may enjoy Amazon Spark, a new feature that the e-tailer calls a place “to discover—and shop—stories and ideas from a community that likes what you like.” Users can scroll through a feed of personalized content; click on something you like, and you’ll be brought to the item’s Amazon product page. The move signals that Amazon wants to capitalize on the buzz around social commerce. But do consumers really want another shoppable social network?
The major user shift (and brand migration) from Snapchat to Instagram after the latter rolled out its Stories feature suggests that most Instagrammers would choose it over less familiar alternatives with the same functionality. In recent months, the platform has been aggressively rolling out features to address previous gaps in commerce functionality, leading major brands like Nike to establish a retail presence on the platform. While Amazon is well-positioned to disrupt categories from Grocery to Entertainment, Instagram has already carved out such a key role in the social media landscape (even Amazon can’t yet be used as a verb) that the e-tailer might struggle to convince consumers to browse lifestyle content on a new platform.
Yet while Spark might not be the social platform of the future, its emphasis on discoverability could transform the product review ecosystem, giving lesser-known brands a visibility boost. Products with more reviews enjoy superior search visibility on Amazon and other e-tailers, according to L2’s Insight Report: Enterprise E-Tailer Strategy. Historically, that fact has benefited established brands. But the shift from conventional reviews to Spark, with its focus on discoverability, could benefit long tail brands that have already mastered the art of showing up on Instagram and in Amazon search. As those long tail brands continue challenging their richer rivals in terms of both visibility and market share, Spark would play to their advantages, forcing competitors to catch up.