Social commerce, where online shopping is done directly through a social media app, has been on the rise. In the U.S., 36% of internet users have purchased something through a social media app, according to stats on Influencer Marketing Hub. So, recent announcements about expanded merch opportunities on Spotify and YouTube should come as no surprise. Also included in this roundup is news from Instagram, which announced the ability for businesses to boost their Reels, but is also dealing with user backlash to changes it’s been proposing.
Spotify Adds Merch to Blend Feature
Audio streaming company Spotify recently added a new element to its Blend feature: the ability to shop for merch. Blend lets listeners combine Spotify’s personalization capabilities and collaborative playlist functionality to create a playlist that syncs a user’s music taste with their friend’s or an artist like BTS, Charli XCX, Kacey Musgraves or Megan Thee Stallion, according to the company. Spotify recently announced the addition of new artists to the feature, as well as the ability to shop artist merch directly from the Blend experience, “so you can literally wear your love on your sleeve,” according to the company.
Users first “Blend” their music with a particular artist, and then let Spotify make a custom playlist. Then, they can check out a “social sharecard” that explains what percentage of music taste they have in common with the artist they’ve chosen. The user can also purchase the artist’s featured merch via Spotify’s integration with Shopify. All the merch was selected by the artists themselves, according to Spotify.
YouTube Expands Shopping Opportunities
YouTube also recently announced the launch of YouTube Shopping, a partnership with Shopify that lets creators and merchants easily integrate online stores and sell products via livestreams, videos and a store tab. Merchants can tag and pin products at key points during a livestream, with “picture-in-picture playback” allowing consumers to continue watching while they check out. Merchants can show a curated list of products in a “shelf” below on-demand videos. And a new store tab will be added to merchants’ YouTube channels, featuring their entire selection of products.
“For years, creators have built businesses around their YouTube content, often extending their entrepreneurship into building their own brands, but it hasn’t been as seamless to reach their audience with these products directly on YouTube,” said David Katz, vice president of shopping product at YouTube. “We’re excited to partner with Shopify to help creators easily bring their stores front and center for their communities on YouTube, who are increasingly turning to them to shop.”
YouTube Shopping is available to Shopify merchants globally.
Instagram Announces Boosted Reels
This last tidbit doesn’t relate directly to merch, but it’s noteworthy for promotional products suppliers and distributors using Instagram for marketing purposes. The social media platform announced recently that businesses can “boost” their Reels, Instagram’s short-form video feature similar to TikTok. “Boosted Reels … will appear in feed, Stories, the Reels tab and the explore page to help new customers find your brand,” according to a recent blog post on Instagram.
Instagram has been dealing with a lot of user backlash for its focus on Reels and announced this week that it was reversing some of the TikTok-lookalike changes it was making to the app – including a test version of the app with a full-screen display. The app also said it would be toning down changes to its algorithm that resulted in users’ feeds being flooded with content from accounts they don’t follow.
Social media experts don’t expect the reprieve to last, though, noting that Meta, Instagram’s parent company, is betting heavily on Reels. “Reports indicate that engagement rates across photo, non-Reel video and carousel posts are down by more than 40% on average, causing problems for users who rely on Instagram for business,” according to The Verge.