What a lot of social fanatics, tech enthusiasts and bloggers were talking about Facebook Marketplaces back then. It was called an unnecessary and completely pointless feature - and yet: Facebook Marketplace is still here and enjoying growing popularity. But how could this happen? After all, many were sure it was going to be a pipe burst.
Well, Facebook has evolved as a platform. According to Facebook founder and Silicon Valley icon Mark Zuckberg, it's supposed to be a place where people interact and close spatial distance. Whether the platform still does this is something I'll deliberately leave open for another column, but hopefully we can all agree that we behave very differently on Facebook today than we did five or six years ago.
It's this change in our behavior that allows new features to slowly settle in. The Facebook Marketplace wasn't a big hit right from the start. But mainly due to the high user density and the free accessibility, many users had the thought: "I could actually try it on Facebook. It can't do any harm". No sooner said than done - and yes, I too oute myself as a marketplace seller who has already brought some "old" tech gadgets from his own collection to a new owner. Faster and easier than on other comparable platforms.
As on Facebook - so on Instagram?
Well, if it works on Facebook, it doesn't have to work on Instagram at the same time, right? True. But Instagram is, by design, the optimal visual foundation for a shopping app. Users still prefer aesthetics, beautiful images and are no longer afraid to engage with brands or products due to the increasing number of influencers and brands present on Instagram.
This can create a smooth transition in the user journey when shopping, which takes place on the same visual from the first impulse to the purchase - without annoying clicks that spoil the buying experience or make it easier to order on the PC after all. And convenience is king for the user as long as the trust is there.
Is Instagram shopping currently mature? Nope. But that doesn't change anything about the correctness of the approach. If I'm currently still getting "editor picks" from US shops, it's because there are still too few local providers. However, this is only a matter of time. Once enough renowned local players are represented for the first time, trust will follow and purchases will follow.
In the end, consumers will have another easy shopping channel and Instagram will become the big e-commerce competitor to the Amazons of the world. Facebook's current and past acquisitions and partnerships leave no doubt: Instagram should be able to map the complete shopping experience. And for users, it will be a simple question: Where do I shop in the most straightforward way?
* Roger Hämmerli is managing director at content newsroom Andy Was Right.