How Instagram is changing the way we shop

By Lucy Slight

Beck Wadworth. Photo / Nicole Cooper
Beck Wadworth. Photo / Nicole Cooper

Having a personal stylist is a concept that's way out of reach for most people. It seems like a luxury reserved only for celebrities, high profile business women with no time to shop or people with a lot of money and not a lot of dress sense. But lately you may have noticed that as you're scrolling through your Instagram feed full of well-dressed bloggers, It girls and fashion stylists there's something new popping up on their posts - and it's giving regular people the opportunity to be dressed by the best.

Ever tried asking an Instagrammer with over a million followers where they got their shoes from? Likely, yes. Did you get a response? Probably not. But now, thanks to RewardStyle - an invitation only affiliate marketing network for bloggers - you can shop their looks with just a simple double tap. RewardStyle is the brainchild of Amber Venz, a Dallas-based freelance stylist, personal shopper and fashion blogger who, along with co-founder Baxter Box, developed a clever vehicle for her blogging peers to be able to make a commission from purchases made as a result of their style posts.

Using special rStyle.me links posted to their shoppable blogs or Instagram photos, retailers and bloggers alike are able to track direct sales and the poster subsequently receives a commision based on each purchase made. Over 3000 retailers are currently aligned to RewardStyle including Asos, Topshop, Alexander Wang, Neiman Marcus, Nike, Bobbi Brown and L'Oreal. And big name blogs such as The Man Repeller, The Blonde Salad, Tuula Vintage and Gary Pepper are all getting in on the action right alongside them.

In other words, it's huge.

Like to Know It is the feature responsible for the new-found ease of shopping Instagram posts, solving the frequently asked question: "Where did you get that?" As a consumer, it couldn't be easier to use - simply register at liketoknow.it and next time you 'like' an Instagram post tagged with a Like To Know It link, you'll receive an email with direct links to purchase the products from that post online.

New Zealand-born blogger and founder of design company An Organised Life, Beck Wadworth, has been using the RewardStyle tools as a way to add value not only to her brand, but to her almost 10,000 followers too. After hearing about the program from some of her fellow bloggers, Beck applied to become a member of RewardStyle and after being accepted, was given a dedicated account manager looking after users in Australia and New Zealand.

"Like to Know It is definitely my favourite RewardStyle tool," says Beck. "It's very user-friendly and doesn't require a lot of admin once you've used it once or twice. Instagram is a big part of my brand and this tool allows my followers to see and shop my looks with ease - anything from my favourite accessories, to cameras and beauty products.

"Some of my followers just like to have a browse at where specific pieces are from or to see other similar items. While others see something they love and want that exact piece. It's such an easy way to shop, but for me, it's not about making money out of it - anything that comes my way is a bonus, but that's not my priority," she adds.

It's not just bloggers and quote unquote regular people who are jumping aboard the RewardStyle wagon either; Fashion bible Vogue has turned to this marketing tool as a way to monetise its posts too. And where only a couple of years ago, the value of social media for brands was still relatively unclear, stats based on sales through RewardStyle are concrete - offering advertising clients yet another way to garner added value for their brands. Because Instagram is completely self-contained, allowing no click throughs to external websites via posts, the use of RewardStyle as a vehicle for sales has become a necessity.

While it's no surprise the likes of Vogue and other mainstream media outlets have cottoned on to the money-making ability of social media, it's safe to say that thanks to Amber Venz' savvy thinking, retailers are no longer relying solely on magazine editorials or advertising for brand awareness. Magazine editors still remain relatively faceless, whereas social media gives the consumer direct access into the wardrobes of thousands of coveted style gurus from all over the world. Now, you can have your very own stylist right there in the palm of your hand, and with just a couple of clicks you can give them a little bit of money for their services too.

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