Meta appears to be having difficulty persuading consumers to use social commerce. In addition to Facebook discontinuing its live shopping function on October 1, Instagram has informed creators that it would discontinue its affiliate commerce programme on August 31, according to executives in the creative business. A Meta representative verified the closure.

“By collaborating with companies, we hope to make Instagram the ideal platform for creators to earn a career.” To do this, we are concentrating on Instagram’s Creator Marketplace – a single destination where marketers and artists can more easily develop content partnerships – and discontinuing the existing Instagram onsite affiliate test,” said a Meta spokeswoman in a statement.

In July 2021, Instagram officially began testing an affiliate network for creators, which it expanded to its short-form vertical video product Reels in March. The service allowed participating authors to add product tags to Instagram posts and earn a fee when users tap to examine a product featured in a post and subsequently buy it on Instagram. The commission charges vary depending on the merchant.

According to leaders in the creative sector, the initiative, however, struggled to acquire traction among creators. “It didn’t seem that turnkey,” one executive in the creative business remarked. The programme, in particular, required too many steps for artists to complete, and once a creator engaged in the programme, they were no longer able to tag goods that were not included in the programme in Instagram photos.

“If the simplicity of use isn’t there and there’s no clear benefit, [creators] aren’t going to do it,” a second creator industry official stated.

“They sort of struck themselves in the foot by wanting to heavily filter it instead of saying, ‘We simply want to get people acclimated to this behaviour on our platform,'” said a third creative industry executive.

The seeming absence of requirement for Instagram’s affiliate scheme was another factor influencing creative adoption. Creators already earn affiliate money through programmes like Amazon Associates and may publish those links on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, such as by adding them to the profile pages of their accounts. “What is the net advantage [of joining in Instagram’s affiliate scheme] if you’re already running affiliate programmes and are successful?” said the third creative industry executive.

The need for flexibility among artists may be one of the reasons Instagram is moving its attention to its Creator Marketplace, which the platform unveiled in July and functions as a type of Tinder for brands and creators to match on deals.

“Because creators want to be linked with brands in a number of ways, not only affiliate,” said Charley Button, talent manager at Select Management Group, “it makes a lot of sense for Instagram to leverage their own Creator Marketplace for this rather than a separate Instagram Affiliate programme.”

Furthermore, platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok appear to be having difficulty establishing platform-driven commerce firms. In addition to Instagram and Facebook discontinuing their respective Reels affiliate and live shopping programmes, TikTok reportedly decided not to expand its live shopping efforts in Europe and the United States in July after it failed to gain traction in the United Kingdom, according to the Financial Times.

“Affiliate is crucial to artists as part of their income mix, but as other platforms have discovered, it can be a massive undertaking to establish and run internally with so many third parties already in the field.” “It’s also critical for an affiliate network to bring on a diverse set of brand partners, which can take a long time to build,” Button added.

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