Mobile photo sharing app Instagram made big news earlier this month when Facebook acquired the 13 person company for a whopping $1 billion. In response, SCT editor Paul Marsden wrote a post that asked what the acquisition could mean from a social commerce perspective.

In his view, there is no immediate connection, though he did posit some ideas for how such could evolve. Still, that hasn’t stopped big retail brands from using the app. Many, like Pepsico, Burberry, Starbucks, Gucci and Levi’s, have been doing so for some time, in fact.

A blog post by Blake Brysha, senior marketing manager at PowerReviews, contains some interesting insights as to the social commerce tie-in. He focuses on two main ideas: the web’s evolution as a curated media experience, and the use of user-generated media.

Photo sharing on social networks is a popular past-time. Facebook users share photos 6 billion times per month; Pinterest has upwards of 12 million users who do nothing but share images; Instagram’s 30 million users share more than 5 million photos per day. Brysha states that brands can benefit from this trend by incorporating such content into their e-commerce sites:

Photos and videos contributed by customers add authenticity to your content and allow users to get more intimately acquainted with your products through media from people like them.  In the same way that customers seek unbiased opinions to help guide their purchase decisions via customer reviews, community forums, and Q&A, user-generated images and video help users feel confident that they know exactly what they’re getting, before clicking “Add to Cart.”

He suggests three ways retailers can encourage customers to share photos:

1. Make it easy. Brysha recommends that retailers follow up with customers a few days after a purchase and invite them to share their experience through reviews, images, and videos. Make it easy for them to do so offering easy-to-use options to upload media taken on a smartphone, uploaded to Facebook or YouTube, or saved locally.

2. Make it fun. He suggests brands can “gamify” the experience using incentives such as points, badges, and other rewards.

3. Make it sharable. Provide the ability for customers to share images and videos with their friends on social networks. “After a customer has contributed something on your site, make it easy for them to share with their social networks, adding their experience with your products to their personal Timeline, and a permanent update with links back to your product page,” he says.

No doubt, there will be a lot of discussion about the implications of Facebook’s move, including what it means from a social commerce standpoint. When we hear it, you’ll be the first to know!

What other ideas might you have for ways Instagram can be used to foster social commerce? Leave a comment.