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    Google and Amazon’s Advance in Social Shopping: A New Threat to Instagram Influencers?

    Big tech companies such as Google and Amazon are making significant strides in their social commerce endeavors in the United States, posing a potential threat to the reign of Instagram influencers. Despite the rise of AI-generated reviews, the influence of influencers on purchasing decisions and travel recommendations remains pivotal.

    The Rise of Social Shopping

    On Wednesday, Alphabet Inc.’s Google launched a new feature for search, named Perspectives. This feature exhibits videos pulled from YouTube and includes insights from social media influencers alongside regular search results. When users search for topics such as shopping, travel, or how-to advice, they’re now greeted with a more interactive and engaging experience.

    The move is a strategic one for Google as they already cater to users seeking very specific decisions. In this digital age, many millennials and Gen Zers prefer watching videos comparing products or vlogs from potential vacation spots rather than reading text-based reviews.

    Google’s move also acts as a counter to the increasingly popular TikTok. The app, owned by ByteDance Ltd., has become a go-to search engine for the younger generation and has recently begun allowing brands to list and sell their products through videos in the US, a strategy already successful in markets like Singapore.

    Amazon’s Move into Social Shopping Inc., another e-commerce giant, isn’t sitting on the sidelines either. It launched its own feed of shoppable short videos and photos accessible from the home screen of its app, making shopping more interactive and seamless. The feed features content from Amazon’s influencer program and customer reviews, allowing users to shop with just a tap on the screen.

    Meta’s Shift in Focus

    Interestingly, Meta Platforms Inc., which helped catapult Instagram influencers into a multibillion-dollar industry, seems to be absent from these developments. The company, under the leadership of CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is currently more focused on AI and the virtual reality-driven metaverse. This pivot means that social commerce, which was a significant initiative during the pandemic years, has now been sidelined.

    Instagram’s Shop Tab, which was once prominently placed on the home feed, was removed in January, and shortly after, live shopping was discontinued. While Instagram was a pioneer in engaging users with photos and videos to encourage purchases, it appears to be ceding this lead to its competitors.

    With Meta focusing on features that generate revenue, such as paid advertisements and new buttons that direct users to chat with businesses on messaging services like WhatsApp, the stage is set for a new era in social commerce.

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