Social commerce is on the rise, and brands are doing their best to keep up with the rapid evolution of channels and tactics. The big social platforms are all making huge investments into commerce solutions as they compete for audiences and advertisers.
From TikTok Commerce to Instagram Checkout, every social platform is trying to attract users and get them to start spending in-app. Insider Intelligence estimates that social commerce sales in the U.S. alone will reach a staggering $36.09 billion already in 2021, and now everyone is racing to get as big a piece of that pie as possible. And nothing indicates a slowing down of this development.
According to Grand View Research, the global social commerce market size is expected to reach USD 3,369.8 billion by 2028. The same report anticipates expanding at a CAGR of 28.4% from 2021 to 2028.
So, what exactly does this rise in social commerce mean for businesses marketing to consumers? Well, for starters, it means that a solid social commerce strategy is a must. Additionally, your ecommerce strategy needs to integrate with the rest of your digital brand experience, to provide the best possible buyer journey for your customers. Social commerce cannot stand alone; it needs to be supported by and part of a cohesive digital experience.
WHAT IS SOCIAL COMMERCE?
Before we dive deeper into the tactical side of things, let’s have a closer look at what social commerce is. Because today, social commerce includes far more than just marketing to consumers via social media platforms.
Social commerce is, simply put, what happens at the intersection of ecommerce and social media. It is about harnessing a brand’s different social channels for sales, creating a seamless in-app buying journey on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok. These social media platforms have all become essential sales channels for especially B2C and D2C brands, but increasingly also for B2B brands.
Social commerce entails a vast array of channels, including all of the following varieties:
- Group buying
- Social shopping
- Shopping via mobile apps
- Retailers adding social features
- Shopping integrated into social media
The ways brands implement social commerce range from tiny shops on the platform to significant marketplaces and in-app campaigns driving traffic to the brand’s own direct and indirect channels. This is more than a passing trend, and the future of ecommerce will most likely have social commerce as a core pillar.
WHY IS SOCIAL COMMERCE IMPORTANT?
Social commerce reduces friction in the buyer journey and allows companies to engage with customers on the social platforms where they’re already spending much of their time. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, retail brands can harvest real-time data on consumer behavior and turn it into practical and actionable insights.
For example, suppose data indicates that a consumer is influenced by celebrity opinions about a recent clothing line from Ralph Lauren. Then the company can show a personalized Instagram ad to that consumer with a celebrity endorsement.
With ever-evolving technology and the increased use of smartphones and social media platforms, online shopping is changing and becoming more and more social. And people’s behavior is changing too. Today, social media platforms already provide many customers with all the information they need to research, compare, and ultimately choose what brands to buy from.
For example, consumers can browse and compare products on Facebook. They can then make the actual purchase on that same platform instead of leaving the platform and going to the company’s website. Another example is when a consumer learns about a product in a tweet or an Instagram post and purchases it directly on these platforms.
Today, as many as 74% of consumers rely on social networks to guide and inform their purchase decisions. Creating a cohesive digital experience allows you to follow your customers from channel to channel and reinforce your UVP.
Related reading: 5 Keys To Building An Exceptional Ecommerce Customer Experience
SOME COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT SOCIAL COMMERCE
For companies looking to invest in social commerce, it’s essential to understand the dynamics behind this trend. Let’s look at some questions that many brands have as they enter this still relatively new and exciting sphere:
WHICH SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS ARE BEST FOR SOCIAL COMMERCE–AND WHY?
While social media is not the only channel for social commerce, it is a critical component. In fact, as many as 81% of shoppers say that they research products on Instagram and Facebook before purchasing. Currently, Instagram and Pinterest provide the most relevant social commerce experiences for brands, but Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok are all catching up as they’re expanding their offerings.
The social media platforms that are most effective can depend on your audience. For example, Gen Z does 2-3 times more shopping on social channels than the average shopper and prefers Instagram and Snapchat for social shopping. Conversely, Generation X favors shopping on Facebook.
Research shows that 72% of millennials are more likely to become loyal customers with brands that engage with them on social media. Given these differences, it’s vital for brands embarking on a social commerce journey to collect and analyze detailed data on the preferences of their target audience.
WHICH BRANDS AND PRODUCT CATEGORIES ARE BEST SUITED FOR SOCIAL COMMERCE?
Today, apparel and accessories are the most prominent categories in social commerce. However, consumer electronics, cosmetics, home decor, and consumer goods are also evolving into key players. B2C ecommerce brands featuring new and differentiated products and aspirational imagery are usually the biggest winners in the world of social shopping.
For example, Ralph Lauren Home is a perfect brand for embracing social commerce. Home decor is a highly social kind of purchase. Consumers are significantly influenced by the opinions of friends and family when buying home products. This means social shopping can help guide consumers as they explore new options while at the same time creating a shareable social experience with family and friends.
When consumers want to decorate their home, they often begin with inspiration from Pinterest, creating a home makeover board. From there, Ralph Lauren Home could use Pinterest to serve them highly-targeted ad content that inspires the homeowner. Layering into this social experience, family members or friends can share the content for a second opinion. The sale itself can be quickly closed via social shopping.
Procter & Gamble is another brand prime for social shopping. P&G sells everything from cosmetics to apparel and can benefit significantly from D2C marketing via a social commerce strategy.
For example, a busy mom who needs a new foundation might hop onto Facebook and encounter a live stream event where a fellow mom shares her recent experience purchasing a new foundation. After hearing how quickly this mom can get ready in the morning using this smoothing foundation, the first mom decides to snag a bottle of foundation.
Through a seamless experience, she doesn’t even need to leave the Facebook platform, completing her purchase in a matter of minutes. Two days later, after using the new foundation, she hops on Facebook to share a post about how great her recent purchase was, urging other moms to try it out. It is easy to see how various brand categories can benefit from the power of social shopping.
Related reading: The Ultimate Guide to Personalized Ecommerce
WHICH SOCIAL COMMERCE STRATEGIES SHOULD BRANDS CONSIDER?
Investing in social commerce requires a thoughtful and agile strategy with several components. Brands looking to get started with social commerce sales need to consider all of the following aspects:
- Content/creative assets
- Media strategy
- Audience amplification
Also, brands investing in social ecommerce need to make sure to have a measurement strategy in place from the get-go to be able to track whether efforts are working or need to be tweaked. An efficient measurement strategy allows brands to adapt as needed to their consumers’ data.
HOW A SOCIAL COMMERCE STRATEGY CAN PLAY OUT IN REAL-LIFE
Imagine, for example, that the popular diaper brand Pampers decides to invest in social commerce:
- They will first need to consider how content and creative assets will be created and where they will be published and promoted.
- They will need to ensure they have a solid social media strategy, building across social platforms.
- They will need to strategize around amplifying their message and making sure it reaches their audience.
- Lastly, they will need to close the loop with a robust conversion strategy.
The company would also need to build in a measurement strategy, allowing them to learn from their consumers as they go. Pampers might invest in a digital experience that spans social platforms and use audience data to target a specific portion of their consumer base.
Perhaps, for example, they decide to begin with a campaign targeting new moms. They might invest in content that surfaces on Pinterest, targeting expecting mothers.
Here, Pampers could, for example, deliver value to these moms by offering discounts on a trial package of Pampers newborn diapers. An expectant mother is looking to save money, so she converts and purchases a box of diapers with the embedded discount code. Pampers can then offer a sharing button to allow this mom to share the great deal she made with her friends. In a matter of seconds, the expectant mother shares the promotion with her friends.
This is just one example of how social commerce can leverage various tactics to reach an audience while also creating an amplification effect through the social aspects of shopping.
12 SOCIAL COMMERCE TACTICS YOU CAN USE TODAY
The competition for attention on social media is fierce, and as always, the key to getting ahead is getting started. For brands interested in building out a cohesive social shopping experience, we’ve listed 12 hands-on tactics to consider.
Optimize your content
Social commerce is all about the content. As a ground rule, people turn to social media to consume content that is either educational, inspirational, or entertaining. So the first thing to do is make sure that your content ticks at least one of those boxes.
Engage through Facebook Messenger
Engaging via direct messaging can be a great way of humanizing your brand and connecting with your customers.
Build a tailored social shopping experience on Facebook
One great feature when using Facebook for social commerce is that the Facebook Shops are customizable, meaning you can build a customized experience consistent with your brand. You can customize everything from fonts to colors and images and even import your existing product catalog from your website.
Create a visual social storefront with Instagram
According to Instagram’s numbers, 60% of people discover new products and services on their platform. And many users say that if they’re inspired by something they see on Instagram, they want to find and buy it right away. So if you’ve already created a Facebook Shop, the next thing could be to consider Instagram Shopping, too. Note that you need to set up a Facebook Shop first, as your Instagram Shop pulls product data from your Facebook catalog.
Collect and leverage UGC and social proof
An important part of the social commerce puzzle is leveraging the social proof from user-generated content (UGC). This can be reviews, customer service feedback, and different kinds of endorsements. The simplest version of this is encouraging customers to post photos of your products or videos and tag you. This can be very powerful.
Invest in intelligent automated bot checkouts
Bot checkouts can help close sales for you 24/7. Be sure that any bot utilized is optimized to provide a seamless experience.
Integrate your social commerce with your ecommerce platform
Create cohesiveness by managing your social commerce within your ecommerce platform. Integrating these platforms ensures that inventory is always accurate and you are marketing the right products at the right time.
Try promoting low-cost products first
Start your strategy out with low-cost products, which tend to sell better via social channels. From here, you can build a data set on consumers, learning more as you go.
Leverage shoppable links, tags, and stickers
Instagram is one of the forerunners when it comes to making content shoppable. From “Show Now” links to shoppable tags, Instagram has long embraced Social Commerce. Using these features can skyrocket your sales.
Team up with micro-influencers
Working with influencers is a powerful social commerce tactic. Collaborating with influencers can increase your reach, help build brand affinity, and allow you to piggyback on the credibility that the influencer has with their audience.
Gather as much information as possible from potential buyers, such as email addresses. This can help you further fuel marketing and retargeting efforts and create an omnichannel marketing approach.
Choose an integrated platform
Choose a platform that allows you to manage everything in one place. This will help you ensure data is not siloed and that teams across your organization can collaborate in real-time.
VAIMO CAN HELP YOUR BRAND TAP INTO SOCIAL SHOPPING
When it comes to building out a social commerce strategy, it is important to look for a solution that will be cohesive and simple to manage. Vaimo helps brands optimize their customer experience and tap into social shopping.
Our team offers ecommerce design and development backed by expertise. From ecommerce development to building customized strategies supported by accurate data, we can help you prepare for 2022 and beyond. Get in touch with our team of experts to learn more about how your brand can invest in this next phase of digital commerce.