Social commerce is a veritable pot of gold at the end of the ecommerce rainbow for brands and retailers. From TikTok Commerce to Instagram Checkout, every major social platform is trying to attract users and get them to start spending in-app. The new way to shop is another channel that ecommerce companies can use to reach their consumers.
A study by Accenture states that social commerce sales reached $492 billion worldwide in 2021, and they’re forecasted to triple to $1.2 trillion by 2025. As social media usage increases, social commerce will follow fast behind. While social commerce accounts for 10% of ecommerce sales today, it will burgeon to 17% in just three years.
This means that competitive ecommerce businesses need to get their social commerce strategy up and running. Your ecommerce strategy must also integrate with the rest of your digital brand experience to provide the best possible customer experience. Social commerce cannot stand alone; it must be part of a cohesive digital experience.
Read on to discover the ins and outs of social commerce and how you can make this new channel work for your business.
Related Reading: Digital Strategy Roadmap
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- What is Social Commerce?
- Why is Social Commerce Important?
- The Social Media Ecosystem
- Social Commerce FAQ’s
- Which Social Media Platforms Work Best for Social Commerce, and Why?
- Which Brands and Product Categories Are Best Suited for Social Commerce?
- Which Social Commerce Strategies Should Brands Consider?
- How a Social Commerce Strategy Can Play Out in Real-Life
- 13 Social Commerce Tactics You Can Use Today
- 1. Optimize Your Content
- 2. Engage Via Facebook Messenger
- 3. Build a Tailored Social Shopping Experience
- 4. Create a Visual Social Storefront with Instagram
- 5. Collect and Leverage UGC (User-Generated Content) and Social Proof
- 6. Invest in Social Checkout
- 7. Use Intelligent Bot Checkouts
- 8. Integrate Your Social Commerce with Your Ecommerce Platform
- 9. Promote Low-Cost Products First
- 10. Leverage Shoppable Links, Tags, and Stickers
- 11. Team Up with Micro-Influencers
- 12. Collect Data
- 13. Choose an Integrated Platform
- How Vaimo Can Help Your Brand Tap Into Social Shopping
What is Social Commerce?
The term social commerce refers to selling products directly through social media and other virtual networks. Social commerce happens at the intersection of ecommerce and social media.
Social commerce differs from social media marketing because it’s not about driving traffic to your website. Instead, you offer devices, platforms, and browsers the ability to check out inside the social network or platform.
Effective social commerce encompasses a brand’s different social channels for sales, creating a seamless in-app buying journey on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. These social media platforms have become essential sales channels for B2C, D2C, and B2B brands.
Social commerce includes many channels, such as
- Group buying (shoppers in a group that approach a vendor to buy in bulk)
- 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 brings many benefits, including
- Reduced friction in the buyer journey
- A chance for brands to engage with customers on social platforms
- An opportunity to harvest real-time data on consumer behavior and turn it into actionable insights
For example, your data may predict positive results for a celebrity endorsement. You can then use this data to create a personalized Instagram ad with the celebrity for your target audience.
The Social Media Ecosystem
With the latest smartphones glued to our hands 24/7 and new social media platforms popping up left and right, online shopping continues to become more…social. And consumer 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, someone might spot an ad for a product on Facebook. Maybe they head to Instagram to check out the tagged photos of real-life people using the product. Finally, the person watches a YouTube video or two of in-depth reviews. They may head back to Instagram and purchase the product directly after messaging the company with a question.
Alternatively, our shopper may spot the product on TikTok and purchase it immediately, without ever leaving the social media platform. In both scenarios, our shoppers stayed on social media 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 (unique value proposition).
Social Commerce FAQs
Let’s look at some commonly asked questions from brands and retailers as they enter a new and exciting channel.
Which Social Media Platforms Work 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 expand their offerings.
The social media platforms that are most effective largely depend on your audience. For example, Gen Z does 2-3 times more shopping on social channels than other age groups and prefers Instagram and Snapchat for social shopping. Conversely, Generation X favors shopping on Facebook.
Research shows that 72% of millennials are likelier 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 key players. B2C ecommerce brands featuring new and differentiated products and aspirational imagery are usually the biggest winners in the world of social shopping.
Social Commerce Example: Home Decor
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 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.
Social Commerce Example: Cosmetics and Apparel
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 famous 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 must ensure a solid social media strategy, building across social platforms.
- They will need to strategize around amplifying their message and ensuring it reaches their audience.
- They must close the loop with a robust conversion strategy.
The company would also need to build 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 uses 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 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 creating an amplification effect through the social aspects of shopping.
13 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.
1. Optimize Your Content
Social commerce is all about 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 ensure that your content ticks at least one of those boxes.
Image-based content is the hard currency of social media, and investing in high-quality photo and video content is pivotal. Research shows that people will only remember 10% of the information three days after reading or hearing it, while as much as 65% of the information will be retained if paired with an image.
Therefore, creating stunning imagery and continually testing which one performs best is the key to winning in social commerce.
2. Engage Via Facebook Messenger
Engaging via direct messaging can be a great way of humanizing your brand and connecting with your customers.
3. Build a Tailored Social Shopping Experience
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.
4. 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 immediately.
So if you’ve already created a Facebook Shop, the next thing could be to consider Instagram Shopping, too. Note that you must set up a Facebook Shop first, as your Instagram Shop pulls product data from your Facebook catalog.
5. Collect and Leverage UGC (User-Generated Content) and Social Proof
An important part of the social commerce puzzle is leveraging the social proof from UGC. This can be reviews, customer service feedback, and other endorsements. The simplest version encourages customers to post photos of your products or videos and tag you. This can be very powerful.
And if you receive a negative review or two, don’t despair. Instead, consider it an opportunity to resolve the issue on-platform and display the resolution to potential customers. This is a fantastic way to turn a potentially harmful situation into a win for your brand. It also shows potential customers that:
- Your customer service is there to help
- You care about your reputation and customers
- You listen to your customers
Everyone knows one brand can’t please everyone, but it’s a positive thing to see a company take its after-sales service seriously.
Related Reading: After Sales Service: How to Support and Engage Customers
6. Invest in Social Checkout
Social commerce combines the personalized and entertaining experience of social media browsing with transactional online shopping. It’s a more immersive experience than buying something on a website, and when done right, it helps you build deeper customer relationships and create super smooth shopping experiences.
In a social commerce shop, your visitors follow a seamless in-app customer journey with significantly reduced friction in the sales process. By leveraging the native, built-in checkout features of each platform, you’ll not only be able to increase sales and reduce cart abandonment—you’ll be able to provide a way better experience than most of your competitors.
7. Use Intelligent Bot Checkouts
Bot checkouts can help close sales for you 24/7. With automated social shopping bots, you can recreate the personal service experience from the good old days when we actually spoke to a sales rep for each purchase. Adding a bot to your buyer’s journey not only enhances the service level; it prevents distractions and reduces cart abandonment.
A conversational bot is an excellent addition to your social commerce strategy, allowing you to add conversational prompts to move your customer toward, through, and past the conversion point. The business of chatbots is booming, and the segment is forecasted to reach 1.25 billion USD by 2025. Still, many companies have not yet implemented them, representing another opportunity to get ahead of your competition.
8. 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.
9. Promote Low-Cost Products First
Promote low-cost products first, as they tend to sell better via social channels. From here, you can build a data set on consumers, learning more as you go.
10. Leverage Shoppable Links, Tags, and Stickers
Instagram is a true forerunner in making social media content instantly shoppable. From their “Show Now” links to the shoppable tags, Instagram has long embraced social commerce. And now, they’ve also added Instagram Shops, allowing browsers to visit shops from a company’s profile through their feed or Stories.
Released simultaneously with Instagram Shops was Facebook Shops, which is essentially the same concept but on Facebook. eMarketer states that 18% of U.S. social media users have bought a product after finding it on Facebook in the past 12 months. For businesses who jump on this, the potential is substantial.
Also, don’t forget about Pinterest. A whopping 83% of Pinterest users have bought a product based on impressions on the platform. If you have an ecommerce store already, creating a shop on Pinterest is very easy. You simply upload your product range to the platform using Pinterest catalogs, instantly creating shoppable pins to boost your sales rapidly.
11. Team Up with Micro-Influencers
Influencers come with a built-in audience that already trusts their opinion, which gives influencer content a valuable head start. Teaming up with the relevant social accounts in your category will help you increase your reach, help build brand affinity, and allow you to piggyback on the credibility that the influencer has with their audience.
Look for the most relevant influencers, not the biggest ones. Often those are not the considerable celebrity accounts but rather what’s known as micro-influencers—content creators with a clear focus and who’ve managed to build a tight-knit, engaged, and trusted community.
Allowing the influencer to put their own perspective on the campaign is important. That’s why it’s important to pick partners who align with your brand standards and values and your campaign goals organically.” – Danielle Davis, Influencer
Related Reading: Brand Ambassadors vs Influencers
12. Collect Data
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.
13. Choose an Integrated Platform
Finding ways to integrate social commerce with your existing ecommerce platform will set you up for long-term success.
Integrating your different channels is also a matter of efficiency and will save time in the long run. If you’re regularly making changes to your product catalog, ensure all updates are made across all platforms and that all of your outlets are synced.
How 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 social commerce 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.