What is Social Commerce and Why Should Your Brand Care?

Last updated: 10-28-2020

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What is Social Commerce and Why Should Your Brand Care?

It’s no secret that the world of buying and selling online is constantly changing.

Keeping up with the latest and greatest trends in digital commerce is about as hard as, well, keeping up with the Kardashians.

And just when you thought you had your ecommerce strategy nailed, there’s been a major paradigm shift.

With the introduction of social commerce platforms such as Facebook Shops earlier this year, digital marketing and social media advertising gurus are readily reevaluating their online activities and embracing the social commerce model.

If you’re committed to keeping ahead of the curve, you’re going to want to do the same.

This article will teach you exactly what social commerce is and how it differs from other forms of ecommerce, as well as highlighting a few established tricks and tips for creating your own success selling on social media.

In a nutshell, social commerce is the use of social media to facilitate ecommerce transactions.

But wait, we’ve been doing that for years, haven’t we?

Traditionally, ecommerce takes place on your website, using a platform such as Shopify to facilitate the sale of goods.

Though social media advertising has been used for quite a while now to find potential buyers, the process has essentially been to attract those buyers to your website where they can make a purchase.

This tactic has seen significant growth in recent years, with the percentage of North American retailers using social media for ecommerce doubling within a year’s time.

Social commerce, which is seen as a subset of ecommerce, enables customers to purchase directly within the social media platform.

As an example, a customer who clicks on an ad for your product on Instagram no longer needs to leave the app to purchase from your website, they can literally checkout on Instagram.

Given the similarity of many of these terms, it’s easy to get your wires crossed.

Where social commerce is all about selling products directly from a social media app, social selling is the process of using social media to sell a product through activities such as content sharing, answering questions, replying to comments, and generally engaging with your target buyer.

A common example is the outbound sales rep who ”came across your profile on LinkedIn, and thought they’d reach out.”

The biggest benefit to adopting a social commerce strategy is that it simplifies the buying process.

Your customer no longer has to leave the social commerce website they were on, and they can checkout easily and seamlessly, and then carry on scrolling.

This advantage is one which is particularly favorable among younger shoppers. 48% of internet users between the ages of 18 and 34 have purchased through social media in the past.

Not only has social commerce seen noteworthy growth from consumers, but brands are readily adopting the model as well. There’s been a 24% increase in adoption of shoppable Facebook pages, and a huge 43% increase in adoption of shoppable Instagram pages.

Unsurprisingly, the major adopters are department stores, retail, and beauty brands.

Though more and more platforms are developing social commerce capabilities, there are three big players in the social media shopping space that you’ll want to get on board with.

It’s little surprise that a recent Instagram update has seen the platform enter the social commerce fray.

From Show Now links to shoppable tags, the platform has long embraced its place in the ecommerce game.

But now they’ve turned it up a notch with Instagram Shops, allowing users to visit a shop from a company’s profile, or through their feed or Stories.

That gives businesses a wide variety of ways to attract new shoppers, and with around 20% of internet users now on Instagram, there’s a huge market of buyers waiting to be tapped into.

And those buyers are finding themselves on social media more and more, with the average time spent on social apps in 2020 being on track to total 863 hours in total.

So, there’s never been a better time to set up shop on Instagram.

Released concurrently with Instagram Shops, Facebook Shops embraces the same concept but for, well, Facebook.

Knowing that many small businesses make use of the likes of Marketplace already, they’ve come up with a smart way to make the process more seamless for both buyers and sellers.

A key benefit of setting up a Facebook Shop for your ecommerce store is the fact that many users are already accustomed to purchasing through social media.

In fact, around 18% of social media users in the US have bought a product after finding in on Facebook in the past year.

And with a desire to shop more on social media going forward, there’s immense space for businesses to get in ahead of the wave.

Facebook and Instagram might be the obvious choices for many a brand’s social commerce stores, but don’t discount Pinterest too hastily.

A massive 83% of Pinterest users have purchased a product based on something they saw from a brand on the platform.

And if you’re a small business or you’re creating eco-friendly products, the timing has never been better to create a social commerce store on Pinterest.

That’s because the company has recently reported increases in searches for ‘zero waste products’, ‘eco-friendly living’, and ‘support small business’ of 93%, 108%, and 351% respectively.

If you’ve already got an ecommerce store set up, then creating a shop on Pinterest is easy.

Using Pinterest catalogs, you can upload your entire product range to the platform and instantly create shoppable pins that can rapidly boost your social commerce sales.

Ready to jump on board the social commerce train? Here are four helpful tips before you dive in headfirst.

If you’re selling luxury furniture or high-end appliances, you might not have the same results through social media commerce as lower-priced retailers.

The same is generally true for ecommerce in general, with orders averaging $140, depending on your region. But with the average shopping order through social shopping stores being $79, it’s clear that lower-priced products perform better.

There are a few potential reasons for that, the first being the obvious desire to ‘try before you buy’ when splashing out on something expensive, and the fact that buying through the internet makes that impossible.

The second reason is that social media isn’t yet widely accepted as somewhere to go to shop intentionally. That is, customers who buy through social media tend to be making impulse purchases, rather than seeking out products voluntarily.

No doubt this will change as the social commerce landscape develops, but it’s the status quo for now.

If you’re selling a variety of products at different price points, then you’ll want to use your ad spend for lower-priced products.

Don’t forget to grab an email address at the point of purchase though, so you can upsell a bigger ticket item later on!

Back in the ‘good old days’, customers were guided through the buying journey by a real-life sales rep.

This was not only great for keeping service levels high, but it prevented distraction and shopping cart abandonment.

When it comes to buying through a social channel, buyers typically don’t have that same shopping experience, unless you implement an automated bot checkout.

It’s still a reasonably new technology, though chatbots themselves have been around for some time, with the market forecast to reach close to 1.25 billion USD by 2025.

If you’re launching a Facebook Shop then you should check out Jumper.ai.

This handy little tech integration allows you to create an automated set of conversational prompts that relate directly to the product you’re selling, such that a shopper can engage directly with the bot just like they would a real live salesperson.

It’s predicted that by using AI, retailers could save as much as $340 billion a year by 2022, but by using tools such as these, you could also be earning a lot more.

Part of the pain of keeping up with the latest trends is the fact that every time a new platform or avenue comes along, you’ve got to invest hours incorporating it into what you’re already doing.

And so, you’re probably thinking “is social commerce really worth all the time and effort?”

Well, the short answer is yes, it is. But there’s also a smart workaround:

Find yourself a way to integrate your new social commerce stores with your existing ecommerce platform.

Integrating data across platforms has never been easier; it’s why 51% of marketers are doing it.

Plus, if you’re regularly making changes or updating your catalog (which you no doubt will be), then you’ll want to make sure that any changes you make are synced across every platform you’re live on.

Some ecommerce platforms already have integrations with these shops (and no doubt more will add them as social commerce continues to grow), but if yours doesn’t there are a few tools to help you out.

For Instagram Shops, Shop Social is an intuitive integration that brings your ecommerce store to life on Insta.

Using Facebook Shops as well? Try StoreYa, which is designed specifically for the platform.

Influencer marketing has been around for a while now, and with around 30% of CMOs increasing their focus on this channel, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

One of the greatest benefits of investing in a social commerce campaign is that using influencers becomes super easy. They can use the likes of shoppable tags on Instagram to push buyers straight to your store, promoting products directly.

This creates a seamless experience for the consumer, where they might see a Story from an influencer promoting a product, click through, and decide to purchase right there and then.

And with 70% of US-based internet users following influencers on a given social media channel, the opportunity to expand your reach is huge.

With many a social platform adopting the commerce model, social commerce has never been this easy, or this popular.

Clearly, though, the social commerce platform trend is still on the up, so there’s really only one question:

Will you jump on board now, or wait until you’re falling behind?

Ready to learn more about ecommerce advertising? Check out our guide here.


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