Updated: May 14
If you are a business that has products to sell, there is a feature that is popping up across platforms creating opportunities for brands big AND small. This rising market of social commerce in the digital space is currently valued at $89.4 billion, and expected to grow to $604.5 billion in the next seven years. Curious about this fast growing and money making feature? We have you covered, let’s talk about Social Commerce and how you can implement it into your digital media marketing strategy.
What is Social Commerce?
Social Commerce is the process of selling products directly through social media. The entire buyer’s journey takes place right on the user’s social media feed. Say what?! Yes. You heard us. It is no surprise that these platforms are wanting to keep users on their platform even longer, and what better way to do so than to implement an amazing shopping experience. Yay for us small business owners!
Many platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Snapchat have social commerce features for businesses like yours. This model is taking social media beyond its traditional role in the discovery phase by encouraging users to complete a purchase right in their feed. One major advantage of using this feature on your social media is that you most likely have a presence already on these platforms and it is easy to set up and implement into your existing feed. Second, and more importantly, it reduces friction from the consumer’s purchase decision by streamlining the process of buying.
Social Commerce vs E-commerce
Traditionally, e-commerce is the way that customers shop using social media. The difference between the two is that when using social commerce, the consumer doesn't have to leave the app they are on to buy the product. With e-commerce, the consumer discovers your brand on social media then purchases it through a different website or dedicated branded app, but with social commerce the entire consumer journey, from discovery, to research, to purchase, all takes place within their social media.
Why is this important?
The average person in the US uses social media for 2 hours and 3 minutes per day, this is a lot of time spent on the internet, and a lot of opportunities for someone to see your brand. If someone is already using the platform to like pictures of their friends, your business could seamlessly position itself into their feed and be within 3 clicks of a purchase. The advantage of social commerce is that it gets rid of unnecessary steps and brings the entire shopping experience into one platform, decreasing the chances the user loses interest or changes their mind.
Shopping as a social experience
People use social media as a way to relax, connect, and explore or learn about their interests. Let’s think of an example: Mike is on Facebook scrolling through his feed and sees that his friend went to Yosemite last week and has been posting about his trip. Mike likes his friend’s posts and comments that he has been wanting to take a trip out before the end of the summer. He continues through his feed as normal until he stumbles across a well placed advertisement for your business, which is a distributor of outdoor and sports equipment. He scrolls through your carousel ad and sees a jacket from a brand that he loves. Mike clicks on the “See Product” tab and is taken directly to a page where he can choose his size. “It’s a great price and I could use the jacket when I go on my trip.” He thinks, selecting his size. He then goes to the checkout page, enters his information, and clicks buy now. The jacket is on its way.
This is a great example of how a well placed ad leads to a purchase using social media. Mike was using social media as he would any other day, but was able to make a purchase easily through Facebook’s social commerce feature. This creates a community in which customers are able to consult with their friends and other buyers on purchases while looking through reviews, in fact, 93% of consumers say that they rely on reviews before making purchases. Making reviews easily accessible and part of a social network builds trust.
Niche interests and targeting
A major factor to take into account is that you can target your ads based on demographics and interests of the audiences you want to reach. Facebook offers a wide range of targeting options. Anything from generic demographic information such as age, location, and gender, to detailed options like pages people interact with, device usage, ads they click, and even travel preferences. Specific targeting can help put your ads in the feed of people that will be more likely to purchase your product, social commerce helps expedite the purchase process once the ad is seen.
So, what about other platforms that people use frequently? TikTok is one app that has exploded within the past year and is offering some promising opportunities for businesses to utilize should they roll out a social commerce feature. In this Hootsuite article, the author ran an experiment between TikTok and Instagram’s Reels to see which platform performs better for engagement and reach. TikTok won out with their algorithm getting substantially more eyes on the creator’s video.
Short video content has been a major player in the social media space recently and it will be important to keep an eye on in the future. TikTok’s algorithm is highly advanced and allows for the ability to reach more new eyes than any of the other video first platforms. If the app rolls out a social commerce feature, your video could be put on the screen of individuals who will likely be interested in, and interact with your brand, because their algorithm is tailored specifically to their patterns.
Tips for using social commerce
Right now, social commerce is an $89.4 billion dollar market, and it is expected to grow to $604.5 billion in the next 7 years. If your business has products to sell, especially in retail, there are huge opportunities to grow your bottom line. Let’s look at some tips for utilizing social commerce.
It is important when using these features to engage with your audience, this is the “social” part of social commerce. Answer their questions, show them offers and interesting content, set up a chatbot to help the user along their experience. Remember that consumers want to purchase from real people and their experience needs to feel as authentic and human as possible.
Use social listening:
Listen to them and encourage reviews! You need to keep an eye out for responses and comments that would be important to address or respond to. Social monitoring is a free and easy way to get feedback from customers and insights about things they care about. These reviews can be shared directly with your social media so that new customers will see them when visiting your page and a relationship can begin to form.
Get to know your customers and play around with how you sell to them:
You can also use data you’ve collected through social media to target your advertising. Social commerce gives you the chance to reach specific, ready-to-buy audiences who will be receptive to your product. This is a major advantage of social commerce over e-commerce and traditional marketing. It is wise to use different methods of marketing to your customers, try different approaches to see what works best for your brand. As you post, try using a carousel ad one day and a story the next. A/B testing can give you the insights you need in how you should position your product.
Price it right:
You need to price your products right for your audience. The price point for your product needs to be in line with the fact that the user doesn’t have the direct intention of looking for your product. Usually, this price falls under a $70 threshold, below this price the consumer will fall into the mindset of “why not” when viewing your product. Remember that the customer is making a quick decision to buy the item from their feed, if the price is too high they will likely be more hesitant to make the purchase.
It makes sense to bring shopping into the spaces where your customers are already hanging out. Shoppers are already using social media to research the products they intend to buy so getting them to purchase what you’re selling without having to leave the platform is a huge benefit. Social Commerce offers a lot of opportunities for your business to expand your reach and target specific customers. Because of the pandemic many people are looking to shop more online than in traditional brick and mortar stores. This is a great time to utilize your socials for commerce and continue growing your business. Social commerce is just one tool in your social media marketing arsenal, but it can be a powerful, and very lucrative one if used the right way.