Social commerce is blurring the lines between entertainment and e-commerce. Across social media platforms, online shopping is now part of the experience. Users can scroll through their social feed and make a purchase from a third-party seller without leaving the native social experience.
It’s not just big brands either. Everyone from multinational companies to individual buyers and sellers are using social commerce.
Why are so many sellers turning to social commerce? Because it works.
Benefits of Social Commerce
Social commerce is different from social media marketing. You’re not just redirecting customers to your online store. Instead, you’re giving them the ability to check out directly within the social network they’re already using. This allows you to:
- Engage throughout the buyer journey. Increase brand awareness through promoted ads, retarget customers who abandoned a cart, and even process orders through your social accounts.
- Simplify path to purchase. Your audience is already on social media—and data shows they want to purchase through those networks. Aimia found that 31% of consumers say they’re using social media to browse for new items to buy. That’s why many social apps are investing in features that allow users to learn more about products, purchase, and pay for them right from their social feed. Features like chatbot checkouts help to autofill payment and shipping details, simplifying social commerce for users.
- Personalize offerings. Social media makes it easier to customize your promotions to specific demographics, interests, and more.
- Increase trust. More customers are turning to social media for product recommendations and reviews. HubSpot reported that 71% of consumers are more likely to make purchases based on social media referrals.
Getting Started with Social Commerce
Recent data from Curelate shows that 78% of U.S. consumers say they’ve discovered products on Facebook. More specifically, 62% of people said they’ve become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Facebook stories. That makes Facebook a great option for getting products in front of customers.
It’s easy to sign up for a business account on Facebook and set up a Facebook Page Shop. Plus, over the past year the price for Facebook ads has dropped 6%. Combined with a 37% increase in ad impressions, that means advertising on Facebook is becoming more affordable for businesses interested in social commerce.
Facebook has invested heavily in social commerce. Facebook marketplace makes it possible for individuals to list products in their local area. Companies can use Messenger to interact with shoppers both pre- and post-sale. Now you can send order notifications to your customers and even sell items directly through the Messenger app. Plus, you can create an entire “Shop Now” store where you can:
- Upload products and information
- Customize a catalog
- Sell directly from your page
- Manage orders
- Set up a Facebook ad
- Measure insights
According to the company’s own data, 60% of people discover new products on Instagram. More than 200 million Instagram users visit at least one business profile daily, and 130 million Instagram users tap on shopping posts to learn more about products every month. All of this makes Instagram a major marketplace for online sellers to market, showcase, and sell their products.
Setting up a business account on Instagram is totally free, which makes it an ideal marketplace for sellers new to social commerce. It also offers the highest engagement rates of any social platform at 1%, compared with 0.59% for Facebook.
The platform offers several options to sell directly to customers. “Swipe up” allows businesses and influencers with more than 10,000 followers to add a URL to their story. “Checkout on Instagram” makes it easy for users to check out directly within the app for products found on Instagram. The “Stories” feature helps customers discover new products. In fact, 62% of people say they’ve become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories.
So, how can you find success on Facebook and Instagram?
- Sell solutions, not products. Most people don’t trust ads. HubSpot reports that 64% of people find them annoying and intrusive. If your promotions amount to a laundry list of product features, customers will scroll right past your post. Instead, you need to make the user the hero of your posts. Share lifestyle photos of your product in action, tell a story about how it makes your customers’ lives better, and show how it can solve their problems.
- Educate your audience. With the addition of Highlights on Instagram, you have an opportunity to share relevant content with every new customer. Now you can curate your Stories under specific themes:
- Speak with new customers using a pitch about your content and products and label it “Start here.”
- Share answers to frequently asked questions or updates about your company.
- Showcase your customers with user-generated content.
- Add a section about product features or current sales.
- Share reviews. We’ve already talked about how shoppers turn to social media to find product reviews. That’s why it’s important to share this content on all social platforms. If you’re not sure where to start, look at:
- Customer reviews—Transform feedback from your customers into posts about their experience with your company.
- Press coverage—Highlight features in magazines or other publications.
- Peer reviews—Look at what other companies are saying about your products and share their reviews on your account.
- Measure results. Facebook and Instagram offer a wide range of analytics data for business accounts. Check on how your campaigns are performing with metrics like:
- Reach—Tells you the actual number of views for your content.
- Impressions—Gives you an idea of how many people are seeing your content. Unlike reach, it only tells you when your content was displayed. Impressions may not have generated a click or any other kind of engagement.
- Engagement—Shows how people are engaging with your content. You can track comments received, interaction with your stories, follower growth, and engagement per follower.
How COVID-19 Affects Social Commerce
Over the last few months, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way people think about online shopping. Many are ordering online for the first time—including 18% of consumers in the U.S. Screen time has also skyrocketed across the board, up by 76% week-on-week since the outbreak. People are spending more time online, and their spending habits reflect it.
For many brands, social commerce has become a lifeline. It’s a consistent point of purchase that allows them to meet customers where they are—sitting on the couch or taking a break between Zoom meetings.
With this shift, it’s important to reconsider your current social commerce strategy. How can you reach this captive audience more effectively? There is no correct, one-size-fits-all answer. The best we can do moving forward is to communicate with empathy and transparency—and put customers first. Here’s three tips to help your business weather the storm:
- Improve the customer experience. The last thing anyone needs to deal with is a complicated purchase process. Now is the time to invest in content that helps guide customers’ purchase decisions. Think about how customers might interact with products in your store. What images or video content might help mirror the experience? Answer their questions proactively. You want to give them all the information they need before they have to ask.
- Focus on high-demand products. Right now, shoppers are stuck at home and trying to balance work, family, and self-care. Think about which of your products can help make their lives easier. Then, tailor your promotions to highlight those products and share examples of how it can help them stay healthy and sane as we wait to resume business as usual.
- Know that the shift in consumer behavior will continue. Shoppers are more comfortable with the idea of social commerce than they were before COVID-19. When the crisis is over, those customers will be more likely to purchase again, and they will remember the brands who made the process simple. Make sure you support their purchases now to encourage their loyalty in the future.
Have questions about how social commerce can help your business?