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May 7, 2024 | 4 minute read

How to de-risk social commerce (and stay true to your brand)

written by Bryan House

The goal for most retailers today has changed from growth at all costs to profitable growth. That means it’s become far more important to deepen relationships with customers. A few years ago, social commerce was all about customer acquisition. But, rising customer acquisition costs, the phaseout of third-party cookies, and major platform changes — from the possible TikTok ban to Meta forcing its checkout on retailers — have left many reeling (no Instagram pun intended).

Even still, social commerce remains important for digital commerce teams. Here are some ways to think about de-risking your social commerce strategy, while maintaining control of your brand.

Optimize for awareness, not impulse buys

Social strategies tend to optimize for the impulse buy. This approach can have few returns. Studies show that only 0.25% of first-time website visitors commit to an impulse purchase. On social platforms, 43% of consumers browse to find goods and services, yet only 14% ultimately purchase them via social media. Many buyers don’t want to transact in-app, since they don’t trust how social platforms handle their data (among other reasons, like complications with returns).

Consider instead that with social media, you can implement marketing’s Rule of 7 on steroids (That’s the idea that it takes someone seeing an ad or brand image seven times before converting). Embrace the use of social media for research and awareness, since most people seeing your product will not impulse buy. Instead, use social as an opportunity to drive consumers to your website, and capture first party data from there.

With the upcoming deprecation of third-party tracking cookies, first party data will become even more important to your marketing strategy. Using technology like a customer data platform (CDP), you can more effectively capture and act on customer interaction data. A CDP makes it easier to develop customer segments and hyper-personalize campaigns to customers based on their behaviors and interests. It can even make loyalty programs more effective by focusing on what customers want most (think exclusive product drops and velvet-rope experiences that build brand affinity).

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Be authentic

Most social media shoppers belong to a younger demographic: Nearly a quarter (23.1%) of U.S. social buyers are between the ages of 25 and 34, and more than two-thirds (66.5%) are under 44. These buyers can see right through inauthenticity, and some downright hate to be marketed to (including the sub-segment of Gen Z buyers who want to “turn off TikTok Shop.”)

However, an authentic, well-timed influencer collaboration can be both on-brand and lucrative. While most brands won’t have the viral success of something like the Stanley Quencher, there’s a whole universe of influencers, micro-influencers (and even nano-influencers) with strong, loyal followings and variable price-points. Time influencer campaigns with relevant, shoppable landing pages on your site to maximize conversions. The same theory with optimizing for awareness holds true with influencers. An influencer campaign doesn’t need to be a flash in the pan. With relevant first-party data, it can symbolize the beginning of your journey with the customer.

Hedge your bets and own your data

The next big thing in social is a moving target. A runaway success with one market or brand may be a flop elsewhere. And, it’s important to hedge against potential risks like a TikTok ban or a Meta platform change by diversifying distribution channels. Rely on your commerce site as a centralized hub wherever possible.

When social customers land on your site, experiment with copy and creative on shoppable landing pages to encourage conversions, and don’t underestimate the power of first party data. The more relevant your brand experience is to your customer, the more likely they’ll be to be a repeat buyer. In today’s profitable growth economy, nothing is more important.

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