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Oct 4, 2022 | 6 minute read

How to Maximize Social Commerce in your eCommerce Strategy

written by Emily Kathi

How to Maximize Social Commerce in Your eCommerce Strategy

Social media is heavily ingrained in our daily lives. As much as we glance at our phones for emails, texts, or a push notification about an order status - engaging with social media is at the front of the line of all the things we keep tabs on in the course of a day.

It makes sense when we think about social commerce and how much of what we buy or consume is influenced by platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or TikTok. More brands are seeing the benefits of social commerce, and finding creative ways to integrate it with their eCommerce digital strategy. Social commerce increases brand equity and from what shopping behaviors show a clear driver in revenue.

Shoppers increasingly look to social media as a barometer of style; seeking out experiences from fellow users within their trusted circle or popular influencers to “get the look”. Trending more within social commerce is its role in product discovery.

Social commerce is also big business. Global social commerce is predicted to reach $1.2 trillion by 2025. Brands need not ignore such a powerful platform to sell products, but also, and perhaps more importantly to shoppers, create a memorable experience.

In this post I’ll explore top social commerce tactics for brands to make the most of the social media engine that fuels our culture.

Live Shopping

Live shopping is the new social commerce darling. With origins in China, it’s permeated throughout North America and Europe with a fair amount of traction. The hook of live shopping is the mixing of three components: commerce, social media, and entertainment.

With Facebook’s “Live Shopping Fridays,” shoppers learn about what’s new in the market and have the chance to engage in real time with questions about what they’re seeing. What’s more, if they’re ready to buy they don’t have to leave the app - simply add to cart and checkout with payment information stored to their profile.

Live shopping brings to mind another key fulfillment of consumers - the need for connection and personalized experiences. One of the irresistible draws of social media is the idea of curating your own experience. And what’s more, connecting with other people, whether within your circle or strangers to you, on products that mean something.

Social media is largely about community, and with live shopping there is a personal element of engagement with the host and others on the stream that people crave.

Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch are often referenced top social commerce platforms currently supporting the live experience; however Amazon, NTWK, TalkShop, PopShop, and TaoBao are fast becoming live shopping platforms with a global following.

Not to be outdone by other social media platforms is the new kid on the block, TikTok. The platform has announced they are testing live shopping experiences in the U.S, after testing in UK and Asian regions. Live shopping has not had as much immediate success in North America as seen across Europe and Asia, but time will tell if that shifts.

Social Proof Campaigns

Social proof can be successful across brands of all sizes; from major clothing retailers to local makers. By creating a customized hashtag for instance, you allow shoppers to engage with your brand through user-generated content, and share their experiences with a broader audience.

Bigger brands often use social proof as a bridge between the physical and digital storefront by using customer social proof as a testimonial of sorts. There are few things as powerful as word of mouth reviews, and seeing real life customers engaging with your product. As much as 94% of online shoppers rely on reviews as social proof for retailers or brands they don’t know about, with Generation Z leading the way at 52% using social media to discover new brands.

In-App Purchases Create Ease and Confidence 

Shopper convenience and trust are two major draws of social commerce when it comes to checkout. The entire buyer journey is completed without leaving a single site or app. As security becomes a bigger issue with shoppers concerned about the sharing of personal information across multiple sites, checkout is a simple click from a stored payment method on a platform that is vetted and trusted. From discovery, to checkout and delivery, shoppers have a single source of trust and confidence.

Social apps allow for more opportunity for experience. With Story, Feed, Reels, and Live Streaming options there is more content in digestible formats. And with in-app links, the purchase can be made from whatever piece of content the shopper is engaging with or viewing without navigating away.

Pinterest has long been the place for influencers and tastemakers to build brand awareness especially at the discovery phase. Of the 444 million Pinterest users, 60% start their product search on the platform, and 87% have purchased something they discovered there.

When it comes to social commerce heavyweights like Facebook and Instagram, the low cost for initial entry sweetens the deal with standard selling fees, but as first-time sellers will see as they dive deeper into the process, it’s relatively easy to set up and go live.

Aside from setting up a business account for each platform, you’ll need to make sure your market is supported and agree to best practices and selling guidelines. 

The graphic below shows how the numbers shake out when it comes to social commerce and product discovery. We see a frontrunner in targeted ads, (which tracks with the heightened spend brands are making in social commerce), but tailing close behind are organic posts, product search, and the power of word-of-mouth advertising and reviews.

Common Ways Customers Are Finding the Perfect Product

Source: Sprout Social

Leveraging Social Media Influencers

Brands don’t need a Hollywood dynasty to create confidence or buzz around their products. A social media influencer can be a regional artist well-known in the community. As influencers go, there is significant interest in those that fall into each category of Macro, Micro, Mega, and Nano tiers.

Research shows from a survey of how marketers leverage social media, a distinct interest towards working with Macroinfluencers (100K-500K followers) for maximized exposure; however a larger number of survey respondents (90%) tells us that most brands and marketers prefer the Microinfluencer (5K-100K followers).

And why is that? It could point to a number of reasons, but perhaps the most telling is the need for brands to fully align with an influencer. Quality wins over quantity. Authenticity is preferred in an influencer over what feels like a scripted sales pitch. While the larger follower numbers may not be there for a Microinfluencer, their message is meticulously aligned to those the brand is trying to reach. It may be the difference between a casual browser and a lifetime customer.

Equal Opportunity, Low Cost of Entry

An inspired way of looking at social commerce is again, the low cost of entry. Any would-be influencer, local crafter, or major retailer with millions in marketing budget can enter. With so much potential revenue in upwards of a trillion globally the entry investment can be as little as a WiFI connection and a smartphone. Social commerce is not showing signs of waning; with such stiff competition brands are continuously looking for ways to optimize the platform.

How will you use social commerce to your advantage? For more resources on what’s trending and what the future holds, check out The Right Now of Mobile Commerce and the Future of Commerce Starts Now ebooks.