If the past holiday season was any indication, social commerce is set to surge in the 2020s. According to research from Smartly.io, a social media advertising automation platform, consumers are now shopping via social media. And social advertising influences their purchases. So, what exactly does social commerce include?
A Simple Definition
Social commerce is the term for the buying and selling of items and services on social media networks. Back in 2015, Small Business Trends noticed the growth of social commerce activities. Social networks offered “Buy It” buttons for businesses to add to their pages in time for the holidays. Since then, businesses have found phenomenal success with social commerce from shoppers reaching out to learn more about a product to taking orders and payments through a social app. It’s smart to create a social commerce strategy since studies show social networks influence 74 percent of consumers’ purchasing decisions.
Social commerce examples are numerous, including:
- Providing chat boxes so consumers can ask about products and services
- Groups pages and forums for buying and selling
- Making electronic payments available via social networks
- Listing local products on Facebook Marketplace
- Product Pins with prices displayed on Pinterest
- Buyable Pins to buy products directly from Pinterest
- YouTube videos with Google shopping ads below
- Coupon codes and links to products on Instagram
What Works in Social Commerce?
When Smartly.io asked consumers what top factors influenced their decision to buy a product through a social media ad, 35 percent said a compelling or engaging video, animation or image mattered the most, followed by customer testimonials (32 percent) and influencer participation (26 percent).
Because social media is all about the visuals, the most popular product categories for social selling are apparel and accessories (17 percent), electronics (15 percent), beauty/wellness (11 percent) and home goods (10 percent).
What Are the Main Platforms
Buffer.com says the key social commerce platform players are Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook. Snapchat recently added a shopping channel called “Shop and Cop,” which allows mobile users to browse products and buy directly in the app instead of being directed to a separate website. Other platforms offer social commerce features such as:
- Facebook: In addition to buying ads on Facebook, businesses can also change the template of their pages to a shopping template. After providing a few details about your business such as what you sell, where you’re located and how payment is accepted, you simply add a product and you’ve created a Facebook Shop. Adding a product is also easy, you just need a title, product details, an image, and inventory and shipping info.
- Instagram: Because Instagram is owned by Facebook, once you set up shop on Facebook, Instagram social commerce just takes a few more steps. Make sure the Instagram account is a business account and connect to your Facebook account through the settings. In Facebook you need to connect to Instagram through the Facebook Ads Manager settings.
- Pinterest: Last year, Pinterest rebranded its third-party partner program “Pinterest Partners” to initiate more shopping experiences. Partners now provide services such as advertising, content marketing, measurement, creative and shopping in more categories. WooCommerce is now a Pinterest Partner and helps businesses set up e-commerce experiences.
Benefits of Social Commerce
With billions of users and the numbers growing daily, social media platforms are a must for any successful growth strategy. Plus, since social media increases website traffic, social commerce efforts can lead to a higher search engine ranking.
The benefits don’t stop there. Social commerce puts your brand in front of consumers on a frequent basis. And it gives consumers the opportunity to communicate with your business—to ask questions and get product advice. Use social commerce to build solid relationships and engage with prospective customers.
As you ramp up your social commerce efforts, it’s important to take an omnichannel approach to drive sales. Consumers may learn of a new product or service through social media, but actually make the purchase elsewhere. Keeping track of sales and studying the metrics on your social commerce campaigns can help you improve marketing strategies and boost brand recognition.