Several things fascinate us, and social media is among them for how it has adapted and evolved based on the shift in consumer trends. Over the last two decades, we have witnessed a progressive transition from simple, text-based updates to more visual and ephemeral content. Today, this space is championed by app-based platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat while flourishing in another space within social commerce.
In addition, we have also seen innovations in one-on-one communication platforms or messenger apps like Telegram, WeChat, and WhatsApp.
We find how some of these trends have converged to drive innovation to social media platforms beyond staying in touch with our friends and family quite interesting. The growth of social media platforms also translates to rising opportunities for brands to play a bigger part.
Of course, we understand that users are not quite likely to engage or even pay much attention to branded content. However, the ability to browse and purchase products in-app has grabbed their interest (1).
Hence, we believe businesses need to structure their marketing plans focusing on social commerce to boost sales and performance. Stay tuned with TimeNext to read more about the startup ecosystem and business strategies to hone your entrepreneurship skills to drive the results you aim for.
Understanding Social Commerce
When brands sell products directly via social media platforms, we call it social commerce. No, it is not the same as social media marketing. You do not redirect users to your online store with social commerce. Instead, you offer them the ability to purchase your offerings within the app (2).
That’s the key opportunity social commerce offers to brands: the ability to build a seamless e-commerce experience directly within the social media platforms, which are also (without doubt) are some of the most popular destinations across the internet (3). It means that brands no longer need to redirect users elsewhere, like your website or any sales platform. People can directly review and purchase your offerings right there.
We also need to emphasize that while social commerce has been around over the past 15+ years, it has only taken off at a considerable rate in the past five years (4).
Ecommerce has experienced considerable growth in recent years, especially after 2020 amid the pandemic. The pandemic accelerated these trends manifolds (5, 6), and we can depict it from the chart below.
While the upward growth trajectory is primarily for traditional e-commerce, we believe the shift in consumer behavior will influence social commerce. Hence, it is critical for businesses to seize this opportunity.
Overall, selling products on social media platforms, aka social commerce, is a viable digital ad strategy for brands worldwide. It will allow you to use social media platforms to engage your target audience. At the same time, encourage them to complete the sale on their favorite app without even visiting your online store or website.
It is also pretty convenient since over 54% of internet traffic comes from smartphones (7).
Below are some strategies and examples to help you get social commerce right.
Always Know Your Target Audience
If your social commerce strategy doesn’t align with your target, you won’t get the best engagement rates.
While we understand that getting to know the recipients of your brand’s message takes time and effort, if you have been an avid reader of TimesNext, you will know how much we encourage businesses to know their audience that can help them make a difference in their conversions and sales.
It is also no secret that sending the correct message to the right people via the right platform yields better results. (Suggested Reading: Getting Started With Your Startup? Here is How You Can Find 1 Million+ Potential Users).
We recommend you be more intentional when choosing products and words that align with your customer segment specif to the social media channel instead of simply using the same message as your website.
Also, you can use analytics to stay up to date about your performance and demographic data to help you identify which products you can list and how to position them best.
Even though people are getting used to purchasing within social channels, it is not why they are there. People long in on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to catch up with their friends and families, experience great photography, and catch up with friends or see what’s trending.
We believe that social media users are more likely to be distracted and not look for big purchases. Therefore, businesses can consider listing lower-cost products that make their lives easier, and those you know already perform well in your other channels.
Besides listing popular and cheaper products, focus on creating an excellent browsing experience for your customers based on content engagement and product offerings.
Get Creative With Your Social Commerce Storefront
During the coronavirus pandemic, there has been a significant shift in consumer behavior. Most shoppers today learn about brands through social media.
Hence, it is best to consider your social media profiles as your brand’s social or digital storefront. Focus on creating an excellent buying experience since your social media profile’s ambiance carries similar importance as your products.
When you give a winning customer experience, it can help you attract repeat business backed by quality products.
For instance, Tiny Tassel’s retail storefront has a digital storefront on Facebook Shop (8). They have created product pages specifically for Facebook to offer shipping details, product style, and materials.
These listings offer value and build trust, which is essential to acquire new customers and compel them to make their first purchase.
Facebook’s wide use is one of the major advantages of utilizing it. It is a well-established social networking platform, and there is a good possibility you already have a presence there. So, moving into social commerce would be the next logical step rather than starting from scratch.
In addition, Facebook offers several great features for social commerce, especially customizable shops (9). It means that you can offer a tailored experience consistent with your brand. There is an option to customize colors, fonts, and imagery. You can even import an existing products catalog from your website.
Facebook Shop will also enable you to connect with your customers across all Facebook platforms. Meaning you will connect with your customers via Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram to offer them support or answer their queries.
Be Consistent With Your Promotional Posts
Promotional posts are great ways to share more details about your product, including close-up product shots, demos, and even walk-throughs.
You can also add links to your posts to help you build better brand awareness, meet more demand, and streamline your purchase process.
Take the above image, for example. Notice how Ralph Lauren uses a combination of products to showcase its seasonal collection.
Such a strategy offers users a better idea of different products when they are layered or worn together.
As per Instagram, over 60% of people find new products on their platform (10). Users have said that when they get inspiration from something they see on the platform, they take steps to find it and purchase it right away.
Hence, if you have already taken steps to create your Facebook Shop, you should consider Instagram Shopping (11); Instagram Shop will pull data from your Facebook catalog.
And if you have products that can stand put visually in people’s feeds, we recommend you build and strengthen your presence on Instagram.
Shopping tags will allow you to highlight your products from your catalog in both your Instagram feed and stories. It will allow people to see more information about the product and purchase it instantly.
Instagram Shops will also allow you to build a customizable storefront to enable you to showcase specific products in ranges and collections.
Humanize Your Social Media Responses
Instead of offering simple answers, consider recommending products, offering promo codes o secure the sale, and even sharing a direct link to purchase. After all, one of the primary reasons people connect with brands on social media platforms is to get an immediate response.
It is easy to connect on social media if customers want more information on products, make inquiries about their orders, or even seek answers to general questions. Such humanized interactions will also offer you an opportunity to showcase your brand’s personality and build trust.
Streamline Your Checkout Process
According to available data (12), mobile users have a higher cart abandonment rate than desktop users at an 85.65%.
Therefore, we recommend you streamline your checkout process if your buyers use smaller screens for their daily purchases. Social commerce also helps here since it removes drop-off points that offer lead to abandoned transactions.
For instance, they can use their social media accounts for a seamless transaction. There is no need to create a separate account to shop on your online store.
You can consider uploading 25 to 30 of your best-selling products into a catalog or link to corresponding product pages on your website if they are not in your catalog. You can also host Live Shopping events on almost all social media platforms, which is also getting big, especially in China (Suggested Reading: Take Your E-Commerce to The Next Level with Livestream Shopping).
With Livestream shopping, you will be able to discuss your products, answer questions, and even pin a product from your catalog on-screen. You can make the live stream interactive and inform why people need your product in their lives.
From there, people can purchase your products using their e-wallet or credit card without leaving the app.
Use Chatbots or “Chat Commerce”
We know that customers will spend more when they receive a personalized shopping experience. However (13), it cannot be easy to achieve your business scale. It is especially true within social media platforms since you have far less control over its infrastructure.
You can use chatbots to tackle the personalization challenge. Even though chatbots still have many limitations regarding specificity, they offer quick and simple answers to your customers’ questions. And they also help you save money time and build trust.
We found several examples of brands using a chatbot to enhance the customer experience. So far, our favorite is from LEGO named Ralph (14). This bot is available for people every day and offers a great experience by helping people choose and purchase gifts based on the recipient’s age and interest.
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Collaborate With Influencers
Yes, we know it is nothing new however you can optimize it to increase your reach and improve social sales.
For instance, influencers can push potential buyers directly to your shop using shoppable tags on Instagram.
This approach curates an engaging experience since they can see a Live Story from an influencer promoting your product. With so many people following influencers, it is an ideal opportunity to expand your audience.
We recommend you structure your marketing plan around a proven sales funnel to boost your overall performance.
Social Commerce: Closing Remarks
As social media keep evolving, the explosive growth in ecommerce has created more opportunities for brands to build on social commerce experiences. Social commerce allows you to build frictionless shopping experiences for your customers and reach them in the right places.
However, if you wish to succeed in social commerce, you need a clear strategy and use the right channels to connect with your target audience.
Established channels like Instagram and Facebook are good places to start if you are new to social commerce. You can also test new features like chatbots to save your resources to step up your social commerce game.