Is your brand social media savvy

How social commerce could revolutionize marketing

When buyers change strategies, you need to change strategies with them. For many brands, this means joining the rising trend of social commerce.

A change in purchasing strategy means customers will find your products in new ways. But social commerce also means that customers see their purchasing decisions differently. In recent years, customers have used social media to research purchases, accept recommendations from friends, and find new brands. With social commerce, they make these purchases directly through social channels.

The statistics already indicate a massive increase in social commerce. A 424 brand study found that 66% of customers had already adopted social commerce tools in the past year. In the same report, 41% of brands were shown to dip their toes in the water by testing shoppable content on Instagram. What's more: 17% of these brands use Facebook's shoppable brand pages, and over 50% already use the Facebook “Shop Now” button.

These numbers can only continue to grow. Brands are now focusing on social media to not only drive brand awareness and customer service, but also to drive sales directly.

What is social commerce? How is it different from social media advertising? And what does your brand need to know if it is to compete with other brands in the same area? Let's dive in to better understand this rising trend.

What is social commerce?

Social commerce consists of product purchases made directly on social media.

How does it differ from social media marketing? With SMM you can place targeted advertising on social media platforms and via influencers. However, they still refer customers to a specific product page.

With social commerce, the medium becomes a platform. It enables brands to sell products directly through platforms like Instagram and Facebook.

However, this is not the only important benefit. Social commerce also streamlines the checkout process. This is good news when you consider that the global rate of car abandonments is still above 65%. With that in mind, everything brands can do to make it easier for users to shop is appealing as it can lead to an increase in overall sales.

Brands can also reduce cart abandonment by reducing friction and avoiding intermediate steps in the checkout process. One report found that customer disruption is so significant that it can result in a loss of $ 325 billion (or over £ 255 billion) in opportunities. Not bad, right?

Although the reach of social commerce has been increasing in recent years, the idea is not entirely new.

• Facebook launched its marketplace created in 2007. The buy button was first tested in 2014 and the feature has since expanded to over 800 million users in 70 different countries.

• Instagram launched the Shop Now button in 2015, introduced product tags in 2016 and only allowed posts that could be bought last year. Buyable posts enable brands to take advantage of Instagram's particular popularity with mobile shoppers, as Instagram users are 70% more likely to shop on mobile devices than non-users.

• Twitter launched the "Buy Now" button in 2014 before it was reset due to poor performance.

• Pinterest has been testing pins since 2015. In 2018, the company stepped up these efforts with up-to-date shopping information and a new shopping label. In 2019 the company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Although there have been ups and downs in social commerce (depending on the medium), the general trend is clear: users like to click on a social button to directly access a product purchase page.

The acceptance of social commerce is also increasing. In this case, brands - Shopify retailers in particular - should expect social commerce to become an even bigger part of the ecommerce landscape.

Social commerce on the rise

Social media has become woven into the fabric of our lives. The way we shop online is no exception.

Social commerce enables brand new access to a huge audience already tuned to social media. There are almost 1.5 billion active users on Facebook every day, which is almost 20% of the total world population. If you factor in all forms of social media, that number rises to around 42%.

Social commerce also provides a platform for businesses to tap into the way people shop. Instagram users state that they already find products on Instagram that they can buy up to 60%. Most of the respondents on Forbes said that social media content influences their purchasing decisions.

More importantly, 84% of shoppers check at least one social media page before making a purchase as customers seek feedback on social media websites before making a purchase. Many prospects do the same thing before they go to a point of sale. Social media has become a research tool that makes it a natural starting point for brands looking to easily create a connection between customers and products.

Despite these numbers, social commerce has not yet reached its full potential. At the end of 2017, 34% of shoppers had never bought anything directly on social media. Given the number of users reporting on daily social media activity, that number can represent a customer segment in the millions.

But the demographics are changing. A younger, socially savvy generation is gaining influence and purchasing power. With this influence, brands should expect social media to become even more relevant. Statistics suggest that these trends are far from over. More and more people are looking for social media as a source for product discoveries and research:

• Social media has twice as much influence on Generation Z (born in the mid-1990s to the early 2000s). 80% of the same group are influenced by social media in their purchases.

• Instagram influences 72% of users who make purchasing decisions. Instagram's influence is particularly strong among the younger generations of Millennials and Gen Z. Even so, there is still a majority influence on Baby Boomers (54%).

• Social media platforms learn what their users want to see. A report pointed out that Facebook has managed to double its revenue per user in three years.

I really want to encourage Shopify merchants to watch out for the rise of social commerce.

Linking social media and e-commerce makes sense for both retailers and their customers. It's now easier than ever to find, view, and buy products. With Facebook's platform page tuned to Shopify, social commerce will become increasingly widespread in the months and years to come.

Social commerce will continue to grow regardless of whether your brand participates or not. If you're looking for a new way to reach your customers and reduce their willingness to buy, it's time to get started.

Social commerce in action

While the statistics point to increasing opportunities in social trade, another question remains open. What does it look like when a brand uses social commerce successfully?

A strong example of social commerce in action comes from Nike. Nike had the opportunity to participate in a beta run of social commerce in the Messenger Augmented Reality feature of Facebook. This beta run allowed brands to mix the effects of Facebook Messenger with the E R capabilities of their phone cameras.

Nike's campaign used social media influencers to distribute a specific series of emojis to users. Once users unlock this feature, they will be able to witness an Augmented Reality feature called "Kyrie 4 - Red Carpet". The ER featured coaches on a pedestal surrounded by a red carpet. After the experience was over, users were allowed to buy the shoes.

This miniature playful experience proved such a success that Nike sold out the sneakers before an hour had passed.

Social Commerce Best Practices

So what are some of the best social commerce practices? Below are some of our top recommendations for Shopify merchants looking to make their efforts highly effective.

Tip one: product photography is key.

If you plan to optimize social shopping for your business, you need to have solid, clean, and professional product photography that highlights your products in the best possible light. Think of your Instagram as your company's showcase.

Tip two: use Instagram Stories.

Social commerce has now been introduced in Instagram Stories. This is a great feature if you are a company that new stocks are added to on a daily basis. For example, you could be a vintage brand with thousands of unique pieces. With the Stories feature, you reduce the risk of presenting products that may be sold out but still appear in the Instagram feed.

Tip three: try different prices.

If you are a brand that carries thousands of products or brands that vary in price but you want your brand to be open to all markets, you can still use the social shopping feature to display great looking products at different price levels. This means you can attract audiences from a wide demographic in terms of spending.

Tip four: plan.

With all organic content, it is important that you plan out which products to include in your feed and that you strike a balance between those products. It is important to show different products from clothes to jeans to shoes etc. It is also important not to overuse the social shopping feature. Not every post has to contain a product or aim to promote product. It's good to use your organic social strategy to showcase your brand's personality, not just to make your products hard to sell.

Tip five: Test several links.

You can showcase full looks on Instagram and tag multiple products within the post. This is a great way to cross-sell and inspire your audience to wear your products in different ways. It's also a great way to showcase your brand's personality while driving the most important sales.

Test the water with social commerce

Social media is growing beyond advertising and social influence and is becoming its own sales platform. Today's internet users already use social media for product research and friendly recommendations. The digital world is increasingly becoming a medium for even the most intensely researched purchases.

Mobile phone usage is rapidly approaching 5 billion users worldwide. With that growth, social commerce could one day become the digital equivalent of the local mall or neighborhood retail store.

The only question is, are you helping to drive the trend?

Using "Buy Now" features on social media may seem complicated, but it is a process of simplification. Being able to connect more directly with users on social media will reduce the buying gap. They lower the abandonment rates for shopping carts. You will reach your audience more directly, especially younger audiences with growing purchasing power.

If the process seems overwhelming, keep in mind that this field is new. But there are experts who can accompany you on this path. For Shopify merchants, we can help you unlock the potential of social commerce by reducing the distance between you and your customers.

We help you to be one step ahead of your competitors and to keep abreast of the latest developments in social commerce. Now is the time to break new ground with so much potential. If you want to join an emerging market, contact us today and share your social commerce goals for your Shopify business.