These days, many retail business owners are convinced that going all-in on digital selling is where the money is – and going social is the next logical step to getting there. Social commerce opportunities have emerged across popular social networking platforms, creating a new space for retailers to capitalize on.
What do you need to know about this new sales opportunity? In this post, we’ll look at what social commerce is, the platforms that currently offer selling options, and some tips to remember as you get started.
What is Social Commerce?
Social commerce, also considered social selling, is the selling and buying of products or services directly within social media platforms. Until recently, retail and marketing models used social media as a tool in the discovery process encouraging click-throughs to online stores where they could make purchases. Social commerce moves beyond that, allowing buyers to complete their entire purchases without ever leaving their social media apps. This new selling model keeps shoppers on the social media networks they already engage with, increasing retailers’ potential for sales.
Expectations are high for the success of social commerce. In 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic, the global social commerce market was about $89.4 billion, and it’s projected to reach $604.5 billion by 2027. What can we take from this prediction? Social commerce isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and it’s set to continue growing for the foreseeable future.
Social Platforms that Offer Commerce
So far, there are four social media platforms that allow social selling on their apps: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat.
Businesses can set up Facebook Shops where consumers can browse products and services and make in-app purchases. The Facebook Shop is customizable and allows you to import your product catalog directly from existing websites. It also allows you to provide shoppers with access to direct messaging and redirection to your store’s website.
Facebook Shops is a tool that works for just about any type of ecommerce business. Keeping an active profile and interacting with visitors is easy, and the platform offers paid advertising.
Instagram offers Shops where retailers can create and customize storefronts featuring their products and services. They can promote their offerings through posts, stories, and the explore tab. Shoppers can then buy products within the app and make transactions via Facebook Pay.
Instagram is a great option for sellers with younger target audiences that typically shop from mobile devices. Brands that appeal to 18-29-year-old buyers are more likely to be successful on this platform.
Snapchat is the most recent platform to begin offering sales opportunities with its feature called Brand Profiles. Businesses can allow shoppers to scroll through their products and make purchases in-app. Brand Profiles is powered by Shopify, and it allows retailers to set up shoppable product catalogs and AR filters, which are called Lenses, to enhance customers’ shopping experiences. Users can take selfies using lenses that allow them to digitally try on clothes, makeup, sunglasses, and other products.
Like Instagram, Snapchat is ideal for sellers with younger demographics. It’s also a good option for sellers who have products that can be “tried on” using Snapchat’s AR filters.
Technically, Pinterest isn’t social commerce, but it does allow sellers to highlight their products on the Pinterest Shop by creating Product Pins. However, to make the purchase, shoppers are taken to the business’ website.
Pinterest can be useful for all types of retailers, but it’s ideally suited for sellers of home décor, kitchen and cooking tools, travel products, clothing, and health and fitness products as these are some of the most popular categories on the platform.
Social Commerce Tips for Beginners
Now that you know what social commerce is and where it’s available, it’s time to talk about how to make it work for your ecommerce business.
It’s important to note that success with social commerce isn’t usually immediate. It may take some time and some advertising to generate social media followers and see results. Even though it requires more work upfront, with a little patience and persistence, the results are worth it.
The following are five simple tips you can use to capitalize on social commerce:
#1 – Be Consistent
Consistency is the key to a good social media strategy. It’s important to find the days and times that are best for posting your updates. This may take some trial and error, but within a couple of months, you’ll begin to see patterns of likes, shares, comments, and purchases from social media.
Once you’ve figured out when your audience is most likely to engage, stick to those times.
#2 – Be Compelling
Again, this step will take some time to perfect. The main point to remember is to post social media content that’s compelling to your specific audience.
In other words, don’t post just to post – post with intention.
The longer you use social media, the easier it is to determine what your audience likes and doesn’t like. When you find the social media “voice” that best works for your customers (you’ll know by how much they engage with your content), you’ll see sales increase.
#3 – Be Generous
There is much to be said for giving a little to get a lot. One of the most effective ways to generate a following is to give viewers something free – it could be information, services, special deals, or discounts.
This may seem counterproductive to increasing sales revenue, but it’s an investment worth making. You’ll create loyal customers who value your products and return to buy more.
#4 – Be More than a Salesperson
It isn’t enough to be a good salesperson when trying to capitalize on social commerce. Your audience wants to see personality. Showing personality in your social media content helps build connections to your brand.
Most people aren’t interested in pushy sales tactics, especially on their Facebook timeline. Use compelling content to earn more visitors and build brand loyalty. Only use a call-to-action (CTA) or link to your online store in half of your posts and make sure it’s relevant to the rest of your content.
#5 – Be Ambitious
After you build a consistent and compelling social media presence and a mass following on one social channel, it’s time to be ambitious and expand to other platforms.
Using multiple social media platforms will help you reach more potential customers as well as increase brand recognition. Just remember, don’t simply copy and paste your posts across all social media pages. Instead, take the time to tailor your posts to each specific platform and its audience.
Final Thoughts about Social Commerce
There’s no doubt about it, ecommerce is going social. While we’re still relatively in its early days, social selling is full of potential. It’s expected that every social media platform will soon adopt the integrated shopping approach that Facebook pioneered. TikTok will likely be the next platform to join social commerce, along with YouTube, which means we’ll see more shoppers buying via video.
Social commerce allows you to meet potential customers right where they already congregate– on social networking platforms. It simplifies the buying process by allowing shoppers to make in-app purchases seamlessly. If you haven’t expanded your brand’s online presence beyond a store website, now’s the time to do it. With the above information, you can decide which platform will likely work best for your business, brand, and products and get started with social selling.