Along with eCommerce, social commerce has experienced a book with social sites adding more eCommerce and eCommerce adding more social selling.
Lots of people think of shopping as a social activity. Even before the internet, friends and family influenced buying and very often, accompanied each other to enjoy the shopping experience. In addition, celebrities and other influencers would promote products to help drive sales. Like dining out, travel, or an evening at the theater, shopping’s more fun when it’s shared.
The rise of social commerce
Since the dawn of social media platforms, marketers have used them to connect with buyers and bring shared shopping experiences online. Friends, family members, and influencers helped people discover new brands and encourage purchases. As reported by Marketing Dive, 90 percent of people said they bought products that they discovered on a social site.
In the past, social media marketing generally directed an audience to a business website or another eCommerce site to close sales. In contrast, social commerce usually refers to commerce conducted directly from a social network. From within the same social app, consumers can discover new brands, research products, and complete their purchases.
Lately, eCommerce has enjoyed a boom. Since social commerce makes it even easier for consumers to find and buy products, it’s turned into one of the most productive channels for social media marketing. In turn, both social media sites and eCommerce retailers have implemented new features that make social commerce marketing easier for companies.
What are shoppable posts?
Shoppable posts originated on Instagram. Brands can embed product tags, prices, descriptions, and links to sales pages in their posts. When social site users see something they like, they can find out exactly what it is, how much it costs, and of course, how to buy it.
As an example, look at this image from World Market’s Instagram page. Instead of just displaying the picture frame and decorative globes, they arranged them on a shelf to give shoppers an idea of how they might look in their own homes.
Some marketers have compared the experience to showcasing products in a catalog but with all the advantages of getting found on a busy social site and employing clickable links right to the product pages.
Shoppable post best practices
As with any social media marketing, some businesses enjoy more success than others do. It can take some competitive research and experimenting to maximize engagement and sales.
Some best practices for maximizing shoppable posts include:
- Invest in good photos: Besides producing high-quality photos, businesses should focus on composing shots that will attract attention and help customers make a purchase decision. Also, experiment with eye-catching colors to attract attention.
- Add hashtags: As with any Instagram posts, appropriate hashtags will help people find the photos. Do some research to find appropriate hashtags. As an example, #shoplocal brings up small, local businesses. Combining that tag with a location and product-relevant tag could help the right customers find the post.
- Add promotions: A discount offer or promotional code can provide Instagram users with an additional incentive to make a purchase.
- Experiment with video: How-to and DIY videos have grown very popular on Instagram. Videos that show products in action can provide value to consumers to help with engagement and sales.
- Show off the brand’s personality: Instead of dry product descriptions, try to engage people with stories or even jokes that can spark an emotional connection.
Why is an eCommerce marketing agency recommending shoppable posts?
According to Business Insider Intelligence forecasts, commerce conducted on social sites in 2021 will top $36 billion in the US alone. This number represents about 35 percent in growth over the previous year.
Just as surprising, it means social commerce will account for over four percent of all retail sales.In particular, look for social sales to spike in fashion, beauty, home decor, electronics, and plenty of other popular niches.
Social media marketing platforms ripe for social commerce
Certainly, social media companies have embraced the rise of eCommerce on their platforms. In turn, eCommerce platforms have striven to incorporate more social aspects. Take a look at some of the most popular examples of social media platforms embracing social commerce.
Just because it’s the largest social media platform, Facebook gets the first mention. Besides having the largest audience, Facebook also has the biggest share of commerce for purely social media sites.
In 2020, they introduced Facebook Shops. The idea came at a good time because many businesses struggled to move online because of the coronavirus pandemic. Still, most of these smaller companies already had a Facebook presence.
The introduction of Facebook Shops gave small businesses a way to seamlessly integrate online shopping with the community that they had already attracted. Just as great, customers could make purchases without needing to leave the Facebook website or app.
Facebook owns Instagram; however, the two social sites have somewhat different tones and cultures. As an example, influencers tend to drive engagement on Instagram somewhat more than on Facebook. Even though Facebook still commands a larger audience, some marketers find Instagram a better fit for their marketing strategies and audience.
Instagram launched Instagram Checkout a couple of years ago, and now they even display a shopping link at the bottom of their homepage. As mentioned earlier, Instagram also offers shoppable posts. These features make it very easy for influencers, celebrities, and brands to introduce products and drive sales.
Shoppers turn to Pinterest when they want some inspiration. Even though it doesn’t command an audience the size of Facebook’s, Pinterest users already tend to browse the social site with intent. Popular Pinterest categories include fashion, decor, health, and fitness, so the platform’s a natural for these shopping niches.
The new kid in town, TikTok, burst onto the social scene with a good understanding of what works, and a young, enthusiastic audience. It’s growing rapidly and up until now, mostly known for catchy and sometimes, sponsored videos.
ModernRetail mentioned a new addition to TikTok that will allow sellers to open their own stores. Features will include the ability to communicate with customers and take payments from right inside the TikTok app. Apparently, TikTok’s still testing this feature in limited marketplaces, but it’s fair to expect to see it released broadly soon.
In a rather contrary move, Twitter actually dropped their “Buy” button a few years ago. It doesn’t look like Twitter’s moving in the direction of direct, in-platform sales at the moment; however, it’s still a great platform to participate in to engage audiences and gain useful insights.
Are eCommerce sites getting more social?
At first glance, social commerce might appear to compete with more traditional eCommerce sites, like Amazon and Shopify. A second look will reveal that the most successful online retailers implemented some social features and recently, have taken steps to ensure they’re included in the growth of social commerce.
Of course, most people visualize Amazon as the largest retailer in the world but not a social medial platform. It’s a place where users can log in and buy just about anything 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Of course, Amazon’s invested a fortune to develop that kind of brand identity. Still, Amazon already offered a lot of social features appears ready to do even more.
Just recently, GeekWire reported on the Amazon acquisition of Selz, a firm that produces products that make it easier for small businesses to sell online. For instance, Selz offers tools to easily build eCommerce websites, manage products, interface with customers, track metrics, and of course, accept payments.
Recent announcements have not revealed exactly how Amazon plans to use this new purchase; however, marketers expect them to leverage Selz to compete more with Shopify and to add more social selling to their brand.
As one example of a feature that’s similar to social sites, Amazon has its own PPC platform. A good Amazon PPC agency will suggest using this feature to improve brand recognition and sales, which in turn, help drive rankings.
In an effort to boost their reach with small- and medium-sized businesses and perhaps, to keep from losing sellers to Shopify, Amazon created Amazon Storefronts. Much like Facebook Shops, this gives retailers a bit of their own online real estate to directly interface with customers.
Experienced Amazon sellers know that Amazon’s review system stands as one of the earliest example of effective, online social marketing. Not only do shoppers read reviews before making a purchase, the number and quality of reviews can influence search rankings and in turn, sales. In turn, top reviewers can become important influencers on the platform.
Like Amazon, Shopify also has reviews, though the review system isn’t quite as extensive as Amazon’s.
Instead of focusing so much on creating its own social features, Shopify has extended its payment options to Facebook and Instagram. That means Shopify merchants can use Shop Pay to accept payments on their own social pages to engage in more social selling.
A Shopify spokesperson told TechCrunch that both Facebook and Instagram had performed very well for their merchants. Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, they saw a 36-percent increase in channel integration between these two social sites and merchant shops, and they anticipated growth to continue.
In addition, Shopify also established a partnership with TikTok. This lets Shopify merchants display their own social commerce posts directly within the app.
An eCommerce marketing agency perspective on today’s social media marketing
In the past, retailers viewed eCommerce marketing and social media marketing as two distinct channels. These days, successful businesses can enjoy wonderful synergy by integrating these channels.
This can include taking advantage of new eCommerce features on social platforms and the social integration features on traditional online retailers. As an example, Facebook has introduced its own sales platform. In contrast, Shopify’s strategy appears to focus on integrating its shops and payment buttons with social medial sites.
This kind of integrated marketing plan will let businesses enjoy the best of both worlds. Besides, it will offer customers a richer and more convenient shopping experience. Shopping’s always been an experience that’s often better shared; and social commerce provides the perfect opportunity.