What is social commerce?
Social commerce is the practice of selling products and services directly within social media platforms. Instead of redirecting users to external websites, the entire shopping process, from discovering products to making purchases, happens right within the social media app.
Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and TikTok offer tools for businesses to set up digital storefronts, enabling customers to explore, interact and buy products seamlessly. This approach combines the convenience of online shopping with the engagement of social media, making it a fast-growing trend in the digital retail landscape.
Differences between social commerce and e-commerce
So, you've understood the concept of social commerce, but now you might be wondering – how does this differ from e-commerce?
The key distinction lies in how social commerce seamlessly merges online shopping within social media platforms, while e-commerce involves separate online stores or websites for transactions. Let’s look at the differences in detail:
Origin and growth
Emerged as a subset of e-commerce, combines social media with online shopping
Established since the 1990s, gained momentum in 2020 due to the pandemic
Direct purchases within social media profiles
Customers navigate to separate online stores or websites
User engagement impact
Social interaction influences buying decisions
Marketing strategies, digital ads and online stores guide purchases
Customer retention risk
Less chance of cart abandonment due to a streamlined process
High instances of cart abandonment due to a complex checkout process
Relationship building focus
Immediate purchase through social platforms
Emphasis on customer engagement for long-term relationships
Top 3 benefits of social commerce
Not sure if social commerce is for you? Here are three reasons why it might be just what your business needs.
Broaden your audience and find new customers: With 4.9 billion social media users worldwide, about 76% of consumers discover products through brand posts. Social commerce connects you to this vast audience, including 18-34-year-olds who are already shopping on social media. Embrace these platforms to expand and stay aligned with modern shopping trends.
Smooth shopping experience: Social commerce simplifies shopping: “see, click, buy” in one step. No website hopping — direct app redirection and no distractions. By keeping it on the platform, every click counts, reducing the chances of changing minds.
Unlock revenue growth: Embrace social commerce to tap into a growing $735 billion online sales. Shoppers are already there — 81% explore on Instagram and Facebook, and 48% of Pinterest users love to shop. By catering to them where they're active, you position your business for a share of the expanding online revenue.
And it doesn't stop there. Social commerce is more than a trend; it's a revenue generator. As per a recent study, it powered $45 billion in revenue in 2022 and projections hint at nearly $80 billion by 2025. This presents a significant opportunity to boost your earnings beyond traditional e-commerce channels.
6 steps to craft an effective social commerce strategy
A social commerce strategy is a structured approach to help you harness social media platforms to sell your product or service. Here’s how you can build one yourself.
Step 1: Choose the right platform
Identify platforms where your audience is most active. Each platform has its distinct features and user base, so focus on the ones that align with your business and products.
For instance, selling fitness gear or workout apparel tends to work better on visual platforms such as Instagram and TikTok. Conversely, tech gadgets might find a more receptive audience on Facebook or X, formerly known as Twitter.
Step 2: Enhance customer service
Most of the customers today turn to social media, such as Facebook and X, when they have a complaint about a product or service. When you provide a top-notch customer service experience on these platforms, it not only fosters loyalty among your existing followers but also draws in new customers. Engaging with customers on social media often translates into increased spending, making it a valuable strategy for boosting your sales.
Step 3: Deliver valuable content
Be sure to share content that your audience finds valuable and interesting. This can include informative articles, how-to guides, tips and relevant industry insights. By consistently providing content that resonates with your audience, you can keep them engaged and enhance their buying experience.
Step 4: Collaborate with industry influencers
Look for influencers in your niche and establish a connection with them. Engaging with influencers on social media adds credibility to your brand. When an influencer mentions your brand, customers tend to trust your brand more. The association enables you to connect with the influencers’ dedicated followers – leading to higher conversions and increased sales.
Step 5: Tap into analytics
Social media analytics provide valuable insights into the performance of your social commerce strategy. You'll learn what type of content resonates better and what could use a little tweaking. Social media metrics, such as likes, shares and comments, reveal what posts are working and what aren’t. Additionally, analyzing customer behavior helps you understand its impact on your sales and fine-tune their journey for improved stickiness.
Step 6: Easy checkout process
Ensuring a smooth checkout process on your social media platform is vital. When customers find something they want to buy, they don't want a complicated checkout process. They want to make the purchase quickly and get back to what they were doing. By making this easy, you're not only boosting sales but also making them more likely to come back for more.
Social commerce features in top 5 platforms
Nailing your social commerce strategy is all about picking the right social media platform. Here are some important features of the top 5 social platforms.
Facebook offers a range of social commerce features including Facebook Shops and Marketplace for setting up online stores and Messenger Commerce for streamlined purchases and support. With a massive user base of 2.96 billion, Facebook Shops personalize product displays and purchases, while the low entry barrier and effective communication on Messenger enhance the overall customer experience.
Instagram offers an array of impactful social commerce features, including Instagram Shopping with product tagging in posts, stories and reels, making it easy for users to directly access products. With 60% of users discovering new products on the platform, Instagram Shops enable customizable storefronts, allowing detailed product pages.
Shopping Tags and the Shop tab enhance product discovery, while seamless purchases occur within the app or on external sites. Instagram Shopping capitalizes on its 2.35 billion users, making it a robust platform for engaging content and turning engagement into sales.
TikTok has become a happening place for buying and selling, where both businesses and people can directly sell to customers. Using TikTok Shopping, you can easily be part of the latest trends and work with influencers to showcase your products on the platform.
The TikTok Shop section is like a gateway to various products linked to profiles or pages. Through videos, live broadcasts and a dedicated product showcase, sellers can interact with users in different ways. The company has made selling even easier by letting you set up online stores right in the app. This means you can browse for things to buy without ever leaving TikTok.
X, formerly known as Twitter
X has embraced social commerce with its Shop Module and a range of e-commerce features, a response to evolving shopping trends during the pandemic. The Module lets businesses showcase a product carousel on their profiles, guiding users to learn more on their websites. Shoppable ads in feeds are also being tested.
With Twitter Shops, merchants can display up to 50 products, directing users to external sites for transactions. The Shop Spotlight highlights five products on profiles, while Live Shopping enables real-time interactive shopping, and Product Drops create anticipation for upcoming releases.
YouTube plays a crucial role in social commerce, used by influencers to market products in videos. It's evolving with clickable product links, shoppable ads for direct purchases, affiliate marketing, and Shoppable Shorts for engaging content. Leveraging influencer and user-generated content, YouTube provides a dynamic platform for brands to connect, engage and drive sales.
Tips to improve your social commerce sales
You've taken the first step by setting up your digital shop and are gearing up to make your first sale in this cutthroat landscape. Now what? Here are some tips and tools that can help you excel at social commerce from the get-go.
Plan your content
Since your social commerce team can't be online all the time, planning when to post is key. A well-organized social content calendar ensures your posts appear when your audience is active. While some social platforms allow scheduling, it's often not easy within those apps. That's where social media automation comes in. An automation tool helps you plan and schedule posts for all your brand accounts. So, your posts go live without you needing to publish each of them manually on each platform.
Craft personalized responses
Personalizing responses to customer inquiries enhances their experience. For instance, suggesting alternative products with direct links for unavailable items or addressing specific details while providing product links shows commitment to their journey. Tailored assistance makes customers feel acknowledged and cherished, increasing satisfaction and making them life-long customers.
Learn what works and what doesn’t
As with any marketing strategy, not every approach will deliver results for your business. Closely monitor your analytics when you run a new campaign or post a different type of ad to see how things are performing. When you know which types of ads are doing well for your company, it is easier to create similar types of ads to keep your business growing.
Social media trends can change from day to day, and what was popular yesterday may not be trending today. As you learn what is and isn’t working for your social commerce marketing, understand that you may need to adjust your approach frequently.
Leverage your data better
Analytics can give you a general overview of your social commerce performance. A social listening tool can help you listen to your customers better. Keep an eye on the comments your content is fetching to gauge how people are responding or what they are saying about your ads. Sometimes people tend to rant in the comments and if you aren’t paying attention, the lack of response could turn both existing and future customers away.
Convert digital conversations into sales with Sprinklr’s conversational commerce solutions
As consumers continue to flock to social media and use it to engage with businesses, more and more brands will look to join the social commerce bandwagon. You can stay on top of those brands by streamlining your buying process, i.e., making the checkout process as frictionless as possible for your customers.
Sprinklr Social provides the only unified conversational commerce platform which can help brands meet customers on any of the 30+ modern channels they prefer, build strong 1:1 relationships and convert these conversations into sales at scale.
Powered by Sprinklr’s purpose-built AI engine, Sprinklr Social brings together all social media on a single platform. This empowers brands to listen, engage and measure performance across various social and messaging channels while ensuring brand safety with robust governance.
Through Sprinklr AI, brands can efficiently scale by automating tasks like engagement, consistent publishing and smart responses. This technology enables quicker responses to crucial messages, cost savings and revenue growth, as opportunities for engagement aren't missed.
Examples of successful social commerce campaigns
Ever wondered how social commerce is reshaping online shopping? Check out these examples of how brands are facilitating a seamless shopping experience with effective social commerce campaigns!
Ink Meets Paper
Ink Meets Paper exemplifies successful social commerce on Facebook, leveraging a complete profile, strategic product tagging, curated collections, trust-building elements like "Free Delivery," and engaging user-generated content. Their approach combines chatbots for swift customer service, Facebook Live events for interaction and targeted ads for Lookalike Audiences featuring products with direct links to their Facebook Shop. This strategy effectively transforms their Facebook presence into a thriving digital storefront, driving engagement and sales.
Social media brings in the human touch that websites sometimes miss. In social commerce, it's all about people:
User-generated posts that build trust
DMs, polls, comments, quizzes for engagement
Personalized ads to different segments of audiences
Influencers for driving content initiatives and get word-of-mouth marketing
Rebecca Minkoff nails this on Instagram. They show a lifestyle, talk to customers live, repost user stuff and use data for ads. Oh, and remember, let reviews shine on Instagram Shop – they close the deal!
We all know Gen Z loves TikTok – and they're shopping there too! Brands are catching on, especially for Gen Z and millennials with spending power.
TikTok's short video format lends itself to fun, engaging content without info overload. Influencers are huge here. Take e.l.f. Cosmetics – they made a TikTok show "Eyes. Lips. Famous." Three fans learned from them and became ambassadors. It exploded: 3,000+ entries, lots of shares and user-made content for more campaigns.
Note: For contests, offer something your customers value – better prizes mean more engagement and chances your contest goes viral.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Social commerce is the purchasing of products or services directly within a social media platform, enabling customers to buy without needing to exit their chosen social networking site or app.
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