What is social commerce?
Social commerce uses social media platforms to sell new products, existing goods, and services directly from a platform’s app instead of redirecting to a different website. It streamlines the buying process and helps customers find what they are looking for and purchase your products faster.
Social commerce vs. e-commerce
The e-commerce industry has been around since the early 1980s when the availability of the internet led to the sale of goods and services online. E-commerce, also known as online shopping, has continued to rise in popularity every year. It hit an all-time revenue high in 2020 following the onset of the global pandemic.
Social commerce, a subset of e-commerce, joins the connectivity of social media with the ease of online shopping. Instead of a customer navigating to a brand’s official website, they can link to products and make purchases directly through the brand’s profile on a social media platform. Studies show that roughly 76% of U.S. consumers make purchases after seeing a brand’s social media content. Additionally, 77% of the younger generations (Millennials and Gen Z) shop and purchase directly through social media sites.
Traditional e-commerce sales and online stores aren’t going anywhere, but social commerce is gaining popularity everywhere. Leveraging social commerce strategies ensures that your company isn’t missing out on valuable sales opportunities.
Four social commerce marketing strategies
Just like any other marketing plan, social media commerce has specific marketing strategies that help businesses succeed on social media platforms. Here are some social commerce strategies you can implement in your marketing mix.
1. Know your customers
To make social commerce work for retailers, you need to know your customers. Take advantage of consumer insights to better understand who your customers are. You should be familiar with their shopping behaviors, what they tend to search for on your site, and what may be drawing them to your competitors. You can also look at user-generated content to see what kind of posts your customers are publishing or engaging with.
Learn more: How Top Brands Harness UGC Marketing
2. Choose the right platforms
When you know your customers, you get a better idea of their demographic information, including their age range, gender, and geographical location. Knowing these details can help you pinpoint the social media platforms they likely use. For example, older Millennials are the most active users on Facebook, while Baby Boomers are surprisingly active on YouTube. If your customers fall into the Gen Z range, they are likely spending more time on Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram.
Once you know which social media sites your customers are potentially on, you can more easily target your social commerce marketing efforts.
3. Stay flexible in your approach
The popular way to connect on social media platforms is continually changing. Instagram started with photo-only posts before adding videos and stories. Now, accounts that post reels get the most engagement. You need to be prepared to try different approaches to your social media marketing strategy. Social commerce trends may work one month and perform poorly the next, so stay flexible with your strategies and the platforms you use.
Learn more: 2 strategies to engage with your customers on social media more authentically
4. Streamline the purchase point
One of the reasons social commerce is so successful is that it enables customers to checkout faster. If you share a linked product in a Facebook ad or Instagram story with a “buy” button, customers are led directly to that product. This streamlined online shopping experience eliminates the redirect where customers have to navigate away from your post to visit your website, then find the product page for the item they were looking at before. Businesses could potentially lose 26% of their customers without this direct link due to a long checkout process.
Social commerce makes the customer experience better by facilitating a quicker checkout, increasing the likelihood that they complete the purchase.
Benefits of social commerce
Many people believe that social commerce is almost identical to e-commerce and offers the same benefits. In reality, social commerce stands out as a unique way to help your business thrive and grow. Engaging in social commerce for your company brings the following four benefits.
Gain more exposure and brand awareness
If your target audience is highly active on social media and your content is geared toward them, they will likely come across your profile as they scroll. Focus on creating engaging content that is on-trend with similar brands or what other content creators are doing.
Your brand can also collaborate with popular users who have larger followings. These influencer marketing collaborations reach both audiences, create more exposure around your company, and bring in new followers and potential customers.
Learn more: 7 smart uses of influencer marketing and why they’re effective
Convert customers where they are
From Baby Boomers and Gen X to Millennials and Gen Z, almost every target audience is active on at least one social media platform. When you take advantage of social commerce, you’re meeting your customers where they are and interacting with them in a popular, thriving space. It is easier to convert potential customers and draw existing customers back in when you reach them where they feel comfortable.
Increase reviews and recommendations
Companies that are active on social media platforms and engage with their customers can help boost customer reviews and recommendations. When your customers are getting access to help when they need it, interacting constantly with your content, and having an overall positive experience with your brand, they are more likely to leave positive reviews for your business or recommend your products to others.
Retailers and online shoppers use social media to engage with each other and to generate social proof. Customers can boost interactions with your brand on social networks through comments, likes, and shares or by following your account. Brands with more engagement are rated higher in algorithms, meaning they’ll get shown to a broader audience each time. Additionally, when a customer finds a product through a promoted post that has lots of likes and positive comments, it increases the likelihood that they’ll trust your brand and make a purchase.
Learn more: 3 effective ways to improve customer engagement on social media
Gather useful data
When you tap into analytics derived from social media platforms, you can obtain additional customer insights such as which gender or age group is more engaged with your content, when your followers are most active, how they are social shopping, and how your posts are performing. Maybe your “try this product” posts aren’t doing as well as your “see this in action” posts. Insights on your content can help you change your social media approach to gain more traction, visibility, and customers.
Best social commerce platforms to use
Studies show that social media users actively use or visit an average of 7.5 different social media platforms every month on their mobile devices. However, not every social media site is ideal for social commerce. While you could have a profile on a site like Reddit, you wouldn’t be sharing linked product posts on that platform. Here are the best social media platforms for your brand’s social commerce.
Facebook offers business pages where companies can create profiles for their brand. These pages are a great way to share products, keep customers informed of business news, collect customer reviews, and engage with your audience.
Facebook Shops, an online storefront through the Facebook platform, allows businesses to engage in social commerce directly through the site. When a potential customer comes across your featured ad on their timeline and interacts with some part of it, Facebook’s algorithm identifies their interest and targets them with your future content. With Facebook Shops and social commerce, customers can click an image and go directly to a checkout page to complete a purchase.
Instagram Shopping, linking back to Facebook business accounts, allows businesses to create shoppable posts, stories, or reels that connect customers directly to the promoted product. Depending on what you’re trying to promote, your company can add existing product catalogs to your account or create new ones.
Social commerce on Instagram has the additional advantage of allowing you to tag multiple products in one post. A clothing company can link individual products, like shirts, shoes, and accessories, or add a “shop this look” link that directs the customer to the checkout page for every product in the post.
Retailers can create brand profiles on Snapchat that act as a social commerce storefront. Your company can create a shoppable ad that attracts nearby customers using location-based targeting and predetermined location categories. New and existing customers can “swipe up” on a product to checkout directly in the app.
You can also boost your business’s organic traffic by adding your storefront to the Snap Map. This feature increases physical traffic to your website and physical location if you have one.
Businesses can use two pin types for their marketing strategies on Pinterest: product pins and buyable pins. Product pins give customers information about your products, including pricing, availability, and purchase location, but they only link back to your website. Buyable pins feature a blue price tag on the product, which clients can click on and purchase directly through Pinterest. Both pin types have their benefits, and you’ll likely have a mix of both to promote e-commerce and social commerce for your company.
Learn more: Optimizing Pinterest Ad Campaigns via Goals and Targeting
Sources: https://shop.tiktok.com/merchant/en & https://shop.tiktok.com/business/en
TikTok shopping allows businesses and individuals to promote and sell products directly through the platform by participating in trends or using influencer marketing to garner organic customer reviews and social proof for their brand. The TikTok shop tab can be linked back to company or individual seller profiles and feature a product catalog that links back to a website.
You can also optimize your ads by adding product tags to your posts, going live to promote products and link to them, and creating collection, showcase, and lead-generation ads for what you are selling. Businesses often post ads that follow current TikTok trends, helping people relate to the brand better and, in some cases, not even realize they are being marketed to.
Learn more: How Does Your Customer Really Feel? How Social Listening Can Help
With the pandemic changing the way people shop, Twitter rolled out a Shop Module in 2021, which allows businesses to have a carousel of products at the top of their profile. These products have a “learn more” feature that takes them to the product on the company’s website, giving businesses the functionality of an e-commerce site. Twitter is also working on shoppable posts that pop up as ads in a user’s feed.
But, note that Twitter’s functionality currently redirects to a business’s website when customers click on a product, so the customer is not making their purchase through the Twitter app.
Tips and tools to increase sales on social media
For some companies, selling on social media is still a relatively new concept. However, it doesn’t have to be a complicated marketing strategy. Here are some tips and tools your business can use to make social commerce easier while still boosting sales.
While you may have a social media manager as part of your social commerce team, he or she can’t be active on your accounts at all times. Scheduling your social commerce content calendar helps posts go live at different times, ensuring that they’ll reach your audience when they are likely to be on the platform.
Most social media platforms allow for scheduled posts; however, this feature typically isn’t available directly through their apps. You’ll need to create and schedule your content through a social media automation platform that integrates with all of your social accounts. At the scheduled time, your post will appear on every app you use without someone having to create each one manually.
Learn more: 6 common social media publishing challenges (and how to overcome them)
Customers often use messaging to reach out to brands to ask questions about product details, ordering options, and more. When this happens, personalizing and tailoring your response to the customer’s needs can enhance their experience. If the customer asks about an out-of-stock product, you could recommend a similar product and even send them a direct link. If they want to know specific product details, answer their questions and then link them back to the product. This helps customers know that you care about their shopping experience and want to help them find what they are looking for.
When companies personalize responses, customers feel seen and valued.
Learn what works and what doesn’t
As with any marketing strategy, not every approach will be effective 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.
Learn more: 4 key considerations for your conversational commerce platform
Use your information
Analytics can give you a general overview of your social commerce performance. A social listening solution can help you listen to your customers better.
Keep an eye on the comments of your content to see how people are responding or what they are saying about your ads. Sometimes people will bring up an issue in the comments, and if you aren’t paying attention, the lack of response could turn potential customers away.
Convert digital conversations into sales with Sprinklr conversational commerce
As consumers continue to flock to social media and use it as the best way to engage with businesses, more brands will look to join the ease of social media with online shopping. Brands can capitalize on the trend by streamlining the buying process, making it easier to complete purchases quickly.
Sprinklr Social provides the only unified conversational commerce platform which can help brands meet customers on 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 unifies social media on one platform so brands can effectively listen, triage, engage, and measure performance across all social and messaging channels while managing brand risk with enterprise-grade governance. Sprinklr AI enables brands to scale by understanding where and when to engage, automating publishing consistently across all channels, managing repetitive tasks, providing intelligent auto-responses, and triaging alerts for faster response times on important messages. With these advanced capabilities and AI, brands don’t miss opportunities to engage — reducing costs and risk, and increasing revenues.
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