When it comes to reaching target consumers at precisely the right moment to encourage a purchase, it’s hard to imagine a more effective scenario than social commerce shopping.
Until recently, consumer shopping options have been centered around in-store, catalog, and web-based/mobile app browsing and purchasing. Now we can add social commerce to the mix, a style of e-commerce that’s poised to become the latest red-hot digital marketing strategy for brands of all kinds.
What is Social Commerce?
Social commerce or social shopping is an e-commerce segment that uses social media platforms for direct merchant sales. Essentially, it’s the ability to shop directly from a social media user’s content, within the platform itself.
For instance, with Instagram’s Shoppable posts features, posts are marked with a clickable shopping bag icon that showcases more product information, along with the ability to visit the brand’s Shop page. Product tags can be tapped to learn more or complete a purchase, all without leaving Instagram.
In this way, target audiences can go through the entire buyer’s journey, from discovery to checkout.
Social commerce goes beyond social media marketing. By providing audiences with the ability to complete a purchase from the social platform, social commerce greatly expands the role social media can play in the sales cycle.
Influencer marketing has already become a proven strategy for driving brand awareness and interest. However, consider the additional benefits of a social marketing experience where audiences can complete an in-the-moment purchase — without ever leaving their preferred app.
Social Shopping On the Rise
The pandemic-driven e-commerce boom accelerated the social shopping trend, with the U.S. social e-commerce market skyrocketing almost 38% to $26.77 billion in 2020 and predicted to surpass $50 billion annually by 2023.
While social commerce is still a relatively new concept, audiences are quickly adapting to it: data shows that 43% of Gen Z and 49% of Millennials have purchased products or services directly from social media platforms.
From Meta-owned Instagram and Facebook to Pinterest and TikTok (notably, TikTok’s #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag currently has over 10.2B views), platforms are working hard to provide audiences with ever-easier ways to browse and purchase products.
Brands That Can Benefit
Some brands are better suited for social commerce than others: platform commerce policies exclude a number of types of businesses and marketing approaches.
Popular categories for social commerce include apparel/accessories, consumer electronics, cosmetics, home decor, and consumer goods. Social commerce is particularly useful for:
- Personalizing the sales experience with influencer-shared recommendations
- Demonstrating product differentiations, features/benefits
- Sharing inspiration for clothing/makeup/accessories (lookbooks, mood boards, influencer modeling different outfits and commenting on fit)
- Providing social proof with positive influencer/audience feedback
- Amplifying branded creative with influencer-shared imagery and calls to action
- Showcasing authentic product usage stories from people aligned with the brand’s target audience
Brands that embrace social commerce can reap the benefits of having a shorter sales funnel, including the greatly streamlined checkout process.
Audiences don’t have to click away from their platform to a branded website or app, which can be a deterrent. Social commerce’s mobile-first optimized path to checkout minimizes the disruptions that can lead to an abandoned shopping cart.
The Right Place at the Right Time
Social commerce’s targeted and personalized shopping experiences provide a ‘perfect storm’ environment for influencer audiences.
Influencers are influential for a reason: they’ve built up trust and credibility with followers over time. Their recommendations have sway, and shoppable content fast-tracks the path to purchase.
Many consumers, particularly Millennials and Gen Z, are already using social media for product discovery. Influencers who are aligned with a brand’s target audience can provide the relevant, in-the-moment personalized reviews and promotions that resonate with today’s shoppers.
When it comes to identifying the right influencers for the job, there are a few different strategies to consider. Learn more by reading our full article on the topic, The Definitive Guide To Finding Influencers For Influencer Marketing Campaigns.
With social media shopping, consumers can quickly and easily share potential purchases with friends via direct message, interact directly with influencers and brands, review commentary from other shoppers, share their own opinions and questions, and ultimately complete their purchase — all without exiting the app.
Today’s social commerce possibilities offer a seamless experience for shoppers within the social channels they prefer, while appealing directly to highly targeted audiences through relevant influencer partnerships.
Social commerce will continue to rapidly evolve in 2022, and savvy brands should be paying attention. Don’t miss the boat on this powerful strategy to reach consumers in the places that matter with a far more interactive, personal e-commerce experience.
Want to learn more about social commerce and how influencer marketing can take your sales to the next level? Let’s talk.