By June Tapia
May 5, 2020
Over the past decade and a half, social media has become central to how people interact online. Unsurprisingly, this has caused social media marketing to become a central element of many brand’s promotional mixes. Every year, different trends define how brands reach out on social platforms. In 2020, social commerce will be one of the trends at center stage.
What Is Social Commerce?
Social commerce is simply selling directly through social media channels. Whereas social media marketing is, in many cases, drives traffic to other channels such as a website, social commerce incorporates the entire shopping experience (including converting the sale) on the social media platform.
The specifics of what this looks like depends on the platform. However, more and more networks are offering built-in e-commerce solutions. In some cases, brands are using chatbot-based checkout processes on their social channels. The goal, regardless of what your social commerce setup looks like, is to reduce the number of clicks and bring your products to where consumers already are.
The Benefits of Social Commerce
There are some significant advantages to developing a social commerce channel. While it may not completely replace traditional e-commerce for most brands, it does fill in some gaps and present significant opportunities.
There is a lot of opportunity in social commerce and many brands are jumping on that opportunity to increase their revenue. The numbers indicate that this may be the most important frontier of e-commerce in 2020.
Facebook’s numbers indicate that there are 1.47 billion daily active users on that platform alone. Instagram is quickly growing and has incredibly high product engagement. Around 60% of the platform’s users are discovering products on it.
According to Big Commerce, 30% of consumers buying online are interested in making purchases directly through their social media. First, this is a large number of people when you remember how many people are buying online. Additionally, that percentage is likely to only get larger as consumers get more familiar and comfortable with social commerce.
Other research indicates that chatbot open rates are significantly higher than those for email. 80-90% of consumers that receive a messenger chatbot link will open it. This is incredibly high and represents how powerful social commerce chatbots can be.
Commerce on Different Social Platforms
As you likely expect, social commerce looks a little different depending on which platform you use. Every network has its strengths and weaknesses, and some have a head start on others.
For example, Facebook took some major steps to enable commerce early. This has included Facebook Page Shops and Messenger commerce. The former is much like many other e-commerce shops. You can create an inventory of products, set up your storefront, and manage your orders and shipping.
The messenger features let you sell directly through a chatbot experience in Facebook Messenger. This provides customers with a natural, conversation-like checkout experience.
Instagram Checkout provides a checkout experience within the app. If a customer sees a promoted product in his or her feed, the customer can complete the purchase seamlessly with a few taps. Instagram Shopping is a similar feature that lets brands tag images and stories with featured products. The audience can then tap to go to your store directly.
Pinterest got a very early start with buyable pins in 2015. Gradually, the platform has released additional features to help brands find even more success on the visual social network. For example, the Shop the Look features works similarly to the Instagram Shopping toolset. Brands can also upload their product catalogs to Pinterest and easily manage them through the platform.
Some other platforms have been a little slower to get into the social commerce game. However, many will likely follow suit soon (some already are). Brands can benefit significantly from social commerce tools and will be directing their advertising budgets towards the platforms that empower their success.
Getting Started With Social Commerce
Social commerce can offer your business a lot of opportunities. So, you may be ready and excited to give it a go. Of course, like any other channel, you need the right strategy to find success. These are some of the steps you may want to follow to launch an effective social commerce initiative:
1. Choose the Right products: Your first step needs to be selecting products that make sense for this channel. Typically, those will be relatively low-cost. Consumers are making eager, fast purchases on social platforms, not carefully considered buys. Promote products that your customers are likely to buy without needing to do any careful research or consideration.
Also, remember that people are primarily buying aspirational products on social channels. Products in the luxury goods, beauty, apparel and décor categories tend to do the best. If you are unsure, you can always start with some experimentation to see what sticks for your brand.
2. Find the Right Platforms and Tools: While several platforms are releasing new tools and features for brands, not all of them will be right for your business. Determine which are the most relevant for you.
For example, if your brand focuses on beauty and/or fashion, you may have the most success on Instagram. Conversely, if your products are more oriented towards fun, impulse buys, leveraging Facebook may be a better option. If you already have a successful social media marketing strategy, you can simply use the same channels you are already active on.
There are also third-party tools that can help you deploy your strategy across multiple platforms. These include chatbot tools that can integrate with Facebook Messenger, Instagram, SMS and more.
3. Get Your Content Working for You: Social commerce is typically most successful when you bring your checkout process to customers who are engaging with products they have just discovered. Content marketing and influencers are excellent for driving this. Working with influencer partners can help you promote the aspirational idea of your products.
Similarly, producing content for social channels that you tie directly to your checkout process can also be effective. For example, you may produce a series of videos that highlight your products in an informational way. This works best with short, easily digested, visual content marketing.
4. Measure It All: As with any other marketing channel, social commerce works best when you use data and measurement. Fortunately, social platforms tend to be happy to provide brands with metrics that can prove their performance.
Look at data points such as click rate, engagement with chatbots, impressions and other metrics. However, ultimately, the most important key performance indicator is your revenue from social commerce. Compare this against your spending on social media to determine the return on investment.
Social commerce isn’t right for every brand. Fortunately, you can get started with a relatively small investment of time and money, especially if you are already engaged in social media marketing. Just use the tools provided by the platforms you are already using and explore the possibilities.
Many brands are experiencing some significant value returns from social commerce. This is likely to be a major defining trend for social media marketing in 2020. If you want to stay up to date with the latest frontier in e-commerce, you need to at least explore the possibility of selling on your social channels. Get started on your strategy today.
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