Sell on social media: Strategies to maximise your social commerce ROI

According to a report published by Adweek on Social Commerce, “The top 500 retailers online brought in a total revenue of nearly $6.5 billion through social shopping.” One of the biggest changes and opportunities that e-commerce has for 2020 is social commerce.

What is social commerce?

Social commerce, also known as social shopping, is an area where e-commerce and social media meet. It is a way of allowing brands to streamline the buying process for their customers and improve the efficiency of their social media ads.

Social shopping has been around for a long time. Both brands and social networking platforms have been working hard to convert social media into sales platforms. In the E-commerce Trends report published by BigCommerce, “30% of consumers say that they will buy from social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat.

Social commerce offers an enormous opportunity for retailers to improve revenue. It is essential for brands to understand what social commerce is and how it may affect their operations in the coming years.

How social commerce is transforming the landscape of ecommerce.
Source: Marketingland
How social commerce is transforming the landscape of ecommerce.

By definition, social commerce is any type of e-commerce transaction that takes place on a social media platform. Some of the different social media commerce are:

  • User-generated content reviewing products on various e-commerce sites
  • Product reviews on social media
  • Ads on social media with call-to-action buttons
  • Buy buttons on social walls
  • Peer-to-peer buying and selling
  • Transferring payment for a product without leaving the social media network
Source: Ecwid

Looking at the features of social commerce

There are a few unique features that social media platforms use to enable social commerce. Each social media platform has a unique approach to social commerce which brands capitalise on.

“Buy” buttons

The most popular social commerce feature is the “Buy Now” button. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram have a call-to-action button available and brands can add it to their posts or ads. Usually, the button links the users to the brands’ website in order to complete the sale.

Buy buttons as an integral part of social commerce
Source: LinkedIn
Social commerce plugins and apps

There are third-party plugins and apps available that brands can use if social commerce is still not available. A good example is a third-party app known as Soldsie. This app works with Instagram and Facebook and it allows users to buy by commenting the word ‘Sold’ on a post. Once the user has commented, the app email the customer an invoice to confirm the order or complete the sale. Other social commerce apps that you can try out include: commentsold, social selling, and jumper.ai.

Shop on posts and stories

This is a relatively new social shopping trend and platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram have recently become integrated. Tagging brands within posts or stories allows buyers to shop for a specific item. By creating posts and stories, brands can advertise with little friction, as well as providing a seamless customer experience on a social media platform.

Social media’s role in buying behaviour

Social media plays a major role in the buying habits of customers (even without social commerce). For example, social media recommendations and online reviews can influence the choices of buyers. According to a study by Pew Research Center in 2016, 82% of Americans check out online reviews or recommendations before purchasing. Marketers have even given this behaviour the name ‘ROPO effect’, which stands for “Research Online, Purchase Offline”.

Social media encourages desires

Brands expose people to various products through social media posts, which can create a desire to purchase those items. For example, if someone sees a fashion blogger constantly posting about different shoes on Instagram, that person may want to buy more shoes. Social commerce is effective because it drives traffic and changes shopping behaviour at the same time. According to the same research from Pew, “Up to 15% of Americans buy products or services after they follow a link via social media.”

What are the biggest social media platforms for social commerce?

Instagram–Shoppable tags

Instagram introduced ‘tag photo’ in 2016, which allows creators to tag products in their photos. These tag posts have a “tap to review” button which reveals the products and their prices. Interacting with a tag provides a detailed view of the product. By tapping on the tagged items, they bring users to the brands’ website. Adding stickers to Instagram stories makes it a social shopping experience.

On Instagram, users will not complete the purchase on the platform. Tapping on the imbedded link takes customers to the website. Whilst moving the purchase to the website, Instagram has found a clever way to connect discovery and purchase – by allowing users to know more about the product before deciding on a purchase. As we move into the future, it’s likely that we’ll see more and more consumers purchasing products through Instagram. The platform has been experimenting with offering a fully transactional ecommerce experience to brands and customers, so it’s only natural that this trend will continue to grow.

To set up a brand’s social shopping account on Instagram, complete these:

Creating an Instagram for a business account.
  • It should connect the account to a Facebook catalogue which is set up from a Facebook page or through Facebook Business Manager.
  • Allow Instagram to review your account before setting up Instagram shopping.
Instagram social commerce allows buyers to see the brand and the cost of the items from the platform itself.
Source: US Campaign
Pinterest–Best social commerce platform

Visual content is the lifeblood of Pinterest. It is the best place for items such as home décor, DIY, fashion, crafting and more. The platform allows users to buy the products that they are viewing in just a few quick steps.

Pinterest’s Rich Pins provide additional information to users. There are different rich pins, such as product pins, article pins, recipe pins and app pins. Rich pins feed extra information directly from the site that already has a pin. Users need to add metadata (description) on their website and validate the page in order to enable Pinterest’s Rich Pin.

For product pins, Pinterest allows users to add pricing and stock information. This makes it even easier to update information. A tap on a pin will lead users directly to the brand’s website.

Facebook – Convenient social commerce

Facebook is an expert in creating targeted marketing options. The platform features a combination of buy buttons on ads, which makes it a great place to improve social commerce strategies.

Although geared less towards brand, Facebook Marketplace allows users to buy and sell used items. With the help of Facebook groups, many local groups that are dedicated to exchange goods have flourished. Facebook Marketplace provides a powerful search filter which allows users to find items by price, category, location and relevancy.

How social commerce can benefit your company

The way brands use social media to connect with customers has changed significantly with the rise of social commerce. Rather than simply creating awareness and directing traffic to their website, social commerce allows brands to sell directly to customers within their social feeds. This shift has had a major impact on the way businesses operate and connect with their audience. It reduces the purchase journey to two simple steps and will increasingly allow users to view and buy the product on the platform.

Since most purchase journeys are suffering from decreasing performance across the purchase funnel (people may click but not be able to load the brand’s site, for example), which can lead to major losses. Social commerce enables brands to streamline their purchase journey and reduce sales funnel leaks by reducing the steps that a consumer has to go through.

Standing out among increasing competition is also a major problem for many brands. Ad costs are always increasing and the constant changes in search engine and social media algorithms can easily de-prioritise content. Major brands like Marvel have stood out by encouraging users to engage with their ads. There are many benefits to social commerce, including increased reach and engagement, as well as improved impression results on posts and ads. This makes it an amazing tool for increasing both sales and engagement.

Example of Effective social commerce – Adidas on Snapchat

Adidas was the first brand to launch a product via a Snapchat Show with integrated social media commerce support. As a result, Adidas sold out on its new style in just hours by letting viewers swipe up their phone screens to buy the pre-release of the sneaker. This shows the power of social commerce in generating exclusive offers which appeal to loyal customers of a brand.

Adidas Social Commerce Offer on Snapchat
Adidas Social Commerce Offer on Snapchat
Source: Adweek

Is your brand ready for social commerce?

Most consumers today are content to buy products through social media platforms. Brands should now look at creating a scalable strategy to jump into social commerce. Instead of settling for the occasional sale on social media, consider how to turn followers into consistent and loyal customers.

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About James

James is an award winning digital strategist with over 20 years experience helping challenger brands and market leaders (Unilever, Diageo, MasterCard, HSBC) launch and scale their data-driven sales and marketing. Connect on Linkedin

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