Social commerce is poised for a rapid growth. Continue reading to find out how it is reshaping the business landscape.
Social commerce is more than simply selling on social media platforms. In recent years, it has undergone a substantial transformation. It emerged as a powerful tool for brands seeking to increase sales and customer engagement. Social media platforms have significantly enhanced the buying experience, changing the way people do online shopping.
If you are looking for new ways to elevate your brand’s visibility and increase sales online, this article is for you. We will delve into the evolution of social commerce, explaining how it can be adapted to your brand to maximize its potential.
What is social commerce?
Social commerce can be described as the act of using social media platforms for online sales. This form of online shopping offers the possibility of users to explore and purchase directly within social media apps. As a result, the shopping experience is easier and more pleasant for customers. Among the social apps with this feature are Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest.
It is important to highlight that social commerce is different from social selling and e-commerce. Social selling involves using social media platforms to engage with potential leads, and develop strong connections to make a sale later. On the other hand, e-commerce refers to the buying and selling on a website or app. Companies customize and optimize these platforms to reach a particular audience and drive conversions. It is crucial that, if you choose to work with this internally or by choosing a partner, they know the difference between all these concepts.
Thanks to the use of specific features within the social media platforms, it is possible to promote engagement and generate future sales. If you’re curious about how this is achieved, we’ll delve into it in the following sections.
The advantages of this powerful technique
Have you already considered why social commerce is becoming so important? Part of the answer is on the advantages it offers:
- More interaction and engagement: social commerce offers the possibility of having personalized buying experiences. This, in turn, cultivates greater customer loyalty.
- Access to reviews and influencer collaborations: they foster confidence on the brand, leveraging the power of word-of-mouth marketing.
- Wider audience reach: this contributes to the possibility of more sales. The data gathered about the audience facilitates highly targeted campaigns tailored to your ideal customer base.
- Smooth and effortless shopping experience: by eliminating unnecessary steps, social commerce ensures a smooth shopping journey, reducing cart abandonment rates.
- Running campaigns is easier and more cost-effective: social media platforms provide data for segmenting campaigns according to audiences and goals. Thus, less money is needed when compared with traditional advertising.
- The influence of Live streams: they have emerged as a powerful tool to communicate with potential customers. People truly appreciate the connection that is created during a live stream and the ability to showcase products is also a plus.
By understanding these advantages, you can enjoy the full potential of social commerce in your business strategy.
When planning your strategy, it is also important to remember the disadvantages and challenges associated with social commerce:
- Organization: handling information and orders that come from various sources, such as website and social media platforms like Facebook, can be a challenge.
- Platform control: social media platforms are beyond our full control. It means that if they change policies or update them, this can result in data loss and necessitate strategy adjustments. Moreover, social media do not provide the benefits of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), impacting the organic search traffic.
- Privacy and data security: they must be prioritized as there are growing concerns on how data is collected and used.
- Fierce competition: the algorithm prepares to give clients personalized ads based on their interests. As a result, it might expose them to other competitors, causing the loss of potential sales.
- Managing criticism and meeting expectations: prepare to receive some criticism and learn how to deal with consumer expectations.
The key is to strike a balance so as to deal with the disadvantages in the best possible way. As stated by Shopify, social media platforms are the second most widely used method by global consumers for seeking out products to buy. In other words, social media are becoming a place where people find what they need while having a pleasant and personalized experience. Therefore, it’s worth exploring and integrating social commerce into your strategy.
Social commerce: how to succeed
The success of social media selling in Asian countries, particularly in China, has inspired a closer examination so as to understand how it can be adapted to other contexts. According to Datareportal, 61.4 % of the total global population are social media users. This means that brands and businesses that use social media platforms are aiming to gain online visibility.
For those seeking success in this field, here are some tips:
- Make it a piece of cake: the main idea behind social commerce is to make the buying journey more pleasant and easier for customers. Begin by creating a positive and memorable impression on the client. Then, use the social media tools to guide them to your website or catalogue for a convenient purchasing experience.
- Take the most out of it: social media platforms offer a myriad of information about potential customers. Thanks to segmentation, for example, it is possible to direct your campaigns to certain niches and be more effective. Similarly, maximize the use of customer data and build a strong marketing strategy around it.
- Go off the beaten path: the fact that more and more people are using social media every day is an advantage. However, catching peoples’ attention and standing out from competitors is not easy. To stand out, you must be creative to captivate your client visually. Videos, in particular, are gaining popularity and can be an engaging medium for conveying product information.
- Stay at it: to succeed, it is vital to continuously test and optimize. If a specific campaign or product doesn’t work, it is important to experiment new approaches, from adjusting copy and images to new calls to action, and rigorously analyze their performance.
Taking the first steps into social commerce might look scary, but it’s crucial to remember that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process.
Social commerce and influence marketing
When talking about social commerce is inevitable not to mention influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is defined by Mckinsey as “a collaboration between popular social-media users and brands to promote brands’ products or services”. Social media platforms like TikTok use influencers to endorse campaigns of products and services. By doing so, they are shaping consumers’ lifestyles as influencers are regarded as influential figures to follow. While you may have limited access to the most prominent influencers, participating in smaller-scale influencer marketing can still yield excellent results. The key is to concentrate your strategy in what best suits your brand’s objectives and audience.
The future of social commerce
The world is changing fast, and in digital realm, change happens even more rapidly. What’s true today may become obsolete tomorrow, making it essential to keep up with the pace of evolution.
When it comes to social commerce, the future seems to be in using Augmented Reality (AR). Retailers can use AR filters to showcase products, enabling people to try them on virtually. L’Oréal for example, partnered with Instagram to provide makeup try-ons while shopping.
As previously mentioned, video is and will remain one of the most important tools for social commerce. If we think about the most successful platforms, we see that video is dominant (examples of Instagram Reels and TikTok).
Users also have an important role to play. User-generated content (UGC) such as photos and reviews might be very valuable for brands. UGC can be used to build marketing campaigns and foster greater engagement. Because of its authenticity and reflection of real experiences, other users see them as reliable. Thus, they end up by influencing purchasing decisions and favour the creation of communities that share the same interests.
Being present online also increases the need for better customer support as purchases occur 24/7. Using AI-trained chatbots is vital to ensure customer support, simultaneously enhancing the customer-brand connection.
The fusion of online shopping with social media has given rise to super apps. They integrate features of both social platforms and ecommerce, offering the possibility to view products and purchase directly on the app. One of the biggest advantages of the super apps is the fact that they gather information about the user and recommend products based on them.
The secret is to keep an open eye to understand the trends and be prepared to jump in when needed, or work closely with an agency that is not only a service provider, but a true business partner that can give you insights on how things are changing and help you follow the trends.
It’s time to change gears
Social commerce takes the process of shopping online to another level. The idea is to facilitate the life of customers and to make the buying journey more pleasant. If you have lingering doubts about its potential, the numbers provide a compelling answer: the social commerce market is anticipated to surpass $2 trillion in growth by the year 2025.
As technology, including Artificial Intelligence and machine learning evolve, the capabilities of social commerce platforms will also improve. This prospect should encourage investing more time and resources on social commerce. Building a successful business is possible thanks to the combination of e-commerce, social commerce and marketing. But always remember: the key to prosperity lies in reaching the right customer.