Social commerce refers to the process of selling items directly on social media platforms with consumers often discovering, researching, and buying products without ever leaving a social network.
Even though it had a slower start, social commerce is building into a serious force worldwide, with China and to a lesser extent the U.S., taking the lead. Mobile shopping and smartphone penetration are on the rise, which means that brands with strong social media followings are well-positioned to reap the rewards of in-platform purchasing. Best of all, functionalities such as product tagging and in-app checkout still belong to the early adopters; by getting a headstart now, your brand can gain valuable traction before social commerce becomes too saturated.
Because the future looks bright. Thanks to the many channels that have made social commerce possible, it’s predicted that in the next three years, more than 114 million consumers will spend an average of nearly $1,000 a year on social purchases.
According to product information value chain specialist Productsup, there are two things to love about social commerce:
So, what do you need to think about when taking the plunge into social commerce?
1. Know your audience
Your audience should always be your starting point when designing your social commerce strategy. Examine which social sites your typical customer uses, and then concentrate your efforts and resources building a presence there.
Are your consumers predominantly older? Then maybe Facebook will be a better bet than TikTok. It will be the other way around if you target an irreverent, predominantly Generation Z audience.
You should know all the tools that the social media channel provides for your audience. For example, in 2022 Pinterest launched Try On for Home Decor, an AR-powered feature that enables Pinners to virtually place furniture pieces in their own homes. Continuing with the Pinterest example, product tagging on Pins, or the Pinterest API for Shopping could be of interest too.
Also, consider customer intent. An Instagram user may stumble across an ad while looking at a friend’s vacation pictures, not intending to buy anything at all. A Pinterest user, however, is more likely to make a purchase when visiting the platform specifically for discovery.
2. Ensure consistency across channels
If you’re using multiple platforms for social commerce, and maybe also your own webstore, it’s vital that your brand identity is cohesive and familiar between channels. Today’s consumers expect to navigate between channels with ease. 69% of U.S. consumers say they’re more likely to shop with a brand that offers consistent experiences online, which only emphasizes the importance of a seamless, unified social commerce strategy.
Ensure that your channels carry the latest product information, and try to send tailored information to each social media channel as much as possible. A good PIM solution will help you keep consistent information for all your products in all your channels, while allowing easy product data update no matter how many sales channels you will choose to employ, and no matter how diverse requirements they have.
3. Focus on acquiring social proof
One of the biggest reasons why selling and social media are so compatible is because social proof is the mechanism that powers these platforms. Social media is a place that empowers consumers to share their opinions and ideas on trends, social issues, and most importantly, brands. Behaviors such as liking, sharing, and commenting on content are a form of validation that signals to other users that they should be paying attention. Brands can leverage this activity in their favor by posting content that encourages people to share their thoughts about different products.
You should also focus on building a brand community. It may take a lot of time and patience, as well as having a strong understanding of who your audience is and how your brand can provide value. But the reward will be huge. In a social commerce context, emotionally invested brand communities are immensely valuable because your in-platform store is right at the center of this hub; it’s easy for followers to go straight from browsing your feed to shopping for a product they admire – all in one seamless journey.
4. Adapt content and leverage visuals
Visual information is at the heart of any social network. On the other hand social media platforms vary in many ways, one of them being the content they support. Instagram ads will let you showcase carousels of multiple items with creative and colorful backgrounds, which can tell a story about your brand and products. On TikTok, it’s all video. You’ll need to work with creators to ensure their videos highlight a product’s key selling points without sacrificing their unique voice.
Get creative! Social platforms and users alike love high-quality images and videos that inspire. Grab users’ attention and stand out from the crowd by ensuring that your images and videos are platform-ready in order to boost conversions. Dynamic content in your images and videos allows for an even higher level of customization and will allow you to better reach your target audience.
Can PIM help in providing each platform with the media that they need? Of course, PIM and DAM functionality can make this task much easier for you.
5. Choose the right products and optimize listings
Sometimes less is more. Be strategic about which products you place on each platform by performing ROI analysis to identify your top performers. Users can become overwhelmed with too much choice, so make sure that you are selecting the products that will help you drive the most conversions.
Each social commerce platform has unique product data requirements. To achieve success across platforms, you must provide the right product information to the right channel. Your product information needs to be up-todate, accurate, and contextualized for each channel.
A robust PIM solution
like Pimics, together with commerce platforms such as Productsup or Channable can help you advertise and sell across social commerce channels with minimal fuss.
6. Use all the social tools at your disposal
Influencer marketing may further advance your sales no matter which platform(s) you choose for social commerce. Research has shown that businesses can make more than $5 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing. Some platforms, like Snapchat and Instagram, allow certain users to have a shopping feature on their profiles thereby bridging the gap between product discovery and checkout. Combining influencer marketing with social commerce offers a more organic and creative brand exposure to users.
Customer service tools are also a handy means of providing information or answering customer concerns. As with your regular webshop, on a social platform customers will want to contact you quickly and easily if they need more information. If this turns out to be too difficult, they’re going to abandon the idea of purchasing altogether, because when it comes to online shopping, customers have a low tolerance for friction.
Therefore you will need to make the information search seamless. While having representatives standing by to answer customer questions day and night is not practical, there are solutions at your disposal that you can invest in for reaching this goal. For example, adopting a Facebook Messenger Chatbot allows you to answer basic inquiries, highlight product promotions, and even send personalized discounts to followers. Tools like this are a fantastic addition to your customer care strategy as they help push the customer further down the sales funnel toward making the purchase.
Note: This article contains excerpts taken from productsup.com and whiplash.com.