According to a study by influencer marketing agency Mediakix, the average person will spend more than five years of their life on social media. Moreover, the time users spend on social media apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest is still rising. This widespread adoption of social media as part of our daily routine is great news for marketers. With social commerce, there are several opportunities to streamline the user funnel, boost sales and improve the user experience. In this guide, we’ll outline what social commerce is and how it can help you achieve your most ambitious targets for 2020.
What is social commerce?
As the name suggests, social commerce is commerce that takes place on a social media platform. It’s important to make the distinction between social commerce and social media marketing. The latter will typically redirect the user to your online store or app, while the product must sell directly through social media to be defined as social commerce. The user can “add to cart” and checkout without ever leaving the social media platform – going one step further than simply displaying ads on the platform.
Why is social commerce important?
Social commerce presents retailers with significant opportunities to boost sales and streamline the path to purchase. In an article for Forbes, Jia Wertz, CEO of socially responsible fashion brand Studio 15, explained that “social commerce is inevitable, driven by the changing cultural and consumer preferences of younger generations.” Moreover, a study by digital services provider Avionos showed that 55% of online shoppers have made a purchase via social media. The adoption of social commerce is therefore a great way to keep customers satisfied and stay ahead of your competitors.
How does social commerce work?
When working with social commerce channels, you still manage and market your products as usual. However you have also taken steps to simplify your marketing funnel for customers reached through social media channels by connecting your inventory with the platform. The most popular social media platforms are constantly developing and improving their social commerce offering, so it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest features available.
Types of social commerce
The process of implementing social commerce for your company will be different for each social media platform. To get you up to speed, this guide will cover three leading social commerce platforms and their various features:
Facebook: Buy Now and Learn More buttons
Facebook reaches 60.6% of internet users and has over 2.2 billion MAUs. With features such as the Buy Button, Facebook presents significant opportunities for businesses to improve their marketing efforts on the world’s largest social media network.
When selling on Facebook, you can either use their own platform to create a store, or you can use a website builder to create your online store. If you opt for the latter, purchases are automatically deducted from your inventory. You also have the option to keep your checkout on Facebook, or to direct customers to a checkout on your own website. There are several website builders and ecommerce platforms to choose from – such as Squarespace, Wix and Shopify – so be sure to shop around for the best fit for your business.
Success stories include Clinique France, a global beauty company that increased its “add to cart” actions by 29% with Facebook and Instagram. To see more examples of successful Facebook campaigns and how they were achieved, click here.
Instagram: Shoppable posts
More than 200 million users visit at least one business profile on Instagram every day, with 60% claiming to have found new products via the platform. Instagram is also a leading social media platform when it comes to social commerce: a Shopify study showed that Instagram has a higher average order value than any other social commerce site. By integrating your ecommerce website with your instagram account, you can simplify your followers’ path to purchase and maximize sales.
Instagram shop is a feature that enables businesses to tag products in images that direct users to your site. In order to use this feature, you will need to have a Facebook store and an ecommerce website already in place, as well as an Instagram business account. To get started, link those accounts by going into your Inbox Tab on Facebook and clicking the Instagram logo. Alternatively, you can select Linked Accounts in your Instagram settings and fill the required fields.
You will now need to go into your Facebook page settings and select Edit Page, then scroll to the bottom of the list. Here you can Add a Tab and click Shop, which will now appear as a new option on your page. Once complete, you need to add inventory, which you can do by selecting Add Product. Note that you will need to wait for approval (which may take a few days) before you can start tagging products in posts. Once you can tag products, a shopping bag will appear over the tag.
Instagram: Shoppable Stories
Instagram also offers the option to make Stories shoppable by tagging products or using the “swipe up” experience. A Facebook survey showed that Instagram users frequently view stories to stay up-to-date with their favorite brands because they offer an insider view of products of interest and learn about new products. Approved businesses that have access to Instagram shopping can add one product sticker to a story. This means that if a user taps on the sticker, they will go directly to the product page for that item. That product page will display a link to your mobile site (to complete the purchase) as well as related product pages and similar items.
To set up shoppable Stories, create a new story with an image or video. You can then tap the sticker icon, which you’ll find in the top-left corner of the screen. Select the product option and add your item (note that you can only add one item per story) by typing the relevant item name. The tagged product will then appear with a shopping bag icon, which users can tap to see the full product details.
Pinterest: Rich Pins
With 291 million MAUs and 75% of saved Pins coming from businesses, Pinterest is another valuable social commerce channel. In fact, a survey by Cowen and Company revealed that 47% of social media users see Pinterest as the best platform for discovering products – three times more than Facebook or Instagram.
Businesses can sell products via Pinterest using Rich Pins. This is an organic Pin format that shows additional information directly on the Pin, with updated information from the websites they came from. There are three types of Rich Pins: articles, recipes and products. For ecommerce companies, product Rich Pins will show price, availability, and other essential information. This will be updated based on any changes on your website. To learn more about the process, see Pinterest’s official page for the feature.
Pinterest: Buyable Pins
In addition to Rich Pins, Pinterest also offers buyable pins. This allows users to make a purchase directly within the platform. FlyAway BlueJay, an artisan products store, used buyable pins to drive sales and boost brand exposure. The company found that 20% of overall sales were generated from Pinterest, and 28% of all traffic to their website came from Pinterest.
Social Commerce trends and best practices for 2020
With several options when choosing the best approach to social commerce, it’s important to develop your strategy over time. Here are three essential best practices for your social commerce playbook in 2020.
Empower your customers by sharing user-generated content
User-generated content is a smart way to engage loyal customers, build trust with your audience and attract new users. For example, if an enthusiastic customer tags your business account in an Instagram post, that should be shared on your story to drive engagement. Regardless of the size of a company, this has become a popular marketing tool across social media platforms, and it’s a move that can help your online presence.
Drive growth with Influencer Marketing
In addition to entirely organic user-generated content, many marketers are opting to work with social influencers to get their products seen. In 2020, this is nothing new, but it continues to be a trend that can deliver results: 17% of companies spend more than half of their marketing budget on influencers, and 89% say ROI from influencer marketing is either comparable to, or better than, other channels.
You should also consider the ways in which micro-influences can help market your business. When done right, this is a cost effective option that can still have a significant impact on your overall strategy. As IMG Artists Chairman Barrett Wissman explains, “Micro-influencers are people who have already built the audience a brand looking for, and they’ve already established trust with them.” You can also use influencer traffic to build lookalike audiences and improve your retargeting.
Think native for each social media platform
Understanding how each social media platform works for users – not just for businesses – is essential to social commerce success. This helps with aspects such as relatable creative and the uses of each feature. It’s also essential to stay up-to-date with the limitations of each feature. For example, you should be aware that tagging multiple products in an Instagram post has significant benefits. When a user clicks on any item, each item will appear and the user can browse those products due to the “Also Featured in This Post” heading – leading to more opportunities to convert.
This is a sentiment shared by Snapchat’s Lead DR Creative Strategist, Tom Bates. At last year’s Mobile Spree, he explained that “most of [Snapchat’s] content is user choice. To see success, you need to change your approach and be native to the platform. If you just took creative from a news feed or video ad and put it into Snap and didn’t respect the audience and their consumer behavior, your ad wouldn’t perform that well.”
Social commerce is still in its infancy, and social media platforms are continually developing new ways to simplify the path to purchase. Devoting time and energy to learning the ins and outs of social commerce now pay off in the long run, keeping you ahead of the curve and ensuring your customers have the best possible user experience.
If you’d like to learn more insights from Adjust, take a look at our guide to promoting mobile apps on social media. We also have resources detailing how to increase conversions for ecommerce apps, and 2020 marketing trends.