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“Selling Social”: The Growth of Social Commerce

What is Social Commerce?

According to Statista, the number of social media users is expected to rise to 3.09 billion by 2021 meaning that social media is expected to be used by over 1/3 of the global population. This high reach has provided new opportunities for businesses to interact with potential customers and market their products/services across a range of different channels such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn. In the past much of this marketing has focused on content creation and ads to get a user to complete a specific CTA. For example, Converse shows off a new pair of shoes on their Instagram page with the link in the bio to the product page. However, today customers want their purchase journey to be more streamlined which has led to developments in the area of social media e-commerce or “social commerce”.

 

Current Social Commerce Landscape

Social commerce has been a growing concept over the last few years, with eMarketer noting that social referral to retail ecommerce sites has grown 110% in two years, outpacing all other referral channels. Many social media channels are looking to capitalise on this growth but streamlining the purchase path through further development of the social media platforms. Videos, influencer content and shoppable posts and stories are just some of the new tools utilised by businesses to advertise their products to consumers. Instagram shoppable posts and stories are a perfect example of this; they allow customers to click on links within photos which then directs them to an Instagram product page. This new update is a seamless integration as users no longer need to leave the social platform to view the product.

While these improvements are impressive, there is still a long way to go for social commerce. The main issue being the final purchase stage, with users needing to leave the social platform to complete their purchase anyway. This leads to a disjointed and sometimes frustrating experience. One way to eliminate this is to include a checkout option within the social platform, which only last year Instagram introduced, with their release of “Checkout”. Currently, only available America, Checkout launched with over 20 brands including Nike, Prada & Zara. While the new process of course allows for easier checkout for consumers as eConsultancy highlighted, there are still some teething issues with the new Checkout including:

  • Undisclosed fees for businesses that use Instagram’s Checkout system
  • Brand’s can’t yet build up their customer database through this system as they are only supplied with enough information to complete an order.
  • Instagram is in control of the customer experience which can lead to issues for brands trying to differentiate themselves.
  • Instagram has hinted at that brands using Checkout could be treated more favourably in Instagram feeds.

Last year, Facebook also published a patent for a new chat bot that will allow users to make purchases of products through their messenger app. However, with both of these very much in the testing and development phases, little can be done to prepare for these tools just yet. However there is still a range of best practices which businesses should look to implement to maximise their social commerce ROI.

 

Social Commerce Tips

1. Utilise Visual Mediums (Videos, Live Streams)

Videos have become an increasingly popular medium for customers to consume information with a projection of the average person spending 100 minutes per day watching online videos by 2021. The versatility of the medium has also aided in its growth, with its ability to deliver a message in a more entertaining and timely fashion compared to just images and text. This isn’t to say to completely ditch images and text but use each one sparingly to avoid being too repetitive.

Live streams have also become increasingly popular for many businesses to showcase their products with Facebook even jumping on the bandwagon as they have been testing a live video mode for sellers where viewers can screenshot products during the stream and sellers can then take payments later through their inbox.

 

2. Build Engagement

Engaged consumers provide likes, comments and shares, but they are also more likely to convert. Making them more likely to consistently purchase or even become a promoter for your business. Make sure to post consistently with relevant and unique content and reply and talk with prospective customers.

 

3. Diversify and Explore Different Mediums

Most businesses tend to stick to Instagram and Facebook as their main social media mediums. However, there are still a host of other options available such as Twitter and Pinterest. Even young generations (millennials and gen z specifically) are further diversifying into different mediums such as Tik Tok and Snapchat. While this information isn’t relevant to all businesses (depending on your target market), the importance of diversifying into different channels rather than sticking to Instagram and Facebook shouldn’t be ignored, if you want to maximise your business reach.

 

4. Don’t Negate Messenger Apps

Messenger services are the perfect opportunity to openly communicate with a business’s target audience. While larger businesses have already invested in chatbots, small to medium businesses can still utilise messenger apps to provide strong customer service and help develop leads into sales. Some businesses have even found effective ways to utilise messenger apps as a marketing tool such as one fitness brand which managed to achieve 254 orders and $23,987.64 in revenue from Messenger.

Social Media can be the perfect opportunity to grow your ecommerce capabilities. Contact Redline today to discuss how we can help grow your social commerce.

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