Seamless Social Commerce Sells

Social Commerce, a dynamic approach to buying and selling goods and services directly on social media platforms, has taken the digital marketing industry by storm. Although it's been around for some time, Social Commerce has only gained mainstream recognition in recent years. This shift can be attributed largely to the growing purchasing power of younger generations - particularly Gen Z - who are leading the social commerce movement by leveraging their newfound, disposable incomes.

One of the earliest pioneers of Social Commerce was Facebook, who introduced the "Buy Button" in 2012, allowing businesses to sell products directly on their Facebook pages. In 2014, the platform went a step further with the launch of a dedicated "Shop" section for business pages. Since then, other major social media platforms from Snapchat to  Instagram and TikTok, spurred by the profitability of Facebook’s attempts, have since followed suit as well.

Social Commerce in its current state is characterized by its ability to maximize the convertibility of a brand’s social content marketing efforts by minimizing the distance between content and checkout. Food courts are an essential part of any mall’s business plans due to their ability to increase the amount of time customers spend shopping by decreasing the amount of reasons they have to leave. Similarly, integrating e-commerce tools within social platforms drastically reduces the likelihood of potential customers getting lost, distracted, or losing motivation prior to completing their purchase. Furthermore, brands are also able to piggy-back on the reputation of the social platforms they are selling on to bolster their appearances and trustworthiness. While a potential customer may be reluctant to trust a previously unknown brand website with their credit and shipping info, they are more likely to trust a familiar, big name like Facebook or Instagram. 

While the benefits of integrating Social Commerce into your marketing and sales funnel(s) are obvious, there are some things to keep in mind when strategizing. Most important is the fact that by integrating e-commerce into social media, you may find that your customer’s purchasing behaviors become more affected by their ‘social media mindset’. 

For example,‘Customer A’ is active on social media, and tends to demonstrate social consciousness on their profiles by sharing their involvement in trends and participating in public discussions on topics du jour. Even if Customer A would not have considered social factors such as sustainability or business practices when making purchasing decisions over traditional e-commerce online or on Amazon, they are more likely to consider social factors when making purchases over Social Commerce. Why does this shift in thinking and behavior occur? User behavior is influenced by their environments, both physical and digital. The environment of social media, given its strong association with one’s identity, tends to increase the likelihood of a user making identity-minded decisions. Because Social Commerce occurs within the confines of a social platform, customers purchasing decisions may be more impacted by social and identity-related factors than if shopping externally. In a sense, customers are more likely to be affected by a ‘native’ mindset, that is to say, a mindset that favors elements that appear native to their online identities and environments. Therefore, brands’ marketing efforts may be improved by doubling down on social and identity-minded marketing strategies. When working on Social Commerce, content that is tailored to their target audiences and keeps an eye on current events and sentiments will yield even greater rewards than elsewhere. 

Social Commerce offers a number of other benefits to brands as well. One opportunity on the horizon is live commerce, where brands can take advantage of live streams to sell products and services directly, in real-time, with fully native content. Another exciting draw of Social Commerce is analytics simplicity. Whereas tracking a conversion on your website generated from a social media engagement would have otherwise required the installation, setup, and tracking of a tracking pixel, Social Commerce conversions can be tracked by the platform, all in-house. These advantages benefit big brands, but are particularly advantageous for smaller brands with limited operations or who are just starting out.

Still in its nascent stages, the future of Social Commerce appears extremely promising. In 2020 alone, social commerce sales already reached an estimated $27 billion, and projections suggest they will surge to nearly $80 billion by 2025. Several brands have already begun conducting  and winning with thoughtfully designed Social Commerce strategies. Converse, for example, has executed an extremely successful Social Commerce strategy by leveraging creator partnerships, user-generated content (UGC), and professional imagery to engage customers and drive conversions by leaning all the way into Social Commerce’s ‘native’ mindset. There are of course failed cases as well. Failure to adapt to the daily/weekly rapid changes that occur in social discourse can result in ineffective social commerce strategies, or even backlash in extreme cases. Another notable criticism of many failed Social Commerce campaigns is a failure to properly promote and leverage user-generated content (UGC), resulting in suppressed engagement and conversion rates.

There are a number of strategies other than content optimization you can implement to make your transition to Social Commerce easier. Selecting a social commerce platform that is both user friendly and aligns with your brand’s identity can help you find receptive customers. Optimizing your checkout process to be simple, mobile-friendly, and work with flexible payment options will further amplify Social Commerce’s in-built convenience advantages. Finally, offering reliable customer support can dramatically improve customer retention and, with Social Commerce, rapidly turn new customers into brand evangelists.  

As you navigate the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing, remember that social commerce is not just a trend; it's a revolution in how businesses connect with their audience and convert engagement into sales. Consider how you can fully embrace social content and the ‘native’ mindset to boost your Social Commerce performance instead of relying solely on traditionally successful strategies.