The evolution of social commerce
Social media marketing is essential to modern-day business. As social media continues to grow, online retailers simply cannot afford not to capitalize on the massive reach potential of these platforms. Social commerce is on the rise and involves the integration of social media with traditional eCommerce selling.
Today, it’s expected for businesses to have Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages. However, not every business makes use of social commerce, the selling of products via social media platforms.
You’re in luck because we’ll break down the development of social commerce, including its pros and cons, as well as tricks and tips!
Businesses have been selling directly through social media networks for ages, beginning with Facebook’s release of the Marketplace feature. Rolled out in 2007, Marketplace allows users to create listings for just about any product, track connections and communicate with buyers and sellers.
Facebook later added a ‘Buy’ button to listings to facilitate sales without leaving the platform. In 2016, Facebook Marketplace was released as a competitor to Amazon and Google Shopping. Brands can sell products to targeted audiences, using Marketplace’s personalized customer experience which pushes relevant products to targeted shoppers. Facebook’s listings are entirely free and built into the Facebook app and website.
Thanks to a tech boost from Facebook, Instagram launched ads in 2015 with ‘Shop Now’ buttons that link to product pages. Their new API also allows marketing partners automate the advertising process, as well as manage, track and measure existing campaigns.
In 2016, the mobile app added product tags that allow eCommerce brands to enhance product discovery. Later, in 2018, Instagram went live with shoppable posts that link directly to checkout. Brands can tag products in native ads, posts and stories which open to detailed product pages.
In March 2019, Instagram launched a shopping checkout for a fee. This means that shoppers can buy items without leaving the app, while also saving their payment details.
In 2015, Pinterest offered select brands the option to add buy buttons to their pins, a feature they extended to more retailers later on in 2016.
A shopping cart was then added, allowing users to add multiple products from different brands. Pinterest also lets you checkout on the platform itself, even from mobile devices. However, this feature is not available in all countries yet.
The Pros & Cons of Social eCommerce
Pros of Social Commerce:
- Low cost. Signing up for and selling on Facebook and Pinterest is entirely free, and Instagram charges a small selling fee.
- Seamless shopping experience. With checkout available through the platforms themselves, shoppers have an easier and faster way to purchase products. This reduces purchase barriers and lessens the likelihood of shopping cart abandonment.
- Shareable content. Social media content is made to be shared and it’s easy to do so on a variety of different platforms. Sharing can be done while maintaining the product images and format of the original post.
- Customer engagement. You will have a larger opportunity to interact and engage with customers through social commerce. This is invaluable because it can allow you to improve your offering and find out what your customers really want.
- Co-marketing. There are many opportunities to use social media platforms to develop co-marketing partnerships with other brands or businesses that appeal to the audiences of both partners.
Cons of Social Commerce:
- Reduced traffic to websites. With checkout taking place within the app, merchants aren’t driving as much traffic to their sites where shoppers could have potentially discovered more products of interest.
- Customer dissatisfaction becomes public. These days, shoppers are quick to voice any problems, concerns or queries on the social media profiles of brands. Social media becomes the first port of call for grievances instead of sending a direct email to the business.
- Social media algorithms are always changing. This may mean that your social selling strategy will need to be revised and cannot be used without another plan in place.
Tips & Tricks for using Social Commerce
- Promoted posts on Instagram will cost you money, and adding shoppable products to your organic posts means they’ll only be seen by your existing followers. Creating giveaways from your page is an easy way to reach new potential customers and gain followers.
- For simple co-marketing, brands can offer their followers the chance to win a free product under certain terms, such as following other pages, liking and sharing the post and/or tagging a number of people in the comments.
- Running competitions on Instagram leads to better engagement and exposes more Instagram users to your brand, who in turn will share your post to even more potential buyers. The more followers you gain, the more credible your page looks to new eyes.
- Don’t import your entire product catalogue to a social media platform. The more choice users have, the more difficult it is for them to make a purchase decision. Shoppers are more likely to ‘Buy Now’ if you limit your product range on social media platforms.
What’s next for S-commerce?
The global social commerce market size is poised to grow by USD 2.05 trillion during 2020-2024, progressing at a growth rate of almost 31% throughout the forecast period, according to the latest report by Technavio
It’s safe to say that we can expect further growth and development within this sector of eCommerce.
If previous years are anything to look at, shoppers are looking for more convenience and faster response times than ever – so it makes sense that social commerce is still on the rise.
What do you think about eCommerce and how it can benefit your sales? Will you start using social commerce for your Black Friday tactics?