Social media platforms are no longer just virtual places where users can share videos they enjoy and keep up with their friends. Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or Pinterest just to name a few now offer shopping features that brands of all sizes can take advantage of. But what is social commerce, exactly? And how can you turn social media shopping into a revenue opportunity?
What Is Social Commerce?
What is social e-commerce? Also called social media shopping, social shopping, or social retail, it refers to a method of buying and selling goods or services within a social media platform such as Facebook or Instagram. Instead of using social media for the sole purpose of increasing your visibility, this model allows you to leverage these powerful apps to expand your purchase process beyond the confines of your own site.
When asked, “What is social commerce to your company?”, business owners don’t hesitate to say that it has become the backbone of their strategy. Some even build their whole activity around a social media presence and use it as a storefront that they can boost by growing engagement on their account or through paid social media advertising.
What Are the Main Benefits of Social Media Shopping?
You might be wondering, “What is social commerce’s most beneficial feature?” There are in fact several reasons why you might want to consider social retail.
A Huge Number of Potential Customers
What is social commerce if not an opportunity to get in front of social media users? When scrolling down their feeds, people don’t have the same behaviour as when searching the Internet for a specific item or service. The pandemic has emphasized this tendency even further as mobile users now move through social media as they would around a mall, eager to find new products they might love, and willing to share their discoveries with their own followers.
Because they don’t have to make the effort of leaving the app to explore your brand’s universe, they are more likely to take a few minutes to look through your content and products.
Some Unique Formats to Explore
While your own website grants you a lot of freedom as to the formats you use to achieve conversion, social shopping creates an opportunity for other approaches. Some – such as shoppable videos – even give you the possibility to leverage social medial content differently.
At this point, brands have little choice but to come up with fun, thought-provoking, and inspiring videos to post on their social media accounts. Without making this effort, you are unlikely to garner the visibility you need to run a successful online business. By making this content shoppable, you only really have to do the work once. Plus people get a chance to buy your product before their attention is monopolized by anything else.
Conversion Without Leaving the Platform
Thanks to social commerce features, users no longer even need to leave the app to make a purchase and have a great experience shopping with you. Their first purchase happens right where it is most convenient for them.
Most consumers admit that the time they spend on social media has been increasing as they find these platforms not only more entertaining, but also more interactive, and even more practical. Which implies that they are reluctant to leave these virtual spaces. What is social commerce? Mostly a solution to streamline your sales funnel and meet your customers where they are and, more importantly, where they already know and love your brand and the content you offer.
Nowhere is the consumers’ engagement with your brand as strong as it is on social media, which is exactly where you can bridge the gap between physical and online shopping. While the restrictions inherent to e-commerce don’t necessarily allow buyers to try on or test your products, social media is the perfect place for them to see them “in the wild”. In other words, you can use social media to establish social proof.
If you manage every aspect of your customer journey there, from discovery to customer support, and purchase, you will be posting content, interacting with users through comments and direct messages, and selling your items using the apps’ shopping functionalities. You can even encourage users to post about products they bought from you and feature their participation among your own publications. This level of engagement strongly benefits your accounts as far as the algorithms are concerned, which means that your content will be shown to an even greater number of potential customers.
Useful Data About your Customers
Built right into your social media business accounts are social commerce features that provide insight into your customers’ behaviour on the app. What is social commerce if not an opportunity for you to grow beyond the confines of your own site? Combining and/or comparing this data with the metrics that you typically use to assess your performance will help you understand what works and what doesn’t.
How to Get Started with Social Commerce?
What is social commerce? Well, as we have just touched upon, it can be many things. Some make it their whole business model, while others use it to offer their customers additional services, and others still think of it as a promising strategy that is in its infancy, with much, much more to come. Social shopping truly is all that at once and more. More than just a trend, it seems poised to become the standard that brands will be held to.
Which doesn’t mean that you have to drop everything and move your entire business to Instagram or Snapchat! The best place to start is to consider social retail as an extension of what you already do as well as another social media functionality to experiment with.
You don’t have to feature all your products on your social media shops, but you could perhaps add an item every time you choose to highlight it on your feed. This will allow you to scale up at a more comfortable pace without creating frustration among users who will be able to purchase the new products they discover as they scroll right from the app.