Social media has been a key marketing tool for businesses since its creation and over the years it has played a crucial role in how consumers purchase goods and services. Almost a quarter (23%) of UK shoppers now use social media to discover and buy new products.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a key role in the change and acceleration of the behaviour and trends of shoppers over the past 18 months. The latest figures show that the global social commerce market was valued at $474.8 billion in 2020. With early figures suggesting that this behaviour is set to stay as we emerge from the pandemic.
In this article we will cover what social commerce is, what social media platforms it can be used on, why it's important to use social commerce and how Serenity Digital can assist you and your business with setting up social commerce platforms.
What is social commerce?
Social commerce is the use of social media to sell products and services directly to consumers; utilising interactive features provided by the individual social media platforms. Social commerce isn't the same as social media marketing where you discuss and promote products and services and direct them through to your website - you instead give consumers the option to make a transaction on that particular social media platform without needing to move to another platform or website.
Social commerce includes the entire buying process; from the promotion of the product or service in a creative and engaging post to the after-sales customer service. Selling this way allows for the process to be streamlined, taking a limited amount of clicks and time to complete a purchase or sign up for a service. Social shopping can take place on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest; with Twitter removing this functionality back in 2017 “as a result of the Twitter team pivoting away from their ecommerce focus.” According to Bazaarvoice Influenster study, Pinterest is up 356% on sales, Instagram has an increase of 189% and Facebook has a growth in sales of 160%.
What social media platforms can be used for social commerce?
With nearly 3 billion users, Facebook is most definitely an excellent opportunity in order to reach a large audience in a short space of time. The platform has the ability for businesses to create a full online shopping experience that showcases all products, allowing consumers to browse and then make a transaction. This shopping feature is completely customisable and enables businesses to import catalogues of products directly from their websites.
In 2021, Instagram reported to have 1.074 billion users worldwide with 70% of shopping enthusiasts going to the platform in order to discover new products. These statistics showcase how Instagram is a fantastic option when a business wishes to utilise social commerce in their marketing plan. Directly on the app, brands are able to tag their products in photos and videos; creating shopping experiences instantly. Consumers can then click on the product tags which will then showcase a rich description of the product, provide additional imagery and then allow them to make the transaction.
On Instagram, businesses can also create stories which allow their audience to make purchases - this can only be for one item and it is done through a swipe up which will take them to the product page and then to check-out. This feature is currently only available for companies with either 10,000 likes or a blue tick feature however there are conversations that this feature will soon be available
Pinterest’s global monthly active users have increased 37% year-over-year to 459 million users making it a very popular platform for social commerce. Dan Lurie, Pinterest’s Head of Shopping Product said “People are planning, they’re not looking for social interaction. They’re ready and willing to shop and discover new brands, and it’s that intent that makes Pinterest a different kind of platform.”
Even though Pinterest technically isn’t social commerce, their platform showcases products that are for sale, each image displays pins (tags) that state the prices and then provide additional information. However with Pinterest, consumers are redirected to the products individual website to complete the transaction rather than it being readily available on the platform.
Why is social commerce important for businesses?
Consumers are already using social media to discover and research products and services to purchase so it's an ideal addition to your platform in order to allow them to carry out these transactions. Smart Insights conducted a Global social media research summary which discovered that 43% of global social media users research products online using social networks. And for 13% of users, a “buy now” button would make them more likely to make a purchase. When your followers see your tagged product posts they are more likely to make in-app purchases because they’ve already built a relationship with you and also the ability to make the transaction instantly allows for the purchasing process to become much easier.
Social commerce allows for the browsing and purchasing of products and services to happen with a couple of small simple steps; reducing friction, therefore reducing the risk of customers abandoning shopping carts. It's important to remember that social commerce enhances your customers' experience, every additional click a consumer has to make is an opportunity for them to either change their mind or get side-tracked - resulting in a lost customer. Allowing your customers to go from your social media channel, to your website, to locating the product, adding it to their cart and filling in their details; that's a lot of unnecessary steps when the ability was there for them to make the purchase on your social media channel.
Adding social commerce to your social media platforms means that your followers are likely to spend more time engaging with your posts. They will be able to browse your products, read your product tags, descriptions and also engage with your wider posts. With the checkout option at their fingertips, this can boost your conversion rates and increase Return On Investment (ROI).
How Serenity Digital can help you and your business
In-house Bespoke Content Management System
Serenity Digital have developed our own Bespoke Content Management System called Serenity Source. This platform not only provides the power, flexibility and simplicity you need to manage your site, but also benefits from our ecommerce extension, Serenity Shop. In collaboration with our team of talented Designers, the Development team will realise your full ecommerce potential through the design of a user friendly, engaging and fast online shop.
Our Shop ecommerce extension benefits from a simple data export facility which allows your products to be easily integrated into the social & search commerce platforms of your choice. And the system also provides simple reporting on leads and sales direct from social media platforms (which don’t benefit from on page payment facilities) allowing you to track ROI of your wider social media activities (requires UTM tracking on all inbound URLs).
Our development team specialise in the configuration and management of Shopify (an off-the-shelf ecommerce platform) for a range of businesses. Shopify is a great platform to launch and link your ecommerce with your social accounts. Shopify has a range of consistent tools allowing users to organise products, customise the site look and feel, accept payment, track and respond to orders. Our team is on hand to help you increase sales and return on your investment.
Some ecommerce platforms, much like Shopify, have dedicated apps to connect to different social media platforms allowing basic management of your social commerce all in one place. We can also help with the setup and configuration of these apps so that you get the most out of your social commerce.
Setting up your ecommerce products
The first step to setting up social commerce is to get your products uploaded onto each particular social platform. This can be done manually but if you already have a website, it’s better to automate this so that your products on social media sync with the products on your website. We’ll help you generate a file containing all of your product data from your website. This file is linked to the social platform and automatically updates when changes are made to products, keeping everything synchronised. Even better, the format of the data file that Facebook uses is the same one used by Google, meaning we can set up free listings on Google Shopping at the same time with minimal additional work.
Management of social commerce accounts
At Serenity Digital, we can not only set up your social commerce accounts, we can assist with the creation of engaging and innovative posts that draw in the attention of your audiences and drive them to make purchases. Through a series of discussions, we’ll document your content, produce a brand library of supporting imagery, video and animations (where relevant) and we’ll take care of publishing your content at the best times for each platform and audience. Giving you more time to focus on running your business rather than promoting it.
To discuss your latest project, and how we can help develop a social commerce solution to grow your business, please get in touch. « All blogs