The average person will spend five years of their life on social media – the equivalent of 1,825 days or 43,800 hours.The average person will spend five years of their life on #SocialMedia - the equivalent of 1,825 days or 43,800 hours. #ecommerce #EcommerceStats Click To Tweet
And that’s just based on current collective usage. Research shows that the number of hours per day we spend on social media is actually increasing. It probably won’t be long before five years turns into six. And who knows how big the number will get?
Depending on your perspective, this news might be good or bad. You might think social media is a wonderful, democratizing force in a world traditionally dominated by “big media”. Alternatively, you might see it as an attention-sapping scourge that’s stealing our lives.
But whatever your personal opinion, one thing is certain. As an online retailer, social commerce represents a huge opportunity. While the phenomenon is still in its infancy, more and more people are making purchases without ever leaving their favorite social platforms. And on the platforms where purely native experiences aren’t yet possible, many customers are keeping cross-site travel to a minimum.
Social media platforms are introducing buying features at a pace that’s sometimes difficult to keep track of. And those new to the game, like Instagram, are prepped to become some of the busiest marketplaces online.
In this guide, we’ll explain exactly what social commerce is, how it works, which platforms are most important, and how to take advantage of this fantastic new opportunity.
And if you’re thinking, “Oh no! Another online store for me to manage!” then fear not. The truth is that selling products through social media sites and apps – whether Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook – is a fast and straightforward process.
1. Just What Is Social Commerce?
2. What is a Social Commerce Platform?
3. How to Sell on Facebook
4. How to Sell on Facebook
5. How to Sell on Instagram
6. Why Does Social Commerce Work?
7. How to Use Social Media Platforms for Commerce
The term “social commerce” refers to the activity of buying and selling on social media sites and apps. Simple enough, right?The term #SocialCommerce refers to the activity of buying and selling on social media sites and apps. #ecommerce #tips Click To Tweet
The way social commerce is implemented on specific platforms can vary, and we’ll look at some of the differences in a moment. But the key point is that purchases can be conducted partly or wholly within the social app or website.
It’s also important to note that It’s not the social media companies doing the selling. It’s online retailers like yourself. Customers are able to purchase products from retailers without having to interact directly with them (or while keeping the interaction to a minimum).
Prominent examples include Pinterest “Shop the Look” pins, Facebook “Shop Now” stores and an Instagram “digital price labels”. Instagram also recently gave users the option to checkout directly on Instagram (without the need to leave the app). And while this Instagram feature is currently limited to a small number of brands, it likely that there will be a bigger rollout in the future.
It’s important to remember that social commerce is still in its infancy. Companies like Facebook are still experimenting with the best methods to enable buying and selling through their platforms. They are testing, implementing, and discontinuing lots of new features. Because of this, it remains to be seen exactly what the finished social commerce experience will look like for users.
Nonetheless, there is a very big opportunity for online retailers. And joining the party sooner rather than later will give you a competitive advantage over the long-term.
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A social commerce platform is simply a social media platform on which retailers (or any business users) can sell products.
As far as online retailers are concerned, the “big three” to be aware of are Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. Twitter has since canceled features that allowed users to shop through the app and site directly but will likely introduce new ones in the future.
Because of the early-stage nature of social commerce, significant amounts of research about buying activity are not available. However, early data is positive. 60% of users say they discover products on Instagram, for example. And one-third of shoppers say they would be happy to make a purchase directly on a social media platform.
Other apps like Whatsapp can be used to make purchases, but these are generally geared more towards services – like ordering a takeaway – than products.
Buying activity on Facebook centers on Facebook Stores. These are native stores that can be accessed through business and fan pages.
To get started, you first need to set up your store. If you use a well-known ecommerce platform like Shopify or BigCommerce, this process can be streamlined significantly, as a number of automated integrations for uploading your products are available.
Once you’ve uploaded products to your store, you can also tag products in posts and videos, enabling users to click through to your store to make a purchase. It’s also possible to advertise products from your store on chat.
In the vast majority of cases, stores are meant to showcase a selection of products rather than your entire catalog. Organizational features like collections make navigating Facebook stores easier for customers, but they are not designed to handle extensive catalogs. The likelihood is that, as a retailer, you will create a mix of posts that advertise both products on your main site and those in your Facebook store.
“Product Pins” and “Shopping Ads” (formerly “Buyable Pins”) are the main Pinterest shopping features. “Shop the Look” pins, which can be used to showcase multiple products on a single image, are a variant of Product Pins.
You’ll need to create a business account and link it with your product catalog. You can then display images of products along with the price and stock level. A CTA will appear below the image that allows interested users to click through to your site.
Pinterest’s audience is made up of demographics that are highly profitable to ecommerce retailers, especially in the fashion space. So it’s a platform that is well worth exploring if you haven’t already. Pinterest says that 80% of users have made a purchase based on content they’ve seen on the platform.Pinterest says that 80% of users have made a purchase based on content they've seen on the platform. #SocialCommerce #ecommerce #socialmedia Click To Tweet
Instagram gives retailers the option to include links to products on their posts and stories.
The features aren’t available everywhere, but if you’re in an English-speaking country, then you’re more than likely good to go. There is a review stage and you will have to meet some criteria, but, in essence, the process involves linking your business profile to your catalog, after which you will have the option to create shopping posts and stories.
When clicked, “tags” (which include price and discount information) will take users to another mobile page with a CTA that links to your ecommerce site.
The Instagram checkout feature is also worth mentioning here. While it’s currently being tested with only a handful of brands, it’s likely to have a fuller rollout in the near future. So keep your ears open.
One final point. Instagram as a platform is experiencing significant growth and activity when it comes to social commerce. The most recent data shows that 130 million users click on shopping tags every month. This is an increase of 40 million compared to figures from September.
Social commerce works for many reasons. Fundamentally, it leverages the fact that shopping is a social activity. Traditional, friction-creating barriers to purchase, like lengthy checkout processes, are also removed.
Here are some of the key reasons that social commerce is proving so successful:
When you couple all of these practical benefits with the fact that social media is one of the top sources of product reviews and the most-favored resource for product research on the web, the power of social commerce becomes abundantly apparent.
You’re likely already convinced of the benefits of social commerce. But how can you design your own campaigns for maximum effect?
Here are a few practical tips to keep in mind:
There’s no doubt about it. It’s still early days for social commerce.
But it’s growing. Fast. And can boost your ecommerce conversion rate.
And the retailers set to benefit most are the ones willing to get ahead of the curve now.
The key word is testing. If you’re not already experimenting with the latest commerce features, then there’s no time to waste.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter provide you with unparalleled access to huge markets. Practically all retailers should be able to come up with a cost-effective and manageable social commerce strategy.
Now, time to get to work on that Facebook store.
If you’re interested in omni-channel ecommerce optimization, why not get in touch with Growcode? We’ve worked with hundreds of retailers to launch and optimize their social commerce strategies, completely removing the need for in-house developers and designers in the process.
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