So you’ve mastered the art of ecommerce and selling online. Your website’s checkout funnel is optimised to perfection, your ads convert at a good rate. All is well.
But now you’re hearing about another kid on the block. That’d be social commerce – and it’s here to shake up the way your audience buys online in a big way.
What is social commerce?
In a nutshell, social commerce is simply allowing your customers to buy your products without ever having to leave the social network they found you on. They can discover an item you sell, take a shine to it, buy it and carry on their way.
In the USA, the process is super slick, with everything handled natively on the platform. The UK’s version takes users via the website checkout, from the post. So it’s not quite as seamless yet – but it’s still a lot easier than trying to use savvy messaging to lure them to your profile links and have them navigate the purchase process there.
And with users worldwide spending over two hours a day on social media, the opportunity is bigger than ever to meet your customers where they already are.
It’s a different mindset altogether. 89% of Pinterest users are there for shopping inspiration. They’re ready to buy. 80% of people in a Facebook survey indicated that Instagram helps them decide whether to buy a product or service.
Social commerce isn’t necessarily new, but it’s starting to come into its own. If you’re a retailer with a social following, that’s a whole audience interested in your brand. Are you making the most of it?
What are the benefits of using social commerce?
There are three good reasons to start harnessing social commerce for your business.
Social commerce inherently offers a shorter journey to purchase. Consumers want convenience, and interrupting their leisurely browsing time to visit your website is just not easy enough these days. They don’t want to sign up to create an account, they just found your product, they like it, they want it. Now you can give them that option.
We’ve all stumbled into a store in-person and bought something we weren’t planning on. That opportunity exists in social commerce too. Don’t expect to sell a luxury £2,000 watch from one social post. But a small charm? Some earrings? Lower value, attractive items are easier to convert – and easier for shoppers to justify buying in their downtime!
This is really key. Shoppers are already in the habit of scrolling through feeds and Explore pages – this doesn’t come quite so naturally on search engine results pages.
You can of course advertise (we’ve shared our thoughts on trying Pinterest ads and optimising Facebook and Instagram ads. But even your organic content benefits from well-defined hashtags, as well as audience engagements that help amplify you in the algorithms. Even better, if buyers really love your product, they’ll evangelise about it for you with their own user-generated content.
Plus, unbranded searches are super popular. On Pinterest alone, 97% of searches are unbranded, levelling the playing field and giving you the chance to be discovered by new, keen customers. Social commerce makes it easy to capitalise on these opportunities and reduce the barriers to purchasing for your audience.
Built-in social proof
It goes without saying, but social networks are first and foremost… social! Users tag their friends on posts they like, send them directly to friends, save them for later… and so much more. Pinterest trailblazed on this years ago, but other platforms are just as hot on it now. Instagram now has a ‘wishlist’ feature, so users can save shoppable posts, making it easy to come back when they’re ready to buy.
If you’re selling online, you probably already have a great appreciation for the power of reviews – but it’s never easy to get them. Whether it’s emoji hearts or positive feedback in the comments of your social posts, it’s a lot easier for your prospective customers to see social proof that builds trust, in a less formal environment.
Fair warning, as with any reviews, it’s easy to get negative feedback too. It’s on you to provide your customers the best experience and great content that keeps them liking, sharing and engaging in a way that boosts your business.
Our top tips for social commerce success
Make your pictures pop
Your feed needs to look attractive. That means images should be rendered at the right size, with brightness, colours and contrast all considered. Low quality, blurry pictures are not going to stand out, or help sell your products.
Make the most of other features available to you
Polls, stories, competitions, Q&As, Live unboxings… there are tons of ways to use your social following as a focus group. Offer exclusive sneak peeks, answer questions they have, ask them to choose their favourite products – all of it can help you develop a better product offering targeted to what your customers really want.
If there are questions in the comments, be sure to answer them – it’s likely other customers are looking for the same information. Being helpful is another way you build credibility and help them make the decision to purchase.
Don’t be afraid to spark conversations. Ask questions in your post captions. Would they like to see other colours? Different sizes? An old well-loved collection brought back? There could be any number of ways your audience wants to spend money with you – they just haven’t told you yet.
It doesn’t have to be 4K quality, but it is essential that the lighting is good and the video gives an accurate representation of your product. In fashion, it could be as simple as giving an indication of how the fabric moves. If you have similar products, create a comparison video to help people decide between them.
Ultimately, video is all about informing your audience in an entertaining way.
Consider Live shopping
Be at the forefront of the next phase of social commerce: Live shopping. Taking cues from television giants such as QVC, social platforms afford you the opportunity to have a two-way conversation with your customers while selling directly to them through Lives.
Got a new brand, season, or partnership launching? A Live shopping event is the ideal way to do it with a bang. Team up with trusted partners and influencers, curate collections, offer advice and answer questions in real-time. Just make sure all your infrastructure – profile links, landing pages, stock levels – are all lined up and ready!
Need some help?
It can be a little overwhelming, especially if you have a big product catalogue and lots of platforms to choose from. In fact, we’ve done some of the hard work for you and had a chat with Pinterest, Shopify and some partners of ours all about social commerce already:
Get in touch with us today to start making the most of all social commerce has to offer.