Facebook pages promoting fancy handmade products, Instagram ads that introduce you to authentic organic farms or even the most high-end brands offering discounts via their official handles; all of them share one thing in common: the smartest use of social media. Platforms that were originally created for better networking are now doubling up as modern marketing tools and complete market-places in more ways than one. All thanks to the rise of social commerce- a happy marriage between e-commerce and social media.
The sheer amount of time spent by people on social networks has encouraged the trend of monetizing these platforms. On one hand, they serve as launch-pads for start-ups and on the other, an expanding strategy for e-commerce sites. And it is only gaining ground now. In the coming years, social commerce is expected to soar even further as the industry adapts to new trends and technology.
Social Commerce V/S Social Media Marketing
To put it in simple words, social commerce refers to the direct buying and selling of products/services through social channels. While social media marketing mostly redirects you to another website or online store, social commerce converts the very social media network into a store. It makes it easier for users to complete their purchase journey while they are on their social networks.
- Social media ads, a part of social media marketing, depend on redirects and long loading times. Social commerce helps avoid this confusion and reduces the chances of abandonment.
- Social commerce also capitalizes the point where a user’s excitement and purchase intent are the highest.
- With chat-bot checkouts and autofill options within social media, social commerce speeds up the transaction process, further contributing to the increase in sales.
The importance of social commerce and what makes it so effective
All major social networking giants have been testing and refining the social commerce concept for quite some time now. Besides, the evaluation of emerging social media channels is an important marketing tactic for online brands. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
- Instagram and Snapchat are both bringing up their built-in e-commerce projects. Instagram started off with a Shop Now button and moved on to product tags and shoppable posts that allow you to checkout within the app.
- Facebook has launched its own marketplace. While it initially allowed users to buy and sell within their networks, the FB Marketplace is now a rising competitor to Amazon, Etsy and Google Shopping.
- Twitter introduced a Buy Now button in 2014. However, a lack of popularity faded it out.
- Initially, Pinterest offered buyable pins for their partner brands. Since 2016, the platform also has a shopping cart that makes it possible for shoppers to get multiple products from varied suppliers.
But why, all of a sudden, this rise in sales on social media? And why all the emphasis on keeping up with this trend?
1. Utilizing the technically “wasted” time
On an average, 2.5 billion people around the world, spend more than 2 hours of their everyday time surfing through Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and other popular networking platforms. Most of the time, these hours are unproductive and mindless. Hence, it only make sense to try and turn those wasted hours into sales and marketing opportunities.
2. Connecting with the key consumer
Young people are the driving force that forms cultural trends, digital trends and consequently, drives demand in consumer markets. And it is the younger user base that spends the maximum amount of time on social media. They have grown up in an era dominated by the internet and are extremely impatient when it comes to processes and loading times. So, providing quick online solutions to cater to their shopping tendencies is bound to give positive results.
3. The data speaks for itself
According to recent reports:
- 60% of Instagram users claim to enjoy discovering new products on the platform.
- 51% of millennials are likely to make a purchase using social media.
- 23% of online shoppers are influenced by social media recommendations.
4. Validation, convenience, access and experience
Social commerce gives consumers everything that they expect and look for. First, by making the shopping experience faster than regular e-commerce, things are super convenient for the users. Second, consumers need to know that whatever they buy is in-demand. Social commerce ensures this validation as well by providing access to the trendiest, most recommended objects online. Third, social commerce adds a retail spin to all the enjoyable aspects of social media thereby making things extremely fun for the users. Finally, social commerce also ensures access to a whole feed that can help gauge the ethos of a brand and to engage with it directly.
A look at the benefits of social commerce for a business
Social commerce and its impact on a business has changed drastically over the past few years. It is no longer just about creating an official page and focusing on engaging tweets. It is more about giving the users a reason to keep visiting and shopping. Here’s a list of advantages that you can enjoy when you embrace social commerce.
1. Consistent audience growth
Thousands of new users join social media sites every day and millions are already active on them. Social commerce allows you to tap into this huge opportunity as you can reach out to more and more of your target audience at a faster pace. A strong social presence also improves your chances of being recommended to new users and online shoppers at a global level.
2. Authentic engagement
Social networks ease out two-way communication between brands and customers. When users keep seeing your posts and ads on their feed, they are more likely to react, comment and reach out to you via those posts. There is a more personal connection here and eventually, you can make your customers feel like they are a part of your family.
3. Higher search engine ranking
Apart from direct transactions, higher order value and an organic user base, social commerce can also positively influence your search engine rankings. Growing engagement on social media, sharing of links to your website content and authentic user recommendations significantly contribute to your rankings.
4. Easier analysis of your social marketing strategies
Social commerce can be used as a metric to gauge how well your e-commerce tactics are performing. You can measure the return on investment for your partners and backers, accurately predict growth and future demand, improve your brand engagement process and formulate future campaigns based on your analyses. First coined in the year 2005 by Yahoo, the term “social commerce” has eventually developed into a very well defined set of characteristics. If done right, it can prove to be an extremely fruitful tactic for any business. There can be no better platform than social media to connect and interact with customers and target audiences. Also, social commerce offers a chance to bring products to the notice of target consumers, sell and gain significant insights from user generated content.