Most ecommerce brands have built some social media presence, but only a few encourage customers to shop directly from their social media accounts. Others are still stuck in the days of traditional ecommerce where all you had to do to make sales was create a website and drive traffic there.
Today, social shopping is a vital tool in the arsenal of top brands and anyone not taking advantage of the vast social commerce ecosystem is leaving money on the table.
The numbers say it all. According to The Influencer Marketing Factory, 82% of customers have discovered and bought a product directly on social media. Also, Statista reports that social ecommerce sales are set to hit a whopping $1.698 billion by 2024.
By all indications, shopping on social media isn't one of those trends that comes and goes in a few months or years. Social media apps are already shaping the modern online shopping experience—and they will continue to do so. Want to secure your piece of the social shopping pie? Start by exploring what it means and ways to apply it to your business for maximal results.
What is social shopping?
Social shopping involves directly engaging with social media users to drive sales. Through social media, ecommerce brands can showcase their products and services to potential customers in an interactive way.
Why is social shopping important?
Social shopping is a great way to boost engagement and build customer relationships. By actively engaging with social media users, brands foster a strong emotional connection that leads to increased sales and revenue.
The main advantages of social shopping are that it:
Boosts brand visibility
Social shopping helps to increase brand visibility by promoting products and services through social media platforms. As the content reaches more people, potential customers become aware of the brand and its offerings. In turn, this brand awareness increases the chances of conversion.
Improves site traffic
Social shopping also drives traffic to a merchant's ecommerce site or online store. When customers see products on social media and are actively engaged by brands, they are more likely to click through and make a purchase.
Top social shopping platforms to explore
Social shopping works by leveraging social networks like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or Snapchat. Brands create high-quality content showcasing their products or services, and then they attend to customers who send a direct message, drop a comment or make an order.
Each platform provides a unique set of social shopping features and targeting options for brands. Depending on the social channels your target customers are most active on, you can start with one or a combination of these top social commerce platforms—Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
Facebook is one of the most well-known social media sites with about 3 billion monthly active users, making it an excellent platform for social shopping. Asides from letting brands publish different multimedia content, the app also allows ecommerce brands to create Facebook shops and showcase their products to a wide range of audiences.
Brands also leverage Facebook ads to target specific customers who are most likely to be interested in their products or services.
For example, clothing brand Shein has an active Facebook shop where they sell clothes and accessories for men, women, and kids. Shein also uses social media influencers to model and promote their products.
Top social commerce tools on Facebook: Facebook shops, Facebook marketplace, Facebook group, Live shopping, Shoppable Facebook posts, Facebook ads, shopping tags
With over 2 billion monthly active users, Instagram is also an ideal social shopping option. Brands can create visually appealing content that highlights their products and services. Like Facebook, Instagram lets brands set up in-app shops and create ads that target potential online shoppers based on criteria like interests, location, demographic data, and more.
To drive sales on social media, makeup and skincare giant Mac Cosmetics leverages user-generated content and an Instagram shop (only accessible on Mobile devices.)
Top social commerce tools on Instagram: Instagram shop, Shoppable Instagram post, Shoppable Instagram story, Instagram reel shopping, Instagram live shopping
TikTok is the social media app of choice for Gen-Z. With over a billion monthly active users, TikTok is a goldmine for social commerce. The platform allows brands to create engaging, share-worthy content for their products or services in different formats like videos, audio clips, and live streaming. Companies also use TikTok ads to target potential customers who are most likely to be interested in their offerings.
Take Gymshark for example. The fitness wear brand promotes its products on TikTok via user-generated gym content, influencer marketing and an in-app shop.
Top social commerce tools on TikTok: Shopping tab integrations (like Shopify, PrestaShop, Square, Ecwid, and more), TikTok shopping API, Product links within organic videos, Live shopping, Branded hashtags
Snapchat is another social media platform that offers great selling potential for ecommerce brands. The app lets brands create interactive product ads through lenses, sponsored filters, story ads, and more. Key Snapchat metrics like story views and screenshots also provide relevant insight into target audience behavior and content performance.
One brand that's killing it with Snapchat ecommerce is Nike. In 2018, Nike made waves for collaborating with Snapchat on the app’s "most aggressive move into the in-app e-commerce game." Today, Nike still steadily posts on their Snapchat account and drives marketing campaigns on the app.
Top social commerce tools on Snapchat: Lenses, Sponsored filters, Ads (Story ads, Single Video or Image, Collection ads, Commercials, Dynamic ads)
YouTube is the social media giant for video content, and social shopping can be a great way to leverage it. The platform allows brands to create interactive product videos that feature their offerings and target potential customers through YouTube posts and ads.
Consider Patagonia, making waves in the outdoor gear company with their compelling sports documentaries on YouTube. The company doesn't always run ads on YouTube, but its account's videos position it as an ethical, inclusive, and environmentally-friendly brand worth patronizing.
Top social commerce tools on YouTube: Ads, YouTube shopping, Product links within video content, and description boxes
6 Tips for boosting sales using social shopping features
If you plan to add social shopping to your ecommerce strategy, here are some best practices to set you up for success:
1. Create great social media content
The first step to social shopping success is to create and share high-quality content that can attract potential customers. This content includes visuals, videos, and compelling copy that will attract viewers and keep them engaged.
The better your content is, the more followers and potential customers you attract.
2. Use social media platforms to provide customer service and answer questions
By engaging with customers and answering their questions on time, brands can build trust and establish themselves as reliable.
When a brand responds to comments and messages quickly, they show customers that their needs and concerns are taken seriously. This quality support experience helps build brand loyalty, trust, and engagement, contributing to increased social shopping sales.
3. Utilize influencers with engaged followers
Influencer marketing is an excellent way to promote products and services on social media because influencers can reach a large audience and help brands to drive more traffic and sales.
While social media celebrities have thousands of followers, those numbers don’t always translate into sales for brands that partner with them. This dilemma is typically because the influencer bought followers or needs to produce more valuable content. So if you plan to use influencers, do some background checks first—to confirm that they have an engaged fanbase before proceeding.
Also, read our guide to ecommerce influencer marketing for more tips and tricks!
4. Showcase customer stories
A great way to get social media users interested in your products is to share customer stories about how they have benefited from using them. These stories are great social proof; they help build trust and encourage social engagement.
The idea is simple—people will be more likely to buy something if they can relate to someone using it and having a positive experience.
5. Leverage user-generated content (UGC)
UGC is another form of social proof that shows customers what other people think of your product or service.
UGC gives customers an insight into how your product or service works using organic content from users like them. Repurposing UGC into new posts on your official account can boost social engagement and increase conversions.
6. Keep track of analytics
It's essential to keep track of social shopping metrics such as impressions, reach, clicks, likes and shares to see which strategies are working best for driving sales. Studying social media analytics will also help you make informed decisions about your social shopping campaigns.
Stand out from the crowd; combine social shopping with SMS marketing!
Social shopping works hand-in-hand with other marketing strategies like SMS marketing. By combining these digital marketing techniques, brands can instantly update their customers on the latest product or service developments and promos. These updates help to create a sense of loyalty, as customers know they can rely on the brand to keep them informed.
P.S.: Unlike social media marketing and email marketing, SMS marketing is not so mainstream, meaning there's a high chance your competitors aren't using it yet. Now is your time to shine! Check out our guide on the benefits of SMS marketing to learn more about how you can stand out using this underrated customer acquisition and retention hack.