Look back 30 years and the options for selling were limited for businesses - we could sell in a physical store, over the phone, or using a catalog. Today, the options are so vast that it overwhelms many businesses and marketers. We’re often left wondering whether the business would find more success if it sold through a different channel. As well as all the traditional options, we can now also sell through social media, websites, third-party marketplaces, and more.
Today, we’re focusing on social commerce since platforms like Instagram and Facebook are continually improving their offering for businesses. If you think social media is all about advertising and communicating with customers, you’re wrong.
The world of e-commerce can be broken down into lots of different fields, and social commerce is one of these fields. Rather than selling through a website, social commerce describes the process of selling to customers through a social media platform. With shoppable posts and similar features, customers can purchase products and services from brands without leaving the app. That’s right - they don’t even need to click through to the company website anymore, which is why it’s growing as a valuable marketing technique.
If you’re currently deciding whether or not social commerce is for you, it’s important to remember how popular social media is. For example, Facebook currently has 2.8 billion active monthly users. This also means that it has deep target markets. You’ll find people of all demographics, locations, ages, professions, and more.
Around four in every ten people have admitted to buying a product through social media and six in ten have discovered new products using Instagram. In 2019, Pinterest doubled its revenue from shoppable ads compared to the year before. With this in mind, all the evidence suggests a positive experience not only for businesses but for customers too.
In 2021, the worlds of ecommerce and social media will continue to collide. Brands are creating storefronts for social media, creating shoppable posts and ad campaigns, and seeking valuable audiences on Facebook, Instagram, and others. These platforms have hyper-targeting opportunities which is a reason in itself to invest in this area this year.
If you’re just discovering this marketing tool for the first time, you need to know the biggest platforms for this trend and the features they offer.
Since we’ve mentioned these two names heavily in the early stages of this guide, it makes sense to continue with Facebook and Instagram. Just recently, Facebook launched the Shops feature which is an ecommerce system for all businesses. You can create a storefront for your business, and it operates across both Instagram and Facebook. Essentially, this is the one-stop-shop (excuse the pun!) as it brings together all the smaller features businesses have enjoyed. This includes Instagram Shopping, Live Video Shopping, Facebook Marketplace, and Native Checkout.
What does all of this mean? Ultimately, customers can search for products and buy from the storefront without leaving the social media app. Although it’s free to create a shop, Facebook is expected to charge a percentage to use the new native checkout system.
We don’t want to over-explain, but the big benefit of these features is that it provides customers with the tools they need to look at your products and proceed with a purchase without ever leaving the social media app. This makes the checkout process less of a chore and they’re more likely to see the purchase through rather than losing steam and clicking away.
Similarly, Pinterest has introduced Buyable Pins, which offers many of the same features for customers and businesses. Once set up, your customers can buy products through a streamlined process and with very little effort. Customers will see the blue price tag on a post and know that it’s a Buyable Pin.
One of the benefits of this system is that Pinterest keeps purchase information. If the customer returns, Pinterest already has their information, and they don’t need to enter it all over again. Instead of clicking away from social media and loading your website in a browser, it all happens on the Pinterest app.
Although Pinterest has innovated internally over the years, it has worked with third-party companies for this larger change to the platform - this includes Basketful and MikMak.
While some social media platforms have nearly two decades of experience, TikTok hasn’t yet reached its fifth birthday. Despite this, it seems to be keeping up with the competition when it comes to social commerce. Not so long ago, TikTok announced a partnership with Shopify. Not only can Shopify users now easily reach TikTok audiences, but users should also find it easier to access Shopify stores.
Though there’s no in-app shopping experience with TikTok, the app is still accommodating businesses in several ways. With the new Shopify link, businesses can target audiences based on behavior, gender, age, and even video category. From here, the Shopify dashboard displays statistics and performance updates from the TikTok campaign.
Finally, we shouldn’t forget Snapchat because this platform now also has an in-app native checkout system. If customers see something they like, they can open a product page and potentially even purchase the product without ever leaving Snapchat. Creators link products and services to snaps while also then encouraging consumers through the checkout process.
Snapchat has decided to team up with Shopify for those that want to create a storefront (it’s a great day for Shopify users!). Go to your Snapchat profile and you’ll see the Shop button - this is also available to all customers.
To finish, here are some of the top tips that could push you towards success when implementing these features!
Do you remember when Amazon added the ‘Buy Now’ button? It was a game-changer and something that has contributed billions in revenue over the years for the global marketplace. Why? It removes lots of steps from the buying process and streamlines the whole process. Now, you can do the same with the Facebook Buy button.
After clicking, the customer is already a significant way through the purchase process and they’re more likely to see it through. The days of encouraging people to click one thing, and then another, and then another, are over - add a Buy button and push people through the process quicker than ever before.
We’ve talked about Shoppable Posts, but did you know that Instagram allows users to create Shoppable Stories too? One of the biggest benefits of posting stories on social media is that people are normally engaged watching them. Now, imagine advertising your products or services using a story. Whether you offer a ‘Swipe Up’ experience or tag your products, customers have easy access to your brand.
Facebook Messenger was once just a part of the Facebook service. Now, it stands alone as a marketing tool. If you want to boost engagement and encourage sales, take advantage of tools like ManyChat. Rather than having conversations manually, artificial intelligence and machine learning take over and look after your customers.
Suddenly, the company is handling more customers and your social commerce strategy is accommodating more sales.
We recommend automation right across the social commerce strategy. The more you can rely on automation, the more time the customer service team has to focus on bigger problems. With automated checkout tools like Jumper.ai, you can have all social media channels running under one platform and manage simple tasks.
When done incorrectly, businesses find themselves still having to invest lots of time with social commerce when this shouldn’t be the case. Automation allows you to take a step back and focus on the big-picture ideas while technology handles the simple stuff.
We’ve mentioned a few apps that integrate into this process, but there are too many effective apps to mention them all in this guide. Therefore, we’ll summarize by telling you to explore your many options. Especially with Instagram and Facebook, you’ll find plenty of third-party apps and plugins that streamline the process, gather data, generate insights, and more.
With one plugin, the customer just needs to type a specific word into the comments of a post and the tool sends them an invoice via email to complete the order (how easy is this!).