Is Social Media the Future of E-commerce?

Social media

Is Social Media the Future of E-commerce?

E-commerce is undoubtedly changing how consumers shop. It has imparted convenience and accessibility, becoming an unstoppable force for personalized buying experiences.

Nowadays, over a quarter of consumers use social media to shop. According to forecasts, we’ll likely witness social commerce sales hit a whopping $2.9 trillion by 2026. Thus, migrating your e-commerce business to a social media platform can do wonders for your bottom line.

Where are Digital Nomads Doing their Shopping?

Digital nomads shopping

While marketplaces like Amazon continue to dominate online shopping experiences, consumers won’t be surprised to find their favorite brands cross-selling products on Instagram and TikTok—undoubtedly the most popular social selling platforms today.

If you plan to follow suit, these two social selling powerhouses aren’t the only platforms to consider. Here are a few other social commerce platforms to consider for your business.

Facebook

Home to 2.9 billion active users, Facebook is among the best marketplaces for established and budding businesses.

Why we love it: You can sync existing Shopify stores with Facebook, easily upload your product catalog, and share information regarding availability, price, and more.

In addition, Facebook Pay makes it easier for consumers to make convenient purchases—no more switching apps. 

Pinterest

Pinterest has evolved from its mood board-setting functionalities to support in-app purchases. It rides on its original purpose to promote visual storytelling, allowing for enhanced curation and highly personal experiences. 

Why we love it: Users who pin products on their Shopping Lists are seven times more likely to purchase them. Pinning enables familiarity among veteran Pinterest users, increasing customer retention.

Businesses can also become Verified Merchants, encouraging trust among users.

Snapchat

Once known for its time-sensitive “photo texting” features, Snapchat is leaping onto the e-commerce bandwagon, taking advantage of its 347 million users with $4.4 trillion in spending power.

Why we love it: Businesses can create branded filters overlaying a user’s photos and videos. Using Snapchat’s filter creator is an excellent avenue for connecting with shoppers and reinforcing your brand.

Snapchat also employs augmented reality features you can use to convince users to buy your products. One brand that flew with Snapchat’s AR technology is American Eagle, which enabled users to fit their jeans virtually. 

YouTube

Home to 2.1 billion users, YouTube is one of the best places to partner with creators and influencers. Businesses can link their Shopify pages, with viewers seeing shoppable products beneath each video.

Why we love it: Shoppable live streams allow for more engaging selling tactics. Businesses can connect with followers globally, encouraging them to actively participate without leaving their homes.

Equipping your videos with YouTube Cards (pop-up panels) to link to your product pages can drive additional traffic and potential sales.

The Importance of Social Commerce for Businesses in 2023

The importance of social commerce

A Statista survey claims that social commerce will account for 5.2% of all e-commerce transactions by 2025, so its benefits are obvious. However, sales and profit aren’t the end-all, be-all of this emerging phenomenon. 

Below are a few other benefits that may influence your brand to use social commerce.

Hyper-Targeted Audiences

Selling products on social media creates an instant focus group, allowing customers to share what they like and don’t like. After all, social media users are notoriously un-shy—they won’t hesitate to give brands feedback.

Over time, you’ll accumulate a wealth of consumer data, which you can use to tweak advertisements and posts. 

Enhanced User Experiences

How user-friendly a website is can influence a visitor’s purchasing decisions. Unlike traditional websites, social media diversifies shopping experiences, removing the number of steps it takes to buy a product. 

Considering customers’ attention spans have fallen, few are likely willing to travel outside their favorite social media platforms to shop.

Valuable Social Proof

Online shoppers can’t test or try on physical products. So, the next best reassurance a business can provide is social proof. Where better place to provide that than social media? 

Managing end-to-end customer journeys on social media creates a positive feedback loop that pushes new buyers into your sales funnel. The happier customers are online, the more you’ll send positive signals to social media algorithms.

Social Commerce Trends to Watch

Social commerce trends to watch

As online shopping evolves, social commerce must keep up by anticipating upcoming trends. Here’s what your business can expect in 2024.

Live Stream Shopping

Generic videos are no longer doing the trick. Businesses rely on live stream videos to control the shopping experience, personalizing viewing sessions and conversing directly with potential customers. 

One brand taking the lead is H&M, whose millennial brand Monki began live-streaming fashion shows with interactive shopping functionalities. Chinese customers inspired H&M by introducing its team to Shopshops, which hosts 600 live streams monthly. On Shopshops, users spend an average of 30 minutes watching live streams and $100 on monthly purchases. 

If your business has a brand advocate, livestream shopping is an excellent avenue for showcasing them. MUJI is yet another example of livestream shopping—their in-house advisors provide more information about their products and help customers make more informed buying decisions.

VR and AR

It’s notoriously tricky to judge physical products online. Thus, thousands of retailers use AR to allow customers to digitally project or try on their products before making a purchase they may—or may not—regret.

IKEA’s The Place App is a popular AR/VR shopping application example. It allows users to “place” furniture in their homes, providing visuals of how these items will look after purchasing them. 

Shoppable Posts

Since launching shoppable posts in 2018, Instagram has become the ultimate social commerce giant. Groups like The Natori Company, an intimate wear brand, reaped significant benefits, seeing a 1,416% increase in traffic and a 100% boost in sales since incorporating shoppable posts.

Shoppable posts work because they reduce the steps necessary to achieve a conversion. Users no longer have to theoretically travel far and wide to learn more about a brand’s products—they’ll know all they need in a single post. 

In addition, Instagram’s shoppable posts make it easier to reach more people and gather more data. After all, your audience is already on that platform—they’re just waiting to connect with you.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing

61% of consumers trust recommendations from influencers, so it’s no wonder influencer marketing is no longer just a passing trend on social commerce platforms. 

While collaborating with mega-influencers may seem out of reach for smaller businesses, micro-influencers are all the rage and cost-effective. Thanks to a bustling creator economy, SMEs and influencers can achieve impressive results on a smaller budget. 

In addition, brands can work with multiple influencers, rapidly scaling up marketing efforts with higher returns.

Same-Day Delivery

Nowadays, reaching out to a brand through their Instagram DMs is a relatively standard method of shopping. It’s also how most customers transact same-day deliveries, which is becoming a norm for many brands. 

According to 49% of shoppers, same-day delivery offerings are more likely to encourage them to purchase a specific brand. Still, only 51% of brands currently offer it.

Amazon is unbeatable regarding same-day delivery, having recently promised to double its US-based SDD facilities in the “coming years.”

Personalized Selling

As we’ve mentioned, consumers are all about getting personal. Not only do they want to feel addressed, but they want to feel that sellers are deeply connected to what they’re selling. 

Kim Kardashian’s shapewear brand SKIMS is a sterling example of personality-driven selling. The heiress and socialite is clearly invested in her products, demonstrating undeniable presence throughout the entire development process—she uploads behind-the-scenes videos, discusses the technology behind her products, and shares user-generated content. 

Pashion Footwear is another brand taking the personality-driven route by storm. This interchangeable heel brand isn’t just innovative—its TikTok videos prove a deeply hands-on environment amongst its creators. 

Which Social Commerce Brands are Ahead of the Curve?

Which social commerce brands are ahead

Consumers spend 144 on social media daily, and these brands are taking advantage of it. 

Ocean Spray

Do you remember Nathan Apodaca? Perhaps you’re more familiar with his TikTok username: 420doggface208. In a short video, the skateboarder sipped on a 64-ounce bottle of Ocean Spray to the song “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. 

The video received over 13 million views, with sales for the song increasing by 374%. In addition, Ocean Spray experienced an incredible uptick in sales, achieving over 2 billion social media impressions. 

TikTok then contacted Ocean Spray for a brand partnership, with ads running during the MLB playoffs and other live sporting events. 

Elf Cosmetics

Elf Cosmetics currently holds the title of Most Influential Campaign on TikTok thanks to creative agency Movers + Shakers. It amassed over 7 billion views, 5 million user-generated videos, and over 20 million streams when the song premiered on Spotify and Apple Music.

It became the fastest-ever TikTok campaign to reach a billion views, attracting participants like Reese Witherspoon, Lizzo, and Ellen. It spread organically through other platforms like Instagram and Facebook, leading to a partnership with Republic Records.

Under Armour

Under Armour’s social ads are proof that marketing doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, it shouldn’t be! The popular sports brand prioritizes user-generated content as part of its advertising campaigns, considering a more subtle approach without the hard-sell aspect.

Havaianas

Regarding shoppable Instagram feeds, Havaianas is coming out on top. The beloved sandals and slippers brand curates lookbooks with user photographs, turning these posts into lucrative conversions. 

Considerations and Challenges of Social Commerce

Considerations and challenges

While social commerce has demonstrated undeniable promise for smaller businesses, there are challenges to consider. 

Privacy and Data Security

Perhaps the most pressing concern regarding social commerce is the massive data collected on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Naturally, brands need to know more about consumer behavior to relate to their target audience, leading to privacy concerns. 

In early 2023, the US pursued five new data privacy laws, hoping to counter cyberattacks and curb the 71% of consumers who won’t do business with companies they don’t trust.

Thus, brands must be transparent about their privacy policies.

First and Third-Party Data

Businesses with long-time social media presence know that third-party data once ruled the industry. At the time, quantity mattered more than quality. Plus, companies didn’t obtain this data firsthand. They relied on advertisers and aggregators, inadvertently “absolving” themselves from potential privacy concerns. 

Social media brands are now using first-party data to resolve privacy compliance issues. Some ways to collect first-party data include:

  • Lead generation forms
  • Customer surveys
  • Insight analytics features on social media platforms
  • Data-tracking tools

Choosing the Wrong Platform

Social media is accessible—but that doesn’t mean businesses can manage a presence on every single one. 

Consider your target audience. Are you catering to younger generations? If so, TikTok and Instagram may be your best bet. On the other hand, baby boomers and seniors tend to prefer Facebook. 

Social Commerce in the Time of AI

AI social commerce

Social commerce is already taking the world by storm, but artificial intelligence (AI) can take it further. AI’s potential contributions in e-commerce settings are so valued that experts project solutions to achieve a worth of $16.8 billion by 2030.

Not to mention, its influence is evident in more ways than one: 

AI Chatbots

Social media chatbots free up significant business resources, allowing companies to redirect priorities to sales-related tasks. 

Nike’s StyleBot is a prime example of chatbots implemented intelligently. It has increased Nike’s click-through rates (CTR) by 12.5 times and conversions by four times. This chatbot bases product recommendations on user preferences and past purchases. Its standout party trick is allowing users to create designs with the option to save and share them online. 

AI Advertising

As marketers continue to move away from one-size-fits-all traditional advertising, AI takes a hyper-specific approach to recommending content, ad formats, and targeting. 

AI Advertising

Microsoft CBO Philipp Schindler pinpoints AI’s strengths in its ability to use “smart bidding, which… predicts future ad conversions and their value, [which] will help businesses to stay responsive to rapid shifts in demand.”

Meta now relies on AI-generated ads, announcing its AI Sandbox tool for advertisers in May 2023. The tool focuses on text variation, allowing advertisers to test different copy with different audiences. It also boasts background generation features and image outcropping, adjusting creative assets to fit various aspect ratios.

AI-Generated Content

OpenAI’s ChatGPT has undergone enough iterations to become a staple in many marketing teams’ arsenal of tools. Copywriters are using ChatGPT to curate hyper-targeted messages based on past purchase history and present interactions. 

However, content creators are treading carefully, aware that many depict AI-generated copy as “disingenuous” or “inauthentic.” Those prioritizing a balance between AI generation and good old human touch are succeeding best—reassuring consumers of their commitment to quality.

Best Practices for Dominating Social Commerce in 2024

Best practices for social commerce

2023 has proven impressive social media stability for global businesses. However, keeping up with a seemingly never-ending roster of choices can take time and effort. Here are the top social commerce tips to practice in 2024. 

Leverage User-Generated Content

According to the Semrush Social Media 2024 Trends report, Gen Z users are no longer fans of the polished, perfect, and hyper-curated look. High-production content is a thing of the past. Thus, brands are hopping onto the UGC train to reinforce authenticity and trustworthiness. 

Consider highlighting everyday individuals on your active platforms and sharing real experiences with your products.

Delegate Tasks to Generative AI

Just as some social media tasks are better left to humans, there are others you can reasonably delegate to AI. Combining human creativity with AI productivity can enhance marketing efficiency and make your social commerce efforts shine. 

Leave the post-scheduling and metrics analysis to AI. Entrust it to analyze user behavior and preferences. Use it to generate better copy. Then, add a branded touch to your final product. 

Be Mindful of Video Length

Contrary to TikTok’s popularity, longer videos will make a comeback in 2024. In fact, TikTok itself is ahead of this trend, testing out 15-minute-long videos with specific users.

Since users are replacing Google and other search engines with social media as a source for answers and information, providing them with in-depth content is essential for business conversions.

Businesses can experiment with video lengths by posting Reels and TikToks that are incrementally longer and lean deeper into an evergreen video strategy. 

Focus on Shares—Not Like

Focus on shares not likes

We all know how easy it is to fake comments and likes—but not shares. Shares demonstrate true value and a genuine interest in your brand. When someone shares a Story, Post, or TikTok, they are entrusting your brand to their unique audience. 

Start investigating your most shared posts and pinpoint what made them successful. How can you achieve the same numbers? 

Stay Authentic

It should go without saying that authenticity is a critical factor when it comes to consumers’ purchasing decisions. TikTok just introduced “de-influencers” who talk viewers out of impulse shopping. Hence, promoting your products and services without the hard sell is what could make for a winning strategy. 

Get on Telegram

Facebook, Instagram, and the other likely suspects are not the only social media platforms that can thrust your business into success. Consider getting ahead on platforms like Telegram, where you can create group chats for up to 1,000 users—that’s a lot of potential. 

Telegram currently has 800 million monthly active users and garners roughly 2.5 million sign-ups daily. It hosts broadcast channels for speaking to larger audiences, payment bots for e-commerce users, sponsored messaging, and even Telegram Passport for identification verification. 

Simply put, Telegram’s potential is unmatched. 

Being Sales Leaders Through Social Commerce

From leveraging AR technology to cross-experimenting with various social media platforms, many techniques exist for staying proactive within an increasingly competitive social commerce landscape. By staying ahead of the curve and being open to experimentation, your business can nurture long-term relationships with loyal customers who will likely continue to spread the word.

If you’re looking for a helping hand, Igloo can take your social commerce efforts to the next level.

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