It was eminent for the influence of social media and the demand for eCommerce to intertwine and shape social commerce. While China is far ahead of the rest of the world in adopting social media for eCommerce, the U.S. market is directly following through. In the U.S. alone, Statista estimated social commerce sales at nearly $52 billion in 2022 and forecasted it to cross $145 billion by 2028.
To put things in perspective with just how much social commerce is skyrocketing: its global revenue is valued at $724 billion in 2022 and is anticipated to hit $6 trillion by 2030 (Statista). Still, many brands are skeptical if it’s worth breaking into the social commerce scene that’s already crammed with competition.
This blog covers social commerce, its benefits, platforms and examples. So first, what is social commerce?
What Is Social Commerce?
Social commerce is the promotion and sale of a brand’s goods and services through social commerce platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Through this selling method, customers accomplish purchases without leaving social media platforms.
In addition to completing purchases, brands can wield social media for eCommerce to aid consumers to:
• Uncover brands
• Explore products
• Interact with customer support
Social commerce trends’ rising popularity owes to the convenient and interactive shopping experience it entails and the burgeoning usage of social media.
The Difference Between Social Commerce and eCommerce
Related as they are, social commerce and eCommerce are distinct from one another. eCommerce is a selling and shopping experience that transpires anywhere online, like a retailer’s website, instead of just social media. Typically, such websites are built through eCommerce platforms like Shopify and can be accessed by consumers on any internet-capable device.
Social commerce is not eCommerce but a facet of it, and its entire purchase process – from product research to checkout – materializes strictly within social commerce platforms. Such platforms offer native commerce social media tools for small businesses that you can set up even without having your own eCommerce website. However, eCommerce merchants who want to stay ahead of the game would not approach social commerce and eCommerce websites as an “either-or.” Thus, along with your business social media platforms, you want to keep your website in check.
“Websites will continue to be the central avenue for eCommerce purchases,” said Rachel Czeszewski, Thrive’s senior social media manager. “But granting social media users converting alternatives can only assist in driving sales.”
Additionally, while social commerce is often used interchangeably with social eCommerce, the latter is incorrect. Another term that is frequently mixed with social commerce is social selling. Social selling is the process of establishing awareness and connections with the intent of making a sale and can occur online or offline.
Key Benefits of Social Commerce
For substantial benefits, many brands are already well invested in social media marketing for eCommerce today. But still, it’s not too late for you to claim a piece of the pie; since this year alone, Statista predicted sales through social media platforms to generate $992 billion globally. Furthermore, social commerce trends in value indicate it would only go upward from here.
“A variety of benefits arise from utilizing social commerce,” Czeszewski said. “Such as more clarity in conversion tracking (no need to worry about third-party pixel data or other platforms to track transactions) and better audience targeting capabilities to keep users on-platform.”
So with a solid social commerce strategy, below are more top benefits of social commerce:
1. Place Your Brand in Front of Curious Consumers
As mentioned earlier, the increasing use of social media propels the demand for social commerce. Per Statista, as of April 2022, over five billion people use the internet globally, making up 63.1 percent of the world’s population. From this figure, 4.7 million people, or 59 percent of the global population, were social media users.
The numbers spell more potential customers you can tap with social media marketing for eCommerce. Similarly, if your target audience lies within Generation Z and millennials, you have more chances of connecting with them if you learn how to sell on social media.
2. Furnish a Frictionless Shopping Experience for Your Customers
Consumers are more likely to lose interest and abandon what could have been a successful purchase if extra steps are involved. But fortunately, with social commerce, you eliminate unnecessary stages that cause friction in the process. As such, you allow users to stay conveniently within the app with native features like Buy buttons, in-app checkouts and instant messaging for accessible customer support.
For instance, instead of redirecting hot leads to your website, Facebook has social media tools for small businesses, particularly U.S. eCommerce merchants, that allow you to set up a shop with a checkout feature.
3. Bank on Social Proof With Customer Feedback
It’s been said time and again that consumers seek out ratings and reviews before purchasing, especially in social commerce, where online shoppers lack the luxury to test or try products. A solid social proof on social media for eCommerce, reviews are user-generated content (UGC) that many brands covet to establish brand trust. Social commerce platforms provide your customers with a streamlined process of leaving feedback, whether it be through the comments or review section of your page.
eCommerce merchants can try incentivizing users to share content with giveaways or discounts. And it’s no secret that influencers triumph on social media, so look into influencer marketing to further generate social proof.
4. Gain Valuable Consumer Data Effortlessly
If you’ve ever explored the Ads manager of any business social media platform, you would know that demographic data that include gender, age and geographical location are readily available for you. Hence, social commerce platforms are a gold mine for customer data; such data is crucial to informing your paid social media marketing for eCommerce.
Facebook Audience Insights, for instance, provide marketers with even more in-depth insights. On top of basic demographics, you can access education levels, job titles and relationship statuses. Furthermore, eCommerce merchants can also target users based on their interests and hobbies.
Top Social Commerce Platforms You Should Explore
Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are major players well ahead of introducing native social commerce features. But other platforms aren’t too far behind, with Youtube, TikTok and Twitter pressing to stake their claims. Let’s look into some of them.
Per Statista, Facebook reigns as the most used platform for purchases in 2021. The platform has an extremely low barrier to entry. What’s more, Facebook Shops are highly customizable. You’re free to select which products or collections to highlight and alter the typefaces, graphics and colors to reflect your brand. Creating a product catalog could be done via import or from scratch.
Instagram claims 60 percent of people discover new products on the platform. Instagram Shops enable users to purchase items featured on your content, whether photos or videos, anywhere in the app. Your shop on the platform is directly linked to your Facebook Shop. However, if you intend to sell strictly on Instagram Shops, you are not required to create or supply a Facebook business page when setting up shop.
While a relatively new player in social commerce, TikTok’s one billion monthly active users lays out plenty of opportunities for brands. The popular #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag is backed by the platform’s survey with Kantar that revealed 90 percent of users take action after watching a TikTok, be it like, share or buy. Unfortunately, as of December 2022, TikTok Shop is still limited to select U.S. merchants.
With such lucrative platforms equipping you with social commerce tools, the world is your oyster. So to teach you how to sell on social media, let’s look at a few social commerce examples.
Social Commerce Examples To Inspire Your Brand
Exploring social commerce examples from brands that have a firm footing in the industry is the best approach to inform your social commerce strategy.
1. Milk Bar
Founded by celebrity chef Christina Tosi, Milk Bar began as a humble bakery in New York City’s East Village in 2008. Since then, Milk Bar has become a significant partaker in national eCommerce, selling ice cream, cakes, cookies and pies. Its founder relied heavily on Instagram in its beginnings and, later, its social commerce features, which have been crucial to Milk Bar’s continuing success.
Image: Shopify (Milk Bar’s Instagram Shop)
Committed to exceptional customer support, Snug is a “sofa-in-a-box” company in London offering quick delivery and a 100-day trial. In 2021, the brand’s £31.6 million (about $41.4 million) revenue came from social media. Snug’s investment in social media for eCommerce includes product-focused pins showcasing its products in real-life settings.
Image: Shopify (Snug’s Pinterest presence)
ZOX is a wristband brand. The inspirational words on ZOX wristbands, made of recycled bottles, function as wearable reminders of encouragement for those wearing them. ZOX has a Facebook Shop, where it puts considerable effort into live shopping events and showcases more than a hundred products.
Image: Shopify (Zox’s Facebook Shop)
These brands above could have focused all their efforts on their respective websites and brick-and-mortar shops. But given the rising social commerce trends demonstrating a massive reach and lucrative potential, it only makes sense to invest and dive deeper into social commerce.
Thrive: Your Next Best Social Commerce Strategy Team To Deliver a 5-Star Shopping Experience
Social media has revolutionized how brands and consumers relate. Thus, social media marketing for eCommerce merchants is no longer discretionary but crucial to success. With that said, the explosive future of social commerce is yours to seize, and Thrive is here to support you.
“Thrive’s paid social media advertising service is a perfect start to explore and profit from social commerce,” Czeszewski said. “With a few clicks, we can get your Facebook and Instagram shops up and running.”
Thrive is a team of digital marketing experts specializing in social commerce. We help brands deliver a 5-star shopping experience customers will return to over and over again. To get started, call 866-908-4748 to claim your free proposal.