Most brands planning their eCommerce strategy will start by looking backward. They’ll take stock of last year’s or last quarter’s performance to decide on future adjustments. They’ll squint into the future, analyzing trends and finding new opportunities. The worldwide disruption caused by the pandemic has clouded our vision of the future. Lockdown measures, economic downturn, and changing consumer behaviors has led to a high level of uncertainty. But let’s remember that in times of great change, the ability to remain agile will help you seize opportunities you didn’t know were there.
One such opportunity is social commerce. The ability to leverage social media and its innovative commerce features is helping brands find new ways to drive sales and influence purchase decisions. In recent months we’ve seen brick-and-mortar stores pivot to become eCommerce brands, and now we’re seeing eCommerce brands pivoting again to incorporate social commerce in their marketing strategies. Embracing social commerce is a must for brands who need to stay ahead of new technological advances and new consumer preferences. Maximizing your online reach is a clear cut way to find new customers and ultimately generate conversions. Social commerce is an important marketing tactic for brands right now, it signals a new frontier in online selling and will change the game for traditional eCommerce merchants. Let’s explore the changes to online shopping experiences led by social commerce and how brands can make them work in their favor.
Social commerce is spearheading the move towards mobile-first shopping
Anyone with a smartphone likely has several social media apps installed, for easy access to selfie posting, Instagram scrolling, and now – mobile shopping. Social media use is at an all-time high. We also know that social media browsing mostly takes place on mobile devices. In fact, mobile accounts for 83% of social media usage in the US, compared to 15% of social media visits on a PC. The popularity of using social media apps comes down to being able to combine so many of our favorite pastimes: chatting with friends, being entertained, and now online shopping has been added to the list! The increased amount of time spent using social media apps is having a knock-on effect on social commerce sales via mobile. Specialized commerce features such as product catalogs and in-app checkout through Facebook Shops and Instagram Shops are facilitating conversions on mobile. The growth in mobile-first shopping has seen a steep rise in recent years, representing a 34% share of online sales and is predicted to reach 54% in 2021. If your online shop isn’t mobile-friendly now’s the time to act! You don’t want to miss out on valuable customers.
New opportunities to drive sales with influencer marketing
With the entire purchase journey now able to happen completely on social media, influencers have an important role to play in reaching new customers. Influencer collaborations based around product how-to videos, and sponsored content featuring your products will help raise awareness of your brand. If you’re going to approach influencers that don’t already know your brand, there’s a good chance their followers won’t have heard of you either. That’s why for these types of partnerships you should select influencers whose values already align with your brand. We advise concentrating on building brand awareness as a first step, instead of launching a campaign to generate sales straight away. That said, social commerce is opening up new avenues for brands interested in using influencers as part of their social media marketing to drive sales.
Social commerce is adding a whole new dimension to influencer marketing. Brands should plan to leverage influencers at each stage of the funnel for the best results. Thanks to social commerce, influencers can generate sales via social media in an easy to measure, attributable way. By using product stickers (Instagram), product pins (Pinterest), or personalized affiliate links, creators can directly influence social media purchases. This closes the loop of influencer marketing by taking it to the next level as ‘influencer commerce’. Social media influencers are used to following the trends and innovations of social media platforms to stay relevant and engage their audiences. As it becomes more commonplace to shop directly within social media channels, directly facilitating sales will become a natural extension of their role as creators.
Social commerce offers a bigger role for customers and brand ambassadors
Social media channels are primarily designed for content sharing, and this will support the growth of social commerce activity. Consumers have been using social media for years as a forum to post about their everyday lives and purchases. Whilst some people hijack social media to complain about terrible customer service, on the other side of the coin, some people regularly post to their followers about the new dress, kitchen, bicycle, or laptop they just bought. Social commerce is elevating C2C (consumer to consumer) marketing, making it an important channel for reaching your target audience on social media. It’s creating an opportunity for brands to leverage customers’ authentic product reviews and recommendations as a way to convince more online users to purchase from them.
Brands can formalize the role of consumers in social commerce by activating them as brand ambassadors. The first step is being able to identify which customers have the most valuable social reach on your chosen social media platform(s). Upfluence can help with this, thanks to our influencer matching tool that identifies influential individuals in your customer database. Once your cohort of ambassadors is identified, you need to incentivize them to post regularly about your brand, by offering free products, VIP discounts or sponsored content. The authenticity of the posts created by people who have genuinely experienced your products will help ambassadors connect with new potential customers. Activating your brand community as organic brand advocates will surely be a worthwhile investment as social commerce continues to grow.
High performance Live Social Shopping
Video content on social media platforms is paving the way for a new type of social commerce: live social shopping. This way of shopping allows consumers to watch a live-stream event on social media and make purchases in real-time. Think of it as teleshopping reinvented for Millennials! The huge audiences already present on social media platforms means live social shopping has the potential to shake up online shopping for good. Facebook has 2.8 billion monthly active users, whilst YouTube has 2 billion. This fact, coupled with the high engagement on video content makes live social shopping an appealing prospect for brands keen to get ahead of the trends in social commerce and online marketing. It’s highly popular in Asia and is making its way over to western markets too. Facebook has already developed Live Shopping, and it’s also available via Instagram Live Video. A perfect example of how social commerce is shaping the future of online shopping everywhere!