Social Commerce: How to Drive Online Sales with Social Shopping
Social commerce is an essential part of a unified online shopping experience. See how to engage customers, boost online sales, and improve service with social.
The Evolution of Social Commerce
It used to be that all brands had to do to gain attention on social media was to share a blog post on Facebook or post a photo on Instagram. But with the decline of Facebook’s organic reach and the constant changes in Instagram’s algorithm, the “post and pray” method of social media marketing just isn’t going to cut it.
Recently, we’ve seen an emergence of new social commerce tools that personalize the social shopping experience, highlight the importance of social engagement, and create a new culture of social media Influencers, “#sponsored” posts, and branded content.
How has social commerce changed in recent years? What does this mean for online businesses? Let’s take a walk through social commerce history.
What Is Social Commerce?
Social commerce refers to the activity of selling or buying products from a company through the use of a native social media platform — such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Sellers can use social media to promote their products, and shoppers can search for and engage with brands directly on their favorite social media sites.
Social commerce is just one of many potential traffic sources for online businesses. Organic traffic from search engines, paid traffic through ads, and referral traffic from third-party sites are all avenues for directing traffic to a business’ website.
Today, not only can shoppers find new brands to follow on social media, but they’re able to buy products and services directly through the platforms with just a few clicks.
Social Commerce Is Growing in Popularity
Thirty-four percent of Gen Z consumers report seeking out products and brands via social media. This shift in shopping habits has driven social to be a growing source of traffic and revenue for online brands.
In fact, we’ve seen traffic from social channels hit a new high, finally reaching that double-digit milestone.
Another shift? Quick, entertaining, and short-form content is becoming the norm. Today’s consumers have less patience for slow load times, spammy marketing tactics, or flashy ads. They want content that speaks to them, is tailored to their interests, and stems from brands they trust.
What the Evolution of Social Commerce Means for Businesses
What Makes Up Social Commerce?
Platforms Dominating the Social Commerce Space
Most brands know the big names in social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat.
But how powerful are these platforms, really? And what other platforms present a massive opportunity for brands to reach more customers online?
Here’s a breakdown of which platforms are dominating in the social commerce space.
And with the emergence of Facebook Dynamic Ads, businesses can present relevant content to shoppers based on what they have already browsed on a brand’s website. Commerce Cloud integrates with Facebook Dynamic Ads to help merchants reach shoppers on any device. When a shopper clicks on an ad, they are taken directly to the retailer’s website to complete their transaction.
Brands can tap into the power of Facebook by optimizing their existing business profile, experimenting with paid ads, promoting products, responding to customer comments, and generating more positive customer reviews.
Watch this video on how to turn your Facebook page into a sales-generating machine with Salesforce: Using Salesforce and Facebook for Lead Generation.
Twitter gives brands and influencers a platform for building partnerships and for publishing #sponsored posts and tagging other brands to expand their reach. It’s also a great platform for riding the latest #trends, launching flash sales, and offering fast customer support.
Twitter has teamed up with a variety of ecommerce businesses and partners to make online selling simple and seamless, even for sellers who are new to social commerce. It’s a highly interactive platform and offers that quick, short-form content today’s consumers love.
Plus, Twitter also offers the option to run paid ads if you want to expand your reach at a pay-per-click cost. You can fine-tune your ads to target a niche audience, and encourage users to follow your profile and buy your latest products.
Social Commerce Trends to Watch For
The world of social commerce moves fast. It seems like every day there’s new innovation around how to improve the social shopping experience.
In 2019, we saw the continued rise of social media influencers, the introduction of the Slide Up to buy feature, the popularity of Facebook Messenger bots, and more. So, what will the future of commerce bring?
Instagram Shopping and Checkout
At the moment, Instagram Shopping is only available to businesses in select markets, but this is likely to expand.
With Instagram Shopping, brands can create their own interactive storefront to direct shoppers to their best products. This gives shoppers the opportunity to tap on a product tag on a post and be directed to a product description page with pricing, a description, and a link to the website.
Another feature is Instagram Checkout, which lets shoppers purchase products directly through the Instagram app. When users tap on a product on a brand’s shopping post, they’ll now see a button to “Checkout on Instagram,” where they can see pricing, sizing, and more. Then, shoppers can confirm payment by entering their name, email, billing information, and shipping information.
AI-Enabled Selling and Service
Get Started with Social Selling
Even if you already have a social media marketing strategy, it’s possible that you’re not using all of the social commerce tools at your disposal to create a fully unified social shopping experience. That’s because many brands piecemeal their social, email, SEO, and other sales-generating channels rather than laying out a cohesive ecommerce strategy.
Below, we’ll guide you through how to incorporate social commerce into your existing selling strategy using multiple social media channels to drive traffic and maximize online sales.
Plus, you’ll tap into the power of social when it comes to engaging with your audience and providing superior customer service. Let’s get started.
Research Your Audience
You need to be where your customers are, but social is only one part of a broader context, story, and journey.
Even as shoppers browse social media, you need to consider how this is connected to the rest of your shoppers’ experiences — from the apps they use to in-store experiences to how they find you on the web.
What channels are shoppers using to find products like yours? Is your branding, messaging, and service consistent across all channels? How are you engaging with customers at multiple touchpoints?
The key is understanding where and how your audience shops. You can gain these insights by looking into past sales and social data to determine where your customers are, what they buy, and how they engage with your brand.
Then, you’ll have a blueprint for where you need to focus your attention when it comes to your social commerce strategy.
Identify Your Platforms
Through researching your audience, you’ll discover which platforms they use the most. You can then inform your social commerce strategy by further determining which social media platforms generate the most revenue for your business.
In this step, you work from the ground up, focusing on the platforms that are most likely to generate the highest ROI for your business. Once your branding, messaging, and service are rock-solid, you can expand this experience to additional platforms.
For example, if you’re already seeing success on Instagram with your custom graphics, Instagram Live videos, and user-generated content, you might consider expanding this to Facebook or Twitter.
Identify the platforms your audience uses the most and post relevant content that keeps them engaged.
If your visual branding and overall brand voice are consistent across platforms, your audience is more likely to trust you and see the value in buying your products. Ninety-five percent of consumers say that if they trust a company, they’re more likely to buy from it again in the future.
Dig into the Data
With AI on the rise, ecommerce brands are seeing the power of consumer data in informing their social commerce strategy.
Tools like Einstein AI for Commerce Cloud use consumer data to improve conversions, offer tailored product suggestions, provide personalized customer support, and more. Brands of all sizes see increased cart sizes, AOV, and see up to 10% lift in sales with Einstein.
You don’t need to be a data scientist to apply data to your commerce strategy. With Einstein AI, your existing data will automatically inform your social selling strategy and marketing campaigns. You'll save time while boosting merchandiser productivity and eliminate guesswork, automate tasks, and make profitable decisions with deep insights.
Einstein AI is fully integrated and extends to your website in the form of intelligent search recommendations, predictive sort, and product recommendations for smarter merchandising. With this, the unified selling experience goes far beyond social, creating a personalized experience for your shoppers across multiple channels.
Prioritize User-Generated Content
Put the social back in social media by boosting audience engagement and prioritizing user-generated content.
A successful social commerce strategy depends on your brand-customer interactions being a two-way street. No one likes a brand that just spams them with salesy content. Encourage your followers to join the conversation.
Some creative ways to boost social media engagement include:
- Posting polls or questions on your Instagram Story
- Tagging followers and brands in posts and comments
- Running a sweepstakes or giveaway where followers have to like, comment, or share in order to enter
- Monitoring social media to comment on posts where your followers have tagged your brand
- Encouraging followers to share their product stories and testimonials and tag your brand
- Creating a branded hashtag users can use when they post about your products
- Featuring followers’ photos on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram
- Hosting Q&A sessions where followers can post their questions on social media
- Reposting customer videos on YouTube
- Accepting guest posts on your blog to be shared across social media
- Adding visuals like photos and videos to your posts to increase likes and shares
- Adding relevant hashtags to your posts to get discovered by a wider audience
By encouraging follower engagement, you can generate massive momentum for your brand. Your audience will feel important, as you share their own content across your channels. You can also have real-time conversations via live video and the comments section. All of this works to build brand trust and solidify your brand’s image online.