How Social Commerce Helps Your Business
March 16, 2022
The Bolt Team
Social networks are so much more than just channels for keeping up with friends and family. Nowadays, social networks are for checking out the latest fashion trends, following celebrities for inspiration, and reading product reviews.
Being present where consumers spend most of their time is vital to the success of your online business—social commerce allows brands to do just that. So let’s see what the hype is all about.
What is social commerce?
Social commerce uses social media networks such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok to promote and sell products.
In 2022, social commerce sales in the US are expected to reach $45.74 billion, and more than half of US adults will purchase social media.
The ecommerce functionality is brought into social media to purchase products directly from the content. It makes perfect sense to enable sales on these channels since consumers already use social media to find inspiration for new products.
Social commerce examples include:
- In-app purchases via social media social networks
- Organic shoppable posts
- Ads that are shoppable
- Influencer content that is shoppable
- Shoppable videos and media leading to ecommerce sites
The different types of social commerce
The ecommerce industry is undergoing a significant change as all social media platforms go transactional, and brands need to keep up with this trend. Here is a breakdown of some of the different types of social commerce that brands can employ as part of their online strategy.
Using bots to drive engagement and sales
Reduce cost per conversion and increase sales by using a chatbot, like LEGO. In 2018, they rolled out a brilliant chatbot campaign in Facebook Messenger and saw a 340% increase in return on ad spend.
The bot had step-by-step CTAs and used playful language and fun imagery to inspire shoppers to purchase. This type of social commerce creates interactive and convenient shopping experiences. Therefore, implementing bots can be an excellent strategy to reach specific goals.
Selling products through stories
Temporary content and videos have been popular trends on social media for some time. New shopping options give brands opportunities to promote their products on their own stories and through the stories of influencers.
With a quick swipe-up, consumers can conveniently shop products directly from content. Promoting products through stories can be effective, but it also requires time as each story only lasts short.
Brands must plan for compelling content and frequently publish for maximum reach and effect. Sometimes, working with influencers can help brands effectively reach their target audience and build trust.
Here are four expert tips for choosing the right influencer for your brand:
- Choose your influencers carefully
- Don’t rely on a single influencer
- Set campaign goals
- Give influencers creative control
Did you know Bolt has tools for influencers that turn every digital surface into a point of purchase? So you can give shoppers an amazing one-click checkout experience everywhere influencers are on social media.
Turning social posts into shoppable content
Perhaps the most significant lever in social commerce is tagging products in posts and driving conversions at the point of inspiration. Shoppable content allows for a frictionless experience, where consumers can complete a purchase in just a few clicks.
Bolt makes it easy to turn social media feeds into one-click checkout surfaces. This not only simplifies checkout but drastically reduces cart abandonment.
Brands can implement this as part of their social commerce strategy to drive more conversions to their online store. In addition, with readily available products, brands can tap into impulse buying.
One of the most common channels to offer this feature is Instagram. They provide a seven-step guide that shows brands how to set up an immersive Instagram storefront to show off their products.
Using live video shopping to inspire purchase
China is the global leader in live stream shopping, worth roughly $170 billion. As a result of China’s success, this trend has inevitably inspired the West.
Giants such as Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat are implementing new shopping features for live videos. As a result, a rising number of brands and retailers are following this social commerce trend.
One example is ecommerce giant Walmart, which recently partnered with TikTok on live stream shopping events. As more people get comfortable purchasing products from inside a live video, partnerships such as this will be more common.
Shopstreaming is also an emerging trend. It combines live streaming, entertainment, and shopping and is a massive industry in China worth $66 billion. For example, Maybelline experimented with shopstreaming on the Chinese video-sharing app, Meipai and sold 10,000 lipsticks in two hours.
Product page galleries
Global brands have started using product page galleries to increase sales of their products strategically. Product page galleries are curated galleries that feature shoppable visual UGC relating to the product page on which it’s published.
Taggshop’s shoppable Instagram link allows you to convert social posts into a shoppable feed with a unique link. It goes beyond Instagram’s “Link in bio” as you can curate your digital feed and add a CTA to it.
Where to drive social commerce campaigns
In 2018, Facebook launched Facebook Marketplace as a competitor to Amazon, Etsy, and Google Shopping. The success of Facebook Marketplace reinforced the tremendous potential for social commerce.
Initially launched as a peer-to-peer marketplace, it quickly gained popularity among brands and retailers. Merchants can advertise their store or items on Marketplace, reaching a large audience. In addition, shoppers are seamlessly sent to a secure checkout either on the merchant’s site or within the app to purchase products.
Facebook also introduced shops on Facebook and Instagram to make online selling easy. Brands can design their shop as they like and showcase featured products. Users can visit a brand’s shop and purchase a product of their choice directly from the shop with a payment method.
The Instagram shop allows customers to shop directly on a brand’s business page. Brands can also run ads including product tags to drive customers to their website. This will enable shoppers to purchase the product right away—instead of viewing the ad and searching for the product after.
Additionally, Instagram Live Shopping helps brands start their shopping channel. They can sell products through live videos and engage with customers in real-time. Instagram Live Shopping enables brands to get direct feedback from customers and build stronger relationships with them.
Lastly, Instagram offers shopping in Reels, a feature that allows brands to tag their products in Reels. Then, users simply tap the product to view the price and description before purchasing it. With Reels, brands can drive sales as customers also can save or learn more about the product.
TikTok, the largest short-form video platform, also offers in-app purchases of sponsored products.
In October 2020, TikTok announced its partnership with Shopify to help their merchants drive sales by reaching a larger TikTok audience. Merchants can sell via in-feed video shoppable ads by connecting their TikTok Business account with their Shopify account.
TikTok also has a live stream shopping feature that enables users to purchase a product after watching a quasi-infomercial. And TikTok influencers, or those with a big following, can link to products and earn commissions on every sale.
Like all other social platforms, Snapchat has been looking to maximize its revenue potential through social commerce. For example, its introduction of Bitmoji fashion led to partnerships with Levis, Ralph Lauren, Jordan, and more.
Snapchat’s acquisition of Screenshop—an app that scans your photos and makes recommendations based on your style—in May 2021 was another step towards social commerce.
Twitch is the world’s leading livestream platform for gamers and other lifestyle casters that supports building communities around shared and streamable interests. In 2019, Twitch partnered with the custom-clothing company, Teespring, to bring social commerce to its audience.
The Twitch merch store allows users to engage with their communities and sell products directly on Twitch. With integrated checkout, viewers can buy products without ever leaving the stream. Moreover, content creators can sell products that can be seen only by their subscribers, giving them the chance to reward their loyal viewers with exclusive access.
Pinterest first introduced native shopping through ‘Buyable Pins,’ allowing users to purchase products directly from pins. In addition, users can check product pricing and descriptions on images via the shopping tag icon on the image.
When users click on an image with a shopping tag icon, they are taken to the retailer’s website to complete the purchase. Unlike Facebook and Instagram, Pinterest does not offer a checkout function.
Twitter Commerce is coming. They are developing a range of new shopping tools to enable their users to make purchases and save product listings directly from tweeted content.
The latest example is the arrival of the new ‘Purchases’ tab that’s visible only to some users.
What makes social commerce so powerful for brands and retailers?
Creating personalization through two-way communication
Through social commerce, brands get direct feedback and data from their consumers, and consumers get quick information about new products, promotions, and discounts.
As shopping in-store becomes less popular, the ability to use all your senses when browsing products has gone. In social commerce, having someone else, like an influencer, show the product, and talk about how it feels, smells, tastes, and sounds add new value to the whole experience.
Consumers have been overwhelmed by ads for years, and brands don’t see a positive return on investment (ROI). While ad-blockers have seen a decline in recent years, advertisers still face privacy-related challenges.
Brands need to think differently about their ecommerce strategy—consumers today want content and experiences that are personalized and tailored to their needs.
Social commerce and mobile commerce are a match made in heaven
One could argue that social commerce is mobile commerce, with social media platforms being predominantly mobile users. As social platforms go transactional and ecommerce on mobile surges, this is a perfect marriage.
Mobile commerce accounts for around 73% of total ecommerce sales. The power lies in mobile, and the opportunities for brands to create a mobile-friendly shopping experience are immense.
The community effect spreads positive word-of-mouth
Because consumers are already looking for products on social media, brands and retailers don’t necessarily need to chase them. In addition, great content and products are likely to be shared so that sales can come organically via the friends and family of your community.
It is like a giant social marketplace, where users find the latest trends, engage with their network, and purchase products based on inspirations from brands, influencers, and friends.
Social proof belongs to social commerce
Social proof is another reason to trust the power of social commerce. When people are unsure about something, they will ask others for recommendations. In social commerce, likes and comments are clear indicators of whether a brand and its products are trustworthy.
Now consumers don’t have to use other channels to look for proof. Instead, they can simply stay on the platform to appreciate the value of the brand’s offering.
The buying power of Gen Z
Generation Z grew up with social media and used it to express themselves, seek connections, and get inspiration. For them, if a brand doesn’t exist on social platforms, it’s not on their radar. In addition, the buying power of Gen Z increases as they enter the workforce—another reason to be delivering inspiring content to them.
Unique shopping experiences through retargeting
Social commerce enables businesses to create a unique shopping experience through retargeting. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow businesses to retarget consumers interested in a particular product.
Retargeting through social commerce increases the likelihood of purchase as customers can complete the purchase within the site instead of being directed to another website. This creates a better shopping experience for consumers.
Social commerce is changing consumer buying behavior
Social media has a significant impact on the way people shop online. In the past, people used social media channels to connect with friends and stay up to date with the latest trends and happenings worldwide.
Today, people use social media to research brands and products. As a result, a brand’s presence on social media largely determines sales both online and in physical stores. Brands can leverage social media to build trust with their audience and influence their purchase decisions.
The Creator Economy
The Creator Economy comprises 50 million content creators, curators, influencers, and bloggers who use software and finance tools to grow and monetize.
Content creators and influencers earn most of their revenue from brand deals. However, with the boom of the creator economy, content creators have started looking into diversifying their revenue streams. Instead of solely relying on brand deals, many content creators turn into solopreneurs, launching their products and promoting their services.
With the growing popularity of content creators, the emergence of creator storefronts was inevitable as content creators realized they could explore other revenue streams or sell their products and services.
Through their website or online store, creators can build a stronger relationship with their fans, create sponsored content for brands, and use their social media influence to drive traffic to their website to generate sales.
Bolt helps content creators get sustainable revenue from their content. With Bolt, you can embed buyable links into your digital surfaces and allow your fans to buy products from wherever they follow you.
Brands that partner with these content creators can leverage their audience and fanbase to sell more and generate higher revenue. Such partnerships and collaborations also help brands improve customer loyalty and engagement.
What is the future of social commerce?
The global social commerce industry is currently worth $492 billion and is expected to grow three times as fast as traditional ecommerce to $1.2 trillion by 2025.
This growth is driven primarily by Gen Z, and Millennial customers, who will account for 62% of the global social commerce spend by 2025. Social commerce is already hugely popular in China, where social commerce on platforms like Taobao Live, Xiaohongshu (Little Red Book), and others generated more than $400 billion in sales in 2021 alone.
The rise in social commerce enables brands to sell on social platforms instead of directing customers to an online store. Enabling consumers to checkout now from their favorite social network means a shorter path to purchase with fewer clicks. This will ultimately lead to better conversion rates, increased sales, and increased revenues for brands.
With social commerce on the rise, you need a partner that helps you sell at the point of inspiration. With Bolt, publishers, retailers, and content creators can turn every digital surface into an opportunity to engage with the people who love your content meaningfully.