Consumer Experience

What Is Social Commerce and Why Should You Care About It?

The online shopping experience has grown exponentially in recent years and has changed to encompass much more than just a website with an online storefront.

Think about it, when was the last time you were scrolling through your social media and came across an ad for a product? Nearly every time, right?

It usually goes something like this: you’re scrolling through your feed looking at normal posts when you come across an advertisement for a product. Usually, these ads are targeted toward your interests, so they probably catch your eye. In the post is a link to the product page with more information like pricing and other details. You choose the product you want, put in your shipping and payment information, checkout, and then go straight back to scrolling through your feed.

This is social commerce.

What Is Social Commerce?

Social commerce, also referred to as social shopping, allows brands to sell their products direct-to-consumers through social media platforms.

Brands use social platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and others to advertise and link directly to their products.

It’s important to note that social commerce is related to, but not the same as, eCommerce. With eCommerce, shoppers are led to a brand’s online storefront or brand app to complete their purchases. Social shopping differs in that the customer is able to make their purchases within their social media experience. This creates a seamless, more shoppable experience for customers while generating more sales for brands.

When customers are shopping online, every click of the mouse is another opportunity for you to lose them. With social shopping, those opportunities are minimized. The shoppers see the product, click the product, buy it, then continue about their day. It’s a quick and easy process.

Why Is Social Commerce Important?

A worldwide survey done by Statista showed that the average person spends nearly two and half hours a day on social media. Taking this information into account, many brands have decided to meet their shoppers where they’re at and take their businesses directly to the shopper.

And this plan has worked!

In fact, according to Insider Intelligence, around half of all US social media users aged 18 to 34 will make at least one purchase using social networks. And, by the year 2025, social commerce sales will reach about $79.64 billion dollars.

The truth is that shoppers are already talking about your brand and your products on their social media platforms. Social commerce is essentially offering your business an instant focus group where you can gather feedback and poll your audience for product decisions. There are TikTok influencers whose whole platforms are built on reviewing products on-screen for the entire online world to see. If you aren’t participating as well, then you lose your ability to join the conversation.

On top of this, social commerce is a great way to sell directly to your target audience. Social platforms work by gathering information about a user’s age range, interests, and location in order to provide them with relevant content. Using this data, you can ensure your ads are targeted at the right demographic.

For example, if your target audience is mostly made up of shoppers aged 18 to 25 (Gen Z), then you should know that they spend most of their time on Youtube rather than other social platforms. By enabling ads on this platform, you should be able to reach your potential customers easier and create a more seamless shopping experience for them.

Most Popular Social Media Platforms for Social Commerce

There are three big names when it comes to platforms that offer social commerce capabilities. However, this number is sure to grow as social shopping continues to become even more popular.

No. 1: Facebook

Facebook is at the top of the list when it comes to the most popular platforms for social commerce. This is mostly due to its sheer size. In fact, there are many smaller businesses that forego a dedicated website altogether and utilize Facebook as their main source of eCommerce.

Amid the 2020 pandemic, Facebook launched a feature called Facebook Shops which allows business to create online stores free of charge. This feature allows smaller sized businesses to gain more online foot traffic and drive more sales.

Using Facebook, businesses can:

  • Highlight products
  • Share business news
  • Interact with their shopper-base
  • Answer shopper questions either directly via Facebook messenger, or publicly as a post
  • Interact and share directly with other Meta-owned platforms like Instagram or WhatsApp

No. 2: Instagram

Like Facebook, Instagram is a very popular social media platform with easy to navigate business sections. Many users have said that they prefer to keep up with brands via Instagram rather than any other social network apps, and 15 percent of shoppers even said that they start their product research here.

Instagram is unique in that it’s almost an entirely visual platform. This makes it a perfect space for promoting and showcasing product launches and upcoming deals. Instagram provides businesses with certain key features that make it a great platform for advertising and social commerce. Such as:

  • The option to set your profile as a “business,” which allows you to promote and create an online store within Instagram
  • Integrated check-out system
  • Stories, reels, and highlighted content
  • Built-in ad creation feature, so you don’t have to start from scratch when building your advertisements
  • Searching and finding features like hashtags, topics, and tagging to help your product posts get organic traffic

According to Search Engine Journal, 37 percent of users have discovered something on TikTok and immediately went to buy it.

No. 3: TikTok

As one of the most popular social media apps at the moment, setting up a business page on TikTok is a must for brands if you want to stay relevant with buyers.

Recently, TikTok has integrated a new feature called TikTok Shop which allows sellers to showcase and sell their products directly in-app using videos, LIVEs, and the product showcase tab. This feature also allows sellers to partner with TikTok creators and influencers who can leverage their communities into making purchases. TikTok Shop also holds monthly promotions where brands can participate to have their ads and videos boosted to get more views.

It’s a well-known phenomenon that TikTok often influences people to make purchases they might not have otherwise. This is evident with occurrences like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. As stated previously, many influencers have built their platforms on doing product reviews and urging users to either rush to buy the product or stay far away from it.

According to Search Engine Journal, 37 percent of users have discovered something on TikTok and immediately went to buy it.

No. 4: Twitter…but Not Really

You might be looking at this list of social media platforms and thinking, but where’s Twitter? As one of the most popular social network apps out there, especially among business professionals, you would think that it has a place for social commerce. But you would be wrong.

Twitter is actually one of the least-friendly shopping platforms out there. Of course, it makes a decent space for posting products and advertising, but it lacks any real in-app shopping capabilities, which makes it bad for social commerce.

Where Is Social Shopping Headed?

As social commerce becomes more popular and new social media apps jump on the bandwagon and add more in-app shopping features to their platforms, there is only room for growth.

Social shopping sales are projected to grow continuously over the next several years, so it’s pertinent that businesses utilize the social media features available to them. For your best chance at success, build a platform across all types of social media with a focus on those that have the best integrated features and the highest population of your target demographic.

It takes a lot of time and effort to establish a successful and widely known presence on a social platform, so it’s best to get a leg in early.

Visit today to learn more about improving the consumer experience.

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