Social Commerce 101: How Social Media Shopping Can Help Your Brand

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Social networking sites started as a way for people to communicate and share updates with friends and family. Then, they turned into juggernauts that can make or break a business. Latest developments show that social media and shopping are melding to produce what is perhaps the most seamless way to shop online: social commerce. Let Flux Panda guide you through the basics of social commerce and how the platform can make a difference in your social e-commerce efforts.

Social Commerce Definition

Social commerce is the purchasing of products or services on social media platforms.

Instead of simply marketing to drive traffic, the entire buying process—from discovery to checkout and even leaving reviews—happens here. Social commerce is often referred to as the unification of social media and e-commerce.

The use of social media means that a person's shopping experience is shared with their network of friends and contacts. The recommendations, suggestions, and comments that go with it influence their buying behavior.

Social e-commerce entails leveraging shoppable content not just on social media but also on e-commerce sites and online stores to drive sales, engagement, and brand trust.

Social Commerce vs.
E-commerce

From terminologies alone, it's easy to make the mistake of interchanging social commerce and e-commerce. They do have a few similarities—the purchase is completed online via a website or app, even though the buyer didn't necessarily get to see or test the product in person.

The biggest difference lies in the buying experience. As mentioned, in social commerce, the whole journey happens within the social commerce platform. E-commerce is merely a broad term that refers to buying online—all the other steps like discovery or comparison can be done outside the digital space.

In addition, there's less comprehensive communication and engagement between businesses and customers in e-commerce compared to social commerce platforms, which is actually one of its strong suits.

Social Commerce Facts and Figures

US$ 474.8 billion

Worldwide social commerce revenue generated in 2020

US$ 3.37 billion

The approximate revenue in the latter year with an expected compound annual growth rate of 28.4% from 2021 to 2028

Over 50%

Percentage of users who learn about new brands on social media

92%

Prefer Instagram as their social commerce platform (another 77% opt for Facebook, 57% for  Twitter, and 47% for Pinterest)

81%

Research products on Instagram and Facebook

90%

Percentage of Instagram users who follow business pages

48%

Percentage of Pinterest users who say that shopping is their top priority

30%

Percentage of online shoppers who say they would likely buy through social shopping platforms

93%

Percentage of consumers who say that reviews have an impact on their buying decision

83%

Place their trust in the recommendations of friends and family

74%

Increase in conversion due to reviews

Benefits of Social Commerce

Apart from the already mentioned, there are many other advantages to including shoppable videos for your content marketing strategy.

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A shorter path from
discovery to purchase

Social commerce solutions lessen the friction that prospects often face in the buying process. When a step can be skipped, customers can follow through with discovery to purchase as they have fewer opportunities to change their minds or lose attention.

Some platforms already allow social shopping by letting customers buy directly through them. This enhances the customer experience because it's simpler and easier than the typical e-commerce checkout process. In addition, your customers are already on social networks. So, aside from engagement, you can create a natural next step for users who are already following you.

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Inexpensive channel to
reach a wide audience

Top social commerce platforms can be accessed almost anywhere by almost anyone in the world. As a result, online sellers can easily reach out, promote, and sell to their target audience wherever they may be. In addition, you can put up tailored ads on social networking sites for your target market.

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Social data collection

Social e-commerce platforms have features that give you access to your customers' profiles, so you have a clear idea about who they are in terms of demographics and social media or shopping habits. You also learn more when you interact with them through chat, direct messages, or comments.

The information can then be used to confirm existing customer research against real-life examples and provide personalized customer service. Combined with routine social listening, you can develop new strategies or products and test them to optimize your social commerce efforts.

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Get shared and recommended

As mentioned, a buyer's journey may be completed on a social commerce platform, including customers being ambassadors for your brand through tags, shares, or comments to their network or community of buyers. Conversely, they may also leave bad reviews if they are unhappy.

Reviews and recommendations are used by prospects when deciding on their purchases because, after all, they can't always test or try your product in person. This positive feedback is essential to your bottom line as it attracts new clients.

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Authentic engagement to foster loyalty

Continuing from the previous point, social media offers businesses the engagement and reach they need through likes, comments, tags, or shares on their content. Social commerce encourages users to connect with a brand, allowing them to utilize the platform as a customer service channel, too. As a result, people who can regularly contact a company are more likely to recommend that company.

Relationship building and engagement ultimately foster customer loyalty and retention. They are more likely to be happy or satisfied with your service, make repeat purchases, leave good reviews, and bring you more buyers, all of which affect your bottom line.

Social Commerce Platforms

Each platform for social media shopping works differently, so your strategy must be tailored to your preferred app or website. Here's what to expect from these top social commerce platforms.

Facebook

Facebook Shop starts with your Business Page. If you have an existing e-commerce solution that is a partner, you can automatically sync your inventory list from there to Facebook. If not, you can upload product information via a spreadsheet.

From there, you can choose which products to highlight and how to set up your store. Of course, you can highlight products via shoppable photos and videos on your Facebook page for your followers. A nifty feature of Facebook social commerce is the test shop, where you can experiment with your offerings, try a dummy order, and more to test out the customer experience.

From either the shop or shoppable post, users can checkout items. There are also options for them to send a Messenger chat to the brand or redirect them to the e-commerce site. This integrated social e-commerce platform experience allows better conversions.

Instagram

Social commerce on Instagram is closely related to Facebook. In fact, one of the requirements for it is to have your Instagram profile linked to your Facebook product catalog. Another limitation is that only Instagram Business account holders in the U.S., UK, Canada, Brazil, France, Italy, and Spain can create a shoppable feed for now.

Customers can buy directly from Instagram Shops. Checkout is completed through Facebook Pay, though those without checkout can complete the transaction outside the platform using other social commerce tools.

Like Facebook, Instagram Shop serves as an online storefront of curated products for sale, with each item's details, pricing, and photo or media viewable. Brands can also upload videos through IGTV and tag products in the video. These shoppable posts and Stories that link to in-app product pages drive interest.

Pinterest

Most Pinterest users are on the platform to search for purchase inspiration. To help them with this, Pinterest launched Product Pins. Users will find the product pin as represented by a dot on the images they view on the website. When clicked, it will reveal some Pinterest recommendations of visually similar items they can purchase offsite. Product Pins are available for Pinterest Business accounts.

Snapchat

It was only recently when Snapchat had its beta launch of Brand Profiles, a native store experience powered by Shopify that allows its users to browse and buy from the app. The platform is banking on a shoppable AR experience that lets users try on products or snap a photo via the app and get information about where to purchase those online.

Tiktok

TikTok has around 27 million users and counting in the U.S. alone. The app is also now a social e-commerce platform in China and working to enable the feature for U.S. and Western European users. One of the features is zooming in on items on a video and shopping them on the app. Linking a video to a product page is also available, while an in-app Buy Now button is in the works.

Amazon Live

The platform is wholly different, but Amazon Live gives an opportunity to brands to inform shoppers about their products and benefits and other special offers via interactive live streams and product demos.

Its content is designed to educate, entertain, and engage with customers to help them make informed buying decisions. Amazon Live also comes with a chat feature so that brands can answer questions to curious shoppers in real-time.

Tips to Leverage Social Commerce

Now that you know the social commerce tools and platforms available to you, here are some more words of advice in implementing this digital strategy.

social commerce social media strategy

Have a social media strategy

A strategy can help you plan out your content and stay consistent. Your audience should be aware of and engage with your brand so you can effectively sell your products or services, and you can do that with a working social media strategy. Being consistent with content can also bring in new users.

Start by knowing which social shopping platforms you want to be in and what your goals are. You can do this by determining your target demographic and which social media they mainly use. A social media strategy also entails the following:

Being specific with your goals (e.g., getting ten comments on every post for engagement)
Creating a plan of action to reach those goals (e.g., testing different kinds of content to see what the audience likes)
Measuring results, continuing with what works, and cutting out what doesn't


social commerce customer support

Listen, engage, and offer support

Listening simply means knowing what people are saying about your business. You can start by monitoring brand mentions on social media or through the search engine. For the latter, you can even add "bad reviews" or "scam" on your search keyword to read negative feedback.

From there, plan how to engage with the users who have mentioned you or your target audience in general. Answer queries, share valuable and interesting content, set up a chatbot for faster response—it's all up to you. Keep in mind that social media is also a support channel for most consumers, so it would help to be ready for an onslaught of questions, feedback, and even complaints.

social commerce reviews

Encourage reviews

Always ask for your customers' feedback after the transaction. Social proof is vital in building your online reputation, and positive reviews about your products, services, and the customers' overall experience help with that. You may offer incentives to encourage past customers to spread the good word about you.

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Include UGC in your strategy

User-generated content can help put the spotlight on your customers rather than your brand because, after all, they are the ones using the platform. Integrating UGC into your social commerce plan means having your customers show off the items they bought from you, making the content shoppable, and sharing it on your social media or your website's shoppable UGC gallery.

UGC is an engagement and trust-building factor that can improve social proof and credibility for more purchases, as 93% of users say that UGC helps in their purchasing decisions.

Shoppable Video Examples

These social e-commerce examples underscore the importance of choosing the right platform and having a strategy. Let these serve as your inspiration as you leverage social shopping for your business.

Burberry

The luxury fashion brand utilizes Facebook and regularly uploads shoppable videos and live streams on the platform. Aside from users consuming more videos on the platform than ever, they have also been found to spend twice as long on brand pages that post videos compared to those that don't.

Whether it's how-tos or live streams, creative videos can bring products to life, capture your customers' attention, and affect your sales positively.

Nike Jordan

After the 2018 NBA All-Star game, Nike held the Jumpman All-Star after-party, where the brand had the pre-release of the Air Jordan III "Tinker." Attendees had the privilege to scan exclusive Snap codes and buy the shoes within Snapchat, and even receive their pair that same night.

Nike teamed up with Snapchat, Shopify, and Darkstore for this pre-release, marking it the first brand to sell a product via Snapchat. While it does sound like a gimmicky launch, the Tinker did sell out in 23 minutes, delivering results for the brand.

Sephora

A personalized shopping experience can be beneficial for online stores and social shopping networks. This encompasses recommendations, which ultimately affect customers' purchasing decisions.

Sephora's Fragrance Finder/IQ quiz, available on their website, provides fragrance recommendations to customers who take the short questionnaire based on their answers. Users then have the option to buy the resulting fragrance from the website itself.

The quiz has been available on the website for years now and has even been brought to some Sephora locations, but the brand is still actively recommending the quiz to social media users, mostly on Twitter, who are looking for new scents on their website or store.

Aside from the personalized experience, quizzes keep users engaged in a fun way and help you gather vital information.

Dollar Shave Club

Building your followers' trust is essential in e-commerce and social commerce, and social proof through positive feedback is one way to signal that trust and set your brand apart from the competition. To do this, Dollar Shave Club has a dedicated Pinterest board for their customers' feedback and unboxing photos. It's a unique combination of social proof and UGC, another brilliant social commerce strategy.

David Yurman

David Yurman is a high-end jewelry designer with some high-profile clients. However, its Instagram page recognizes the value of reaching out to prospects, with several posts using the hashtag #TapToShop. This drives direct sales as it signals that the featured products can be bought directly within the app.

The Future of Social Commerce

As the blend of social media and shopping becomes more mainstream in the future, here are some trends to watch out for and utilize for your social commerce strategy.

social shopping data

Enhancing social shopping experience through data

The experience economy, as brought forth by e-commerce, is heavily influenced by customer experience (CX). The better the experience, the more likely it is for consumers to purchase often and be loyal to a brand. Data is vital in optimizing CX in social shopping, so it may help to include Master Data Management (MDM) in your social commerce strategy.

MDM gives you an overview of your customers to help personalize and optimize their buying experience for more relevant promotions that boost conversions. Social commerce tools and platforms should help you with this as most of them employ artificial intelligence and machine learning.

chatbot selling social shopping

Quick response time through chatbot selling

Outside of customer support, chatbots are expected to be utilized for social shopping, as well. Through chatbots, brands can answer queries and make recommendations based on the information provided by the user or their shopping or purchasing behavior.

b2b social shopping

Social media shopping will expand to B2B companies

Understandably, the appeal of social commerce is in the B2C sphere, like fashion and beauty. However, B2Bs can also employ social commerce solutions to drive conversions—at the end of the day, both target regular consumers.

A typical example would be a brand selling software or app subscriptions. They can drive demo sign-ups through social media by uploading demo videos that interested individuals or companies can view.

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Data security and privacy concerns

Coinciding with MDM is the matter of data security and privacy. It's no secret that some social e-commerce platforms have been embroiled in these issues, so some consumers are reasonably concerned. It would help to be transparent about your security and privacy policies to make them more comfortable about purchasing on social media, like how they do on e-commerce websites.

In line with this, brands looking into social commerce websites or apps have a legal obligation toward their customers as enforced by the laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation and California Consumer Privacy Act. Know how to gather, store, and use consumer data under the law.

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Descriptive live streams for engagement

Live streams are becoming more common because they help businesses showcase their products, do tutorials, share valuable information with the help of industry experts, and more. You can tap into social live shopping if you want to engage more authentically and interactively with your audience. In addition, the videos can be saved, and the community can continue engaging in the comments.

How Live Selling Videos Affect Social Commerce

One strategy that you can look into for your social e-commerce is live selling videos or live streams.

With online shopping only gaining strength year after year, you need to offer a better quality of customer experience. One aspect of this is highlighting the products you are selling, much like how sales representatives talk to customers in a brick-and-mortar store or do product demos.

Live selling is a way to replicate this experience digitally, establishing a connection between the user and the product despite the lack of in-person viewing or testing. Not only can interested shoppers see the products more closely through videos, but they also get to watch someone interacting with the product, giving them a better idea of how to use it or how it can benefit them.

Social Commerce with Flux Panda

Social commerce may be a trend now, but as technology progresses further, it may just soon be the norm. You need to realize its importance on your business today to reap the rewards in the future. So, plan your social commercial strategy, and try out what would work best for your brand. You can look into live selling for a more interactive and engaging way to do social commerce.

flux panda is a live selling app that will help your social commerce efforts. Make your live streams available on multiple social platforms to maximize your reach and provide a faster way for your consumers to shop. With flux panda, you can show off your products to your consumers live or turn your recorded live videos into shoppable content.

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