Social Commerce 101: What It Is and How It Works - Outsource Access

Social Commerce 101: What It Is and How It Works

Social Commerce 101

Online shopping is one of the world’s current obsessions today. eMarketer forecasts the global eCommerce spending to reach about $5.5 trillion in 2022. It’s easy to see why online shopping has become a steadily growing industry, as eCommerce allows customers to purchase goods and services in just a few taps.

With this upward trend, businesses of every nature have slowly started to adapt to digital commerce. In fact, in a Tech Pro Research survey, about 70% of the respondents said that their companies either have or are working on developing a digital transformation strategy.

These plans of transitioning to a more advanced space accelerated when the pandemic hit. Retail businesses going digital had seen a significant rise in demand in 2020, where eCommerce’s global share trade in retail went from 14% in 2019 to about 17%.

Social commerce is one of today’s thriving digital transformations and is one of the most effective ways to drive revenue to businesses of any size. If you’re interested in learning more, this article will help you understand what social commerce is and how it works.

Social Commerce 101

What is Social Commerce?

Social commerce is the process of discovering, researching, selling, and checking out products directly on social media. Today, several social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are being used as vehicles to sell and market brand products and services globally.

Professionals in social commerce create and post interactive messages to promote online initiatives. Some sales and marketing tactics used in this field include:

  • Inviting users to vote on product styles or choices
  • Using eye-catching graphics to generate more views
  • Making high-quality videos to show the product in use
  • Collecting customer feedback and user-generated content
  • Partnering with celebrities or influencers
  • Offering exclusive promos to loyal customers

Why is Social Commerce Important?

Social media is the very place for content to go viral. With this in mind, your company’s social media channels play an important role in your sales and marketing strategy, as they could offer you many business benefits. 

  • It expands your customer base

In 2020, 3.6 billion people were recorded to be on social media, and this number is expected to grow by 4.4 billion come 2025. As social media and internet usage continue to increase by the day, this makes a great opportunity for your business to connect with a wider audience online.

Through social commerce, you can tap into a bigger customer base to sell your products and services. Additionally, you can easily work on getting your name out there, specifically to your target market. 

Take millennials, for example, who are now the largest cohort globally. With 52% of them being impulsive buyers, social commerce holds massive potential for expanding your customer base and increasing sales.

  • It eliminates friction in the buying process

Social commerce helps smooth out the buying process by making the customers’ shopping experience more seamless. Many platforms feature buttons that eliminate unnecessary steps when making a purchase.

It’s vital to keep in mind that every additional step in the buying process is another step away from purchasing. By creating a smoother buying process for your business, you can minimize the risk of having customers lose interest in your brand and leave your page.

Instagram’s new Checkout feature is a great example, where a customer can stay within the app while they make their purchase.

  • It increases authentic engagement and traffic

A great benefit of social commerce is the reach and engagement you can get whenever you share content. Posting content regularly can increase your chances of showing up in a follower’s feed, encouraging engagement through likes, comments, and shares. Being consistent and approachable motivates loyal customers to do business with you more often.

Social commerce invites people to connect with a business in two-way communication. Customers provide helpful insights to improve your processes, while they can ask for your help to solve their problems in real-time.

  • It creates customer loyalty and retention

Sure, you aim to sell and market your brand through social media, but that’s not to say you shouldn’t be building your customer relationships as well. Using this opportunity to communicate with your audience can develop and maintain customer loyalty. When these customers are satisfied with your service, they’ll most likely remain clients, make repeat purchases, and recommend your brand to others.

What are the Top Social Commerce Platforms?

Social commerce occurs in the various channels we use every day. Every site attracts a specific market and serves a unique purpose for its users. Let’s look at some of the famous social media platforms and their key features to determine the best one to use for your business.

  1. Facebook

Facebook still reigns supreme when it comes to the number of users. In 2021, it had around 3.45 billion monthly users, and with this number continuing to grow, the platform means business for many brands. 

During the height of the pandemic, Facebook launched Facebook Shops to help small businesses shift online and build their digital storefronts. Facebook Shops is fully customizable, enabling companies to hold onto their brand identity despite going digital.

Additionally, Facebook features products based on the prospect’s unique preferences and gives them a personalized shopping experience. Customers may complete the purchase within the platform or on your eCommerce site. Furthermore, the Messenger app can serve as a channel to answer any queries clients or leads might have.

  1. Instagram

As of December 2021, Instagram has reached over 2 billion users, making it one of the most promising social media platforms to use for your business today.

Instagram is known for its visual-heavy interface, consisting of photos, stories, and videos scroll after scroll. This makes it the prime space for sharing your brand’s image to gather leads. Conveniently, Instagram came up with something similar to Facebook Shops and introduced Instagram Shopping.

With this new feature, you can start creating shoppable posts, making shopping more convenient, as users can purchase directly within the app. Now, your customers can easily shop and checkout without leaving Instagram.

  1. Pinterest

Launched in 2010, Pinterest simply aimed to help people find inspiration for different aspects of their lives. However, it soon rose in numbers and now has 431 million active Pinners worldwide. 

Since it started over a decade ago, Pinterest has helped numerous people find new stuff they love. In fact, around 46% of weekly Pinners have discovered a new brand or product on the platform.

Pinterest also allows merchants to build Product Pins that show the price and stock information of the product, letting users know that they’re shoppable. If a Pinner is ready to make the purchase, they can just tap on the Product Pin that redirects them to the site where they can complete the purchase.

  1. TikTok

TikTok is a fairly new player in the field. It started as an app that shows short videos but quickly evolved into a profitable platform for businesses. As of January 2022, TikTok now has over 1 billion monthly active users and has amassed over $58 billion. These numbers make TikTok a social commerce platform worth noting.

Still staying true to its video-sharing nature, TikTok now hosts live streaming shopping capabilities, shoppable posts, and opportunities for influencer marketing. The platform introduced its Business feature in 2020, but the platform has already built a following for its ability to make lesser-known brands go viral. 

TikTok’s marketing focuses on the users’ product ads on their For You page. They can easily tap the Shop Now button that links them directly to the merchant’s eCommerce site. However, TikTok has adapted a Shopping Tab for select brands to sync their product catalog and allow users to purchase straight from the app.

Social Commerce Best Practices to Keep in Mind

Social commerce has become the new viable digital advertising strategy for many businesses. It works because it’s convenient and benefits both the merchant and the customer. Check out these social commerce best practices to see how you can rise above in this competitive space.

  • Strategically target your audience

You should know and understand your audience before you can effectively market to them. This takes time and effort, but it works. Don’t just place your products on your website and post the same thing on your social media accounts. You have to learn how your audience speaks, thinks, and feels to convey the right message to them.

Most social media platforms feature analytics tools to help you target your audience better according to their demographics and psychographics. Maximize these features to help you develop an effective marketing strategy.

  • Post promotional content consistently

Consistent updates make your customers feel like they’re never left behind. Creating regular promotional materials will enable you to better connect with your customers. To build your customer’s brand trust, you can include valuable product details such as close-up product shots, video walkthroughs, and product descriptions. 

When it comes to staying in touch with your audience, consistency promotes belongingness, ultimately driving more business.

  • Produce creative promotional content

With such a competitive market, you must think of ways to keep your customers engaged and attract new ones. Since social media focuses heavily on what’s new, it requires visual representations to stand out from the crowd.

Produce innovative promotional materials that will entice customers and prospects alike, leaving a good impression of your brand that will win their hearts. Moreover, keep in mind that how you present your brand is just as important as the products you sell. After all, a customer’s first impression of your brand matters.

  • Humanize social media responses

Customers reach out to brands on social media because of the fast and helpful response. Most eCommerce sites have a chatbot that has saved answers for frequently asked questions. While this saves convenience, some customers prefer human customer service. 

Nearly 40% of UK respondents and 38% of US respondents from a CGS survey stated that they preferred human customer support rather than automated ones.

Social media makes it easy to connect with a prospect who wants to know more about your product. Instead of giving a generic answer via bots, human customer service can bring in elements of empathy to make the customers feel like your brand genuinely wants to help.

  • Keep track of pending orders

Adapting a digital process can get overwhelming, especially if you’re coming from a brick-and-mortar setup. There are many factors to consider in this switch, including inventory, stocking, logistics, and more. Keeping track of these things can be hard, but you will need to get on top of it to prevent any mishap detrimental to your production.

Go Social and Digitize Your Business Today

Social commerce has risen to be the standard for most businesses today, and it’s here to stay. While it has proven great efficiency and profitability, it can be a difficult and daunting channel to manage. The best way to maximize business profit is to adopt a social commerce strategy that will work for your company and follow the industry best practices mentioned earlier.

If you’re having trouble keeping tabs on your digital storefront, Outsource Access provides excellent virtual assistant services that can help you expand and elevate your business in the social commerce field. Check out our process or book a call with us to learn more!

READ THIS NEXT: Partnering with a Content Writing Virtual Assistant: The Ultimate Guide
Want to Learn More?

Watch our free video outline with Case Studies and Examples

Register for Our Free Training