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Social commerce: what it is and how to get started

Wednesday, March 30, 2022
Social commerce: what it is and how to get started

The way we shop is changing.

Last year, IBM’s Retail Index found that the pandemic accelerated the shift away from brick-and-mortar shops to eCommerce by about 5 years. In fact, during the pandemic, we witnessed the rise of social commerce, with social media ad spend hitting highs of $41.5 billion in 2020.

It is growing so fast that 446.8 million social buyers are currently predicted for China in 2023, and that the global social commerce could reach $604.5 Billion by 2027.

But what is social commerce exactly?

Social commerce is a subset of eCommerce which involves and supports social media and social interaction to assist online buying and selling of products and services.

In this article, we’ll look at the types of social commerce that currently exist, give you tips to provide great experiences to social shoppers, and discuss how you can build trust directly on social channels.

1. Choosing the right social media platform for your business

Today, there are so many different social media platforms. Picking the right one for your business is essential to ensure that your attempt at social commerce is as successful as possible.

The right platform should represent your target audience, and work well with the type of products or services your brand is promoting and selling. To help you out, we’ve put together a quick list of channels that currently offer some sort of social commerce solution.

1. Pinterest

Did you know that usage of Pinterest Shopping tools surged by 350% in 2020?

Pinterest is an image sharing and social media platform designed to save and discover ideas on the internet using images, animated GIFs, and videos. It’s a great platform for homeware brands, or more creative businesses in the wedding or arts and crafts industry for example.

2. Instagram

By now, it’s safe to say that Instagram doesn’t need an introduction. It’s one of the most used social platforms amongst all age groups. Instagram is great at inspiring people. A number of social media influencers use Instagram daily and promote different products or services to their audience. Instagram makes it easy to tag products on post, and to target consumers with products they’ve interacted with on the platform in their Shop section.

3. Tiktok

TikTok has been downloaded over 3 billion times. The platform hosts a variety of short-form user videos, from genres like pranks, stunts, tricks, jokes, dance, and entertainment with durations from 15 seconds to 3 minutes. TikTok has a younger audience and is great for brands who sell less high-end products, like kitchen gadgets for example.

4. Facebook

36.8% of the world’s population use Facebook monthly. Facebook is one of the oldest social media platforms in the world, which allows users to connect, share, buy, sell, and more.

While Facebook is the biggest social channel out there, its demographic has changed slightly over the years. However, despite the platform’s reputation as a seemingly “older” network, 26.4% of the platform’s user base is made up of millennials. That being said, over 36% of Facebook’s audience are 45 or older.

5. YouTube

YouTube is the world’s second-most visited website. YouTube is an online video sharing and social media platform owned by Google, which gets more than one billion monthly users who collectively watch over one billion hours of videos each day. YouTube can help give consumers a more in-depth look at your products or services. Shoppers might want to watch videos about a product they’re interested in before purchasing it, and YouTube is great for that.

2. Providing great experiences to social media users

The social shopping experience is so important as it represents you as a brand. A great customer experience on social media can help increase your social commerce conversion rate.

Here are a few tips to help you get it right.

1. Target the right audience

It is essential to target the right audience and pick the right social media platform for your product and services.

If your products target an older demographic, you might want to pick the appropriate social platform for your audience. If your brand targets a younger audience, think about your social media strategy too.

Your product also plays a big part here. Some products are easier sold via TikTok or YouTube, and some via Pinterest or Instagram.

2. Engage with users

Educate followers about your brand, products or services.

With 37% of consumers saying that social networks are their biggest source of inspiration for purchasing, promotional posts should be part of your strategy. However, posts that directly promote your products should make up only a small portion of your posts.

When you create promotional posts, consider adding a reason buyers should purchase the product now. One reason could be a limited-time discount, or you could encourage customers to be the first of their friends to own a new product. You can also create FOMO (fear of missing out) by sharing how many people have bought this product in the last 24 hours, for example. Don’t forget to include high-quality pictures too.

Because mobile shopping has grown in popularity, with 45% of people increasing their number of purchases from a mobile device since the COVID-19 pandemic , promotional posts should be created as shoppable posts.

This means that customers can purchase directly from the post, making it as easy as possible for someone to buy your product directly on social channels. Did you know that each month, 130 million Instagram accounts tap a shopping post to learn more about a product? This could be a huge opportunity for your business if you’re not already tapping into social commerce.

3. Encourage reviews

We understand how important it is for customers to interact with businesses on social channels during the different stages of the buying journey, but we also know that online reviews can attract more customers via social platforms.

Sharing verified online reviews on social media can help your content stay personal and up to date, while helping you stand out from the competition and grow your online reputation.

3. Building trust with consumers

Today’s consumers research more before purchasing, and trust businesses less than they did a few years ago, which is why brands should be doubling their marketing efforts in order to stay at the top.

To stand out from the competition in social commerce, it’s essential to incorporate transparency and authenticity to the customer journey. The more information consumers can find about your brand, your products or your services on social media, the better.

With reviews, businesses can optimise every touch point of the buying journey, and make sure consumers are exposed to trust signals and social proof when using social channels.

Here are some ways to share your customers’ voice on social channels:

  • Trustpilot’s Image Generator
Trustpilot’s Image Generator
  • Trustpilot x Hootsuite integration
Trustpilot x Hootsuite integration
  • User-generated content
User-generated content

There’s no doubt that the way we shop is changing. The rise of social commerce in the last few years has completely shifted the way brands interact and engage with their audience on social channels.

Building trust directly on social media can be tricky. But showcasing third-party validation, such as verified online reviews, can help grow consumer confidence in your brand when trying to implement social commerce.

If you’d like to find out more about how Trustpilot can help you with building trust for social commerce, why not speak to one of our experts? It’s quick and easy, just click the link below.

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