Social Commerce: Everything Your E-Commerce Brand Needs to Know
Why Your E-Commerce Brand Needs Social Commerce to Maximize Success
First of all, what do we mean by social commerce? A simplistic answer is it’s the next logical and profitable step in social media’s influential evolution.
It extends beyond the narrow definition of social media platforms to include any online media that allows user interaction or feedback, e.g., podcasts and YouTube.
This article will focus on social commerce for social media platforms because that’s the best place to start.
If your e-commerce brand isn’t using social commerce, you’re missing out on how to maximize your business potential. Why? Social commerce is a cost-effective, lucrative, 24/7 revenue source that’s still relatively untapped by many e-commerce brands.
Social commerce is even more critical to implement in 2022 because the economy has become uncertain. Supply chains are being disrupted. Political situations around the world are somewhat unsettled. Inflation is rearing its head, and talk of a potential recession is being floated. All are signs it’s time to look closely for the most cost-effective ways to market your e-commerce brand.
Why? Because that’s when every dollar your e-commerce business spends has to be scrutinized to ensure it provides a good ROI. Social commerce is one of the best avenues available for increasing ROI.
How do we know that? It’s time-tested. Social commerce proved its worth during the great recession of 2008. It was one of the prime strategies this author used to help astute e-commerce companies stay afloat and profit while competitors folded around them.
As of December 2021, per Statista, social commerce U.S. dollar revenue was $585 billion, its growth during the Covid-19 pandemic was 68%, and it represented 7% of all online purchases. As you can see, this is a trend you need to analyze because it has the potential for substantial ROI.
In good times and bad, social commerce has proven itself repeatedly to be a sound, cost-effective strategy for increased success when implemented correctly.
What Others Are Saying About the Importance of Social Commerce
McKinsey & Co just published an in-depth discussion-based article titled, Taking the Pulse of the U.S. Consumer. This quote is from a section titled, Omnichannel Customers and the Power of Social Media.
“Looking at e-commerce primarily as a fulfillment model, there are big differences between categories…with everybody staying inside their homes with less to do, a lot of people spent a lot more time than they usually do looking at social-media channels, blogs, and other ways to discover and learn about products online…when we take a consumer lens to gauge how important social-media influencers are across categories, we definitely see an increase there…We’ve started to see some digitally native brands use social media to create an incredible community. All companies can learn from this.
If they are in a category where community is important, social media is a great way to let people share what they like about interacting with a brand and reinforce not only their love for the brand but also their feeling of connection with like-minded folks…Some folks might think the influence of social media is contained to a particular consumer group, but our latest work showed that, in certain categories, 45 percent of consumers say that social media is influencing them—and that’s consumers who are saying social media is influencing them. There are probably a lot more who are being influenced without being willing to admit it.”
How To Use Social Commerce
Where you decide to place your social commerce is essential. That placement influences the context and content, so let’s look at that first.
Social media platforms have grown a lot in the last ten years. They’re now divided into several types. Some include all types of media, while others focus on highly visual media, and some focus more on auditory.
Some platforms are general, and others are more specific to, among other things, niche industries or product types. For example, you’d be amazed at how many product-specific social media platforms exist for the fiction publishing industry. GoodReads.com is just the tip of the publishing social media iceberg.
In the beginning, you’ll want to focus on more mainstream social media platforms. They will give you the most reach for your campaigns. Niche platforms may or may not be a valuable addition to your strategy in the future. In the end, it all depends on your e-commerce brand, your budget, and your target audience.
Your e-commerce business and brand can’t be all things to all people. Before you even start, you must know your target audience and your various buyer personas to ensure you reach them.
The better you know them, the more successful you’ll be at choosing the most appropriate social media platforms – the places where they hang out and share. The better you know them, the more successfully and cost-effectively you can place the kind of content and offers that will be irresistible to them.
That knowledge put into action will make your social commerce campaign successful.
How To Use Social Commerce to Increase Your E-Commerce Brand’s Success
There are several ways to use social commerce to increase your success. You may decide some are better suited to your e-commerce brand, values, and image than others. How to mix them is only limited by your imagination and your budget.
Here are just a few ways you can use social commerce to improve your bottom line.
- Sharable “shop now” links in posts or stories on your e-commerce brand’s social media pages, including pins on Pinterest.
- Sharable relatable videos on social media sites that highlight benefits and inspire your target audience to purchase.
- Social media platform stores that allow purchases without leaving the social media platform. For example, Shopify offers Facebook and Instagram store set-ups. It’s free if you’re a Shopify hosting platform customer. If they don’t host your e-commerce store, you can still use Shopify Lite for this feature with all options for only $9/month.
- Instagram Shopping where over 130 million people click on a shopping post every month
- Influencer marketing “word of mouth” collaborations specifically for social media platforms. Examples include content or visual media that demonstrate product benefits with an on-platform purchase or drive prospects to your e-commerce store.
- Affiliate marketing commission agreements with bloggers or other influencers for production reviews, demonstrations, promotions, and other “word of mouth” written or video content on the social media platform or leading to sales on your e-commerce website.
Please note: The ability to buy without leaving the social media platform is crucial because people are on social media platforms to socialize. Anything causing them to leave the platform will also cause them to hesitate because they don’t want to leave their friends.
Is Social Commerce Right for Your E-Commerce Brand?
E-commerce brands don’t seriously consider social commerce for many reasons.
For a lot of e-commerce brands, after you strip away all the layers of what-ifs and other questions, the reasons boil down to two bottom-line concerns:
- We’re not sure how to do this so we can be successful, and we don’t want to look like amateurs or waste money; or
- We don’t want to cheapen our e-commerce brand.
That first concern makes total sense. If you’ve never done something before, it’s normal to get that queasy feeling in your stomach if you think about doing it, especially when your business future is on the line. No one wants their company to look amateurish because that hurts credibility.
You want your social commerce to look professional and reflect your e-commerce company’s values and the quality of your e-commerce brand. That’s easier to take care of than your queasy feeling tells you.
It’s okay not to know how to do something you’ve never done before. Partner with professionals who can help you ensure your social commerce presents your e-commerce brand accurately, in a polished manner based on your company’s values.
The second concern is a corollary to the first concern.
Tips to Prevent Your From Cheapening Your E-Commerce Brand
- Make your target audience’s needs, wants, and desires clear to whoever creates your social commerce campaigns.
- Review drafts to ensure they fit your e-commerce brand image and will appeal to your target audience – and, most importantly, ensure your own “I’ve been conned” radar doesn’t activate. We all have that radar, so don’t approve it if anything feels slightly off.
- Keep your target audience and your e-commerce brand image and values consistent while creating social commerce. That way, you will accurately reflect your company’s values and professionalism.
Both concerns come from fear of the unknown. We all have that, and it pops up whenever we consider doing something new, personally or as a company. It’s natural and has to be addressed for your company to scale up to the next level.
What’s the worst thing that could happen? Test social commerce on a scale you’re comfortable with and assess how well it works for you.
During the 2008 recession, every company the author worked with on social commerce was shocked at the positive results – results disproportionately higher than the amount they cost. If social commerce works as well for your e-commerce brand as it has for many others, you will be delighted with your results. AdQuadrant produces excellent social commerce results for e-commerce brands of all sizes. We’d be happy to talk to you about whether social commerce is appropriate for your e-commerce business and, if so, how we can help you make that happen.
About the author: About the author: Merikay Noah has over 20 years’ experience in digital marketing. She worked with e-commerce B2C and B2B websites of all kinds, from Fortune 100s to small start-ups, at two of the top three search engines and at a Los Angeles ad agency. Her successful e-commerce book publishing website, PopcornReads.com, attracted an international audience of bookaholics for over eight years. She now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she works as a copywriter and loves to hike with her small but fierce doggy protector – Miss Lucy.