Social commerce: How brands can get the most out of social features

Ruth Peters
November 14, 2022

Social commerce is a distinct and exciting category in the eCommerce space.

Brands who know how to use social commerce well can be where their customers are (users spend an average of 147 minutes a day on social media in 2022) and engage them when they are receptive to new purchases (close to half of customers think social is a great way to learn about new products).

It’s no surprise then that worldwide sales across all social media platforms were estimated at $992 billion in 2022, with that figure expected to rise to $2.9 trillion by 2026. With numbers like this, and with 59% of the world using social media, social commerce is something all businesses should be looking to exploit.

So how do you get started?

The features offered by social media present a wealth of opportunities for brands to connect more personally with consumers. Video content, shoppable posts, and user-generated content (UGC) are all great features for engaging your customers.

And there are new updates coming to social media all the time. Instagram, for example, has recently been trialing having multiple links in your bio. This would allow brands to link to product detail pages, storefronts, and other social pages directly in their Instagram feed.

TikTok has also introduced a feature allowing users to embed up to 6 videos on an external site. This allows for cross-pollination between your socials and your brand site, helping to drive customer engagement and sales.

In this guide, we look at the social features brands should be focusing on to enhance their social commerce strategy.

Dig deeper > 4 min read

1. Shoppable posts

Making your posts shoppable is one of the best ways to make use of social commerce features. When a post is shoppable, the products photographed or features are tagged with links so shoppers can be taken to a product detail or checkout page with just one tap.

This is key for not only making your products easy to find for customers, but also for directing shoppers to your brand site. Our research showed that 71% of customers prefer to complete their purchase on the brand site, rather than on the social channel. So ensuring customers can access your site checkout quickly and easily is paramount.

Best practices for shoppable posts

  • Upload your product catalog to your social profile and update this frequently, ensuring your inventory levels and pricing reflect real-time data
  • Consistently tag all products in all posts
  • Ensure the migration to your brand site is frictionless

2. In-app shopping

Although we have discussed the importance of directing shoppers to your brand site to complete their purchase, there are also options to purchase directly from the social media app. Here, the same principles apply. You want to make sure your posts are shoppable (versus having no interactivity) and your inventory levels have to be up-to-date to avoid any disappointment.

Brands using Shopify as their webstore have the ability to create a “Buy Button” on individual products and full collections. This can encourage cross-selling and further product discovery.

Best practices for in-app shopping features

  • Ensure your social checkout is seamless and optimized
  • Provide an easy way to buy your products, both on social and on the brand site
  • Direct shoppers to your brand site whenever possible

3. User-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) is content created by fans and advocates of your brand and posted onto their own social media feeds — and it’s incredibly powerful in a number of ways.

UGC is seen as more authentic and lends a more personal touch to your brand. This authenticity also helps to promote your products and increase sales, with 90% of shoppers saying UGC influences their purchase decisions more than any other form of marketing.

You also have the ability to make UGC posts shoppable, again allowing your customers to be directed to your storefront straight from socials.

Best practices for user-generated content

  • Like, share, and engage with UGC
  • Tag your products and make UGC posts shoppable
  • Always ask the creator’s permission before sharing or tagging posts
  • Always give the original creator credit when using UGC

4. Video content

Audiences spend an average of 19 hours a week watching video content online, Tweets with video get 10x more engagement, and 72% of customers would rather learn about new products and services through video than other forms of marketing.

Social media provides the perfect opportunity to post video content and get it seen by your customers. And unlike traditional video advertising on TV, video on social media is cheaper to produce and has the authentic feel that consumers are looking for.

If you’re not already using video in your social commerce strategy, it’s time to start!

Best practices for videos in social commerce

  • Identify where your customers are spending their time (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.) and what time they are active
  • Determine what type of video content you want to produce based on your message and what your customers engage with (should you focus on customer testimonials, product showcases, behind-the-scene footage, etc?)
  • Keep videos short, engaging, and informative
  • Always subtitle your videos and add graphic captions where possible

5. Influencer marketing

Our State of Social Commerce report revealed that 50% of respondents identified influencers as a good way to find out about new products, with a further 31% saying that influencers were good for recommending products. This number is even higher (64%) for Gen Z shoppers.

With 67% of brands on Instagram already using influencers, and this trend is expected to grow in 2023, now is the time to start investing in influencers.

Shopify recently introduced “Shopify Collabs,” an app that integrates with your Shopify storefront and connects you with millions of influencers. Tools like this can help you to find the perfect promoters for your brand and help you to drive engagement with your followers.

Best practices for influencer marketing

  • Identify influencers who embody your brand values and connect with your audience
  • Determine the type of content you are looking for from the influencers you work with and come up with a clear content plan
  • Use influencers to direct traffic to your brand site and storefront wherever possible (influencers might be useful for getting new products onto a customer’s radar, but a vast number of shoppers would still prefer to purchase from a brand rather the influencer or social platform)

6. Livestreaming

Livestream shopping events are growing in popularity, particularly with Gen Z. In fact, according to our research, 43% of Gen Z shoppers had already been to a live shopping event, and 19% of these had purchased during the event.

Projected to generate $500 billion worldwide in 2022, livestream events are buzz-worthy and engaging ways to get your products noticed by consumers and help boost sales. Combined with a good influencer marketing plan, you can leverage this growing form of marketing to take your social commerce to the next level.

Best practices for livestreaming in social commerce

  • Choose the right host for your livestream, whether that be an influencer or a member of your team
  • Make your livestream shoppable so viewers can easily find and purchase the advertised products 
  • Funnel viewers to your brand site and storefront as often as possible

3 emerging social commerce trends and how to use them

Now we’ve looked at some of the best features currently available on social media, let’s explore some of the new technologies and emerging trends to keep an eye on moving forward.

AR/VR

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) may still be nascent in retail, but more and more customers are getting familiar with the tech. 25% of the US population will use AR in 2022, with 20% using VR. 16.6% of the US population uses AR through social media, with that number predicted to rise to 19.8% by 2025.

With Instagram recently introducing the capability to create AR ads, forward-thinking retail brands will be including AR in their social commerce strategy today. AR ads offer an innovative way of creating shoppable content, giving you the ability to create engaging, informative content with direct links to your product pages — and set yourself apart from your social commerce competitors.

NFTs

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are a hot topic in the retail space in 2022. Although the technology has received some criticism, particularly due to its environmental impact, this Web3 innovation presents an interesting opportunity for retail brands moving forward.

Specifically, businesses are now using NFTs to create a sense of community and loyalty. By providing unique benefits, discounts, and promotions through the use of NFTs, you can build a base of loyal customers and really engage your community on a deeper level.

Digital avatars

The Metaverse is here and many brands are betting big on the long-term impact it will have. With Meta (formerly Facebook) doubling down on their promise to bring the Metaverse into the mainstream, businesses are looking for ways to use this new technology to its full effect.

The big draw of the Metaverse is that it allows you to create a digital avatar to exist within it, allowing you to present yourself however you choose. This has led brands to create digital outfits for purchase in the Metaverse.

Fashion brands in particular are in a unique position to capitalize on this new trend and use the technology to sell their products both in the Metaverse and the real world.

What does social commerce success look like for you?

Social media is the place to get your products noticed, engage with your audience, and reach new customers. It’s crucial to use all of the features social media has to boost your online presence and drive your social commerce endeavors.

Remember though, there is still a strong preference among consumers to check out via your brand site, rather than on social media. Wherever possible, you should be looking to leverage your social channels to drive traffic toward your brand site and storefront — where you’d offer a slick and engaging purchase experience.

81% of customers experience a poor landing page experience when migrating from social media. Don’t let your customers suffer the same. Get in touch with SimplicityDX today to find out how we can optimize your landing page experience and level up your social commerce strategy.

SimplicityDX makes social commerce work. Its SimplicityDX Edge Experience Platform enables brands to optimize social commerce experiences by simplifying the buying process between journeys started at the edge and the brand’s eCommerce e-site. Founded by a team of industry veterans in May 2021 and privately funded, SimplicityDX operates in the U.S. and U.K. markets.

Read more about our insights on social commerce.

eCommerce checkout best practice: 3 checkout UX tips to secure your sales

Social Commerce and the Peak Shopping Season

Social Commerce for Retail?

SimplicityDX Publishes 2022 State of Social Commerce Impact Study

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