Meta is widely regarded as the leading name in social in the US.
Three of the top four most widely used social media platforms are owned by Meta: Facebook (2,910 million Monthly Active Users), Instagram (1,478 MAU’s), and WhatsApp (2,000 MAU’s). And their social commerce market share is impressive as well.
There are 1 million Facebook Shops worldwide, with over 250 million users interacting every month, even though the feature launched just over two years ago. And it’s not just brands who are selling their wares on social media. Facebook Marketplace, modeled on a buy-and-sell model similar to Craigslist, now has a billion Monthly Active Users.
As shopping increasingly moves to the edge, other apps are launching shopping capabilities. However it’s safe to say that social commerce is synonymous with Meta at this point in time. But does that mean that Meta apps are the most valuable for brands in social commerce?
Go Deeper > 5 Minute Read
Meta tops the table for social commerce
SimplicityDX regularly researches the way the consumers want to buy, and how they use social media when shopping. In June, our survey asked the question, “Thinking about a recent purchase you made when using social media, which platform did you use?” the breakdown was somewhat surprising:
- Facebook Marketplace - 51.19%
- Instagram - 15.81%
- Facebook Shop (one brand) - 9.54%
- TikTok - 9.34%
- Facebook Messenger - 5.37%
As to be expected, Meta is very prevalent in this list. But the fact that Facebook Marketplace has such a prime position at the top of the list —- a full 35 percentage points ahead of Instagram at number two — is an interesting insight.
Unlike Instagram Shopping and Facebook Shops, Marketplace isn’t social commerce as we normally define it.
In reality, it’s a peer-to-peer selling platform, much like eBay, where individual items are listed, often to attract local buyers. Brands can sell on Marketplace, but in general they don't, preferring to upload a catalog of products into a Facebook or Instagram shop. Facebook Marketplace is BIG though: in 2021 $26 billion gross revenue was made on Marketplace, an increase of 48% from 2020. Almost all of Marketplace revenue is made up of individual product listings by individuals rather than brands.
Instagram is the go-to destination for brand purchases
If we look at the platforms where brands typically sell, Meta is still the dominant platform provider.
Instagram is the go-to for shoppers with a brand in mind.
Instagram’s Shopping feature, while still in its infancy, is quickly gaining momentum. Not only does Instagram offer brands the ability to upload a complete catalog of products, and show inventory availability, but it also has a checkout feature that lets users complete purchases without leaving the app. Our research shows however that most shoppers don't want to use social checkout, preferring to purchase on the brand site for a host of different reasons. What social is great at however is for product discovery — 48% of users state the social media is a ‘great place to discover new products.’ This really illustrates where social plays as part of the shopping process, even if users prefer not to buy there: 87% of users said they took action after seeing a product on Instagram –– like following a brand, visiting their website, or making a purchase online. Even if users aren’t completing their sales journeys in the app, they’re still using Instagram’s shopping feature to discover new brands. It’s up to brands to then acquire enough data from those users to push for that purchase.
With 1.28 billion users on the app, that’s a lot of opportunity for brands.
… and TikTok is taking off
Of course, TikTok isn’t too far behind! Even though their shopping integration only launched this year, nearly 10% of respondents in our survey thought first about a recent purchase using TikTok.
It’s impressive for such a new app — which has come under fire repeatedly for privacy and data sharing concerns — to already be front of mind for many social shoppers.
The speed at which TikTok shopping has taken off is something to keep an eye on. As more users move away from Facebook and complain about the new changes to Instagram, TikTok will likely grow even more in popularity.
It all comes down to usability. Customers are going to gravitate toward the platforms that a) are easy to use, b) that engage and entertain, and c) that they trust. Buying products is a secondary purpose for most social users, but that process has to be easy without many of the user experience problems that exist today.
Comparing Meta’s brand-led social commerce vs TikTok and Pinterest
Meta may hold the biggest slice of the social commerce pie, but when we take Marketplace off of the plate, it’s still the number one in social commerce. However, as the chart below shows, TikTok is not far behind in shoppers’ minds:
Users will shop on a trusted platform that best suits their needs, and makes the process seamless and pain-free — how does Meta compare to the challengers for brand-led social commerce?
- Option to use the in-app Checkout function or direct sales to your website.
- Create catalogs of your most popular products.
- Hyper-specific targeted ads featuring product tags.
- Smoother sales journey when using Checkout.
- Products must be submitted through Facebook.
- Zero customer data can be collected when using Checkout.
- No control over the user experience.
- The fees charged by Instagram increase with the value of the order.
Instagram Shopping in Action
Glossier, a fast-growth beauty brand, successfully use its Instagram account as a cohesive shopfront. Instead of only posting bland product shots which are easy to scroll past, they rely on UGC and elegant catalog shots to keep in line with the Instagram aesthetic they’d already cultivated.
- Customizable Shop layout so you can tailor it to match your brand.
- Integrated messaging with customers through Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.
- Brands have the option to direct clients to “Check Out on Another Website”which is what most shoppers prefer.
- Younger audiences are leaving Facebook in favor of TikTok and Instagram.
- Facebook deducts a selling fee of 5% per shipment on all sales over $8.
- Inability to add features such as discount codes or referral programs.
- Your Facebook page must have at least 2,000 likes to set up a shop, creating a barrier to entry for smaller brands.
Facebook Shopping in Action
DTC wristband band, ZOX, was born on Facebook, so it makes perfect sense that the brand would focus on Facebook Shops as its core social commerce channel. ZOX hosts live shopping events and has even set up a separate VOX VIP group of 30k members who receive unique access to new content and events.
- TikTok’s algorithm pushes out the best content to relevant audiences regardless of follower count.
- It’s a relatively new feature, so brands have less competition on TikTok than on Instagram (for now!).
- The new Branded Mission function makes it even easier to work with influencers.
- Seamless Shopify integration.
- TikTok is video only.
- The newest social commerce option so it hasn’t built up as much trust as other platforms.
TikTok Shopping in Action
Mallows Beauty is a small skincare brand that has seen massive growth in the last two years, thanks mostly to TikTok. As soon as TikTok Shopping became available, the brand jumped on the opportunity –– now the brand typically generates more revenue through one live shopping event than its flagship Cardiff store does in a week.
- While Pinterest is a platform people use for inspiration, they do so in the mood to buy. Users are 55% more likely to purchase a brand or product after seeing a video on Pinterest compared to other platforms. They are also likely to spend significantly more — 2x as much as other platforms.
- Excellent discovery and search tools to help users find new brands.
- Users can create shopping lists and pin items they like.
- Pinterest appeals to niche audiences, and may not be as relevant for many brands
- In-app checkout is only available in the US for now.
- Brands need to have a Business account, a linked website, and privacy, shipping and returns policies listed on their site to become a Verified Merchant.
Beauty brand Benefit knows what people come to Pinterest for — information and education, rather than just pretty photos. The brand uses Pinterest to share DIYs, information, inspiration, and tutorials using their range of products –– exactly the type of content people will organically be pinning to their boards. These posts all link back to their Pinterest Shop.
Okay, so what does this all mean for brands?
Social commerce is in its infancy — but shopping is increasingly moving to the edge and the growth seen over the last few years is only the beginning. While Meta may hold the lion's share of the market right now, this may not always be the case. Users will shop in a way that is convenient for them, and brands need to put user experience at the forefront, regardless of where they are selling.
Whichever platform you choose make sure you follow best practices:
- Optimize your landing page for the audience that you’re targeting. Constantly check your links to ensure everything works, and that it looks good on mobile. The State of Social Commerce 2022 research shows that landing experiences from social aren't good, with 81% of shoppers complaining about poor experiences when clicking through from social.
- Focus on inventory management. You don’t want users seeing your promoted posts, trying to purchase, then finding out it’s already sold out.
- Avoid in-app checkout. Yes, it’s easy, but you’re then missing out on capturing valuable data which you’ll need for remarketing and driving profitability. Promote products on social for customers to discover, but direct them to the brand site — 71% of shoppers prefer to check out here anyway.
To learn more about taking control of your own social commerce journeys, visit the SimplicityDX blog for more insights.
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.