By: Marcel Hollerbach, Chief Innovation Officer at Productsup
Social commerce is the marriage of social media and online shopping, allowing consumers to purchase goods directly through their favourite, most-used social media apps. With social commerce, the entire shopping experience from discovery to purchase takes place inside the one app, meaning improved conversion rates for online brands and businesses.
The concept of social commerce is a largely new one for most companies, and managing it can seem impossible – but doing so successfully is enabling online retailers to stand out from the competition. This isn’t easy, especially given that social commerce product data has to get through a lot of loops in order for it to appear accurate for shoppers. For instance, product data used for the new Instagram Shopping feature moves from a retailer’s system, back to Instagram and then to the retailer – and this is just one of several popular social commerce channels causing a growing industry pain point, known as “commerce anarchy”.
The solution to the anarchy
For context, the convergence of social media and e-commerce has proven to be an invaluable sales platform for online retailers and generated roughly £374.8bn in revenue in the last year. Indeed, social selling really is of benefit to retailers, with the industry set to boom over the coming years; analysts predict the market to be worth $604.5 billion by 2027. However, with all the social media giants like Twitter and Snapchat now ramping up social commerce efforts, a solution to the increasingly complex online retail ecosystem is needed.
Fortunately, utilising strong product feed management solutions is the key to any sort of social commerce success and conquering commerce anarchy. With almost every brand and retailer now relying heavily on digital channels to succeed, businesses are faced with the challenge of providing accurate insights into their stock levels and syncing this across multiple platforms. But this is just the first step. In the age of commerce anarchy, more must be done to overcome these challenges to ensure brands successfully leverage social commerce to their advantage.
Leverage influencer marketing and embedded social shopping
Media consumption has changed drastically over the past few decades. For instance, a clear decline in linear television consumption has led consumers (particularly those of Gen Z) to online streaming services and social sites like YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram where they can watch live and on-demand content. As a result, advertisers have followed. Social media channels have thus become some of the most successful forms of online advertising.
According to TikTok’s research, 50% of its users discover new products through ads on the app. But social media isn’t just about advertising, it’s where users go to find influencer content, organic posts, and livestreams. 70% of shopping enthusiasts turn to Instagram for product discovery, with 87% of people saying that influencers have inspired them to make a purchase. Therefore, leveraging influencer marketing is of great importance.
Social media users increased by more than 13% over the past year, with nearly half a billion new users taking the global total to almost 4.2 billion at the start of 2021; as a result, this year looks to be the biggest year yet for social commerce. So, now really is the time to leverage influencer marketing as a way to boost sales.
One way to do this is through YouTube, for example. Influencers have moved beyond advertisements breaking up their videos to a more native way of promoting products, such as through product placement and sponsorship deals. Through this model, users are less likely to feel that they are bombarded with a product or service, but are still experiencing the draw of seeing their favourite influencers making use of them. The power of the influencer cannot be understated, and utilising social commerce correctly is a surefire way to boost sales and visibility, especially as products can now be bought and sold through YouTube itself.
Recent Google innovation YouTube shop is an ecommerce feature that enables users to easily access a product mentioned in a video rather than manually searching for the content. Innovations like these mean that brands must remain adaptable and tailor their social commerce strategies to account for innovations like this. Streamlining the user experience on social commerce channels is far more likely to turn an online passer-by into a customer.
Create engaging content to help your brand stand out from the competition
As well as effective marketing through influencers, creating engaging content that grabs the attention of online passers-by is essential to cutting out the competition. Even though consumers have become less loyal to brands in the past decade, branding continues to play a big role in the success of online retailers. Millennials and Gen Z are, by all accounts, able to see straight through a business’s ads and campaigns. This is why it’s more important than ever to create a product experience that is compelling and consistent from touchpoint to touchpoint. This can be almost as important as the price point itself.
Having access to better tools, especially when it comes to content creation, enables online retailers to craft more agreeable social content that is far more unique to the needs of a particular demographic of customer. Content must also be tailored to the platform retailers are using. For example, snappy, witty jokes work well on Twitter, sleek aesthetic posts are perfect for Instagram, and humorous, insightful clips are all the rage right now on TikTok.
Creating content that is platform-specific with the end-user in mind ensures brands engage potential customers in a meaningful way through easy-to-digest social content that adheres to an app’s best practices. Streamlining a social commerce strategy in such a way, with a myriad of links to accurate product data across platforms, means that brands are able to combat commerce anarchy by making the user experience even easier and more intuitive.
In essence, navigating the growing issue of commerce anarchy can be solved through efficient product feed optimisation. Once stabilised, brands can tackle social commerce marketing to push their products to more and more consumers – this is an important first step. Creating engaging content will entice potential customers to ecommerce stores, driven further by making use of influencers to market products or brands. Ultimately, to ensure a brand gains traction and piques user interest, both accurate product data and sleek social commerce marketing are required – an uptick in positive reviews and an increase in sales will follow. Commerce anarchy needn’t cause chaos if social commerce is leveraged correctly.