The digital transformation has seen a steady shift away from traditional brick-and-mortar stores and a rise in online selling.
In 2021 alone, ecommerce sales totaled 4,938 billion U.S. dollars. This is estimated to rise to 7,391 billion U.S. dollars in 2025.
Clearly, the internet has revolutionized the sales landscape and created exciting times for new businesses. But there’s a new sales trend emerging that looks set to boost online markets even more… social commerce.
The global popularity of social media presents a golden opportunity for increasing sales and brand awareness. This can also afford you the chance to raise your personal branding and establish yourself as an expert within your field.
But before you become a social commerce guru, you’ll need to clue yourself up.
If you’ve searched the web for an answer to “What is social commerce?”, read on to find out how it works and why you need to jump into the trend.
What is social commerce?
Social commerce, AKA social media shopping, is where social media platforms are used to sell products or services directly to consumers.
Social commerce makes sense. More than half (58.4%) of the world now uses social media across multiple devices. Before social commerce, customers looking to buy online had to navigate to the seller’s main website and make an account. It can be a time-consuming process that takes the buzz out of shopping.
The speed of use, convenience, and engaging nature of social commerce are some of the reasons why it’s becoming one of the top online selling trends of 2022 and beyond.
How does social commerce work?
There’s a range of platforms available for social commerce, including Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Each platform comes with its own social commerce capabilities and available plugins, enabling marketing automation.
Your social commerce strategy will depend on the platforms you use.
Generally speaking, there are some common social commerce techniques for boosting engagement and conversions depending on the platform you’re using. Let’s take a look.
Influencers hold enormous pulling power when it comes to showcasing new brands or products on social media.
Influencer videos have high value in an online world where users often scroll through an endless feed of content. Catching a viewer’s attention by displaying an interesting product with the help of a popular influencer should be part of your social commerce strategy.
Linking to products on social media
Whether you’ve decided to post an image, a video, or an advert, inserting clickable links that take you to the next step in the buying journey is crucial.
Perhaps, you’ve just posted a marketing video to your Facebook page to show your new software as one of the best Cin7 alternatives. Adding a link to your website for a free trial or to find out more information should be a no-brainer.
Social commerce is great for letting customers access products quickly. And with integrated shopping systems now built into many platforms, it’s easier than ever.
What is social commerce without live shopping?
Live shopping has become a prominent feature of social commerce, with brands and influencers showcasing products in real-time.
These types of virtual events allow customers to discover and purchase new products and brands, usually at a discount, while engaging with like-minded people in the live chat.
With traditional brick-and-mortar stores continuing to decline in use, live shopping offers an alternative by bringing the shopping experience directly to the customer.
Crowdfunding, or participatory commerce, is an up-and-coming type of social commerce gaining popularity.
Popular websites like Kickstarter let people donate money to support the development of startup businesses and help them build new products. Investors could be offered incentives like discounts or a limited-edition version of the product.
Crowdfunding offers a unique opportunity for brands to test the waters with new product ideas before they’re even brought to market. This means you won’t waste time and money by going ahead with unpopular concepts. It pays to listen to your customers.
There has been a huge number of successful product launches that began as Kickstarter projects recently, all thanks to online communities with shared ideas and needs.
Community shopping/group buying
The idea of group buying is that customers get bigger discounts on products or services when a certain number of people have placed an order. Sellers can justify reducing prices if sales are increasing.
Deals like these are especially useful in the food and drink, travel, and retail industries, where family members often seek out local deals. If a family of six can recommend another family of six to your restaurant, it’s worth a 10% discount!
The top social commerce platforms
Facebook social commerce
Facebook offers a massive opportunity for social commerce thanks to its 2.91 billion monthly users.
Facebook’s dedicated Commerce Manager tool has some handy features that let you:
- Handle inventory
- Provide a fast checkout method
- Manage orders
- Manage finances
- Gain customer insights
- Provide security
- Set up call-to-action buttons like “Buy now”
Facebook’s Commerce Manager provides the tools you need to become an effective and efficient social commerce seller. The rest is down to the design and marketing of your Facebook page.
TikTok social commerce
TikTok currently holds the crown for being the most downloaded app. It’s been number one in the App Store for some time.
Better still, TikTok has over one billion active monthly users. What do TikTok viewers make? That’s right, potential social commerce customers! And what is social commerce without customers?
Look at the comments sections, and you’ll find countless people asking, “Where can I buy this?” and “Can somebody send me a link to this?”.
TikTok has become the ideal platform for online selling after it partnered with ecommerce giant Shopify. It’s now easier to turn viewers into customers by adding a shopping tab to your profile and putting product links in posts.
Instagram social commerce
What began as an app centered around pictures and short video clips has evolved to support social commerce.
Instagram stories are great for creating content that keeps prospects engaged and up to date with your brand. Using influencers or actors in your stories could help grab the attention of the masses and increase sales further.
Instagram makes social commerce easy. You’re able to tag products directly within videos and photos in your feed. When a user clicks on these tags, they can be shown essential information related to your products or linked to an external store.
Instagram’s “Discovery” tab also makes it easier for your intended audience to discover you organically. With an in-app checkout available too, social commerce with Instagram is as easy as see it, click it, buy it. Great for customers and businesses alike.
Pinterest social commerce
Although it may be Facebook and Instagram that come to mind when you think of social commerce, Pinterest has some real advantages over its rivals. For example, Pinterest:
- Has ads that don’t feel intrusive. They’re simply part of the content wall
- Is a visual platform that inspires impulse and excitement amongst viewers
- Is a creative platform that inspires creativity
- Can be integrated with Shopify, making managing your commerce store easy
A platform where advertisers can easily place ads and where viewers are actively looking for products to buy is a match made in heaven for social commerce.
Twitter social commerce
Twitter is a hugely popular micro-blogging platform, as can be seen from the above statistics.
Twitter prides itself on being the go-to place for the latest news and current trends. For social commerce, there’s an opportunity to get products trending on Twitter by using buzzwords and hashtags. You can also benefit from currently trending hashtags. For example, seen “#Acumatica alternatives” trending? Now’s your chance to plug your ERP software to the masses, or discuss ways to streamline your email campaign.
Twitter users can attach links in their bio to their commerce store or product pages. You can also embed product or brand awareness campaign videos into your tweets.
Twitter is a place where things become trends. Written a new guide on software development vs. manufacturing? How about a new SaaS product? Get it trending on Twitter with some solid social commerce techniques.
Why do you need to jump into social commerce now?
Moving forward, online sales via social media will continue to grow in popularity, and it’s no surprise. Here are some of the main benefits of social commerce:
- Boost brand visibility and reputation: social commerce puts your brand in front of more potential customers and offers them a streamlined buying process.
- Make organic conversions: social commerce lets you meet customers where they hang out and provides a more organic buying journey that differs from mass email techniques or cold calling.
- Increase reviews and referrals: as your social content brings new customers to your funnel, social commerce gives them the chance to purchase and leave reviews in one centralized place. As engagement rises, the algorithms on your social media platform will promote your content to even more relevant customers.
- Gain data insights: social commerce connects you directly with customers’ social media profiles for greater insights into who they are and what they need. You’ll be able to make data-driven decisions with this information.
If you weren’t already thinking about social commerce, hopefully, this guide has shown you how it can work for you.
With social media continually rising in popularity and with a hybrid customer experience now being preferred for shopping, social commerce shows no signs of slowing down soon.
Remember, though, the key to prospering is getting it right. You’ll need the wow factor to stand out in competitive markets. Your pricing will also need to be competitive to prevent prospects from taking their money elsewhere.
Good luck with your social commerce adventure.