The Era of Social Commerce Has arrived – Is Your Brand Ready to Capitalise?

e-commerce

By Annie Little, Strategist at Initials

The momentum around social commerce is palpable.

In 2021, brands turned to social commerce for timely answers to marketing challenges. The integration of ‘shops’ and ‘buy now buttons’ into social feeds drove traffic to ecommerce sites and married commercial and social agendas.

This year, all eyes are fixed on the next evolution. From Instagram’s Checkout feature, which closes the loop and allows users to purchase products in-app, to Spotify’s in-stream retail features, brands will need to move quickly to take advantage.

Data from Hootsuite shows 81% of shoppers research products via Instagram and Facebook, while half of Pinterest users say shopping is a top priority for them.

This comes at a time when 72% of millennials say they are more likely to become a loyal customer if a brand engages with them on social media.

As social communities and not-so-distant Metaverse worlds redefine how we connect, share and interact, it’s clear that the future of ecommerce is one with social commerce fixed firmly at its core.

Whether you’re a seasoned social commerce veteran or testing out the waters, here’s how your brand can thrive in the crucial months ahead.

Social Commerce Is a Lucrative Revenue Source for ALL Brands — Not Just the Big Players

Want the short truth? There is no “best” social network to target.

Consumers use different platforms for different purposes and this will vary significantly based on your brand’s products, services and role in culture.

In 2020, YouTube pioneered shopping ads in video, Snapchat introduced Shoppable AR formats and Instagram checkouts launched in the US. And in 2021 with the launch of Facebook Pay, TikTok’s partnership with Shopify and Pinterest’s “Idea Pins” launch, the memo is clear: social commerce is well and truly here.

Social media platforms have democratised the playing field between small and big businesses. One meme can send you viral. A clever post can spin heads.

Today, the currency we’re all playing with is attention and engagement. Sure, a big budget can help draw views but the right content and messages can have a disproportionate impact on a brand’s social commerce success.

This is what makes social commerce so powerful; success is predicated as much on relevance as it is on budget. By taking advantage of existing features and getting into the game early, forward-thinking brands can carve out a niche as innovators in the space.

“How Can My Brand Flourish?” Start by Cultivating an Obsession With Customer Data

To create fertile ground for social commerce to flourish, brands need to obsess over their customer data. This means identifying your audience’s unique behaviours, preferences and needs, which starts by asking the right questions.

When does demand fluctuate for certain products?

What platforms does our audience use to research and explore?

What type of content drives conversion?

Understanding the nuances of customer behaviour can help brands seed categories and products at the right time, whether that’s in the run up to sales peaks or nurturing relationships during low demand periods.

The Confluence of Social Media, Content and Commerce Is an Exciting Area for 2022.

The creator economy, social shopping and peer-to-peer/influencer shopping is predicted to boom in the Western world.

New platforms such as Patreon, Substack, Cameo and TipJar are enabling creators to bypass the traditional branded influencer partnership. This means an entirely new ecosystem is emerging where creators can build relationships directly with their followers.

This concept of fandom is becoming an increasingly powerful force, one that is already evident in the rise of gaming. Gaming creators and esports exploded in 2021, with an 80% increase in livestream gaming content.

The most popular platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram are adapting their services to meet these new demands and offer revenue sharing tools to creators. It’s needed, as 71% of brands plan to increase spending and leverage the power of creators to sell via livestreams and shoppable media. TikTok has seen the most growth, with 84% of marketers planning to increase spend on the app in 2022.

As live streaming, digital entertainment and social commerce collide, brands will need to seriously consider how they can create organic communities for loyal fans and followers. 

Social Commerce Is the New Real Estate

Today’s web of hyper-connectivity has created new pockets of online communities.

We work, learn, communicate, play and shop online. While in decades gone by the price of consumer attention was determined by the size and location of your store on the high street, the rise of social media means that anyone, anywhere can create a virtual shop front.

This is the crux of social commerce. To not simply meet buyers where they are, but to make these spaces places where people want to get their products and connect with others.

The short-term advantage will be recognised by go-to brands who future proof themselves by being first to market with social commerce integration. It has shifted from a perpetual priority to a desperately needed lifeline to thrive in a post-pandemic world.

Is your social storefront ready to meet the expectations of a new generation of consumers?

With a new era upon us, patience is not a virtue. Now is the time to get involved.

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