When the first true social media platform was launched in 1997, it was designed simply as a way for individuals to connect with each other. Jump forward 25 years, and social media sites look nothing like they did at their inception. User bases grew exponentially, ways to monetize social platforms developed, and businesses found new ways to engage with consumers. These changes paved the way for social media e-commerce.
Selling to customers through social media has been around for about a decade, nearly half the lifespan of social media. However, more and more customers are demanding brands respond to the direct-to-consumer model on their favorite platforms. This demand grew even further in 2020 when COVID-19 prohibited many businesses from keeping brick-and-mortar stores open. As a result, social e-commerce sales skyrocketed. Research suggests that this shift in consumer buying behavior is unlikely to change any time soon.
Today, businesses are evolving from brick-and-mortar retail shops with social media accounts to social ecommerce powerhouses in order to access a growing percentage of the market. Developing and implementing a robust social e-commerce marketing strategy is the next step in the evolution of the modern retail business.
What is Social e-Commerce?
Social e-commerce involves selling products directly through social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Pinterest. With social e-commerce, buyers go through the entire shopping experience via social media. A consumer discovers a new product, researches the product features, and purchases the product all through the social media platform.
Your prospective buyer is scrolling through Instagram and sees a video promoting a new hair care product. Below the video is a ‘Shop Now’ button. The buyer clicks on the button and is taken to a page where they can purchase the product in the app. Once the purchase is complete, the buyer can continue their scrolling experience or find complimentary products. That’s the beauty of social e-commerce, simple yet effective.
The Explosion of Social e-Commerce
With the overall usage of social media exploding over the last ten years, it was inevitable that social e-commerce or other social-media related activities would become the top trending sales strategy. Not surprisingly, the global pandemic accelerated that growth. In May 2021, eMarketer released figures showing that in 2019, total social e-commerce retail sales in the United States topped US$19.4 billion. In 2020 alone, that number rose 38.9%, largely due to changing shopping habits resulting from COVID restrictions and lockdowns. A recent report from Accenture shows that trend is unlikely to slow down: over the next few years social e-commerce is estimated to grow three times as fast as traditional e-commerce.
Considering the US social e-commerce market was an estimated US$51.2 billion in 2021, the trend is on track to continue, even with easing restrictions. Globally, the social e-commerce market is expected to reach US$2.9 trillion by the year 2026. It is predicted that by 2025, 5% of the US’s retail e-commerce sales will be coming through social.
4 Key Benefits Of Social e-Commerce
Jumping onto a new marketing trend can feel risky for more traditional brands. Yet, many businesses have already adopted social e-commerce. According to Sprout Social, research among 250 US marketers found that 85% of large companies, 84% of medium-sized companies, and 57% of small companies were already selling on social e-commerce platforms in 2020. These businesses have learned that with the right social media marketing strategy, social e-commerce can offer tremendous growth opportunities. Let’s look at some of the benefits:
1. Streamlines Purchasing
Social e-commerce makes shopping a one-click process. A customer sees a product or service, clicks on a link, and buys it. It eliminates the multiple steps of seeing an ad, going to a website, adding a product to a shopping cart, and filling out credit card info. Removing barriers and friction from the buying process makes it more likely leads will complete their sales.
2. Allows for Hyper Audience Targeting
Social e-commerce allows businesses to be highly targeted in their advertising. With the wealth of customer data available on social media, businesses can make sure that their advertising only reaches a specific audience. Those highly targeted audiences are also more likely to complete purchases.
3. Creates a Market Research Group
Social media allows individuals to like, comment, and share. With social e-commerce feedback, your advertising can collect data on which products and services are more appealing. With this data, you can identify which products and services to give greater visibility. Not only that, but social e-commerce also allows businesses the opportunity to chat with customers, providing more personalized customer service.
4. Brings the Costumer Closer to the Brand
Beyond direct sales through social e-commerce, social media platforms are playing a large role in customer engagement and customer service. Brands can connect with customers quickly and efficiently on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and others. When customers have questions or concerns or need help with purchases, they can contact the brand directly through social media, providing a more personalized experience.
Incorporating Social e-Commerce Into your Marketing StrategyOUR MARKETING STRATEGY
No one-size-fits-all social e-commerce marketing strategy is going to work for every brand. A B2B service advertising campaign is going to look very different from a B2C product advertising campaign. However, all brands can follow similar guidelines when incorporating social e-commerce into their marketing strategy.
Include Calls to Action
All social media posts should include calls to action. Phrases such as ‘Shop Now’ or ‘Get Offer’ or ‘Learn More’ are some popular calls to action. These words push social media users to purchase the products or services they see advertised in their newsfeeds. It’s important to keep in mind that each post should only have one call to action! If you add too many the reader may not understand if one is more important than the other, resulting in lower conversion rates.
Post User-Generated Content
Brands that encourage customers to share pictures and videos featuring their products or services build stronger relationships. Not only that, having customers proudly promote your products or services for you makes your brand more credible. Posting user-generated content on your own profile extends the reach.
Collaborate With Others
Collaborating with a social media influencer or related brand in your industry can expose a business to new audiences. For example, a brand could invite an influencer to test a product or service and share their honest review with their audience. Or a brand could partner with a couple of other brands who cater to similar audiences and put together a high-value giveaway for the combined audiences. The promotion extends audience reach.
Use Analytics to Guide Future Sales
Social media analytics can provide a wide range of e-commerce related data:
- Ad Offer Click-Throughs
- Social Media Shares
- Mentions From Customers
- Profile Visits
- Website Clicks
Analyzing this data can offer insights on how to target customers better and drive-up ROI.
All of this might be a bit overwhelming for a small marketing team. The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. el LinKe’s experienced team can help you. We can work with you to craft a solution that fits your needs. Contact us today.
We’ll partner with you to close the missing LinKes in your sales and marketing pipelines and provide value beyond traditional marketing frameworks.