Selling directly on social media is a great — and more direct — way of reaching consumers.
This is social commerce. If you want to take advantage of this new, but lucrative revenue opportunity, please read on.
In this piece, we’ll do a complete breakdown of social commerce:
- what it is
- how it differs from ecommerce
- why you should try it
- the best platforms to use
- tips for making big bucks from social commerce
What is social commerce?
Social commerce is the practice of conducting transactions for goods or services directly within a social media platform.
This innovative business model enhances social networks by allowing users to seamlessly complete the entire purchase process without having to leave the platform and switch to another app or webpage.
Currently, major platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok have integrated social commerce features.
Here’s a breakdown of how social commerce operates:
While scrolling through your Instagram feed, you come across a pair of stylish army green cargo pants that catch your eye. Adjacent to the pants image, you’ll notice a “Shop Now” button. When you click on it, the pants are automatically placed in your shopping cart, and you can proceed to make the purchase right there on Instagram, eliminating the need to visit the company’s website.
Alternatively, you might discover a lightning-fast, portable smoothie blender promoted by your favorite fitness influencer on TikTok. You decide to click “Buy” and make the purchase. After completing the purchase, you can continue watching TikTok videos without any interruptions.
This approach offers remarkable convenience, doesn’t it?
Now envision being a business owner and having the ability to sell your products directly on the social media platforms where your target audience spends most of their time.
Social commerce vs. ecommerce: What’s the difference?
Social commerce and ecommerce are frequently used interchangeably, but they are distinct concepts.
Ecommerce is a comprehensive term encompassing the online purchase and sale of products through an online store, ecommerce website, or a dedicated mobile app. In contrast, social commerce enables customers to buy products and services directly within social media platforms, eliminating the need to navigate to external websites.
It’s also important to differentiate between social commerce and social selling. Social selling involves the process of nurturing relationships on social media to expand the pool of potential prospects.
5 reasons why you should try social commerce
If you’re not sure if you should set up a shop on social media, here are five reasons why you should give it a shot.
1. Social commerce makes the shopping process more interactive
The process of purchasing products and services on social media offers a more seamless and interactive experience when compared to traditional ecommerce transactions.
Through social commerce, shoppers have the convenience of effortlessly commenting on products that catch their eye, leaving reviews, engaging in discussions with friends about potential purchases, and directly interacting with their preferred brands.
In essence, social commerce mirrors the experience of shopping in a brick-and-mortar mall, with the added benefit of being conducted online.
2. Millennials and Gen Z like to shop on social media
- The 18-34 age group is highly active on social media.
- Statista reports that 62% of individuals in this age bracket make purchases influenced by social posts and influencer content.
- If your products align with their preferences, set up an online store on their favored social platform.
- Effective marketing can help you showcase your products and drive significant sales in this demographic.
3. Social commerce removes friction
Social commerce streamlines the buying process on social media platforms by allowing users to purchase products directly within the platform, eliminating the need to visit external websites.
This approach minimizes the chances of cart abandonment and enhances the shopping experience, especially for the 18-34 age group, who are highly active on social media.
4. Social commerce automatically offers you a (free and easy) focus group
In addition to expediting the buying process, social commerce provides an excellent avenue for gathering customer feedback.
This process is straightforward. As your products are readily accessible on social media platforms, customers have the opportunity to review them and offer insights on their preferences or areas for improvement.
Given that you have direct access to your customers and can engage with them through comments or direct messages, you can simply request their input on product ideas, development, and inventory choices.
Social media presents a valuable source of customer information. By leveraging this data, you have the opportunity to tailor your advertising efforts toward individuals who exhibit genuine interest in your offerings.
Social commerce enables you to showcase your purchase-ready products to a receptive audience, a capability that traditional ecommerce lacks. This approach enhances your ability to increase sales and maximize revenue generation.
The best social media platforms for social commerce
Right now, there are five social media platforms that offer social commerce features: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, and Snapchat. But as social shoppers and revenue increase, more platforms will likely add the “Shop Now” or “Buy” buttons to their features.
If you’re interested in using this profitable business model, here are the social platforms you should try:
Facebook’s social commerce feature, known as Facebook Shops, provides a convenient and free way to sell products to your target audience through your Facebook Business Page. It offers customization options for product selection and branding elements like fonts, colors, and images. You can create a new catalog or import an existing one from your website or online store. Inventory syncing is straightforward for partner platforms, while manual upload via a spreadsheet is an option for others. This feature empowers businesses to engage with their audience and boost sales on Facebook.
Your Facebook Shop is accessible from various locations, such as your Page, Instagram, shopping ads, and Stories. Customers can choose in-app checkout, website redirection, or direct Messenger communication.
Facebook Shops also offers the flexibility to create a temporary shop for testing purposes.
As you begin selling on Facebook, managing customer inquiries can become demanding.
Instagram Shops, similar to Facebook Shops, enable users to make purchases directly within the app based on the products featured in photos or videos.
To establish an Instagram Shop, you’ll need to link your Instagram business account to your Facebook business profile. Once connected, you can create a customizable store, which serves as a catalog of your available products. Each product in your IG Shop features its own product detail page, complete with information on the product, pricing, and visual content.
Various methods for selling on Instagram include using Shopping Tags, dedicating a Shop tab for product discovery, and creating ads with the Shop tab integrated, labeled as “Sponsored.”
Notably, Meta has introduced a feature that allows shopping through direct messages (DMs).
In 2015, Pinterest introduced a system allowing users to purchase products via regular pins with availability and pricing details. However, these pins don’t offer direct social commerce, as they lead users to specific landing pages for completing purchases.
If you operate a Pinterest business account, you have the option to create Product Pins showcased in your Pinterest Shop. Within the United States, customers can conveniently use the “Buy” button located below a pin to complete their purchases without leaving the app.
Conversely, customers outside the U.S. are directed to online stores to finalize their purchases. While not truly global social commerce, it’s notable that 89% of Pinterest users mainly use it for product discovery, thanks to its powerful search features.
Are you familiar with the hashtag, #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt?
This hashtag showcases 7 billion purchases influenced by TikTok recommendations. Encountering it underscores the strong case for selling on TikTok to engage your audience effectively.
TikTok Shop offers three avenues for selling your products:
1. In-feed videos
2. Product showcase tab
It’s worth noting that the social app recently abandoned plans to expand TikTok Shop beyond the North American market. However, it remains available in the UK and Asia.