Social commerce: an essential driver to boost your sales?

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It’s simple: to boost your online sales, you need to look at where your consumers spend most of their time. That means on social networks! And for good reason. According to Statista, 77.9% of the British population is active on social media (with 53 million users).

Internet users spend an average of 1 hour, 49 minutes per day on these applications (Digital 2021, We Are Social, and Hootsuite). Social commerce – or social shopping – is therefore no longer just an option, particularly since the pandemic has pushed consumers towards digital purchasing. So, is social commerce becoming an essential driver to increasing revenues in this area?

Key trends of social commerce

To answer this question, it is first necessary to master the ins-and-outs of social commerce and recognize some of the major trends emerging there. In this regard, one of the main developments to take into account is the gradual transformation of social media platforms into true e-commerce ecosystems that promote the presentation and sale of products.

We are not only talking about the actual presence of brands on social networks – though that is still very important. In the United States alone, data show that in 2021, 92% of companies with more than 100 employees use social media for marketing purposes (compared to 86% in 2013 – Statista). The European average came to 47% in 2017, but with significant variations by country (79% of Icelandic companies had a social media presence, compared to 41% of French companies – Statista). Thus, we are seeing more and more brands settling on networks to offer their product catalogs to internet users who follow them.

But what is surprising is the growing appetite of internet users for social commerce. A study in the US shows that 90% of users buy from the brands they follow on social media and are more loyal to said brands, with a jump in spending from 12% to 75% in three years (MarketingDive.com). In the UK, a third of internet users say they have already bought a product via a social media platform.

In other words, “social shopping” is becoming a full-fledged sales outlet in its own right. And if you want proof of this trend, here it is: social media platforms themselves are increasingly offering features that allow brands to offer (and sell) their products on these supports.

Features that promote social shopping

Currently, brands that are planning to drive their product catalogs on social media can make use of a multitude of features. These are designed not only to gain notoriety and strengthen their brand image, but also to generate conversions and boost their sales. Here are some of the most notable examples of e-commerce features on social media:

  • Dynamic product ads on Facebook or on Snapchat, which make it possible to operate a catalog directly on the advertising system of the social network, with a similar operation as with Google Shopping.
  • Facebook Collection ads that streamline the journey from the discovery of a product to its payment.
  • Ads with product tags (Instagram Shopping Ads) that give brands the opportunity to maximize the reach of their paid publications by labeling the products that are visible in the images. Users can click on the label to go to the product page on the seller’s site (for example, for a pair of shoes or a dress).
  • “Links” stickers for Instagram Stories, which subscribers can click to access the brand’s website (or any other desired digital media). These replace the popular “Swipe up” feature.
  • Different advertising formats offered by TikTok (each with its own special features: In-Feed Ads, TopView Ads, Brand Takeover Ads, etc.) or by Twitter (Promoted Ads, Follow Ads, Twitter Amplify, etc.).
  • Live Shopping, a practice providing Internet users the option to buy a product through a CTA while following a live video, often presented by an influencer (a kind of digital ‘teleshopping’). This feature is particularly suitable for the beauty e-commerce field.

This list highlights the Product Ads; online advertisements that aim to direct users to the websites of the brands. In essence, the product is shown on the social media platform, but the path taken by the purchase follows a cross-channel course, ending up on the seller’s site.

However, it is this very process that is changing with the development of integrated purchasing solutions, the new promised land of social shopping. It is important to understand the ability to buy directly on the app, without going through the brand’s e-commerce site. In particular, this is what is offered by Instagram Checkout, a payment solution put in place in 2019, or also Facebook Pay, which in the future will allow users to make payments on all platforms belonging to the Facebook universe. These two systems are currently only available  in the United States, but their deployment in Europe should be happening in the near future.

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Brands that take full advantage of social media features to make sales

The evolution of social networks towards e-commerce is a global trend: the vast majority of platforms are involved, and those that do not develop dedicated features still have an advertising agency to create Product Ads. The Lengow platform is also integrated with most of these networks (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok, etc.).

As for these companies, they have perfectly grasped the importance of social commerce. Brands like Madewell and Burberry (on Instagram), New Balance (on Facebook) or Sephora (with its ” Facebook Live Fridays “) make full use of the social shopping features of these platforms. They are also on the lookout for new products: just a few weeks after the launch of Instagram Checkout, more than 80 international brands were already using the feature, including Adidas, H&M, Levi’s, Nike, Prada and Zara.

These brands’ appetite for selling on social media should be a sufficient indicator of the importance of social commerce. Why not follow their lead and distribute your product catalog on social networks too?

Demande de contact EN

Naomi Botting

Senior Communications Manager - UK, Northern Europe, China