This article is part of the TrendingUp series, in which we regularly present new trends in social media, online marketing and influencer marketing.
What is social commerce?
Social commerce is not a brand-new trend, but it has gained considerable momentum due to social distancing and lockdowns around the world. People are spending more and more time on social networks, discovering new brands and are increasingly willing to spend money directly on Facebook, Instagram, and the like. In contrast to social marketing, social commerce specifically means the sale of products or services on social networks, without redirection to external platforms or websites.
At the same time, the focus is on interaction, not price. New product worlds can be opened and - later - rated and shared out of conviction. But what exactly distinguishes social commerce?
Social commerce creates perfect customer experiences
From the company's brand presence or the product presentation by an influencer directly to the shopping cart and check-out: Smooth ordering processes are rewarded by high success rates. Social commerce will simplify these processes even more in 2021.
The focus is on a positive user experience. In order to shop, users no longer have to leave the network. The fewer clicks the individual user must deal with, the more likely the purchase will be completed successfully. This makes users happy - and e-commerce even happier.
For SMEs without their own online shop and for the stationary trade, which previously relied on direct customer contact, this opens new opportunities. Potential customers can contact the retailer directly via likes, comments, shares or private messages. Decision-making and purchasing advice via chat or through the community below a post ensure that customers really get what they want.
At the same time, companies thus stand out from the faceless variety of offers that prevail on e-commerce platforms such as Amazon or Ebay, for example.
Live shopping in social communities
Teleshopping, but in the form of a live stream: In China, this form of live shopping has long been widespread. Influencers or companies themselves go live in the stream, present product features or answer questions from the community live. If the viewers are convinced, the product lands in the shopping cart with one click.
Friends and family members arrange to take part, the event is celebrated like a visit to a classic shopping mall - only online and regardless of where individual members of the community happen to be.
Companies with a strong community can significantly increase brand and company loyalty with live shopping. At the same time, sales are generated and product features that require explanation are brought directly to the user.
Social commerce on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok
The leading social networks in western countries are Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Here, too, social commerce is becoming increasingly important.
The model from overseas is the comprehensive platform WeChat from China, where private and professional contacts cavort alongside company appearances and service offers. From family discussion groups to food delivery, everything can be done directly on and via the app. The integrated payment system makes leaving the network completely unnecessary.
Facebook/Instagram - target group-oriented social commerce
Facebook introduced a comprehensive, platform-owned shop function in 2020. Products can be displayed individually as part of a product catalogue or integrated into different post formats. What is new are the more extensive individualization functions for designing the Facebook shop, including adaptation to different target groups. Facebook is thus one step ahead of the classic online shop, because instead of extensive and sometimes legally complicated tracking attempts, Facebook itself provides the data basis for more effective social commerce - on its own platform.
If a product catalogue is stored on Instagram, the products and tags can also be used in the brand's Instagram channel, and connections to external shop systems such as Shopify are also possible. This means that existing external e-commerce offers can be connected quickly and effectively with Facebook's own shop solutions.
In the USA, internal checkout methods for Facebook and Instagram are already being tested within a beta group. The rollout for the European market should also be imminent. Then users will no longer have to leave the platforms to authorize payment.
The integrated check-out is criticized in western countries mainly because of data protection - Facebook stores the payment data and, according to previous criteria, is unlikely to meet the strict standards of the e-commerce guidelines.
Nevertheless, users who already spend a lot of time on Facebook or Instagram tend to jump at interesting offers. The smoother the ordering process, the more sales can be generated.
TikTok - Swipe Up for Shopping
The social video network has recently added swipe-up shopping links to better integrate the shop, which was previously only accessible via the links in the bio, into the video formats. This is especially important for companies that want to communicate with their target group on TikTok or work with influencers. After all, leaving the app and searching specifically for a product in the external browser? The main user group of TikTok rarely does that.
An integrated check-out is also expected here soon - the corresponding technical solution should not be a hurdle for the platform originally developed in China.
Pinterest - Individualized Shop Tab
Comparatively new in the field of social commerce platforms is Pinterest. It has recently become possible for traders to make product markings and individualize the shop tab. Relevant content from the well-known DIY sector then complements the brand presence and cleverly exploits the company's reach to realize further sales.
For the optimal social commerce experience, products can now be purchased directly via pins, pinboards and Pinterest Lens.
Conclusion - Social Commerce as an opportunity for retailers
Social commerce is the option to engage in direct exchange with users in social networks - with the clear intention of selling. In 2021, it should become much easier for traders and users to sell or buy directly on the platform. In this context, traders face the great challenge of making internet users primarily aware of their online offers.
With SeedingUp, it is easy to find suitable micro-influencers for your company to promote your social media presence. Contact us - we will be happy to advise you!
SeedingUp helps brands to be present in the media channels that suit them with content about their products and services created by independent publishers and influencers on websites, blogs, YouTube, or social networks. The brands benefit not only from increased awareness, an improved image as well as higher traffic, but also from various positive SEO effects resulting from this.