You can’t avoid social marketing if you want new customers today. In this article, you will learn about the influence of social networks. You can build up your company successfully sell via social media.
What is Social Commerce?
Social commerce, in a broader sense, describes the active involvement of users in the sales process. The focus is on social media exchanging brands, products, or services. Yahoo first used the name in 2005. The Yahoo search engine, widely used at the time, presented links to currently popular products of external online shops on the homepage.
It drew users’ attention to these shops – the beginning of social commerce! Social networks’ increasing popularity during the 2010s. Social marketing is increasingly important in promoting sales through recommendations and positive comments. While companies initially used social media primarily to promote their image, present products, and brands on the web, and expand the existing fan base, social networks have now also influenced the increasing global e-commerce sales.
Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest offer similar possibilities. In Asia and the USA, complete shopping processes, including checkout in the apps, are sometimes even possible – and it is only a matter of time before this will also be possible in India.
What are E-commerce and Social Selling?
E-commerce, also known as electronic commerce, includes all buying and selling processes on the Internet, i.e., via websites, apps, and social media channels of companies, online retailers, and marketplaces.
Social selling refers to the sales approach that uses social media influencers to connect with prospects and potential customers. The goal here is to build relationships and drive sales.
How does social marketing work?
Social influencers influence customers and then make their purchases in a brand’s online shop; social marketing maps the entire customer journey within a social media platform:
They are encouraging product interest to lead to actual purchases. Also, customers can receive support, give feedback and share their experiences with other community members via social media.
Social marketing via Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Pinterest
Social marketing unifies the entire customer journey on one social platform. What the individual touchpoints of the customer journey look like depends on the specific functions of the various networks. The first phase is to arouse the target group’s interest in a product, brand, or service. Stories are an absolute example of success in this context.
When Snapchat introduced the new feature in 2013, hardly anyone believed in its great success. Today, stories have become an integral part of the social media world, not least because Mark Zuckerberg implemented his version of the tales on Facebook and Instagram after a rejected purchase offer from Snapchat.
Meanwhile, stories are consumed by more than 400 million Instagram users every day and thus also have great potential in social commerce. That’s why with original stories, attention, subscriber numbers, and reach can undoubtedly increase.
The next step of the customer journey is to concretize the initial interest in a brand or a specific product and to provide information and inspiration. Whether pinboards on Pinterest, DIY videos on TikTok or tutorials or before-and-after comparisons as a reel on Instagram and Facebook – the visual platforms make a valuable contribution to this.
In the next step of the customer journey, reviews and purchase recommendations or the exchange with other users within the platform can tip the scales before the final purchase decision. In a Facebook group or the comments under an influencer post on Instagram – if the community actively and benevolently talks about products and offers, this contributes to a favorable purchase decision.
Speaking of buying: The relatively recent implementation of “shop the look” functions or shoppable posts in social networks increases the chances of success in social commerce even further. While it has long been possible to link products in posts directly to the corresponding article in the online shop, users no longer have to leave the social media platform for the purchase process thanks to the new functions.
It brings more usability for users and faster purchases for the company. These functions are not yet available in India. But Instagram, TikTok, and Co. have already announced to introduction due to their great success. At all the touchpoints mentioned, you can consciously influence your brand through advertising or cooperation with influencers and creators, sustainable community management, or interactive campaigns.
Social commerce via messenger services
Brands can integrate social networks and messenger services such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger and chatbots into websites for the social commerce process. They are among the trendsetting trends in online marketing. The direct, digital route to potential customers is already available in the USA.
Three social commerce functions are already the order of the day in Facebook Messenger, for example:
- Sales channel in Messenger: Product catalogs are uploaded directly in Messenger, but the purchase takes place outside the app.
- Facebook Live chat linked to the Shopify app: Brands can contact their Shopify customer through a chat function in Messenger.
- “Buy Now” function: Based on the user data stored on Facebook, purchases can be processed entirely via Messenger.
What is already standard practice in the USA is still in its infancy in this country. But one thing is clear: personalized, sales-promoting messages based on the user-specific purchase history paired with direct, systematic customer dialogue can promisingly support advertising companies in onboarding their customers and strengthening customer loyalty.
Why should companies use social commerce?
Social commerce offers enormous market potential. A recent study by the consulting firm Accenture predicts a tripling of global social commerce sales to up to 1.2 trillion US dollars by 2025.
The idea behind the distribution channel is nothing new. Economic success has been shaped by trends, exchanging experiences, recommendations, and criticisms for generations. This approach is precise because social commerce transfers to the original rather anonymous web.
The traditional online shop lacks a program for social networks: building personal relationships, and interpersonal communication. The content presented should inspire the community, encourage interaction – for example, through comments or the sharing of contributions – and ultimately push the product or brand. When selling via social media, companies also benefit from reaching their target group, where they spend a large part of their time.
The advantages offered by social commerce speak for themselves. According to Greven Medien, around a third of Indians have already shopped via social media. The influence that social networks have on e-commerce will continue to grow. A study by the IFH Cologne even concludes that they will mutate into direct shopping platforms in the future.
Social commerce examples in practice
From content marketing to recommendation and influencer marketing to prosumer marketing or retargeting – social commerce uses various (online) marketing measures for a promising strategy. The fact that it works demonstrates by the increase in sales figures and the fact that social commerce now exists in numerous forms.
If a user leaves a comment on a social media post or if a blogger makes a product recommendation in an article, this is just as much a part of social commerce as a classic review on rating platforms on Amazon or holiday check.
In addition, numerous other social commerce methods have proven themselves in the meantime, such as:
- Peer-to-peer marketplaces: Direct sale of products or services from user to user. Examples: eBay classifieds or Etsy
- Promotions in social networks: Special promotional measures in social media channels. Example: discount codes; Sales shows by live streamers
- Group buying: Concrete offers only come when there are enough buyers.
- Curated Shopping: Individual purchase advice and recommendations based on personalized product lists on specific topics. Example: Outfittery
- Crowdfunding: Early involvement of potential customers in product development for brand loyalty and financing. Example: Kickstarter
No matter the brand’s strategy, the goal is always to sensitize users to a company, product, or brand from person to person through social commerce. Thus, the chances are that subsequent retargeting measures, such as targeted banner advertising or concrete purchase suggestions of products based on surfing behavior, will ultimately be successful.
Best Practices: Successful Social Commerce
Even if popular social networks such as Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest in India do not yet offer all the shopping functions already available in other countries, successful social commerce on the platforms is still possible.
Conclusion: The future belongs to social commerce!
Artificial intelligence, big data, the increasing influence of influencers, the ongoing development of new social networks, and user-friendly features do the rest to make social commerce a good addition, if not an alternative, to the classic online shop.
While social commerce has already fully established itself in the USA or China, India is still relatively at the beginning. However, the trend is running in a clear direction in India: to accompany customers via social networks in all stages of their customer journey and to create an exceptional shopping experience.