What is social commerce and how can your business benefit from it?
We’re all familiar with the terms ‘social media’ and ‘e-commerce,’ particularly as a result of the success of brands such as Facebook and Amazon. We now have Social commerce – the newest generation of e-commerce. In this article, we’ll explain in detail what social commerce is and explore a little bit how you can master it!
What is Social Commerce?
Social commerce has become a new buzzword of the 2020s. Strangely enough, the term first appeared all the way back in 2005 and marked a new chapter in the world of e-commerce. By bringing social interaction into the journey (with the help of web 2.0), people could help each other shop by sharing reviews and feedback on certain items or services. The source of all valid news, Wikipedia defines Social commerce as: “… a subset of electronic commerce that involves social media and online media that supports social interaction, and user contributions to assist online buying and selling of products and services.”
Beyond on social media platforms, social commerce is ubiquitous on many of our favorite websites:
- Peer-to-Peer shopping sites (eBay, Etsy)
- Coupon & group-buying websites (Groupon)
- User curation sites (Pinterest)
- Social Shopping Sites (Fab, Fancy)
All of these rely heavily on user feedback and how other users or customers interact with a brand or a product.
The newest addition to the world of social commerce is the updates to social media applications: Facebook and Instagram now enable users to shop within the application, thus shortening and allowing for a smoother customer journey.
Elements of Social Commerce
Before delving into details of the current trends, we have to address some essential elements of social commerce.
If a customer receives some kind of a gift (be it a product or a discount) from a company, that customer will then feel the urge to go back to the shop and return the favor by completing a purchase or by giving a good review.
A great example is Brand/Product-focused groups on Facebook. People are committed to a community that shares the same interest as them, and once this happens, they tend to follow the same trend as the others. When one member introduces a new idea or product, it is more often accepted based on the previous trust already established.
- Social Proof
Social Proof is relevant for justifying that consumers are buying your product. When receiving positive reviews, companies need to be readily willing to accept social feedback. Beyond reviews, another kind of social proof is the “Customers who bought this item also bought” section on eBay or Amazon.
People need proof that a product/company is trustable and of good quality. Others’ recommendations are revealing proof of this.
Another source of authority. If a product is liked by numerous other users, a new customer feels more confident in making their purchase.
People assign greater value to a product that is seen as being in shortage or high demand, therefore, creating a greater need to buy that item. This is reflected in the cases of Zara and Apple.
Social Selling vs. Social Commerce
You have probably seen the ads and promotions from different online stores. When you are operating a webshop, chances are relatively high that you are using at least one social media platform. If you regularly post and have an active presence, you are social selling – using social media platforms to sell your products.
Social Commerce is slightly different as it puts greater emphasis on the social interactions around the purchase and tries to bring a social experience into the online shopping process. Social commerce also includes reviews and buyer feedback – some kind of social proof that the brand and the product are indeed reliable.
Online Word of Mouth
If your store has been operating for some years now, you likely have bought into the huge impact Word of Mouth can have. With that said, if you’re new to the business, trust us, social commerce is a kind of online Word of Mouth. You can share your story with not only just a few of your closest friends, but anyone thinking of buying a certain product, even with a particular focus on a certain brand. People love sharing their experiences ast makes them feel valuable.
Reviews provide a great channel for brands to communicate with their customers – have you received a good review? Thank them for choosing your shop. Received a bad review? Thank them for sharing their experience and apologize and try to offer a discount or a gift. This kind of communication shows that you care about your customer’s experience with your brand.
The role of Social Media
But why is Facebook joining the e-commerce industry such a big deal? Duh, they have 2.6 monthly active users!
However, it’s not just the number of users on the platform, rather the potential of the integration. In 2020, a lot of businesses were forced to move online, and while some were prepared for some it came as a shock. By enabling consumers to use Facebook and Instagram as points of purchase, it made their struggle through the online world a bit easier – and also their audience could find them easier.
Besides, with the marketing noise of the online world, people’s attention span has decreased dramatically – that’s why it’s such a good idea to implement social platforms into an e-commerce business strategy. People trust Facebook and Instagram – but when an ad directs to a third-party website, sometimes they lose interest. However, if they shop on Facebook or Instagram, they don’t have to leave the app that they love and know so well – they can complete the whole process within that! It can mean less interruption for the consumer, decreasing the number of cart abandoners.
It’s also a good supplement to influencer marketing – influencers can tag the product of the advertiser in their post, and their followers can instantly buy that, making the effect of influencers more powerful.
Besides Facebook and Instagram, some updates suggest that WhatsApp users will soon be able to make purchases through the application. It’s also been reported that Google plans to update YouTube with similar features.
The greatest innovator in Social Commerce: China
Even in 2019, Chinese social and commercial applications had provided a seamless experience for its customers by exploiting the use of QR codes, chatbots, and influencer promotions.
Some sources claim that China is a decade ahead when it comes to social commerce. The key to this is the high level of integration between social and commercial applications of the country. WeChat is China’s most popular messaging app and ecosystem The app includes seemingly endless e-commerce applications, providing the perfect platform for users both to purchase from sellers, but also interact with them directly. Facebook’s shopping updates are the minimum requirement when it comes to China and social commerce.
What can you do to improve your social commerce efforts?
- Instagram and Facebook shops
We know they’re not yet available in every country. But, if they are indeed available, you ought to do yourself a favor and give these platforms a shot.
Make reviews available both on your webshop and on your social platforms. Don’t forget to react to all kinds of feedback! Make your customers feel valued and start a conversation.
- Facebook Groups
You can make a Facebook Group for your most loyal customers and allow for them to share their thoughts and experiences in a more private setting. This will also add an extra nudge to those considering buying your product in the process and boost your brand awareness.
Be open to innovation!
We recognize this is easier said than done but if a new opportunity is introduced by a social platform, don’t be hesitant to to explore the possibilities before giving it the heave-ho!
Steve Rubel first wrote about social commerce all the way back in 2005 and ended his thoughts with “So where will this go in 2006? I think far.”
So where do we think social commerce will go in the 2020s? We think very, very far. If you don’t already have a social commerce action plan in place, do yourself a favor and jump aboard before we hit max acceleration.
At Markestic, we help as well as large businesses to navigate in the world of digital marketing. We are experts in managing the campaigns and measurement systems of ecommerce companies. If you want to base your decisions on numbers and not just intuition, contact us today! Skyrocket your sales today!