The convergence of social media and eCommerce has played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of social commerce. While China has been a trailblazer in harnessing social media for eCommerce, the United States is rapidly catching up. In 2022, the U.S. social commerce market reached an estimated $52 billion in sales, with projections indicating it will surpass $145 billion by 2028, according to Statista.
To provide context for the meteoric rise of social commerce, consider its global revenue, which stood at $724 billion in 2022 and is expected to skyrocket to $6 trillion by 2030, as reported by Statista. However, despite these impressive figures, many brands are still hesitant about entering the competitive social commerce arena.
This blog aims to explore various aspects of social commerce, including its definition, advantages, relevant platforms, and real-world examples. So, let’s start by defining what social commerce is.
What Is Social Commerce?
Social commerce is the practice of promoting and selling a brand’s products and services through dedicated social commerce platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. With this approach, customers can make purchases without leaving their preferred social media platforms.
In addition to facilitating purchases, social media for eCommerce enables brands to achieve the following:
- Discover brands: Customers can explore new brands conveniently.
- Explore products: Shoppers can browse and learn more about products.
- Interact with customer support: Social commerce platforms allow for seamless customer support interactions.
The growing popularity of social commerce can be attributed to its convenience, interactive shopping experience, and the increasing use of social media.
Distinguishing Social Commerce from eCommerce
While social commerce and eCommerce share similarities, they are distinct concepts. eCommerce encompasses all forms of buying and selling that occur online, which can include transactions on a retailer’s website and other online marketplaces. eCommerce websites are typically built using platforms like Shopify and can be accessed through any internet-enabled device.
On the other hand, social commerce is a subset of eCommerce, and the entire purchasing process, from product discovery to checkout, takes place exclusively within social commerce platforms. These platforms provide native tools for social media commerce that even small businesses can use without the need for their own eCommerce websites. However, it’s important for eCommerce merchants to recognize that social commerce and eCommerce websites should not be seen as an “either-or” choice. Maintaining a website alongside your business’s social media presence is essential.
Websites will continue to be the central avenue for eCommerce purchases, but offering social media users conversion options can only help drive sales.
Additionally, while social commerce is often used interchangeably with social eCommerce, the latter term is not entirely accurate. Another term that is often confused with social commerce is social selling, which involves building awareness and connections with the goal of making a sale, whether online or offline.
Key Benefits of Social Commerce
Many brands have already invested significantly in social media marketing for eCommerce due to the substantial benefits it offers. However, it’s not too late to tap into this market, especially considering that Statista predicts global sales through social media platforms to reach $992 billion in the current year alone, with social commerce trends suggesting continued growth.
Czeszewski highlights some of the benefits of utilizing social commerce: “Social commerce offers a range of benefits, including improved conversion tracking (eliminating the need for third-party pixel data or other platforms to track transactions) and enhanced audience targeting capabilities to keep users engaged on the platform.”
With a well-structured social commerce strategy, here are some of the top advantages of social commerce:
1. Reach Curious Consumers
The widespread use of social media means there are vast numbers of potential customers to engage with. In April 2022, more than five billion people worldwide used the internet, with 4.7 billion of them, or 59% of the global population, using social media. This presents a significant opportunity for social media marketing in eCommerce, especially when targeting Generation Z and millennials.
2. Provide a Seamless Shopping Experience
Social commerce eliminates unnecessary steps in the buying process, reducing friction and improving the shopping experience. Features like Buy buttons, in-app checkouts, and instant messaging for customer support keep users within the app, enhancing convenience.
3. Leverage Social Proof
Customer feedback in the form of ratings and reviews is crucial for building trust in social commerce, where customers can’t physically try products. Social commerce platforms facilitate the collection of user-generated content, which serves as social proof. Brands can encourage users to share content through giveaways or discounts, and influencer marketing can further enhance social proof.
4. Access Valuable Consumer Data
Social commerce platforms provide access to valuable demographic data, such as gender, age, and location. This data is essential for informing paid social media marketing strategies. Platforms like Facebook Audience Insights offer even more detailed insights, including education levels, job titles, and relationship statuses. Brands can also target users based on their interests and hobbies.
Top Social Commerce Platforms to Explore
Several major social media platforms have embraced social commerce, with Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest leading the way. Other platforms like YouTube, TikTok, and Twitter are also making efforts to establish their presence in this space. Here’s a closer look at some of them:
According to Statista, Facebook was the most used platform for purchases in 2021. The platform offers a low barrier to entry, allowing brands to create highly customizable Facebook Shops. These shops can showcase products or collections and be customized to align with the brand’s identity.
Instagram is a popular platform for product discovery, with 60% of users finding new products on the platform. Instagram Shops enable users to purchase products featured in content (photos or videos) directly within the app. While Instagram Shops are linked to Facebook Shops, brands can choose to sell exclusively on Instagram without the need for a Facebook business page.
TikTok, though relatively new to social commerce, boasts one billion monthly active users and offers significant opportunities for brands. The platform’s #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag is backed by data showing that 90% of users take some form of action after watching TikTok content, such as liking, sharing, or making a purchase. As of December 2022, TikTok Shop was available to select U.S. merchants.
With these lucrative platforms equipped with social commerce tools, the possibilities for expanding your brand are vast. To learn more about selling on social media, let’s explore a few real-world social commerce examples.
Social Commerce Examples to Inspire Your Brand
Examining social commerce examples from established brands in the industry is an excellent way to shape your own social commerce strategy. Here are three inspiring examples:
1. Milk Bar
Founded by celebrity chef Christina Tosi, Milk Bar started as a modest bakery in New York City’s East Village in 2008. Over time, Milk Bar has become a significant player in national eCommerce, selling a range of products, including ice cream, cakes, cookies, and pies. The brand relied heavily on Instagram in its early days and continues to leverage social commerce features to maintain its success.
Image: Shopify (Milk Bar’s Instagram Shop)
Based in London, Snug is a “sofa-in-a-box” company known for its quick delivery and 100-day trial offer. In 2021, the brand generated £31.6 million (approximately SGD$53.6 million) in revenue from social media. Snug’s social media for eCommerce strategy includes product-focused pins showcasing their products in real-life settings.
Image: Shopify (Snug’s Pinterest presence)
ZOX specializes in wristbands with inspirational messages, made from recycled bottles. These wristbands serve as wearable reminders of encouragement. ZOX has a Facebook Shop where they host live shopping events and feature over a hundred products.
Image: Shopify (Zox’s Facebook Shop)
These brands could have focused solely on their websites and physical stores. However, recognizing the immense reach and potential of social commerce trends, they chose to invest and expand into social commerce.
Leadshouse: Your Partner for a 5-Star Social Commerce Experience
Social media has transformed how brands and consumers interact, making social media marketing for eCommerce a crucial element of success. The explosive growth of social commerce presents a unique opportunity, and Leadshouse is here to support you.
Leadshouse’s paid social media advertising service is a perfect start to explore and profit from social commerce. With a few clicks, we can get your Facebook and Instagram shops up and running.”
Leadshouse is a team of digital marketing experts specializing in social commerce. We help brands create a top-notch shopping experience that keeps customers coming back. To get started, visit our website today!