The Importance of Social Commerce in 2021

April 2nd, 2021 by

Social media is constantly adapting and evolving to suit the latest consumer trends. The evolution of social media means consumers now communicate with those beyond family and friends. The accessibility and popularity of social platforms means brands are able to play a large role in what we see across social channels. Over the past decade we’ve experienced a shift from text-based updates to visual-based content. Led by platforms such as Instagram and YouTube, social commerce has been able to flourish and has been assisted by newer platforms like TikTok. 

The development of social commerce gives brands the opportunities to create seamless ecommerce experiences directly within their preferred social channels. While users are less likely to engage with branded content, brands are able to capture consumers’ attention and entice them to browse products within the social platform. There are various methods brands can encourage consumers to engage with them including influencer marketing, paid advertising, affiliate programs and in-app shopping features.

Comparison of commerce capabilities of social platforms

TikTok Commerce Capabilities

TikTok has a commerce deal with Shopify and has extended this deal from the US to Europe. This move allows more than 1 million Shopify merchants to access 100 million more TikTok users. Retailers on Shopify can connect their TikTok for Business account to deploy in-feed, shoppable ads. Campaigns can be optimized and tracked with an on-site pixel.

According to Kantar, 83% of TikTok’s audience have made purchases as a result of being inspired by trending content. Brands can sponsor popular TikTok creators to create in-feed TikToks or live streams or invest in paid advertising. Brands can auction to have their ads appear naturally in user’s For You Pages as they scroll down, or pay to reserve the top ad view (the first video users see as they open the app), branded lenses, hashtag challenges or brand takeovers.

Instagram Commerce Capabilities

Instagram has a dedicated Business section that offers Instagram Shopping. This is a set of features that allow users to shop a brand’s photos and videos in the app. Brands can create a customisable storefront that people can shop directly from. Images and videos can include product tags that let businesses highlight products so people can learn more.

Instagram offers live-shopping options through live streams. Influencers or brands can discuss products and provide a shoppable link.

LinkedIn Commerce Capabilities

LinkedIn is a professional social platform which explains why it has less commerce options than other platforms. Within recent years, influencer marketing has become popular on the platform and brands are able to pay for sponsored ad spots, though it is more expensive than on other apps.

Facebook Commerce Capabilities

Facebook offers brands Facebook Shops, which is an online storefront. Businesses can create their shop, customize colours and fonts, pick their ideal catalogue before investing in shoppable ads. The platform offers a seamless experience from discovery to purchase. Users can bookmark their favourite shops, opt into notifications and be part of loyalty schemes.

YouTube Commerce Capabilities

YouTube has been a staple for influencer marketing and general paid-for advertising in brands. It offers an incredible reach for brands to redirect customers to their own websites. It has begun developing live shopping features which are now available in the US. Videos containing the feature have a shopping bag icon; users can click this icon to find out more about the products listed and receive purchasing options.

Pinterest Commerce Capabilities

Pinterest has a dedicated Shop section where users can find links to products in the images and also be linked to similar products. The Shop section takes users to brand stores where customers can make a purchase through there. The feature is currently only available in its most-used countries, but is looking to expand this.

Brands can pay for ads to appear while users are scrolling through the app, although they are not always relevant to searched topics.

Amazon Live Commerce Capabilities

Amazon Live is directly connected to the Amazon Affiliates and Amazon Influencer programmes. Influencers host live streams where they can feature products they are affiliates for and the products mentioned are linked below the video as they appear. Viewers can purchase directly from the linked product. While the live streams and products can be purchased from anywhere, hosting live streams is currently only available for US vendors.

Snapchat Commerce Capabilities

Snapchat doesn’t yet have any direct shopping abilities, but is it a popular for brands to create sponsored filters. These filters are accessible to everyone and often feature VR try-ons for products. Snapchat recently launched Snapchat Spotlight, but does not yet offer in-Spotlight ads, although they are available across the rest of the platform. Influencer marketing has been popular in the past on the app, but isn’t always the go-to for brands.

Upcoming developments to Social Commerce

While most platforms have some form of social commerce capabilities, they are always developing new features to ease the customer buying journey.

In the US, Instagram extends the product labels to influencers posts that consumers can purchase through. In addition, it is developing a global product launch option so people can preview details and set reminders for the launch—it is currently only available to checkout businesses. 

YouTube is also looking to expand its live shopping option globally. This will mean that any viewer can make a purchase directly from a YouTube video, without leaving the platform.

Why You Should Consider Social Commerce

Social commerce presents brands with a non-invasive way to promote products; they are able to seamlessly integrate promotional content into users’ social feeds. With the constant evolution of the social landscape, more and more options are being presented to brands. 

Platforms are focusing on creating social commerce an easy experience for brands and customers alike. With simple set ups of store fronts, business accounts and a plethora of advertising options, brands can save time, money and build trust with customers through social commerce. Brands can keep control over their brand messaging and also smoothly direct customers to either check-out in app or through to their website stores. 

Social commerce is one of the most trackable forms of ecommerce. Brands are able to track ages, locations and all demographics to see which ads perform best with which customers. This means brands can analyse data and amend social promotions in order to create perfectly targeted content.

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