The Ultimate Guide to Social Commerce (Plus 8 Tips for Success)

Alan VanToai

April 30, 2021

Have you ever gotten a targeted ad for EXACTLY what you wanted or needed? Hello, vitamin C serums!

So you click on the ad and come across a new brand with a beautifully curated feed and a philosophy that ticks all the boxes.

You see a product in a post that could be the next best item in your repertoire. But, the only way to make a purchase is to leave the social media platform you're on, head over to the website, and do the long song and dance of purchasing the product.

Honestly, you don't have time for that and the impulse is gone, so you head back to your normal feed to keep indulging in memes and dog videos. The brand fades into the abyss and you forget they exist. What a shame!

This progression is extremely common AND it is losing your brand sales and the chance to grow your customer base.

This is where social commerce comes in.

Social commerce will help you convert your target audience into happy customers like never before.

That impulse your target audience feels to purchase your product after viewing it in a social media post often subsides because they have to leave social media in order to complete the purchase. This is costing you money.

Social commerce will solve this problem because all purchases are completed within the app.

With the sheer volume of daily active users on social media and the fact that people are actively searching for new products on social media, social commerce means big business for your brand.

It's estimated that 81% of people use Instagram to research products and services.

Social commerce is the key to unlocking your next phase of growth and it is an incredibly powerful strategy that all DTC eCommerce brands can benefit from.

Are you ready to boost your sales and plan your social commerce strategy? Then let's dive into the ultimate guide to social commerce!

What Is Social Commerce

If you have ever sold your products on social media, then you are already participating in social commerce!

Social commerce is simply selling your goods on social media.

Consumers can scroll, see your products, and buy them without having to leave the app. After they complete their purchase, they can keep scrolling.

It saves consumers time, helps your brand generate more sales, grow your audience, and keep people on the app longer (great for those algorithms). More exposure, more sales, happy customers.

Talk about harmony!

Social Commerce vs. eCommerce, What's the Difference?

Social commerce is eCommerce, but where a buyer purchases off of social media.

The eCommerce shopping experience is more traditional, where a patron visits your website, such as on Shopify of WooCommerce, or your branded app (such as the Nordstrom app) and the customer does all of their purchasing on these platforms.

With eCommerce, your customers will be able to shop through your entire library of goods.

But social commerce is the experience where shoppers have fewer products to choose from and can purchase directly in-app.

It's important to note that social commerce does not equal eCommerce. To make a shopping experience become social commerce, the entire process needs to be done on a social media

Social Commerce vs Social Selling, What's the Difference?

Oftentimes, people will conflate these two terms, interchange social commerce with social selling, but they are two completely different things.

Social selling refers to the process of cultivating and harvesting relationships with potential customers to build social proof and eventually, convert them to passionate customers through social media.

Brands will use social selling to plant the seed and build out a list of prospects. Then, they can come in for the close with social commerce when these potential leads become customers by purchasing their goods - either on their eCommerce website or on social media.

Social Commerce Platforms

If you're ready to embark on the social commerce journey, you need to know which social media platforms allow for social commerce.

Facebook

If you have a Facebook Business page, then you will be able to set up your Facebook Shop.

This is the difference from the Facebook Marketplace (which is another great place to sell your goods) but with your Facebook Shop, you will be able to customize everything to your liking and get people to shop with one click of a button.

You will be able to create your storefront and customize each of your products to your liking. You can curate product details like product size, description, ingredients, prices, and product photos.

Facebook-social-commerce-example

You will also be given various options for checkout, including in-app, via messenger, or having them choose to redirect to your eCommerce website.

Instagram

One of the most powerful apps to set up social commerce is Instagram.

Instagram is a POOL full of potential buyers, you just have to unlock its potential - and social commerce will help you achieve that.

Buyers can purchase your goods directly via the photos and videos your brand posts.

Instagram-social-commerce-example

One caveat - you will need to set up your Facebook Shopping profile first and then you can set up your Instagram Shopping based on that data.

If you have a Facebook Business profile, then you will be able to create your virtual storefront and customize your collection of social commerce goods.

You will be able to share your goods in your Instagram stories and tag the products. You can also promote your Instagram Shop in your bio and in the captions.

Pinterest

Just so we're clear - Pinterest isn't exactly considered social commerce, but it's still an exceptional platform to optimize and sell your good.

With Pinterest, your brand can create a Pinterest Shop where you can display your products.

Pinterest-social-shopping-example

If you have ever been on Pinterest and seen a picture of a cute outfit with those little dots on it, those are Product Pins and they display the price of the items.

Buyers can click on those pins and be redirected to your brand's eCommerce website.

From there, they will be able to complete their purchase.

Snapchat

Social commerce has been around on Snapchat for almost one year, when back in July of 2020, Snapchat launched its new Brand Profiles feature, where users can purchase goods directly on the app.

Snapchat Brand Profiles is powered by Shopify and aims to provide a streamlined and native shopping experience.

Coming soon, Social Commerce on TikTok!

Right now, brands on TikTok can optimize for sales on the app by promoting their goods in content and placing their eCommerce website in their TikTok bio, but users will need to leave the app to purchase the goods.

But, not for long! Social commerce is coming to TikTok soon, and the brand has plans to roll out this feature this year, likely to keep up with other video platforms and continue to reign the supreme and preferred social media platform by Gen Z.

Benefits of Social Commerce

Social commerce will only bring your brand benefits, with increased sales and exposure to your products, and a chance to grow your customer base.

Some of the benefits of social commerce include:

Boost in Organic Traffic

Many consumers use social media as a place to shop, so implementing social commerce on in your account will help you boost your organic traffic.

If a customer enjoys your products, they will likely follow your social media accounts and visit your website for future purchases, helping you boost organic traffic, simply by investing in social commerce.

Growth in Sales

Social commerce can help improve your conversion rate by creating an interactive space where consumers can engage with your brand, see the items they like, and buy your products faster than visiting your eCommerce website.

Increase Engagement and Reach

You can use social commerce to your advantage by targeting the right audience to help you increase your engagement and reach.

Social commerce provides your target audience with the chance to engage with your content on a new level. They will likely spend more time on your account, interacting with your content and making purchases, which will lead to a higher engagement rate and more reach.

Growth in Your Customer Base

Once you convert prospects to happy customers, your customer base will grow! With social commerce, you will still be able to capture their information and if the customer enjoys your product, they will purchase from you again and become a lifelong customer.

Examples of Social Commerce Done Right

Need a bit of inspiration before you start planning your social commerce strategy? Take a look at these social commerce examples done right.

H&M

This global brand has optimized its Instagram to be a shopper's dream come true. H&M has invested in their social commerce strategy by creating shoppable content by tagging the products in the caption, creating an extremely streamlined shopping experience for the brand's customers.

H&M-social-commerce-example

AmericanThreads

AmericanThreads knows how to do Pinterest right, by creating Product Pins for their whole catalog of products. These product images will get pinned by other users and will help the brand generate more views and sales.

PacSun

PacSun has made it easier than ever for their customers to shop their products on Facebook. They created their Facebook Shop and regularly advertise their apparel and make it easy for customers to purchase directly in-app!

Social Media Trends and Tips for Success

Feeling ready to flip the switch and invest in your social commerce strategy? Then be sure to follow these tips and trends for optimal success!

#1 Sell Lower Priced Items to Increase Conversions

Take note of your inventory and think about which items will move quickly. A high-priced or luxury item won't sell at the same pace as a lower-priced item.

The keyword here is impulse. You want your audience to see your items, and purchase them without a second thought. That $500 pair of diamond earrings will take a consumer a bit more time to purchase due to its high price tag (unless you're a Kardashian).

Keeping the price tag under $80 is a good rule of thumb.

#2 Survey and Listen to Your Audience

Ask your audience what they want to see and the type of products they would be willing to purchase on social media and then create content around those.

Your goal is to make engaging content that resonates with them to help increase sales and improve the buying experience. So talk to your audience and listen so that you make the kind of content that converts visitors to customers.

#3 Ask for Reviews

Reviews are critical to the success of your social commerce strategy!

Asking for reviews from customers after they purchase is a sure-fire way of creating more social proof and will help you when selling your products on social media.

The best part? You can repurpose these reviews into content and even ask for user-generated content (UGC) from your customers to use on your shopping posts!

#4 Engage with Your Audience

This one is a bit self-explanatory, but can often be overlooked.

We are now in a time where consumers are closer to the brands they love than ever before. Your customers WANT to interact with you and feel like they are playing a role in your brand's growth.

The first word in social commerce is SOCIAL, so be social and engaged!

Take the time to ask your audience questions, respond to their comments, and utilize your story features to help get vital information from your audience about what they want to see.

#5 Create a Seamless Purchasing Process (with the Help of Bots)

Social commerce is about a smooth and quick purchase. You want the purchase to be simple and streamlined, so your customer can purchase with one swift go and get back to scrolling.

Optimize your checkout process to be as seamless as possible. One of the best ways to do this is to enlist the help of bots.

There are plenty of companies out there that can help optimize your social commerce checkout process.

Jumper.ai is a good one, and they are helping brands like Loreal, Armani Beauty, and Love Beauty cater to their customers and make purchasing from their socials a breeze.

#6 Collect Email to Stay Top of Mind

Investing in social commerce will help you grow your sales, but you want to try and secure life-long happy customers.

Be sure to collect emails to ensure you can follow up with promotional materials, customer surveys, and to stay on top of mind.

Since social commerce is best for lower-priced goods, following up and showing excellent care and customer service will help to turn that one-time purchase into a person who regularly shops with you.

Hopefull they will buy your bigger ticket items next time they shop!

#7 Partner with Influencers

Influencer marketing pairs extremely well with social commerce. Find influencers of all sizes, from nano to mega, to create content for your brand.

Partnering with influencers will help you expand your reach, and when the influencer's audience checks out your profile, they will be able to shop the product recommended by their favorite influencer instantly.

#8 Use Paid Ads to Target the Right Audience

A paid ad strategy will go hand in hand with your social commerce strategy. By running targeted ads, you will be able to showcase your products to a new set of potential customers, and then guide them to your account where they can easily buy your products.

It's an excellent strategy to cater to impulse buyers and it leads to a more enjoyable shopping experience.

Conclusion

Are you ready to unlock the potential of social commerce?

Then be sure to follow these tips and optimize each social channel for maximum visibility and you will be able to reap all the benefits of social commerce!

Ready to turn your customers into your army of brand ambassadors? If so, check out CrewFire's epic demo video to see how you can drive more referrals, word-of-mouth, and user-generated content for your Shopify store.

Get in touch w/ Alan (Founder/CEO - CrewFire):

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WRITTEN BY

Alan VanToai

Co-Founder of CrewFire