Brands with a product—this one’s for you. Social commerce has changed how we (especially Gen Z and Millennials) purchase products online. Think about mindlessly scrolling through Stories when a product you’ve never heard pops up and piques your interest. The 20 percent off CTA and easy link swipe give you a quick endorphin boost as you click through and add to your cart—in a matter of seconds. And when it’s your target audience on the other side of the screen, you’ve made a quick connection that could result in years of brand loyalty.
The bottom line? Brands have more opportunity (and competition) than ever to get their products in front of the right audiences. Let’s get to it.
What’s the Big Deal With Social Commerce Anyway?
The days of pandemic lockdown might be over, but the convenience and ease of online shopping is far from it. Social commerce is the cousin to e-commerce, and both are changing the marketing landscape. Where e-commerce refers to any buying online—whether through an app, website, or online shop—social commerce is shopping that takes place on social platforms. It’s generally true that brands engaging in social selling also have some sort of e-commerce platform.
What makes social buying and selling particularly attractive to brands is its much closer relationship with potential customers. This includes customers in places and interests brands might not have considered. And the stats don’t lie. Social buyers spent an average of $518 in 2022, with a projected $938 in 2025. Something else to consider if you’re a brand with a product: social channels are, by nature, made for entertainment. This principle means these channels can host interactive ads organically—something 91% of consumers prefer to static media.
As with any marketing decision, you should weigh the benefits and risks yourself.
The “why you should go for it” reasons include:
Expand your target audience: Depending on the channel(s) you choose, there are millions of people around the world actively using social media (with sign-ups in the billions). Moving to social commerce gives you a greater pool to draw from.
Make shopping easier for customers: The appeal of online shopping is its variety and convenience. By reaching customers where they already are (social), brands can provide a seamless shopping experience without them leaving the app (or bed).
Drive sales and revenue: The convenience of one-click shopping means increased sales and revenue, especially when using influencers as part of an ongoing social commerce strategy. Recent data forecasts $80 billion in social sales by 2025 (up from $45.7 billion in 2022).
Replicate the in-person experience: Brick-and-mortar shopping still offers something hard to beat: tangible and sensory-driven experiences. Brands selling on social can’t let users reach through their phones, but they can offer samples, provide unbeatable customer service, and integrate augmented reality solutions.
Gather UGC and social referrals: As an added bonus to sales, social selling makes it easier to capture user-generated content that can be used to increase brand legitimacy and trust. Additionally, social referrals can incentivize customers with discounts or rewards.
The “why you might hesitate” reasons include:
Navigating the “Trust Gap:” A recent Accenture survey found that trust was the biggest barrier to social shopping. Consumers are worried vendors they find on social channels won’t protect their purchases (privacy and data security) or refund them if there’s an issue. In other words, trust, consistency, and authenticity should be prioritized, whether it’s the first or fiftieth time a customer sees your brand.
Choosing the wrong platform and experience: With so many social platforms and shopping experiences, choosing which is right for your brand can be hard. Being spread too thin can lead to customer mistrust, poor customer service, and a frustrating purchase journey.
Bridging search vs. discovery: Social is quickly becoming the go-to place for search, but discovery still primarily happens via search engines and TV. Although this may be swapped in the near future, the data makes a case for diversifying marketing channels and types.
Overcoming competition and saturation: Lastly, there are a lot of equally passionate brands out there with products that may or may not be similar to yours. The question: How can you set your brand apart?
Know How to Sell on Every Channel
As Forbes put it: “Young people determine what is trending culturally, and consequently, what drives demand in consumer markets. The combination of Generation Z and Millennials, who have very similar social and political tastes–not just commercial–represents a paradigm shift in digital commerce.” And platforms follow the people. As more users turn to social media for their buying, more brand opportunities arise.
The main social commerce options brands currently have include:
- Facebook Shops
- Instagram Shops
- TikTok Shop
- Pinterest (sort of)
- Twitter (or should we say X?)
Before you choose which channel(s) is right for your brand, it’s important to understand the features you (or your marketing agency) can use.
Storefronts on Social Profiles
Platforms like Instagram and Facebook allow for storefronts that let brands add product pages with descriptions, highlight collections, and recommend products. Often, these reflect a brand’s e-commerce site—albeit in a slightly truncated form. It’s worth noting that TikTok recently removed its Storefront integration with Shopify, which banned outside links and resulted in TikTok Shop.
Shoppable Organic Posts
Promotional posts that blend seamlessly into Feeds are becoming increasingly popular across platforms. Instagram Stories and Reels, TikTok, Pinterest pins, and Facebook carousels and images include a shopping icon or label that indicates tagged products. Because they’re organic, they can be an economical way to get your brand in front of different audiences.
Shoppable Paid Ads
Paid shoppable ads, on the other hand, function similarly to their organic counterparts but are targeted to interest customers as part of a paid campaign. Pinterest, for example, doesn’t strictly offer social commerce like Instagram and Facebook do, but its “Product Pins” are a workaround for brands that want exposure on the platform.
Branded Influencer Content
You already know the power of peers when selling your brand. Whether you already have a solid influencer strategy or are looking for the right fit, branded influencer content combines trusted peer influence with convenient in-app shopping experiences. For image-forward social sites like Instagram, the tagged product takes users to an e-commerce platform where they can shop the look as they scroll.
A way to do this organically? With tagged products in UGC.
It’s become one of the highest compliments anyone can receive on social media for users to feel like they’re on Facetime with the person speaking. This more personalized, intimate setting for sharing stories, content, and influence takes the power of peers up a notch. Live shopping utilizes this concept for brands who want to share and demonstrate their products in real-time. You can think of it as a grown-up and more authentic version of the Home Shopping Network. Overall, it gives customers access to exclusive discounts, real-time engagement, and a better understanding of the product (remember that ‘replicating the in-person experience’ thing?).
When you work with a digital marketing agency that can navigate the nuances of social media, you get an expert opinion on which social commerce route is best for your audience, products, and goals.
Don’t Forget These Golden Rules
No matter which platform(s) you choose, the golden rules stay the same.
Create compelling copy and imagery: Your goals should be to inform and entertain.
Highlight relevant products: Include your most popular products, new releases, limited edition products, and other relevant (and priced to sell) products from your e-commerce site to your social commerce integrations.
Account for accessibility: Alt text, hashtags, and other descriptors help make the shopping experience accessible for any user. Bonus: This also improves your SEO.
Be strategic with tagging: Product tagging is the obvious one here. But you can also geotag a physical store, tag an influencer, or link to a relevant event.
Include actionable CTAs: Whether you want people to learn more, join Live, add to cart, or shop and save, make it clear and simple.
Stay Savy on Social With a Marketing Team That Gets You
As we say at Savy: show, don’t tell. Bringing your shopping experience directly to your audience with social commerce is an incredible opportunity to show your product(s) to new audiences, gain brand loyalty and awareness, and drive sales. Savy has decades of experience helping brands, big and small, get noticed on social. What can we do for you?