Social media crept into our lives over a decade ago, and rapidly established itself first as a place for social interaction, then as a platform for content sharing and advertising and now – as somewhere to buy and sell.
All kinds of SMEs are jumping on board with social commerce – everyone from small and medium retailers, to plumbers and electricians.
Read on to discover what it is, how to implement it, what it can do for the customer journey, and why now is the time to get on board – before your competitors do!
What is social commerce?
Social commerce is just what it sounds like – shopping on social media platforms.
Users can browse and purchase products and services without leaving their social platforms. It’s a targeted, in-app buying and selling experience taking place alongside customers’ normal social media consumption.
The power of social commerce was highlighted in a recent Forbes article on social media queen Kylie Jenner’s estimated $US800 million online cosmetics empire. Kylie Cosmetics employs just seven full-time and five part-time employees, and is otherwise powered by e-commerce platform Shopify. The company makes its outsized profits simply by capitalising on Kylie Jenner’s social media presence – Instagram and Snapchat for the most part – for advertising and sales.
Social commerce is booming, and now is the moment for businesses of all sizes to jump aboard.
Entering the social commerce space
Ideally, your business already has a social media presence on an appropriate platform with an engaged audience of followers.
If not, it’s important to note that social media isn’t just one big marketplace. Different social media platforms have different audiences, and each audience has different expectations of the user experience.
Here’s a run-down of the social commerce functionality of the most popular platforms:
Facebook users are interested in engaging, shareable content, as well as customer service through Messenger or comments. You can set up a Shop on your company Facebook page, where users can browse and purchase products or services directly, without being redirected to your website.
Instagram users want compelling pictures and videos above all. You can add a shopping bag icon to posts, or a swipe-up prompt to Stories, to direct users to view your product listing on your website and make a purchase – all without leaving the Instagram platform.
From like to buy – a customer journey
Social commerce represents a unique customer journey, from the first “like” to the final purchase. You have a unique opportunity to provide a top-notch customer experience by optimising this journey.
Engage your customers with regular, relevant content that provides value to them. Then, activate users with targeted promotions. Incentivise them to share the offers or share their positive experience with others and be rewarded, turning individuals into influencers. Create a social buzz around your offer, or your brand.
Use the opportunity to be responsive to customers’ questions and comments at every stage of their journey – even in real time, if possible – by either engaging positively with their feedback or troubleshooting problems.
Leverage e-commerce platforms like Shopify to streamline the customers’ experience of browsing, selecting and checking out within the app, with minimal clicks or taps.
Get on board now – before your competitors do
According to Roy Morgan, Australians as a whole spend nearly 6 billion hours on social media in an average year.
You probably have a social media marketing strategy in place to capitalise on this audience. But have you added social commerce functionality to take social media from a social engagement and advertising platform to a direct sales platform?
Offering sales functionality within your social media platforms is a fantastic opportunity to offer convenience to your customers and gain an advantage over your competitors.
By allowing customers to engage, browse, talk about and purchase your product or service right there on the platform where they’re already spending their time, you’re offering a streamlined, centralised, end-to-end customer experience before they even start to look elsewhere.
More than just sales
While the end goal of social commerce is sales, the process can benefit your business in a number of other ways.
Your social commerce activity can build your target audience, push your site further up search engine rankings, promote authentic social engagement and traffic, build customer loyalty and provide useful performance metrics.
The time to integrate an e-commerce model into your social platforms is now! Talk to us to find out how.