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Social Commerce: How to Take Your Digital Sales to New Heights

  • Conversion Rate Optimization

Seventy-nine percent of the US population has a social media profile as of 2019. That’s nearly four out of every five people.

It’s a medium we use to connect, communicate and stay in touch.

And more recently, social media is what we use to shop.

In 2018, 48 percent of US shoppers purchased products discovered through social, and 18 percent purchased directly through it.

Digging even deeper, research found social media influences the purchasing decisions of 58 percent of people, even if it’s not where they initially discovered a product.

This growing overlap between social media and e-commerce is a trend that savvy brands are taking note of and learning how to capitalize on.

And that’s what I want to talk about here—boosting your digital sales with social commerce.

For this post, I’ll explain what social commerce is, how it works and how you can take advantage of it. I’ll also include examples that you can learn from and that will help you better understand the underlying strategies successful brands are using.

So let’s get started.

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What Exactly is Social Commerce?

Business Dictionary defines social commerce as, “A form of electronic commerce which uses social networks to assist in the buying or selling of products. This type of commerce utilizes user ratings, referrals, online communities, and social advertising to facilitate online shopping.”

A simple example would be an e-commerce brand selling a product directly on a social platform like Instagram.

That’s something Miracle Eye Handmade Clothing & Vintage does with this vintage t-shirt.

Rather than seeing the shirt on Instagram and needing to manually visit Miracle Eye’s e-commerce store to purchase it, users can simply buy it directly through Instagram.

With just a few taps, they can look at the product’s details, check out and buy. It’s all very convenient and streamlined.

Another example is this Pinterest pin from Bold Connection—a company that specializes in fashion, gadgets, and fitness.

This is what’s called a “shoppable pin,” which users can click on and instantly be taken to the product page of the brand’s website.

So when I click on this skull and crossbones necktie, I wind up on Bold Connection’s store where I can add the item to my cart and make a purchase.

So simply put, social commerce is the integration of e-commerce and social media, where shoppers can seamlessly buy a product with just a few clicks or taps, skipping many of the steps that would otherwise be necessary.

Huge Potential with Social Commerce

At the moment, social commerce is still a fairly new concept. It still has yet to catch on with a widespread, mainstream audience.

But in my opinion, it holds some amazing potential.

That’s because 40 percent of today’s brands are using social media in some capacity to generate sales.

And as of mid-2018, nearly a third (30 percent) of consumers said they were willing to make purchases through social platforms. So the interest level is definitely there.

I think marketing expert, Heidi Cohen summarizes it perfectly with this quote.

With evolving technology, notably increased use of smartphones, and social media platforms, online shopping is changing and becoming more social. 74 percent of consumers rely on social networks to guide their purchase decisions. As a result, it’s a no brainer to sell where your customers are rather than trying to lure them to your site.

Heidi Cohen Marketing Expert

As you might imagine, the demographics that are most keen on social commerce are the younger ones.

  • 33 percent of people between 18-24 say they would purchase items directly from Facebook
  • 30 percent of people between 25-34
  • 23 percent of people between 35-44
  • 10 percent of people between 54-65

So the interest in social commerce drops with age, which isn’t surprising.

With the exception of the 54-65 crowd, these numbers look quite promising.

And as e-commerce and social media become more and more intertwined, you could only assume that the willingness of online shoppers to buy through social platforms will only increase.

Savvy brands that get on board right now can take advantage of minimal competition levels and be in a position to thrive as interest in social commerce continues to grow.

The Top 4 Social Commerce Platforms

I should also point out the specific networks that are most commonly used to facilitate social commerce.

At the moment, there are four platforms that will be of most interest to e-commerce sellers:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube

Numerous other networks have potential, but these four have already had legitimate results.

According to a Shopify study that analyzed over 500,000 orders stemming from social traffic:

  • Two-thirds of all social media visits to Shopify stores came from Facebook
  • Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are the only networks that offered a conversion rate over one percent
  • Instagram had the highest average order value, which was $65
  • Pinterest had the second highest order value, which was $58.95

Although social commerce will inevitably evolve in the coming years and more networks should become viable, these are the four I recommend focusing on at the moment.

Examples of Social Commerce in Action

Now that we’ve got a basic idea of what this strategy consists of and sentiment toward it, let’s take a look at some brands who pulling it off well.

1. ASOS’ Facebook Campaign

I’ll start with UK-based online fashion and cosmetic brand, ASOS. They’ve got a killer Facebook campaign.

Here’s a recent post from their Facebook page.

In it, you see three of their clothing items being modeled.

Click on one of the images, and you’ll see the full photo along with a section called “Photos shown” on the right-hand side.

This provides a link to the dress that’s being modeled.

Click on it, and you get some information about the dress, including pricing, and will find a CTA where you can check it out on the ASOS website.

Click on the CTA, and you’re instantly taken to the product page on the ASOS site.

There you can find all of the information you need such as product details, product code, size, fit, and so on.

You can also see a few other images of the dress from different angles.

And if you’re interested in purchasing, you simply add the item to your cart and buy.

With just three clicks, you can go from your Facebook feed to the ASOS product page. And with just one more, you can add it to your cart where you’re ready to buy.

The whole process is incredibly simple and convenient where someone can go from browsing their Facebook to buying a product within seconds.

Talk about streamlining the customer journey. This eliminates friction and prevents online shoppers from jumping through a bunch of hoops.

And what I love about this campaign from ASOS is the great visuals they use. They feature high quality, professional modeling images to grab the attention of Facebook users and seamlessly guide them to the product.

It’s very well done.

Editor’s Note

Going one step further, you could create a UTM-specific popup that ONLY shows to visitors coming from that URL. Then, you could write copy that’s personalized to that segment, boosting the chances of a conversion. “Hi, there! Coming from Facebook? Use the code VAYCAY50 to get $50 off.”

Sam Thomas Davies
Head of Content

2. MVMT’s Pinterest Campaign

MVMT is an LA-based brand that offers premium watches, sunglasses and accessories.

When it comes to social commerce on Pinterest, their campaign is one of the best I’ve seen.

Here’s a look at their profile overview.

Here users can peruse their huge selection of content, including a robust list of boards, pins, videos and more.

Let’s say I’m in the market for a men’s watch. I’ll click on the “Men’s Watches” board.

Here I find individual boards MVMT has created for their top watches.

I’ll check out “The Chrono” to get a better idea of what it looks like and its features. Here’s what I see.

Click on a pin, and I see a full-sized image.

But check it out. If I click on either the image or the call-to-action to the right, I’m instantly taken to the watch section of MVMT’s website, where I can explore their full line of watches.

There I can check out the Chrono, as well as a bunch of other nice men’s watches, get detailed product information and ultimately make a purchase.

And the same thing happens if I browse through another one of MVMT’s Pinterest boards.

If I look at one of their boards for a women’s watch like “The Bloom,” I’m conveniently directed to their line of women’s watches.

So I go from here:

To here:

To here:

It’s incredibly quick and convenient and an excellent way to show off their products in an eye-catching way on Pinterest.

The only improvement they could make in my opinion is redirecting users to the specific watch they click on rather than a collection of products. That would take an extra step out of the process.

But the way MVMT seamlessly integrates e-commerce into their Pinterest page is still really impressive.

And the results were undeniable.

“In 2016, they begin experimenting with Pinterest’s buyable pins and ran a promoted pin campaign resulting in double their typical conversion rate and the highest average order value they have seen from any traffic source,” Conversion Sciences explains. “This strategy was so successful that over a three-month period, MVMT saw a 12-fold increase in Pinterest traffic and over 11,000 sales.”

Not bad.

This shows just how much potential there is with social commerce.

3. Stance Socks’ Instagram Campaign

This brand is an innovative company that puts a new spin on socks and sells other apparel like underwear and t-shirts.

And judging by their 1.3 million Instagram followers, people have definitely bought into the Stance Socks brand.

Cruise through their Instagram page, and you’ll see many of their products displayed along with other lifestyle images that are in line with their fun and active brand identity.

Stance Socks also happens to be an e-commerce store that takes full advantage of Instagram’s shoppable posts, which allows users to shop natively within their app.

By using this feature, they tag a product, which results in a “Tap to View Products” pop-up or a small white circle with a shopping bag icon to appear.

Here’s an example of their “Danlu” socks.

This allows users to conveniently move to the product page where they can learn more about the Danlu socks and make a purchase.

It’s an incredibly effective way to show off products in Instagram and allow users to quickly buy anything that catches their eye with minimal effort on their end.

How to Get Started with Social Commerce

Getting set up is fairly straightforward. However, each social network has its own requirements.

For instance, Instagram requires you to:

  • Be located in an eligible country
  • Comply with their merchant agreement and commerce policies
  • Have an Instagram business account
  • Have a connected Facebook page
  • Primarily sell physical goods
  • Have your Business Profile connected to a Facebook Catalog

To make this process as easy as possible, here are links to resources for the top four platforms to get your social commerce campaigns off the ground.

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Capitalizing on the Massive Potential of Social Commerce

According to Statista, 2.34 billion people are on social media globally. And that number is expected to climb to 2.95 billion by 2020.

So it only makes sense for e-commerce brands to put effort into reaching customers through this medium.

And with your average person spending nearly two and a half hours per day on social networking and messaging platforms, there’s plenty of engagement opportunities to be had.

Social commerce is brilliant because it takes two disparate mediums—social media and ecommerce—and integrates them in a very user-friendly way.

Through it, social media users can see something they like and quickly buy it with just a few clicks or taps. You’re basically saving them a bunch of steps and making their lives easier.

And it’s a complete win-win because shoppers can painlessly make purchases with no fuss, and e-commerce brands can boost revenue, while at the same time building their following.

With social commerce just beginning to really take off, now is the time to get on board and use it to take your brand to new heights.

Have you ever purchased a product directly through social media?

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