Social Commerce

What Is Social Commerce?

Social commerce is the use of social networking sites to sell products and services directly to consumers. It incorporates the entire shopping experience into interactive features available on various social media platforms.

Social commerce includes all processes in a sales transaction, from product promotion to after-sales service. Businesses use creative posts to promote their products and to provide consumers with more information about them. They offer expert advice and support to engage potential customers. They also encourage comments and discussions on forums and communities to enhance brand awareness and gain consumer insights.


Social Commerce vs. E-commerce

While they have their similarities, social commerce and e-commerce are not the same thing. For one, interactions in e-commerce are managed from business websites and other digital platforms such as a unique app. Meanwhile, interactions in social commerce take place only on social networks such as Facebook and Instagram. E-commerce also typically entails several steps, making the buyer’s journey longer. With social commerce, a transaction is completed in just three or so steps. 


Social Commerce vs. Social Selling

Another term that often gets confused with social commerce is social selling. However, while the main thrust of social commerce is to drive sales, social selling is mainly focused on cultivating relationships with potential customers. It aims to build sales prospecting lists by targeting specific users on social media.


Platforms that Support Social Commerce

  • Facebook

Aside from Marketplace that allows all users to list local products, Facebook also has Facebook Shops that businesses can use to showcase their products and services. This feature is completely customizable and enables brands to import catalogs from their websites. It also gives them the capability of offering several options to their customers, including in-app checkouts, direct messaging, and redirection to their website.

  • Instagram

Instagram now has Shops where business owners can customize a storefront that features their products. They can promote their offerings through posts, the explore tab, and even through stories. Users can then buy products in-app and make transactions via Facebook Pay. 

  • Snapchat

Snapchat recently launched a new feature called Brand Profiles that lets users scroll through products and buy them in-app. It’s powered by Shopify and provides a native shopping experience. 

  • Pinterest Shop

While not technically social commerce, Pinterest allows users to display products for sale on the Pinterest Shop. They can create Product Pins to display prices, but buyers are taken to their website to complete the transaction.


Why Use Social Commerce

With billions of people actively using social media, it becomes a lucrative marketplace for many businesses. Companies that want to remain competitive in an increasingly digital era must incorporate social commerce into their business strategy. When utilized properly, social commerce can heighten brand awareness, increase customer satisfaction, and drive sales. Here are some of the many ways it can boost business growth:

  • It widens the market base.

Almost everyone is on social media today. There are now over three billion people using various social media platforms. Many of them have more than four social media accounts. Through social commerce, businesses can tap this vast market, especially the younger millennials and the Gen Zs who are comfortable shopping on social media.

  • It enables more targeted campaigns.

Most social media platforms provide businesses with tools and insights to gather and analyze consumer data. They provide a way for brands to target their ads toward specific groups. For instance, ad settings can be tweaked, so ads for baby products appear mostly on the newsfeeds of mothers.

  • It streamlines the buying process.

With traditional e-commerce, the buying process involves several steps. Consumers click an ad and get redirected to the business website where they can add products to the cart. They then provide personal information and fill in credit card details to complete the transaction. In contrast, social commerce usually involves just three simple steps—view, click, and buy. Posts or messages can already include CTAs such as “shop now” or “buy,” and payment can be made through in-app credit. 

  • It makes shopping more interactive.

Unlike buying directly from company websites, social commerce is more interactive. Users can easily ask friends for recommendations on products by tagging them on posts. They can also look at comments from other users to know if a product is worth the buy. Most importantly, they can interact directly with brands and get more personalized services.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between social commerce and eCommerce?

With social commerce, the interactions take place only on social networks like Instagram and Facebook. With eCommerce, these interactions are managed by means of business websites and other digital platforms like a unique app. Also, social commerce makes the buyer’s journey shorter as the transaction can be completed in just about three steps. With eCommerce, there are generally more steps involved which makes the buyer’s journey longer. So, while they are similar, they are not completely the same thing.

Is social commerce and social selling the same thing?

No. The terms social commerce and social selling often get confused, but they are not the same thing. The main focus of social commerce is to generate sales. On the other hand, social selling primarily concentrates on building relationships with potential customers by targeting specific users on social media.

Which platforms can I use for social commerce?

There are quite a few platforms that support social commerce. You can, for example, try Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. Facebook offers Facebook Marketplace (available for individual users to list local products) and Facebook Shops (for businesses to showcase their services and products). Similarly to Facebook, Instagram also offers Shops. You can also try Pinterest. While it is not technically social commerce in the true sense of the word, you can still display products on Pinterest Shop.

Is social commerce profitable?

With billions of people actively using social media on a daily basis, it becomes a lucrative marketplace for several businesses. When social commerce is implemented properly, it can increase brand awareness, improve customer satisfaction and drive sales. It can be especially effective if your brand is targeting the younger millennials and Generation Z who are comfortable with shopping via social media.

Is social commerce easy?

Social commerce can make your buyers’ journey much easier. Social commerce typically involves only three easy steps. These are view, click and buy. Payments can then be made by means of in-app credit. Traditional eCommerce, on the other hand, involves several steps. After a customer has clicked on an ad, he/she will first get redirected to the business website where they will be able to add the product to a cart and then still needs to complete credit card details to complete the transaction.

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