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
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 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 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.
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.