What is social commerce and how does it work?

What is social commerce and how does it work?

Sarah Cantavalle Published on 11/21/2022

Social commerce: how to sell on social media

Social commerce is when goods and services are sold directly on various social media platforms, offering users a smooth and fully integrated purchasing experience. Almost all the most popular social networks – Facebook, Instagram Shopping, Pinterest, TikTok and WhatsApp Business – currently offer ways for businesses and professionals to sell their products and services online. Users of these platforms can complete a transaction is just a few clicks without having to register on other sites, enter passwords or remember their credit card details. This fluidity in the purchasing process, one of the key factors to consider when thinking about conversion rates, is the main added value offered by social commerce. Normally, the cart abandonment rate for traditional online shops is much higher for mobile device users. Simplifying the checkout process is therefore vitally important to ensure that people shopping on their smartphone complete transactions with no hiccups.

Instagram Shop
Instagram users can view products for sale in line with their interests by clicking directly on the Shop section within the app

In addition, when a product is included as part of organic content shared on social media, it doesn’t tend to arouse the same scepticism and distrust that adverts generate. As a result, social commerce allows businesses to obtain the attention and trust of consumers more easily and to exploit the potential of a pre-existing community of fans who are interested in – and in some cases loyal to – the brand.

Let’s have a more detailed look at the advantages that selling through social networks can bring.

The benefits of social commerce

Introducing social commerce to your marketing strategy can have significant advantages, both for your brand image and reputation and for your revenue.

  1. Increase online sales

As we said before, the speed and simplicity of the purchasing process within social media platforms provides a better experience for people buying through their smartphone, reducing the cart abandonment rate.

  1. Reach more (target) customers

According to Statista, 57.6 million Britons are active on social media, while the agency We Are Social notes in its latest Digital 2022 report that 58.4% of working-age internet users purchase something online at least once a week. Devising a good social commerce strategy not only allows you to reach a much greater selection of potential customers, but also enables you to speak directly to your target audience. The profiling tools provided by the various social networks allow you to show ads only to certain people, filtering then by their demographics or online behaviour (pages visited, likes, forms filled in, etc.)

uyable Pins on Pinterest
Buyable Pins, available for Shopify merchants on Pinterest, allow users to buy things directly on the platform
  1. Get more reviews

It is well known that reviews, likes, comments and posts by satisfied customers are forms of social proof that can influence other people’s purchasing  decisions. According to some recent data, 54% of users say they use social media to get advice on products and services they want to buy (GlobalWebIndex, 2021). Selling directly on these platforms allows customers to buy and leave a review in the same place, making it easier to gather testimonials on the products and services being offered. Presiding over the space where people exchange tips and advice, share fragments of their everyday lives and seek out information on a brand can therefore significantly improve a business’ brand awareness and reputation.

  1. Gather useful data on customers’ habits

The more a business is active on social channels, the more they will be able to gather useful information on their customers’ preferences and habits and valuable feedback from them on the things the company offers. This data can be used to optimise the customer journey, improve the products and services and hone marketing strategies.

Some tips for selling successfully on social media

First of all, you need to choose the most suitable platform for the market segment you want to reach and the type of products or services you offer. For example it is easier to reach an audience of young people on Instagram and TikTok than it is on Facebook. In addition, some social channels are particularly important for certain sectors: Pinterest for the world of furniture and crafts, Instagram for fashion and photography, and so on.

TikTok is an ideal social network for reaching a young audience. Copyright: Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash.

Once you’ve chosen the platform, you’ll have to draw up a publishing schedule featuring original and high-quality content. It is important to remember that social networks are first and foremost places for sharing experiences, where people want to get to know businesses’ ‘true’ identity and forge a direct relationship with them. It is therefore worth interspersing more promotional posts with authentic and spontaneous content: ‘behind-the-scenes’ videos, interviews with staff and live sessions where the public can ask questions to experts are all examples of things that can engage followers and gain their loyalty, and so improve your page’s visibility.

Finally, if you choose Facebook or Instagram for your social commerce, it’s worth making use of the retargeting functions to reach potential customers who have previously expressed an interest in your brand. Using audience profiling, you can show sponsored ads only to those who have completed certain actions on your social media page or company website (visits to the online shop, liking content or adding products to their basket).

Once you’ve launched your first tests, to maximise your social commerce sales you’ll need to monitor the results and constantly tweak your strategy based on the data you gather.