Friends, family and even celebrities are turning to social commerce as a quick and easy way to explore new products and make purchases. Especially in this post-pandemic time, many consumers still enjoy the social aspect of shopping—remember the good old days of meeting up with friends at the mall for an Auntie Anne’s pretzel and some new sunglasses? Social commerce fills that gap by enabling virtual connection within the shopping process.

Social commerce is the next step in social media marketing; it integrates e-commerce and social media. Social commerce introduces the simplicity of the traditional e-commerce click-and-buy process to everyday life and enables merchants sell products directly through social media platforms. This not only allows customers to interact with brands, browse goods and make purchases, but it means consumers can easily chat with friends on the platform about purchases, tag and post items they’ve recently bought and loved, comment on and review past purchases, and communicate directly with brands they love.

The Importance of Social Commerce

Social media platforms already serve as a primary information source for millions of consumers. With 81% of shoppers already using social platforms like Instagram and Facebook to research products, enabling them to select and purchase directly through those platforms is only logical. The future of online retail will likely be through social commerce, with a new Accenture report predicting that “the global industry of social commerce is expected to grow three times as fast as traditional e-commerce, from $492 billion in 2021 to $1.2 trillion by 2025,” with most of the growth attributed to Gen Z and millennial shoppers.

Social commerce meets consumers where they’re already spending time—scrolling social media feeds. Consumers can see products they like, quickly and easily check out without ever leaving the social platform, and then go right back to scrolling. Facebook Shop, Instagram Shop, Pinterest and TikTok are social platforms that are leading the way in social commerce by streamlining the shopping experience and engaging consumers in a fun, social space. Instead of trudging through the multiple steps of clicking your ad, scrolling your website, finding your product, adding it to cart, and filling in billing and shipping addresses and credit card numbers, the checkout processes is simplified: consumers simply see, click and buy.

Successful Social Commerce Brands

The success of social commerce lies in brands’ abilities to create “shop now” experiences for social media users. It offers consumers ready-to-buy products in social spaces they’ve curated for themselves. These consumers are primed to like and enjoy the products they see in a way that traditional e-commerce cannot deliver. When polled, 59% of social buyers said they are more likely to buy from small businesses when shopping through social commerce versus online, and 44% are more likely to buy from a brand that they have not previously encountered.

As social media platforms become more and more integrated into daily life, brands that can meet consumers in those digital social spaces will always have an advantage. Let’s look at brands that are successfully implementing social commerce and how your brand could benefit from incorporating similar strategies.

1. Implementing a social commerce feature like AI (Artificial Intelligence) and chatbots to help engage consumers, streamline sales, and offer great customer service is one way that modern brands like Starbucks and Domino's Pizza are enhancing their social commerce. Customers can simply ask chatbots questions about products, services or deliveries and receive immediate answers. Other brands like Sephora have created AI filters that create try-before-you-buy experiences so that customers can see how products would look on their bodies or in their homes. If your business is searching for a way to quickly respond to consumer needs, incorporating AI into your social commerce strategy can help your audience feel seen, heard, and understood.

2. Creating shoppable social media posts is another fantastic option within social commerce, and brands like Warby Parker, Burberry and Kylie Cosmetics are already capitalizing on this capability. The list of brands that now offer shoppable Instagram ads is growing exponentially as more brands take advantage of this social commerce feature. If your brand already advertises across social media platforms, try launching shoppable posts within those platforms to connect with your target audiences and streamline their purchase process.

3. Another key aspect of social commerce is analytics. Brands like Nike are taking advantage of their social media analytics to target specific audiences and price items at reachable price points that move consumers from consideration to conversion. Nike created the Nothing but Gold app, which is a community-based interface specifically targeted to Gen Z women. The app presents a collection of sport, style and self-care content and enables Gen Z consumers to shop within the app. Nike can then use the analytics gathered from these purchases and app navigation behaviors to determine reachable price points for their products.

4. The rise of influencer social commerce is leading more and more household brands to capitalize on this trend and harness its power to drive sales. Brands like H&M and Bed Bath & Beyond, for example, have harnessed the reach of influencer social commerce by introducing multiple new brand lines backed by influencer content. If your brand is interested in partnering with an influencer to help spread brand awareness and build brand trust, you could consider adding an influencer storefront to your e-commerce website. Influencer storefronts contain shoppable videos that are both posted and promoted by the influencer to drive organic traffic.

5. Lastly, another important driver of successful social commerce is the strength of social proof. Social proof is generated when previous customers post comments, reviews, photos and videos of their experiences with a brand and its products. One brand that has utilized social proof as a method of propelling their social commerce is Dollar Shave Club, which offers a dedicated Pinterest board for consumer feedback and product unboxing photos. This blend of user-generated feedback from past customers creates social proof that brands are authentic and can be trusted and helps turn warm target audiences into buyers.

LEAP Amp believes that social commerce has the potential to revolutionize e-commerce and impact every brand, business and social media platform. Ready to jumpstart your brand’s social commerce potential? Connect with the LEAP Amp team and learn how we can work together to develop your media targeting and social advertising strategy.