For businesses, social media has become one of the easiest and fastest ways to reach their audience and potential customers. The use of social media supports brands in achieving various goals – from increasing brand awareness to boosting digital engagement. But with the rise of online shopping precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the role of social media and its ability to aid businesses and brands have transformed. Beyond being a social platform to connect customers with brands, social media has also made it possible for these customers to shop for products easily and directly from a brand.
In 2020, 7 out of 10 internet users around the world purchased a product through social media. Studies also show that nearly 50% of internet users around the world use social media to search for brand-related information. And with the shift in consumer behavior towards shopping online, it now becomes a question of which social channels should up-and-coming e-commerce businesses focus on.
By the end of 2021, Instagram recorded over 2 billion monthly users. One of the most widely used social media apps around the world, Instagram is a highly visual-driven app that has enabled brands to recreate an immersive and visceral digital storefront where users can browse, shop, and checkout in just a few taps.
With the tag feature of Instagram, promotion becomes a two-way street. Users are able to tag brands and businesses in their posts – allowing posts to reach their own individual following and be visible on the tagged photos of brands. On the other hand, businesses are able to repost user-generated content and tag specific products in the posts – making it easier for users to easily and instantly shop the product in front of them.
These clickable shopping tags present on feed posts, Instagram stories, IGTV videos, Reels, guides, and live broadcasts direct users to a brand’s Instagram Shop catalog with complete product description pages showing more information.
7 out of 10 active users were reported to use Instagram as a way to interact with brands. Instagram messaging has served as a direct line between businesses and consumers for concerns, queries, and real-time feedback.
When brands post reels, photos, or stories, consumers are easily able to comment, like, and converse with other users looking at the same content. In response, brands are also able to reach out and actively engage with their community and loyal following.
Loyal followers of the brand also help promote a brand’s products and page. Through user-generated content – photos and videos they have taken themselves wearing, using, or even just next to a product – and tagging a brand to help other users and consumers gain awareness of a brand. And if the accounts of these followers are public, this type of content makes its way to another user’s discover page – a display of relevant content going to another relevant user.
Studies show that 1 in 2 users shared that their interest in a brand increases when exposed to ads for it on Instagram. Establishing a substantial following on Instagram, it lends credibility and legitimacy to your brand.
9 out of 10 users on Instagram have been reported to follow a business – demonstrating that online consumers are receptive to product or service advertisements on the app. With user-friendly ad settings and various options to cater to businesses of any size, Instagram paves the way for brands to build promotional campaigns around social media.
Conclusion: The visual-based app is perfect for businesses and brands that sell products or items that photograph well – clothes, shoes, furniture, household items, jewelry, art, to name a few. Similarly, the opportunities for video – reels and IG stories – also make it advantageous for service-based businesses to share more information and visual demonstration of their brand. With the limitless creative possibilities of showing how products can look or be incorporated in their day-to-day lives, Instagram becomes a highly advantageous tool for e-commerce businesses trying to gain traction, boost awareness, and establish themselves online.
Meta (formerly Facebook)
Being one of the first digital platforms to break the wall between social media and e-commerce, Meta (then Facebook) blazed the trail of social commerce with Facebook Market and added the option for businesses to have “Shops”. What does this mean for business? Exposure to potentially over 2.6 billion active users who can now digitally window shop while scrolling through their social network.
The introduction of these features was fueled by Facebook’s desire to “give people a place to experience the joy of shopping versus the chore of buying”. In addition, this also helped small and medium-sized businesses adapt during the pandemic while simultaneously making it easy and user-friendly for consumers to discover, search, and shop.
A tool dedicated to helping businesses run their digital shop, Meta’s Commerce Manager allows brands to manage their catalogue, track sales, and run promotions on both Instagram and Facebook. With the option to directly purchase products from Meta’s Shops, Commerce Manager also includes all the features and functions needed by businesses to sell directly to customers on both platforms. These features include getting paid directly, tracking payouts, financial reports, tax forms and analyzing delivery and customer service metrics.
The chat-based functions of Meta also makes it easy for brands to interact with customers directly. There are options to automate responses – allowing businesses to set up frequently asked questions, easily direct customers to the right links and pages, and helping them streamline queries when received in great volume.
Through automation, businesses are also able to strengthen their customer service through faster responses and tailored answers for users.
Users browsing Facebook Shops are able to seamlessly go through a product catalog where users can directly choose or purchase a product. Now that Facebook owns Instagram, both shops can be synced – making it easier for businesses to manage multi-channel shops.
To ensure businesses use their budget for ads in the most strategic way possible, there are different options for dynamic ads that could allow them to maximize exposure to the audience that’s most likely to purchase their products. This includes retargeting or building custom audiences based on a business’ market and consumer research.
There is also creative flexibility in producing the ads on Meta – you can boost or promote an entire catalog, a certain collection, or just a single product.
Conclusion: Meta is well suited for businesses with lean in-house teams looking to automate their digital storefront. With the user-friendly and easy-to-configure features of Meta, budding entrepreneurs and e-commerce business owners can set up shop in just a few clicks. Meta would also be ideal for e-commerce businesses looking to maximize and invest in data and analytics to build their following. Given the data-centric resources made available by Meta, businesses looking to analyze insights about their shop’s performance, customers, and products.
The short-form and video-sharing app has become one of the fastest growing apps on the internet. As of 2022, Tiktok has over 1 billion monthly active users who spend an average of 850 minutes monthly scrolling through the app.It is estimated that in every internet minute, 167 million TikTok videos are being watched around the world.
Social shopping on Tiktok has become explosive. In a 2020 study carried out by the video-sharing app, 2 in 3 users who had no intentions of shopping were found to have made a purchase from a brand. This phenomenon also became a movement of its own – #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt – which has over 11 billion views comprising trends and popular finds by consumers and brands alike.
An in-app feature that allows users to buy products without being redirected to a website or separate e-commerce store, TikTok Shopping is an all-in-one solution and tool developed for businesses present on the app. On a brand’s Shopping tab located on its TikTok profile, users are invited to browse through, select and purchase products all within TikTok.While the beauty of this feature is that it’s all built within the app, businesses are still given the option to use it as a platform to redirect or transfer users to the company’s online store – for example, hosted by Shopify – to complete the checkout process.
Megasales and Livestreaming
Much like marketplaces, TikTok understands the business opportunities that come with Megasales. According to the app, 8 out of 10 users shared that video content influenced their most recent purchase while 9 out of 10 users purchased a product from within the app during the 2021 sales season. TikTok presents businesses with various ad options – from in-feed and live shopping ads to branded hashtag challenges and sponsor packages – to help them reach the most relevant audience.
With Meta shutting down their live shopping feature, brands have turned to TikTok to maximize live streaming functions. What’s unique about TikTok is that it places entertainment at the heart of the shopping experience – giving its users a fuss-free social media platform that also doubles as an e-commerce space.
Gen Z Market
Over 60% of TikTok Users are Generation Z – one of the most diverse and digitally native generations with high levels of social and awareness and characterized by a highly expressive nature. From a brand’s perspective, businesses aiming to target and reach a wider Generation Z audience should harness the power of TikTok and build a strategy surrounding short-form videos that both appeal to their young consumer while highlighting their product or service.
Conclusion: For brands that have the creative engine to take advantage and hop on trends and create meme-like videos, TikTok is an ideal and powerful platform for social shopping. A single viral video on TikTok can change the course of sales for a business, as proven by lifestyle brand Good Totes who experienced a 200% increase in monthly orders after a video about one of her products had spread across the app.
More than the appealing visuals and engaging copywriting displayed on the surface, social media offers businesses a plethora of benefits to further growth – from increased brand awareness to building targeted ad audiences.
Depending on the nature of the product, brands can select the right social media platform to focus on to meet their own objectives. When utilized and maximized strategically, social commerce can result in increased sales, boost brand awareness and more data-driven decisions.