Thanks to social media, we now have the world at our fingertips.
I can log onto Facebook and organize a night out with a large group of friends, or log into Twitter and check on the latest world news developments. With Instagram, I can find inspiration and awesome products from around the world. With Youtube, I can check product reviews or DIY instructions for products I already own.
Everything I need can be found in my pocket on my mobile phone.
For brands, it’s made it incredibly simple to foster profitable customer relationships. Through social media’s huge platforms brands are able to turn strangers into customers, and customers into advocates.
All with little more than frequent updates and engaging posts.
However, for the majority of social media’s existence sales have occurred off these networks. They’ve been little more than traffic generators and audience warming solutions. You’ve always had to redirect people to your store and pray that your on-site purchase journey is optimized enough to facilitate the sale.
Thankfully, that complex purchase journey is no longer a consideration. With the advent of social commerce, you’re now able to handle every stage of the purchase journey directly through the network of your choice.
What is Social Commerce?
Social commerce is the process of promoting and selling products directly through a social media network. A product is shared on Facebook and the user is able to purchase directly through Facebook without needing to be redirected to your ecommerce site.
It’s a simpler way of driving sales through social media engagement, and one that’s growing in popularity.
A visual representation of the entire customer journey with social commerce
And yet, despite the increasing popularity of the concept, there are very few native solutions out there.
I’ll get onto covering the solutions available to you shortly, but before I do it’s worth looking at why you need to pay attention to this phenomenon.
Why is Social Commerce so Popular?
The answer to this is far more simple than you might think.
Social commerce is popular because it’s one of the most efficient ways to generate sales through your social profiles. It’s simple, but effective.
The main differentiator is that social commerce more closely resembles the real world shopping experience.
I mean, take going to the local store to purchase a new TV. Often, you’ll be there with a friend or family member discussing the merits and shortfalls of each model.
You’ll be able to converse with the staff for instant feedback and advice to find the product that best suits your needs.
But when you’re shopping for the same product on an online store, you’re often sat in front of your screen alone. You’re having to figure out which features are best for you whilst flipping between different tabs to compare and contrast.
If you do discuss the potential purchase with a friend or family member, it’ll often be hours after you’ve browsed so the information isn’t as freshening you might overlook key differentiators.
If you ask an “assistant“ for help you’ll often have to wait for 12-24 hours for them to pick up and respond to your email.
But social commerce is the bridge between the convenience of online shopping and the service of in-person service.
Sure, it’s not a 1:1 exchange, but it’s much better at mimicking the social aspect so many of us rely on when shopping.
When selling directly through social media you can leverage things like the conversations revolving around your products. You can use native elements like shares, likes, and comments as a form of social proof to add persuasion power, and of course comes the benefit of more shares and comments increasing overall reach.
Social commerce is popular because it provides that feeling and security of shopping with others, but from the comfort of your own home.
Is A Social Commerce Strategy Worth Your Time?
This is the million dollar question.
You’re probably already running some social media campaigns that direct users to your product pages or retargeting campaigns that bring abandoning users back on site.
You’re also probably seeing some decent revenue through these methods, so why switch?
Well, first of all there’s nothing to stop you from running both campaigns in parallel. However, I’m pretty sure after this next little nugget of wisdom you’ll want to explore how to implement a more direct social selling method.
The short version is that social selling streamlines the path to purchase and thus eliminates many of the friction points and areas where users abandon.
Most of the time you’ll be using Messenger and chatbots to facilitate sales. After crunching the numbers, ChatBots Life found the overall conversion rates to be vastly higher through Messenger chatbots.
By their reckoning, a social commerce approach leveraging Messenger will make 35 sales to the traditional 1 – that’s a 3400% increase. Not too shabby, hey?
We’re in a period where consumers are more demanding than ever before. There’s a good reason most brands are hiring for the position of “demand generation”, the majority of your modern consumers are incredibly demanding.
And what they’re demanding is a streamlined, instantaneous service.
Social commerce is the most logical answer we have right now. People see something they want and are able to purchase it directly through the platform they found it on.
It’s simple, effective, and highly profitable.
But what do the big players in the industry have to say on the matter?
How the Big Networks are Handling Social Commerce
Surprisingly, a lot of the bigger networks out there aren’t yet got their social commerce solutions up to speed. However, there are a few potential solutions out there to be explored.
After you’ve set up a Facebook business page you have the option to set up a section of it as an actual store.
To find out if you can, head to your page and, if it is possible for you, you’ll see an option to add a shop section.
This feature isn’t available for everyone as it’s being gradually rolled out. Here’s a little more information on the process.
If you are able to get a store up and running, and you follow all the steps to add products that align with Facebook’s product guidelines, you’ll have a section on your page through which people can buy your products.
However, to get people to see the products they’ll have to click on the shop tab and then check out as if it was a normal store.
All you’ve really achieved is moving the store element of the purchase journey from a property you own entirely (your store) to Facebook’s platform.
Sure, it’s a little more straightforward, but there’s still a bunch of extra steps and you’re banking on the user clicking on the store tab.
Facebook have obviously also noted the shortcoming in the service as they’ve recently filed for a patent for a more direct, chat-based social commerce solution.
Pinterest Buyable Pins
Pinterest comes with its own native solution in the form of buyable pins. You can sync your Pinterest account with your Shopify, BigCommerce, or Salesforce Commerce Cloud account and add the products to your Pinterest.
The great thing about Pinterest buyable pins is how the platform works on repins. Apparently, around 80% of the total Pinterest pins are actually repins. So if you can create something worthy of sharing, you should see your content getting huge reach.
This is probably the most direct and typical example of social commerce in action, and it’s the most streamlined native method offered by any of the big networks.
But that’s pretty much it. There’s no other network who has a native solution. That means Twitter, Youtube, and Instagram are all lacking this simple but necessary ability to sell to your users directly through your social media accounts.
However, there is a simpler method.
The Future of Social Commerce
There’s been a lot of buzz around the concept of social commerce.
Tommy Walker, the former editor of Shopify, said in this piece on Hubspot;
“blending the convenience of social shopping and speed while providing a highly personalized experience via targeted ads is key for the future of social commerce.”
Couple the blending of that shopping prediction with the growing trend of mobile usage in ecommerce and you have a powerful foundation for a social commerce campaign that prints money.
There’s definite potential there. And for proof, you need look no further than our friends in the east.
China has developed their ecommerce platforms to be completely seamless when used through mobile chat and social apps like WeChat.
China isn’t just integrating social and retail, they’re mixing the two in completely new ways leading to astronomical sales levels.
Single’s Day, the closest thing in China to Black Friday – Cyber Monday weekend obliterates the western sales period with their sales, breaking $25 billion in 2017. BILLION.
Of course the huge population and growing middle class play a role in this, but when it’s so easy to purchase it’s no wonder they’re killing it when it comes to sales.
The key thing to note is how integrated and seamless the mobile and social commerce experience is in China. If you want to learn a little more about it, I’d recommend this Ted Talk on the topic.
Western networks lack that ease of purchase and it doesn’t look like any of the major networks are taking great efforts to offer a realistic solution.
Right now, there’s only third party solutions that offer that level of integration across all social media networks. With jumper, of course, leading the pack.
Jumper is the only service available right now that allows users to turn a quick browse through any social (and an increasing number of chat) network into a purchase that doesn’t require them to look through your store.
You see a product you want, comment accordingly, and an automated checkout kicks off.
It allows you as the brand owner to leverage things like social proof and the increase reach that are inherent in social media to your advantage.
You can even implement the automated checkout on retargeting ads to clean up some of those who fail to purchase.
We’re not quite at the level of China in terms of social commerce and using mobile devices in physical locations to order dishes and products, but jumper is the only service that brings us one step closer to closing the $25bn gap.
If you’re interested in learning more about social commerce and how it can explode your sales, sign up for a free jumper account today.