Social commerce by TSM

Social Commerce: What It Is and Why It Matters

What is Social Commerce?

Social commerce is a subset of e-commerce that utilizes social interaction and user contributions to assist the online buying and selling of products and services. To put it simply, social commerce boils down to using popular social networks & social proof to facilitate e-commerce transactions.

Championed by David Beisel, the concept of social commerce defined user-generated advertorial content on e-commerce sites. It was also used by Steve Rubel to include collaborative e-commerce tools that let shoppers get advice from people they trust, find products, and purchase them.

The $89.4 billion social commerce market is projected to grow to $604.5 billion in the next seven years. If you are in business, this means you should be leveraging the power of social commerce. Everything from product discovery and research to making the final purchasing decision can happen on your chosen social media platform. Powerful tools like Instagram’s shoppable feature and Facebook Shops are currently the most common methods used for modern social commerce retailers.

“But how is this any different than e-commerce?”, you may ask. With social commerce, there is no need for a customer to follow links away from social media to a website or app. They can make their purchases right on the social media platform. 

The increasing number of mobile users and accelerated growth of social media is driving the growth of social commerce, and likewise revolutionizing the way people shop. So, your customers can search products, compare them, and buy them on the platform instead of following any links, making the entire process simpler for the consumer side.

Some like to reference social commerce as just a component of social media marketing when that couldn’t be further from the truth. Social media marketing is done to drive traffic to their websites, or away from their social media profiles. These posts normally include calls to action to visit their website to connect or make purchases. 

Here we will explain precisely what social commerce is, why it matters, and the best ways to take advantage of this relatively new opportunity.

Why Use Social Commerce?

Increase User Interaction: Social commerce allows users to be more interactive with their shopping experiences. They can share their purchases, check reviews, and interact directly with brands. There are no points that customers must travel to, they simply make a purchase. There is a greatly reduced chance for them to drift off onto other activities when navigating your funnel.

The Numbers Don’t Lie: Studies show that 81% of shoppers research products first on Instagram and Facebook and that 48% of internet users between 18 to 34 years old made purchases on social media. (See more stats here)

Feedback Is Instant: The conversations surrounding your products are right there for you to see. You can ask customers questions and ask them to vote on what they would purchase. This can help you make better inventory and product development decisions, as well as gain instant feedback on social media campaigns and more.

Platforms for Social Commerce

Facebook Shops 

As one of the most influential social networks, Facebook rules the social commerce market. A survey reports that roughly 35% of customers feel that Facebook is the best platform to use to determine which retailers to trust and buy from.

Using Facebook Shops, you can customize the collections that you wish to feature. Choose the fonts and colors to match your brand and post the best images of your products. Your entire catalog can be imported from your website or you can create one on the platform. Customers can get to your shop from your Facebook business page, Instagram profile or shopping ads, or shoppable stories and posts.

When building your Facebook Shop, customize it for your brand. Be careful to choose the right products for the appropriate audience. Do not overwhelm them with all your products at once. Release a few products at a time and see how those work. Then keep promoting your top sellers.

With Facebook Shops You:

  • Upload your products and details
  • Customize your catalog
  • Sell right from the page and manage orders
  • Run Facebook ads to promote products
  • Secure and analyze insights
  • Tip: Facebook shops work better for lower-priced items that don’t require much thought. Selling a Rolex through a Facebook Page is never really a good idea.

Instagram Shops 

With 60% of people finding new products on Instagram, this is a prime spot for yours. The platform boasts over 400 million users around the globe. With Instagram Shops your customers can buy your products that are in your photos and videos through “Shoppable” posts. Just tag the products in your posts and add checkout links to the products. Remember that before you can set up your Instagram Shop, your Facebook Shop must be already set up as it pulls the data from your Facebook catalog.

Real Use Case: International beauty brand Sephora leverages the advantage of social commerce on Instagram, including the product tagging and tag to shop functionalities. The company’s feed became a live catalog where customers can explore and shop items. Combining product tagging and user-generated content allows Sephora to gain credibility using their Instagram offerings.


Snapchat offers a Native Store feature in their Brand Profiles that allows users to purchase within the application. The short-lived nature of their posts automatically creates urgency for shoppers.

Real Use Case: Jordan, one of the most iconic athletic brands, partnered with Snapchat to capitalize on the NBA All-Star Game. Thousands who attended the Jump-Man All-Star After Party were given access, via a Snap code, to an exclusive prelaunch of sale of the Air Jordan III Tinker. 

Tips for Success With Social Commerce

Tip #1: Engage with Your Followers

Simply posting photos and prices will not do the trick. Use social media the way it was meant to be used. Be social, engage with your followers. Provide them the value and content that will convince them to commit to you, and then to your products. Be responsive and available to answer their questions. 70% of social media users engage because of special offers and 26% engage due to the content. So, make sure you provide valuable offers and content.

Tip #2: Encourage and Incentivize Customer Reviews

When people see that your products have been purchased and received by actual customers, they are more comfortable with purchasing as well. 93% of online shoppers will base their decision to purchase on the reviews they read. Encourage your customers to share their experiences and show off the products they purchased. Provide incentives to make reviews and share those reviews in other areas of your social media platforms.

Tip #3: Target Your Reach

Use the data provided by social media to promote the right products to the right people. If you cast your net too wide the results may be a huge waste of time. 

Tip #4: Remove Moments of Friction

Make it easy to buy from you. Give them all the information they need to make the purchase right then and there, and they likely will. Use autofill in the purchase area and a chatbot to help them during this process.

Tip #5: Price Your Products to Move

Those quick social commerce decisions work better with products that are priced to move. Luxury, big-ticket items do not move well in social media.

The Future of Social Commerce

2020 changed the game for businesses across all industries. The pandemic forced businesses to compete on the web and provide ways to purchase online. Forced to close by government officials, brick and mortar businesses quickly became e-commerce businesses for a lot longer than they expected. Shutdowns forced shoppers to give online shopping a try, and many have decided to continue to use this convenient shopping method. This has continued into 2021 and is expected to be the way of the world for a while to come, but now is the time to take advantage and start learning ahead of your competition.

We get it. There are a million ways to improve your outreach to be more effective with your prospects, and sometimes it’s hard to figure out the next move. If you find yourself in this situation, click here to hop on a call with us. We’ll be able to talk about the details of your business and give you some advice on where to take your content and more.

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