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Social commerce, the combination of ecommerce and social media platforms, is one of 2022’s leading marketing and sales trends. Despite being a relatively new sales channel, social commerce is rapidly growing in importance and popularity throughout the United States. To stand out from the ever-growing crowd of sellers, however, associated businesses need to focus on building a convincing strategy.
A meteoric rise
Social commerce owes its popularity, not surprisingly, to the continued growth of social media. Between 2020 and 2021 alone, according to Statista, social media users increased from 223 million to 295 million people in the U.S. — a figure equivalent to three quarters of the population. This upward trend looks set to continue: Experts predict that the number of users will exceed 300 million over the course of 2022. Of those (and again according to Statista), 79 million purchased products through social media channels in 2020, and that number is expected to exceed 100 million by 2023.
No business relying on ecommerce can afford to lose out on such a sizable opportunity.
Building a social commerce strategy
Like any marketing and sales effort, your social commerce strategy needs to support overall business objectives. In addition, brands must tailor it to their target audience and its preferred social media platforms.
1. Selecting the right platform
The most promising social media platform for your brand will be determined by the tastes of target customers. Different platforms attract varying audiences, and to make the most of limited budgets, ecommerce businesses need to understand the overlap among audiences and platforms.
At this point, Facebook remains the top social commerce hub in the U.S., with more than 56 million buyers, according to HubSpot. However, platforms like Instagram, YouTube and TikTok have recently introduced features to support and grow social commerce. Instagram, for example, used to limit purchases by asking users to follow a link in a brand’s biography. Newer sales-friendly features have removed obstacles from this process and made shopping on the platform easier, and Instagram is especially powerful when social commerce is combined with influencer marketing.
Social media companies, as one might imagine, have recognized the potential of social commerce for the development of their businesses, and so most have an excellent and in-depth understanding of their user demographics and usage habits. Therefore, brands can take advantage of a precision match between customer profiles and user profiles. This degree of precision creates the foundation of a successful sales channel.
Related: How to Choose the Best Social Media Platform for Your Business
2. Streamlining the experience
One of the biggest advantages of online shopping is the sheer convenience of the process. Comparing product features and prices from the comfort of your own home sets it apart from other forms of retail.
At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, ecommerce’s growth spurt may have been due to lockdowns and other government regulations, but its ongoing convenience and efficiency means online shopping will continue to grow, despite life returning to normal. However, as in-store shopping opens up, ecommerce has to withstand increased competition. To be successful in this environment, brands need to remove barriers for customers and create a seamless shopping experience.
Clear calls-to-action and direct links to purchase pages will help (every needless additional click contributes to lost sales), and the checkout process is especially crucial in this respect: confusing ones quickly undermine customer trust and lead to abandoned shopping carts.
3. Adding customer proof
Flawless product images are not enough to create a successful social commerce campaign, so add real-life social media images whenever possible. These are often more relatable than high-gloss images and help build customer relationships; this type of user-generated content is more authentic than anything generated by remunerated influencers or the brand itself. TikTok, especially, has built a reputation for user-generated content that creates terrific buzz.
Related: How Digital Marketing and Advertising Can Help Grow Your Ecommerce Business
4. Personalizing the experience
Just a few decades ago, direct sales relied on standard catalogs being sent to thousands of households. Digital marketing has made a more personalized approach not only possible, but something consumers have come to expect.
This is where social commerce has an advantage over other forms of ecommerce. Social media platforms know their users better than most other advertising platforms. They can supply marketing and sales teams with unparalleled details about prospective customers.
As a result, it has never been easier or more convenient to truly personalize product suggestions.
5. Combining social commerce and other social media marketing
It’s easy to think of ecommerce as a 100% sales-focused approach. However, social commerce works best when it’s integrated with other forms of social marketing, and sales teams typically find that social commerce tactics perform better when content is mirrored across the brand’s profile.
Using consistent messages across all social media marketing activities will help amplify them. Consistency also builds consumer trust and loyalty, which in turn leads to increased sales.
Related: 5 Social Media Marketing Tips to Boost Your Sales
A successful social commerce strategy relies on reaching out to a target audience on its preferred social media platform, and while many consumers use more than one, most have a favorite where they are more likely to shop. To help convert those impressions into sales, the experience needs to be streamlined and barrier-free. Personalizing product offers and approaches will further support sales and conversions. Lastly, integrating social commerce into your brand’s wider social media marketing and ecommerce activity not only supports sales, it builds trust and customer loyalty, laying the foundation for a long-term customer relationship.