If you’ve been on social media lately, which is an obvious yes, you’ve likely noticed eCommerce slowly seeping into your feed, especially if you are on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or TikTok. The fact is that social media platforms have long been on a path of creating marketplaces as a new revenue source and it’s not without merit, over 70% of adults use some form of social media platform which means you have a massive target audience with money to spend.
If you run an online business on a platform like Wix or Shopify, you should be aware that there are already great integrations between your site and your company’s social media accounts but if you aren’t you should consider the implications of not hosting your products on one of these social media’s marketplaces, here’s what you need to know:
Why Social Media is So Important for eCommerce
We can ignore the obvious fact that it makes sense to sell where so many of us spend so much time but there are a number of other reasons your brand should consider social media eCommerce.
First, you can target your audience where they hang out and you should focus your efforts on the platform they use the most (not the platforms with the most users, necessarily). Having this direct connection with your audience gives you the opportunity to engage with them when they are engaging in content that is relevant to your brand and it offers a space where you can be more casual in your selling techniques.
If you’re selling on Instagram, you can share some behind-the-scenes information about how the product is produced or what your team is up to in their day-to-day work. This means you don’t always have to do direct “buy, buy, buy” postings but instead can establish your brand in a more human way. Tag the products in the photo and let your customers pursue the purchase. We’re constantly being told to buy things so the more relaxed you can approach the sale, sometimes the better.
Secondly, as consumers, we’re always eager for more seamless purchasing experiences. If I see a post of someone wearing a hat I want, the more barriers to finding the hat, learning about it, seeing the price, entering my payment info, and checking out, the more likely I won’t buy. If instead I can see the photo, click on the link, and be brought to a checkout page without leaving Instagram, I might even make an impulsive purchase.
Using social media to connect with your customer and create a seamless shopping experience is only going to become more of the norm. Learning how to do it now will impact your marketing approach.
How to Leverage Social Media as Part of Your Branding Strategy
If you are running a successful eCommerce business you’ve likely already embraced the appropriate social media platform and share content that reinforces your brand. Merging that with a seamless shopping experience can boost your sales beyond your website. Consumers are attracted to brands that cultivate a community of loyal customers and share content with them beyond just advertisements. They want to engage with brands that share their values and express themselves with an authentic identity.
Being able to merge your content with your retail makes it all the easier for your customers to convert. Make sure you are leveraging the platform your audience uses the most but also keep in mind that the brands doing the best are embracing being omnichannel, meaning, just because you sell on your website doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also be willing to share on Facebook too.
Make Sure it’s Right for Your Brand
Now, even while I’ve shared the benefits of social media eCommerce, I do want to say it’s not for everyone. The most obvious reason is that some platforms don’t allow the sale of certain items, so that might rule it out for you right off the bat. Just as important is to consider your brand and what you sell. It might be important to get your customer to your website. Your website still offers superior customization over any social media platform right now and if your product requires a level of customization for the purchase or information about the product, don’t feel bad about not offering the ability to purchase on your social media.
Lastly, keep your brand in mind. If it violates your brand guidelines to engage with your customers this way that’s just as important as the reasons above. Just because social media eCommerce is flourishing doesn’t mean you should dive in at the expense of alienating your customers. Social media can be a great tool for establishing trust with your audience but be careful how you commercialize your channels, especially if you have a good thing going.
Social media eCommerce is here to stay and will only grow in its sophistication in the next couple of years. Fortunately, these platforms are prioritizing integrations with the big-name eCommerce platforms and making it easy to pull your products in from your existing store.
Consider your social media strategy, play with some of these shopping tools and see how your audience reacts. Being the more engaged, seamless retailer will help you stand out amongst the crowd.