Selling With Social Commerce

Julie Stewart • August 11, 2020


If you market and sell products through social media apps, then you’re already engaged in social commerce. If you don’t but are curious about this emerging powerhouse of a channel, we’ll tell you what you need to know to sell with social commerce.


What is Social Commerce?


First, what it is not: Social media marketing (ads and content promotion via social media apps) has been around for a long time now, but it is not “commerce.” You only advertise so you can drive traffic to your online shop; the sale takes place offsite.

Social commerce includes the selling of products or services. The social platform is where you both promote and sell your wares, without the buyer ever leaving the app to complete their purchase. It is the most direct way to monetize your social media following, eliminating the sales friction of clicking back and forth between store and social feed.




What social platforms enable social commerce?

Social commerce is a fast-growing trend in online sales, with more and more social platforms adding direct sales channels to allow in-app purchases. It started in 2019 with Instagram Shopping and Instagram Stories, which both bring shoppable posts to browsers on the platform. Soon after, Pinterest created Buyable Pins. This year, Facebook has just rolled out Facebook Shops, which is a marketplace for B2C sellers that uses the back-end marketing algorithms already developed for C2C sellers on Facebook Marketplace.

Snapchat has added something called deep linking, which brings up a fully functioning landing page within the app when a user swipes up on a product image. Without the user exiting the app, brands can use this page to sell products, drive app downloads, or get email signups.

LinkedIn has already acquired some e-commerce assets such as business course company Linda, selling online professional development classes and printed content. Twitter has yet to come out with a direct selling channel in its app, after an earlier failed attempt.

Target is already making extensive use of shoppable posts on Instagram, engaging users with lifestyle imagery.


Which is the best social platform for selling your stuff?

The brand personality of your company and your customers’ typical lifestyle are key considerations. If your customer demographic skews younger (Millennials and Gen Z’ers), Snapchat and Instagram will be their preferred hangouts. If your products mostly appeal to women, consider Pinterest. The vast majority of Pinterest users are female. If you sell to consumers of all ages and genders, Facebook Shops is your best bet.

In all cases, social media users are most engaged by rich educational information that speaks to their needs and taste preferences. Help them learn something, or show a photo of the product in context, and in use.

How to tell if a particular site is right for you:

  • Your target demographic is already using it
  • You’ve already got a large body of followers and Likes on that platform
  • They have good levels of engagement on it
  • Your customers would naturally want to buy there, without having to click over elsewhere.
  • You’re equipped to create the right content for it (videos, high-quality photography, graphic design, etc)



Tips for success with social commerce


1. Use analytics to help figure out when and what to post.

One nice aspect of social media platforms is that they generally offer robust analytics. These make it easy to see which of your social content is effective at engaging with your customers, and which falls short. They may show different results depending on what time or what day you make posts; you can analyze a 7-14 day period and make adjustments as needed. Sometimes the content may be the determining factor, so try switching that up too.


2. Use landing page best practices to maximize your conversions.

Without a strong landing page, you will lose a lot of potential sales. There is a large body of advice about effective landing pages. At minimum there should be:

  • an aesthetically pleasing design and color scheme;
  • a compelling message stating your main value proposition;
  • a strong and highly visible call to action;
  • order forms made as brief as possible.


3. Be authentic.

If you can manage to foster authentic engagement around your brand, you’ll be rewarded with increased brand trust and loyalty. Don’t make a lot of flashy claims. Simplicity is best. Wherever you can, use photography and other visuals, rather than words, to tell your brand’s story.



A few compelling statistics about the power of Social for e-commerce

According to some recent Hubspot inbound lead research:

  • 90% of consumers believe brand recommendations from friends
  • 68% of shoppers believe influencers over ads from brands
  • 71% of buyers are more likely to make a purchase from social referrals

While these statistics are more generally about the power of social influence on buying behaviors, they would certainly apply in the case where someone has the opportunity to complete the purchase right there within the app. This evidence all indicates that he rise of social commerce is headed nowhere but up from this point.



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Julie Stewart

My mission at Shoppingfeed is explaining how to leverage e-commerce platforms and SaaS technology to e-merchants who just want to run their business and make more money.

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