You know that social media is a great tool for marketing your business and driving product discovery. But are you making sales right from the social platform?
30% of online shoppers say they would be likely to make a purchase from a social media network like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat. And with Instagram and Facebook introducing new native shopping experiences, that number will only continue to rise.
In this post, we’ll cover how brands can leverage these native shopping experiences — called social commerce — to reach new audiences and boost sales.
What is social commerce?
Social commerce refers to buying or selling a product or service within the native social media experience.
For example, on Pinterest, users can browse and purchase Buyable Pins right from the Pinterest app or website, rather than having to go to the brand’s website.
Social commerce vs. ecommerce
Social commerce is a subset of ecommerce. Typically, online shoppers discover a new product in an organic or paid social media post, then click through to the brand’s website to make a purchase.
In social commerce experiences, shoppers don’t have to leave the social media platform to make a purchase with Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, or a credit card.
Why is social commerce important?
Social commerce is becoming a key piece of the ecommerce mix for brands across industries.
- Facebook has almost 1.79 billion daily active users
- 60% of Instagram users say they find new products on Instagram
- About 42% of shoppers say they’ve made a purchase on social media
- Pinterest’s revenue from shopping ads increased 100% in 2019
Most social commerce experiences are currently available through organic content on these platforms, but paid opportunities — like the ability to buy directly from paid posts on Instagram — are on the rise.
“Expect social media and ecommerce to become further intertwined in 2021. Selling continues to be a focus in the digital space and is growing faster than ever. With social at the forefront of everyday interactions, it makes sense for brands to push marketing out through these channels to reach the most valuable audiences possible.
Many platforms have already integrated native shopping features, including Facebook and Instagram, and it’s definitely on the horizon for growing channels like TikTok. Innovative ecommerce solutions and cross-channel buying experiences should be absolutely top of mind for marketers. Focus on streamlining the social shopping process so the customers’ transition from your feed to the checkout is as frictionless as possible.”
– Julie Meredith, Sr. Director of Marketing at Dash Hudson
6 top social commerce sites
Here are six of the top platforms for social commerce and how the shopping experience works on each one.
(A quick note: Twitter got rid of its “Buy” button back in 2017 — it’ll be interesting to see whether the platform reintroduces social commerce as native shopping experiences continue to gain popularity.)
On Pinterest, Buyable Pins streamline the buying process for customers browsing Pinterest ads by allowing them to buy directly from a retailer. On Buyable Pins, a blue price tag appears showing the user that it is purchasable through Pinterest.
Pinterest also stores user purchase information to make the shopping experience more seamless after the first purchase. Making Buyable Pins a part of your Pinterest marketing efforts will shorten your buyer’s journey and increase the possibility of new sales — when shoppers can buy directly from Pinterest, they’re more likely to convert than if they have to click out to a secondary website.
Pinterest partners with third-party platforms like MikMak and Basketful to help brands make their social posts shoppable. Basketful focuses on grocery products, while MikMak’s clients range from Campbell’s and Nestle to Estee Lauder and L’OREAL.
“We believe that Pinterest’s shopping capabilities will continue to grow this year as they keep rolling out new updates and tools that will improve their algorithm. Last year, Tinuiti brands saw a 91% increase in Prospecting ROAS when switching from checkout to add to cart event. Simultaneously while optimizing for ATC actions, taking advantage of the higher ATC numbers by retargeting based on users who have ATC but not purchased, Retargeting ATC audience saw a 35% increase in ROAS after Prospecting shift.”
— Jennifer Porch, Specialist, Paid Social at Tinuiti
Learn more about making the most of Pinterest marketing in our Complete Guide to Pinterest Ads.
2. Facebook and 3. Instagram
Facebook has long been paving the way for social commerce. Earlier this year, it launched Facebook Shops, its very own ecommerce platform that allows businesses to create storefronts across Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook Shops is a culmination of online shopping features released across both social platforms over the years, including Facebook Marketplace, Instagram Shopping, Native Checkout, and Live Video Shopping.
According to Facebook, the launch of Shops means that “any seller, no matter their size or budget, can bring their business online and connect with customers wherever and whenever it’s convenient for them.”
“With Shops, Facebook is catering more directly to brands than they have in the past. This is part of Facebook’s effort to create a personalized shopping experience for users in the “Shop” destination of the app, which we expect to become more prominent to users soon. Facebook Marketplace allows businesses to list products among the C2C listings as well, but the “Shop” destination delivers an experience that feels more curated for customers and more dedicated to businesses, so we’re excited to see it grow.”
– Brian Roizen, Chief Architect and Cofounder of Feedonomics
Shops are free to create but will reportedly charge a fee when Facebook’s native checkout is used, which is still currently in alpha. In the meantime, shoppers cannot make a purchase within the app unless the brand has access to Instagram Checkout beta.
If a brand doesn’t have access to Facebook Shops, Facebook’s native checkout, or Instagram Checkout, there are still opportunities to leverage social commerce. Instagram lets brands sell products right from posts or stories, and Facebook Marketplace allows users to purchase from local and ecommerce businesses alike without having to leave the Facebook app.
Last year, Snapchat announced a new native checkout feature in the app, initially rolling out the native checkout to five influencers’ official accounts (and their brands), including Kylie Jenner and Shay Mitchell.
The new Snapchat native checkout feature lets users buy products directly within the app. Previously, creators could only attach products to individual snaps. The new native checkout tool takes the experience one step further: Select accounts can now create a store — powered by Shopify — within Snapchat.
These accounts have the Shop button on their Snapchat profiles, allowing users to access the shops directly from a profile within the Snapchat app.
Since the launch of Snapchat native checkout, Snap has also introduced AR Lenses and Native Store experiences for brand profiles: “Profiles may include a Native Store experience that enables Snapchatters to seamlessly browse and purchase items directly within the Snapchat app powered by Shopify.”
TikTok may be the new kid on the block when it comes to social platforms, but it’s not lagging far behind when it comes to social commerce.
Last month, TikTok announced a social commerce partnership with Shopify, to make it easier for Shopify’s over 1 million merchants to reach TikTok’s audience. With this new partnership, Shopify merchants will be able to create native, shareable content in the TikTok feed.
Merchants will be able to target TikTok users across gender, age, user behavior, and video category, then track the ad campaign’s performance directly from their Shopify dashboard. Shopify merchants can also install the “TikTok Pixel” to track conversions driven by their campaigns.
While TikTok hasn’t launched an in-app shopping experience yet, it’s on the horizon. A spokesperson told TechCrunch that upcoming features will “let users browse merchant’s products and shop directly through the TikTok app.”
Brands such as e.l.f. saw big wins last year due to the rise in TikTok engagement. e.l.f. Cosmetics partnered with Tinuiti in late 2019—shortly after we worked with the vegan beauty brand to create an integrated strategy across the social platform ecosystem.
Part of this strategy included launching three new channels for the brand—Snapchat, Pinterest, and TikTok—as part of their “e.l.f.ing Amazing” brand campaign. With this launch, Tinuiti helped e.l.f. become the first-ever beauty brand to advertise on TikTok. Our efforts resulted in 31M video views and 548,000 new users to elfcosmetics.com in just 90 days. This campaign ultimately helped lead to a greater engagement with TikTok—which included the viral #EyesLipsFace campaign.
“TikTok is not only a completely fresh and unique opportunity for people but also for small and large brands. The impact brands have on culture will eventually lead to an impact on business. By connecting with the community on a creative level, you’re able to tap into new audiences who may not be active on other platforms.”
— Kiana Corpus, Coordinator, Paid Social at Tinuiti
With over 330 million monthly active users, Twitter offers a huge potential audience to ecommerce brands. But what sets Twitter ads apart from Facebook or Instagram?
Let’s look at the stats:
- 54% of users surveyed by Twitter said that they had taken action—like visiting the brand’s website, searching for the brand, or retweeting brand content—after seeing a brand mentioned in tweets.
- In Q3 2019, Twitter ad engagement was up 23% from the previous quarter
- The same quarter, CPE (cost per engagement) was down 12%
- Twitter users spend 26% more time with ads than other social media users
- In 2019, total ad engagement was up 29% year-over-year
But probably the most compelling aspect of Twitter ads for advertisers is that video ads can be up to 50% cheaper in Cost-Per-Engagement. For brands in highly visual industries, like apparel, fitness, or beauty, video Twitter ads are a great way to reach an audience that already seeks out video content on Twitter.
“Overall, Twitter advertising can be a versatile option for ecommerce brands—whether you want to reach highly-targeted audiences or engage with as many users as possible. Objective-setting and the pay-for-performance model make it a flexible tool for advertisers who want to run paid social media campaigns and reach Twitter’s 330+ million monthly active users.”
– Baber Ghaznavi, Senior Specialist, Paid Social at Tinuiti
As we move toward 2021, social commerce will undoubtedly become a bigger piece of the ecommerce puzzle for brands and social platforms alike. For even more insights into social media marketing and social commerce, check out our Social Commerce Guidebook.