Social media is now a pillar of any effective digital marketing strategy. Brands use platforms to engage with potential customers and build a following, but until now, its function has always been to drive traffic to separate online stores.
Now, brands are increasingly streamlining the process of converting social media leads into customers by turning to social commerce. What started as an online marketplace for social media users to sell their used items is becoming the go-to commerce platform. Social commerce, as it is known, is changing the way consumers and brands interact and could represent a new dawn for social media.
The Social Commerce Boom
Using social media for eCommerce has taken off in recent years. Since Facebook launched its online ‘buy now’ marketplace in 2017, it has stormed ahead to become the most popular social media commerce platform.
A social media commerce survey from October 2017, found that almost 48% of Americans had bought something using Facebook’s eCommerce marketplace.
Facebook’s success in the eCommerce market is hardly surprising. It already has 2.2 billion active monthly users, 1.45 billion of which use Facebook every day. Putting these users directly into contact with products, without diverting them to third-party websites or apps, streamlines the purchasing process benefits both the user and the brand.
The Future of sCommerce
Social media commerce, or sCommerce, is booming but it is still in an embryonic stage. Mobile usage is climbing and social media platforms like Instagram are reported substantial annual user growth figures.
Meeting these users on social media will become a focus of marketing strategies in 2019 and beyond. Users are quick to leave a website or app that they don’t find engaging or relevant to their needs and tastes, but they don’t leave social media platforms. As a result, Gartner estimates that 20% of brands will abandon their mobile apps by next year, instead choosing to channel their digital marketing efforts into social media instead.
Instagram is also poised to take over Facebook’s mantle at the top of the sCommerce market. It has just added a native payment feature within the app which allows users to book restaurant tables, pay for cinema tickets, and cosmetic appointments without leaving the app.
As this feature is expanded, expect to see influencers directly tag products, allowing users to purchase products they see their favourite social media stars use with one click, directly from the post description.
The rise of social media commerce also allows for a more personalized marketing strategy. Social media platforms harvest extensive data about each visitor and use this data to offer a refined and personalized experience. Brands can tap into this data and employ a highly personalized marketing strategy designed to close sales and convert more users into customers.
Nissim Lehyani, the CEO and co-founder of Easy Social Shop, a Facebook-integrated eCommerce platform, is optimistic about the opportunities sCommerce will bring. Lehyani told Business News Daily, sCommerce is “raising the stakes of social marketing”, adding, “consumer data is plentiful, and with the right tools, companies can analyze their online customers’ behaviour and use that information to improve social marketing strategies”.
The era of social shopping is not yet fully realized, but it is not far off. As the opportunities are realized and the full potential of social media shopping is unlocked, expect the role of social media to change. The online world is on the cusp of a significant evolution. Social media is about to become more than a place to catch up with friends. In the future, it will meet all our online needs. Brand need to refine their personalized user experiences and marketing strategies, or they risk being left behind.