The Official Guide to Social Commerce
The world of social media marketing, being the constantly shifting landscape that it is, can be difficult to navigate and harder to anticipate. The likelihood of a trend having staying power is really anyone’s guess, without the proper metrics.
There’s a bad habit among members of the social media marketing community that’s likely done some damage to a few small business marketing strategies. A mistake that’s become surprisingly common, especially when you consider the level of overall experience on some of these blogs. The habit I’m talking about is when social media marketing experts try to guess what the next major trend will be, and then search for data that somehow supports their claim.
Whether or not these guesses are right or wrong is hardly the issue. The real problem is that this is hardly the way anyone should be advising a small business owner. Chalking up the process of giving advice to basically guessing is hardly appropriate (or effective).
That’s why industry leaders in the world of social media marketing all share one common trait: they wait for the data to come out first, and then make observations based off of that. Going into a topic with an agenda is the quickest route to giving someone advice that looks and sounds right, but isn’t based in reality.
Why do we bring this up? Because when we say that social commerce is the future of social media, we want you to know we aren’t exaggerating.
Okay, so maybe that last statement seems a bit out of place, especially when we spent all that time establishing that social media experts aren’t psychic. But to be fair, that statement wasn’t a prediction as much as it was the pointing out of a trend.
If you’re not particularly familiar with social commerce, here’s the elevator pitch: let’s say you’ve got a social media audience. A sizable one, in fact and one you’d like to turn into a group of converted customers. Typically, the process here would be to get those followers to visit a landing page on your site and hope that they purchased your good/service.
While that can definitely work, there’s now an easier way to convert the average consumer. With social commerce, businesses can integrate their online stores directly into their social media networks, making the customer experience cleaner and easier than ever before.
Small businesses stand to gain quite a bit when it comes to social commerce, for some pretty obvious reasons. For starters, they help small businesses easily close the gap between conversion and social media marketing, something that the average small business owner is eternally grateful for. Turning a follower into a paying customer can be a challenge for some, so having an option like social commerce makes things that much easier.
Your potential customers are all using social, and with a generation that values social media as highly as word-of-mouth, embracing social commerce enables smoother purchases and promotes stronger brand agility.
So, once you’ve established that yes, you’d like your small business to get in on some of that action, you’ll want to move onto the next step: establishing goals and a plan of attack. There are a variety of ends that your social commerce strategy could meet, but it’s important to have an idea of what those business goals are. Does it exist to create interest and awareness among a target audience or does it exist to leverage for references? These minor differences can have major implications down the line, so it’s worth it to mention them now.
Keep in mind that before you can be a part of the social commerce conversation, you should make sure that your standard commerce presence is strong. If your small business doesn’t have an ecommerce website, there’s a good chance you’ll be completely lost here. So make sure that you’re familiar with running an ecommerce store first. From there, the rest is simple. Take a look at the list of sites on social commerce and decide which platforms your business will be selling on.
Building a Community
This might seem like the least intuitive aspect of this article, but I guarantee it’ll make plenty of sense when you start to look at it through a social media marketing lens. When we say something like social commerce, it’s easy (and completely understandable) to think about how this relates to conversions. And while that’s certainly important, there’s no getting over the fact that on social media, you need to make an effort to be social.
To be honest, you should feel excited to engage with your audience and discuss the most hotly debated topics in your community on a regular basis. After all, these people chose to have your small business pop up in their News Feeds. Remember: Monetization comes after Acquisition. The greatest marketing campaign in the world won’t help if there’s no one around to sell to.
As you continue to explore your community with your team and your social media followers, you’ll inevitably start to wonder which kinds of content you should be using to appeal to the younger generation. There’s a general consensus that video is the superior visual product, and with good reason. But that’s hardly all you can use! Images, and even music can be huge factors here.
This is where the fascinating aspect of social commerce comes into play. For the average small business owner, using social media for your business was always a struggle between being social and finding a way to convert. Social commerce has experienced the level of success that it has because it’s the place where social meets conversions.
Knowing that you’d like to be a part of the social commerce movement is great, but there’s a good chance that you’re unsure about which platforms you should be using.
First thing’s first: don’t try to use all of them at once. While there’s nothing wrong with experimenting with a variety of different social commerce techniques, biting off more than you can chew and overloading yourself is a recipe for disaster. Instead, determine which platform plays to your brand’s strengths and where your audience seems to be the most willing to engage with you specifically when it comes to social commerce.
At this point, there are 4 major social media platforms that are having success with social commerce, so we’re just going to go down the list and help you wrap your head around each one.
There’s no getting around the fact that Facebook is quite clearly the most popular social media platform with upwards of 1.3 billion monthly users. If you’re looking for a social commerce starting point, this is as good a place as any. Your business can actually build a social media storefront on Facebook just by creating a separate page tag. This then lets your followers access a shoppable gallery of your photos.
Beyond that, your brand can throw in a URL into your status updates that lets users instantly access that gallery of shoppable photos.
While Twitter may not have the most monthly users, it’s looking at a significantly more loyal user base. People who use Twitter use it more frequently than other platforms, which leads to more opportunities for small businesses to engage with their audiences. Just like with Facebook, businesses can toss their URLs into tweets that lead to product pages.
Plenty of people know what Pinterest is, but few understand the power of this particular social media platform when it comes to social commerce. Despite what you may think, everything about Pinterest has prepared it for social commerce. If your audience is female, then Pinterest might be for you (considering their upwards of 80% user base). The conversions on Pinterest are easy, simply because Pinterest is a place where products are celebrated (either for their creativity or their desirability — or both).
Arguably the king of social commerce right now, Instagram seems like it was built for social commerce from the ground up. This platform’s claim to fame used to be just pictures, but over the years, Instagram became the place to watch videos (both high-quality and low-quality), and even live videos!
With all of this pure content, it’s unintrusive and straightforward to include a URL in your brand’s Instagram bio that allows users to access a shoppable gallery of your brand’s Instagram pictures.
There are a variety of different tools you can use to develop a social commerce presence, but what really matters is that you make sure your small business takes advantage of this.