Does social commerce offer the next big opportunity for your brand? By selling directly on social media platforms, your brand can tap a market projected to hit almost $80 billion in the U.S. alone by 2025. But how can you maximize your sales and profits from social commerce campaigns?
Social commerce has many moving parts, and effective campaigns require detailed attention to every aspect of shoppers’ experiences on social media. The exact ingredients vary with your business, products, consumers, and platform. Nonetheless, your brand will boost its chances if it can check off each of the boxes below:
1. Understand your shoppers
To sell on social media, you need in-depth knowledge of your consumers and their habits.
What kind of shopping experiences do they prefer?
What channels do they use to research, compare, and purchase products?
Where and how do they spend their time on social media?
What types of content do they consume?
What products are they most likely to buy?
The answers to such questions can come from many sources, from your social media campaigns to other sources of first-party and third-party data.
If you want to know your shoppers better, listen to what they are saying. By tracking and analyzing conversations on social media platforms and direct feedback provided via customer surveys, you can gain valuable insights into consumers’ perceptions and experiences. More broadly, it helps to take a 360-degree approach to customer intelligence, building a holistic view of your shoppers from all the interactions they have with your brand.
In short, dedicate yourself to understanding your shoppers inside and out—their needs, expectations, and preferences for each experience across the customer journey. That will help you hone your social commerce strategy, refine the experiences you provide, and drive sales with your content and messaging.
2. Remove friction from shopping
Consumers expect speed, ease, and convenience when they shop on social media. By making shopping as effortless as possible, you encourage impulse buying and reduce the chances that a customer will drop away before the purchase.
Try to expedite shopping by creating fast, simple paths to purchase. For example, create and share shoppable content with links to the products in your Facebook or Instagram shop—and integrate direct checkout into your product pages, so users can buy without leaving the app. Meanwhile, tools such as post-purchase surveys can help you identify the problems that frustrate shoppers, so you can eliminate friction from their experiences.
3. Support shoppers with social media care
Shoppers often need help to make decisions. Ensure you can provide prompt answers and guidance at every stage of shopping.
Such personalized customer care smooths the path to purchase and allows you to boost sales by recommending products, cross-sales, and promotions. Your shop should also provide swift access to customer support, allowing shoppers to resolve any post-purchase questions quickly.
Your social media care program could use chatbots, live human agents, or both. Chatbots enable you to serve high volumes of shoppers and provide instant answers around the clock. Advanced AI-driven chatbots can act like virtual shopping assistants, providing personalized suggestions and answering many different questions. Even so, some shoppers need more complex assistance, so it’s a good idea to ensure that your systems can escalate cases to a live agent at any time, and that shoppers can speak with a human if they need one.
4. Invest in content management and creation
In a crowded social media landscape, effective and efficient content management is key to social commerce success.
A well-designed workflow for creation, review, and publication enables you to produce high-quality content on a regular schedule. In addition, social media analytics allow you to measure the performance of your content, so you can focus on the best ways to engage shoppers.
Shoppable content needs to stand out from the crowd, especially on highly visual platforms like Instagram, so it pays to create eye-catching images and engaging videos. Live shopping campaigns, in particular, may benefit from high-quality video production. Likewise, your in-app social store and product collections should show off your brand, while making product discovery simple and fun.
Your brand’s content should respond to shoppers’ specific needs at every stage of their journeys. Product descriptions, for example, should be concise and readable, while providing useful details about the item’s features and benefits. Make sure your descriptions clearly align with the actual experience of the product, so customers feel satisfied with their purchases and write positive online reviews.
5. Harness the power of social proof
Shoppers on social media platforms, as elsewhere, are more likely to buy products endorsed by sources they trust. That’s the benefit of partnering with influencers: trusted authorities and content creators who can sway audiences on social media.
Social commerce provides a direct way for you to monetize such relationships. For example, your brand could enlist influencers to create shoppable content that links to your products and in-app store, or pay them to promote your products by hosting livestream shopping events.
Similarly, shoppers tend to trust information and recommendations from people like themselves. Try showcasing user-generated content, favorable customer reviews, and real-life testimonials to increase the performance of your campaigns.
6. Engage your customers with live shopping
Is live shopping right for your brand? Now might be the time to find out, especially for categories like fashion and beauty. Live commerce could drive up to 10-20 percent of all e-commerce sales by 2026, according to McKinsey, and platforms from Instagram to TikTok are racing to expand the tools they offer to merchants.
By merging video with shopping, live social commerce lets you engage audiences with meaningful, interactive one-to-many experiences. Live shopping events and influencer marketing are a natural fit for each other. For example, a popular personality in your niche could review a new product and answer viewers’ questions about it.
Live shopping brings the immediacy and personal touch of in-person shopping to social commerce. Your live videos can link directly to your featured products, so audience members can buy instantly within the app. Meanwhile, you can use in-app messaging to carry on live chats with individual shoppers during the event, answer their questions in real-time, and assist them in their decisions.
7. Target your ideal shoppers with paid content
With organic reach at a nadir, paid promotion makes shoppable content more visible and can lure customers to your product pages or shop. The exact details vary from platform to platform. For instance, Pinterest only allows you to convert shoppable pins into paid ads if you created them by uploading catalog data about your products.
On every major platform, you can target shoppers by specifying attributes such as location, demographics, behaviors, and interests. More advanced targeting options can further increase the efficiency and ROI of paid campaigns. Custom audiences on Facebook and Instagram, for example, enable you to aim your ads at people who have interacted with your brand in the past. Similarly, you can pick out new shoppers with the same profile as your existing customers by creating lookalike audiences.
8. Use social media promotions to increase sales
Who doesn’t love a sale or discount? In fact, a Gartner survey of consumers’ marketing preferences found that 41 percent of consumers seek out such promotional content on social media.
If your sales on social media need a boost, the right offer might do the trick. Your paid campaigns can generate higher click-through rates and conversions with the tactical use of discounts, coupons, and other promotions. Repeat business beats one-time purchases—so consider implementing a customer loyalty program to keep your best shoppers coming back.
9. Ensure you can (easily) sync inventory across all shops
Inventory is key to a great shopping experience. Availability, for instance, is the number one factor in new brand purchases: a 2020 McKinsey survey found that 48 percent of consumers said they tried a brand because it had products in stock. But inventory management can become a complex challenge if you’re running multiple shops on social platforms.
To ensure smooth campaigns and sales, you need an efficient way to manage and optimize inventory across all your social media shops. For example, a shop synchronization solution that automates and centralizes tasks such as storefront curation, catalog management, and inventory planning for all social shops that brands are managing goes a long way. That enables you to keep all your inventory up to date and synced across all shops, without having to wrestle with different tools and workflows for every platform.
10. Follow the data and optimize as you go
Your social commerce campaigns can supply a wealth of data to guide your future strategy and tactics. Facebook’s Commerce Manager tool provides insights into traffic, shopping behavior, in-app sales, discovery, conversions for tagged content, products, and audiences. Similarly, Emplifi’s Shop 360 Analytics™ helps you track and compare the performance of products across all your brand’s social shops.
Seek ways to understand who buys your products, how they find your in-app store, which products are selling the best, and more. These insights are key to help you make better decisions about everything from inventory to content creation and marketing—and keep sales flowing even as conditions change.
Putting all the social commerce pieces together
The most successful social commerce campaigns aim at the same goal: to provide enjoyable, seamless experiences throughout the customer journey. At the same time, the wide range of tasks, workflows, and team members involved can complicate your efforts—especially as your campaigns expand across multiple social media platforms.
Fortunately, powerful solutions exist to simplify and improve the management of your campaigns. Emplifi Social Commerce Cloud unifies various functions in a single platform, from content creation and management to customer care, analytics, and inventory synchronization and management. As a result, you can centralize all these aspects of your social commerce program, boosting your ability to engage shoppers and increase sales.