Shopping is naturally a social activity. Before buying a product, we tend to ask advice on everything from quality to cost to value-for-money from friends and even strangers (like the salesperson or other shoppers).
The best instance of such social shopping activity online is user-generated review sites like Amazon or Yelp. Online collaborative tools such as customer reviews and ratings, shared pick-lists user recommendations, etc allowed consumers to greatly multiply the number of people they turned to before buying anything from orange juice to a new LCD TV.
Customer reviews empower the buyer to make the most informed purchase decision.
Today Social Commerce is blossoming into a more specific beast – buying or selling using social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram.
This includes getting online hints on what to buy, finding the chosen product, and, finally, purchasing the product.
The focus is shifting from conversion-focused e-commerce to conversation-focused social commerce.
Buyers want to connect. And when they buy, they want to do so with greater certainty and confidence.
A study by Nielsen Wire corroborates common sense and reveals that 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations, while just a sad 14% trust advertisements.
The same study reveals that 70% of consumers trust consumer opinions posted online (an excellent example would be Amazon’s product reviews).
Just imagine how we are most likely to trust these online opinions when they are posted not by strangers, but by persons in our network of contacts, friends, and family.
Since opinions can be so varied, we are likely to listen more to people whose tastes and interests are similar to ours.
People are increasingly spending more time on social media. It stands to reason that the more we spend time on social networks, the more these networks influence our actions including shopping behavior.
It appears that social commerce is here to become a permanent part of the e-commerce space. In the next few years, revenues for the social commerce market are predicted to reach $30 billion.
So you see, social commerce is here to take e-commerce to the next level. I trust your brand advertising campaigns rely on online sales, if so, then social commerce needs to be at the top of your list of marketing strategies.
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Why Should Your Brand Pay Attention To Social Commerce?
Social commerce helps brands to make sales directly on social media. It’s a successful sales strategy because it pulls out friction from online shopping experiences that start on social platforms.
Many users discover products they like while browsing social media. Allowing them to click through to take look at the product without leaving the social network makes for a quick and smooth experience, and lessens the risk of abandoned shopping carts.
If social commerce becomes the new normal, it should also be economically interesting for your brand. How?. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s our sincere need for connection.
And this is precisely where brands need to start when it comes to social commerce: with authentic, empathic communication, feedback opportunities, and 1:1 shopping experiences (experiences that inspire customers to purchase).
Sounds complicated? Yes, but only on the face of it. Because when brands succeed in rethinking their customer journey, the opportunities are endless.
For the customer journey, this first means investing in the reorganization of previous processes. After all, if purchases are made completely on social media platforms, this will have an impression on all touch points – from the first contact with the brand, through the ordering phase and payment, to the checkout stage.
Payment systems should be simplified (for example, via PayPal and Apple Pay integration), logistics processes must be remodeled, and marketing measurement should be adapted to the logic of social media.
Here, too, the goal is clear: an emotional connection between your brand and consumer.
The upswing of social media is offering brands a range of options to engage with prospects and trigger sales actions as shoppers go through the sales funnel stages.
Social Commerce Marketing Strategies for Brand Advertising
No one marketing strategy is going to work for all brands—a social shopping experience for leisurewear is going to look very different from a campaign for camcorders.
However, all brands can utilize influencers, consumer calls to action (CTA), and user-generated content, to effectively compete in the social commerce market.
Phrases such as “swipe up to buy,” or “shop link in bio,” have become extremely popular calls to action, pushing social media users to purchase the items or services they see advertised on their timelines.
This viewer-friendly content combined with a suitable call to action steps has been a boon for marketers and advertisers alike.
In addition to these organic marketing opportunities, companies should keep influencers top of mind when drafting their social commerce strategy.
In 2019, Instagram gave several influencers the ability to create shoppable content using Checkout on Instagram, while Snapchat gave select top-standing influencers a “shop” button.
And even TikTok has massively tapped the social commerce market, announcing its partnership with Shopify in November 2020.
According to a 2020 GlobalWebIndex survey, 70% of internet users in the US who often watched influencer-led live streams said they were more likely to buy products recommended by those influencers.
Social commerce trends for Brand Advertising in 2023 and Beyond
#1. Improve Discovery Via Visual Shopfronts On Instagram
Users are making efforts to convert their inspiration into purchases. Following the statistics from Instagram, 70% of shopping devotees turn to the platform to discover products.
Instagram’s visual storefront lets users shop from pictures and videos regardless of where they are in the app.
The platform also allows customization with which brands can curate products into themes.
Additionally, discoverability is simplified by tagging the products with their descriptions. The brands can arrest attention to products from their catalog not only in the feed but also in stories. It enables users to learn more about the product.
Instagram is fast changing the way people shop by motivating them with captivating visuals of the product, how other users are utilizing it, and the reviews they have.
#2. Selling Via Conversational Chatbots Is Picking Up
Social media began to simplify conversations between people, the sole reason connectivity platforms like Whatsapp and Facebook grew tremendously.
Now brands are cutting an edge in sales and cost by an upgrade to AI capabilities through chatbots.
By leveraging chatbots, brands do not need to have a person to respond to the customers’ queries. It can make a recommendation depending on the customers’ selections, share product visuals, and ask for human assistance when needed.
Users now derive personalized experiences more than ever. They connect more to brands that are rather quick and straightforward in their responses, making the use of chatbots a trend to flow with.
#3. Use Shoppable Instagram Feeds On the Website
Shoppable Instagram is one of the most common yet effective social commerce trends widely used by brands to switch their Instagram feeds into shoppable storefronts.
Brands can curate their Instagram feeds and UGC from hashtags into a feed, tag products to the feed to make it shoppable, and then post the Instagram shoppable feed on their website homepage, product pages, category page, or even create pages like “Shop Our Instagram” “Inspiration” or or “ Shop The Look.”
#4. Collaborate With Micro-Influencers to Boost Reach
According to Instagram, Influencers of the platform influenced 87% of the users in their purchase decisions.
Regardless of the industry you cater to, collaborating with influencers is always a great strategy when increasing your brand’s reach.
Collaborate with an influencer that caters to your niche and has a significant base of followers.
Micro-influencers particularly have a greater audience engagement percentage, and their followers listen to what they have to say.
Brands can get into authentic, creative, beneficial, and affordable partnerships with influencers and use their influence on every stage of the customer journey, from introducing a new product to sharing reviews to generating sales.
Though this strategy has been in trend already, it still should be adopted and kept close.
#5. The Need to Create A Frictionless User Experience Multiplies
Creating a seamless experience for the user has become pivotal in brand advertising. The faster and simpler you make it to the checkout point, the better your chance to earn high revenue by offering your user a great experience.
Enable your potential customers to log out in a step by removing the “add to cart” option and allowing them to make the purchase directly by incorporating shoppable UGC on e-commerce through product page galleries.
This also lessens cart abandonment chances, which is a major concern for brands doing business online.
Moreover, the fact that the users’ attention span has reduced tremendously makes it even more important for the brands to create a frictionless experience for the customers to gather more confidence and sales.
#6. More Social Media Platforms Will Embrace Social Commerce.
Facebook Shops, Instagram Shopping, and Pinterest Buyable Pins; all of these have upgraded their functionalities to match social commerce trends.
Snapchat is another platform that is taking steps to launch social commerce trends to its 229 million users.
The platform is amplifying its AR and shoppability through lens-altered selfies to stand out amongst its competitors.
This trend is especially thriving in China. Pinduoduo is an eCommerce platform that reinforces its use of it as a social commerce platform.
One unwavering reason for this is the WeChat mini platform, which has equipped for the growth of social commerce trends in China, and it will probably witness expansion in 2023.
#7. Digital Avatars are flouncing through the Fashion Industry
While influencers are still playing a key role in promoting clothing, digital avatars are poised to walk side by side with digital fashion runways.
They will offer brands more flexibility in layering digital clothing, promoting new collections, and facilitating digital sampling.
Meanwhile, according to Instagram’s 2023 TrendReport, 67% of Gen Z Instagram users said they wish to use digital avatars to mirror their unique clothing preferences, skin tone, and body type.
The growth of the Metaverse will further stimulate the use of digital avatars. Fashion retailers can take advantage of this trend by providing digital accessories and digital clothing that these avatars can leverage.
#8. Some Brands Are Raising Paid Ad Budgets To Stay Ahead
Brands are not doing away with paid social ads even if they partner with influencers. Some say that budgets for social ads by US-based brands may increase to $71.05 billion this year from $65.31 billion in 2022.
The prediction follows the decision of Google and other search engines to block third-party cookies, which allow websites to remember a visitor’s information and track the websites they visit, including social media platforms.
However, others forecast otherwise, saying medium and small businesses will reduce investments amidst financial challenges.
The World Advertising Research Center predicts that social media ad spending will grow by only 5.2% in 2023, down from an 11.5% rise in 2022.
#9. Voice technology and conversational shopping continue to rise in popularity
Many Millennials and Generation Z prefer to search by voice as it can be much more smooth and more convenient than typing.
Many people who prefer to search using voice technology are also most likely to purchase items using the same technology.
Both Apple Android and Android also include voice technology in their devices, and both of their respective voice assistants are growing more sophisticated with every iteration.
With freestanding devices such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa becoming more commonplace, brands will need to utilize the power of voice technology to improve customer engagement and remain competitive.
E-commerce purchases made using voice technology are predicted to increase from USD 4.6 billion to USD 19.4 billion in 2023, according to Statista.
That’s more than a quadruple boost in just two years. That’s also a huge market share you would not want to miss out on. This makes it the best time to optimize your brand advertising efforts for voice technology, from voice search to conversational shopping.
#10. Live Streaming Set to Grow Further
One way businesses adjusted to lockdowns and restrictions through the pandemic was the use of live streaming.
Brands advertised products to a select group over Microsoft Teams and Zoom or a broader audience through Facebook Live, Twitch, and many other streaming platforms.
Businesses and influencers working on their behalf have realized how easily you can leverage live streaming to promote new products. You can target prospects at every stage of the sales funnel, from generic streams spotlighting the importance of the industry to streams focusing on particular product benefits and even streams offering customer service to existing customers.
One of the things that have always fascinated me about social media is the way it continues to adjust and evolve to changing consumer trends.
Over the last 20 years we have seen a progressive shift from simple, text-based updates, to progressively visual and fleeting content, supported by app-based platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, and at the same time, social commerce has thrived.
It’s been interesting to see how some of these social commerce trends have converged to drive innovation in social media beyond communicating with family and friends.
The impact and growth of social media have meant that brands now play an even bigger role in what we see across all platforms. These top 10 social commerce trends if leveraged correctly will upturn your brand advertising campaigns