A guide to social commerce

Connor Henman, Performance Marketing Manager - Driver #139 Connor Henman, Performance Marketing Manager - Driver #139

As platforms improve their purchasing and checkout features, the social media industry is bracing for a surge in social commerce growth. According to Statista, in 2021, 11% of social media users made an immediate online purchase after discovering a product, while 44% returned within 48 hours to purchase.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has increased the strength of social commerce, with many users turning to platforms like Instagram and TikTok for product research and purchases. The former, for example, has plans to encourage more in-app payments by providing features that allow users to preserve payment information and simplify check-out pages.

The question, therefore, presents itself - should my business be using a social commerce platform? It has the capabilities to accelerate the growth of your business but do you know how to maximise its potential? Well, we're here to provide all the key considerations…

How does social commerce work?

Impulse buying accounts for a large portion of social media purchases, especially when a good deal is offered. Social commerce works by a user seeing an item they want to buy and clicking 'shop now' or 'buy now' to complete the transaction in-platform. There's no need to visit the retailer's website because the pricing, description, and delivery information will all be displayed within the social network.

When customer - and influencer-generated content is paired with social commerce capabilities like shoppable tags and links, it leads to a rise in impulse sales. Lifestyle and emotions are driving this increase. Users seek social confirmation that the products are trustworthy, well-made, and have been suggested by someone they respect or appreciate.

What platforms use social commerce?

Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest all include social commerce features. YouTube is also experimenting with the ability to add shoppable tags and links to video content in 2022.

Similar to social commerce, platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are now giving users the ability to tag things from their shop in photos and videos - a further incentive for users to make that final purchase. Initial reports suggest the capability of tagging up to 30 products in a post, although more than 10 tags per post is suggested to avoid looking cluttered and difficult.

People who see your products tagged in your postings can click on those tags to learn more about them, including the name and price. When visitors click on these tags, they'll be directed to your online shop, where they can learn more and make a purchase.

Who should use social commerce?

For the time being, social commerce may only be used to sell physical things, therefore events, digital products, and services are not always eligible.

Each social media network has its own set of merchant criteria for companies that want to sell on its platforms. For many, you can't sell certain products on social media, including:

  • Subscriptions to event tickets
  • Alcohol
  • Healthcare goods
  • Digital products

The most popular category for social commerce is apparel/accessories, but consumer electronics, cosmetics, home decor, and consumer goods are all suitable for social commerce. Brands with new and distinctive items and/or aspirational imagery can be considered the most well-suited for the social commerce environment.

In short, if your company offers physical products, incorporating social commerce into your strategy is critical. It removes any purchasing hurdles, such as slow website loading times or difficult user journeys.

Troubleshooting social commerce platforms

As a rule of thumb, we encourage doing your own due diligence prior to launching any kind of social commerce function, as troubleshooting with some of these social networks is often far from simple.

Due to shifting restrictions in algorithms, you may find that some keywords from your product description are flagged. Often, when this happens, your item will be rejected. In some cases, the platform will inform you why a product was rejected and is not listed in your shop. Whenever a rejection occurs, they will also give you the option of an appeal.

How to set up social commerce

Because each social media network handles social commerce differently, it's critical to become acquainted with each one you're considering. Fortunately, the cab engine performance marketing team has been at the forefront of the social commerce revolution, helping e-commerce businesses such as The Body Shop drive revenue directly from social channels.

Social commerce on Facebook & Instagram

Despite the differences in platforms, Meta's commerce setup is the same. A single catalogue powers Instagram and Facebook shopping, allowing you to manage your inventory and sales in the same location.

Your catalogue can be created in Meta Business Suite's Commerce Manager. Here, product names, photos, and descriptions can be manually entered into the catalogue, although this isn't recommended.

You can also import your products to a Facebook catalogue if you host them on a partner platform that integrates with Facebook. Shopify, WooCommerce, and Big Commerce are among the platforms that are supported.

You may then manage your products on your partner platform, and your updates will automatically sync to Facebook. A comprehensive list of third-party tools that can be incorporated into Meta Business Suite can be found here.

Social commerce on Pinterest

Pinterest is a valuable platform for promoting products, as users find inspiration around looks, styles and potential purchases.

Rich Pins, which are SEO-focused, underpin the network's social commerce. They work by displaying metadata from your website's marked-up page and are available in the following formats:

  • Pins for Articles — These are pins for blogs or articles that include a headline, author, and description.
  • Product Pins – These are used to market things and include details like pricing and availability.
  • Recipe Pins - These provide in-app information for a Pinterest user, such as ingredients, cooking time, and ratings.
  • App Pins allow users to download your app directly from Pinterest.

Once you've applied for Rich Pins, any content on your site that has metadata will be saved as a Rich Pin and become available for use in-platform.

Social commerce on TikTok

As a growing platform, TikTok continues to make headlines and garner new users. Fortunately, the platform has been quick to develop TikTok Shopping and approve the use of Shopify, to help with in-app purchasing.

Merchants in the United States and the United Kingdom have been allowed early access to TikTok Shopping. It works by adding a 'Shop' tab to your TikTok profile. This page will display products from Shopify's catalogues, allowing TikTok users to browse things in-app and purchase them via the creators' online store.

JustMyLook, one of the TikTok Shopping beta testers, utilised the app to sell on Black Friday in 2021 and witnessed a 102% increase in net revenue.

Businesses will need to apply for use of the TikTok Shopping function - so don't wait around to find out if you can be granted access.

How do I optimise my social commerce channels?

Once you have set up social commerce, it’s important to consider how to optimise your shop to encourage more visitors, and how to convert followers into all-important customers. Here are our top tips for optimising your social shop:

Focus on keywords and descriptions - The look of your social shop is incredibly important for setting a good first impression and building credibility. Ensure your products all include snappy descriptions featuring plenty of searchable keywords. It’s recommended that you upload at least four high-resolution images alongside your product description, and lifestyle images tend to work well.

Consider creating collections or grouping things - Make sure your business is simple to navigate and explore, especially before major holidays like Christmas, Mother's Day, and Black Friday. Nike has done an excellent job of this on Instagram, leveraging Collections sections within their shop. These collections are labelled 'Gifts for Him' and 'Gifts for Her,' making products simple to find and browse ahead of important gifting seasons.

Don't just rely on a user clicking on your shop tab. Include shoppable tags in your organic content. To demonstrate authenticity and create social proof in your brand, use user-generated content (UGC) and shoppable tags. To make your shop more appealing to visit, promptly respond to client questions and provide important and engaging material.

Reach out to influencers - We all know how powerful influencers can be, therefore it's worth incorporating an influencer marketing approach into your social commerce strategy. Enlist influencers to assist you to promote your store's merchandise. This could be in the form of paid promotion or free/PR products offered to influencers in exchange for content. By manually scanning Instagram and TikTok and utilising appropriate hashtags, influencers can be located.

Advertisers on Facebook and Instagram can run current shoppable posts as product tags advertisements or build new ads with product tags in Ads Manager. The product tags from the organic post will appear in the ad creative when you run an existing shoppable post as an ad. Use the new 'Shop' placement in Facebook Ads Manager to highlight products on Instagram's main Shopping page.

How do I get started with social commerce?

Reviewing the platforms you'd like to use for social commerce and confirming whether your products fulfil the merchant requirements of each network is a fantastic place to start.

If your products are qualified, follow the steps to construct your stores, paying special attention to creating appealing, easy-to-navigate social shops with plenty of product information. Consider using influencers, advertising, and leveraging your organic content to gain new followers and convert them into sales.

Since the global COVID-19 pandemic began, online consumer behaviour implies that buyers are more willing to test new forms of shopping. Furthermore, the functionality of social commerce is receiving a major investment by these platforms, so if you want to boost product sales, it's best to start thinking about your offering sooner, rather than later.

Accelerate your social commerce growth

Cab Engine has formed long-term social commerce partnerships with some of the UK's biggest brands. Most recently, we helped The Body Shop deliver a 535% average ROAS from Facebook and Instagram alone. Our team are experts in all things social commerce and can help scale your business' growth exponentially - providing you with insights and analysis along the way.

We cover the complete customer journey using our very own LIFECycle framework, which works to ensure you're only using the platforms that are relevant to your target audience. Get in touch via our Contact form, to arrange a call and/or workshop, which will allow us to determine exactly how we can help.