One of the biggest trends that we’re seeing sky-rocket is that brands are conveying their messages through the use of regular customers validating their products.
Though this is most commonly seen with fashion retailers, we expect to see this trend expand across B2C commerce, and even drifting into B2B sectors such as technology, construction and even software.
As a seller, you should understand that customer reviews are a key element to spreading brand awareness, generating loyalty and ultimately, increasing sales conversions. Social commerce is based on this concept.
Before knowing how to best use social commerce for your business, it’s important to understand what it is.
What Is Social Commerce?
Social commerce is defined as using social media networks like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest to encourage or make eCommerce transactions.
By utilising real social media users, you can incentivise them through discounts, free product samples and more, to post pictures recommending your goods or services to spread awareness to their followers. This is known as influencer marketing.
What Is Influencer Marketing?
Influencer marketing is an “organic” alternative to paid advertising such as Facebook or Instagram promoted posts. It allows brands to connect with customers authentically, as the message isn’t coming straight from the brand.
Interesting note:Although influencer marketing isn’t seen as “paid advertising” it is in some ways, paid advertising.
However, it doesn’t involve paying the social media channel but instead, paying the Instagram user to post about their product or by sending them a free product.
Instagram Influencer Marketing
For fashion brands, making the most of influencer marketing is a must. One of the most famous influencers in this niche is lifestyle and beauty blogger Zoella, who is well known for her Instagram and YouTube content.
With a following of 10.7 million, she’s got a massive audience who trust in her, listen to her recommendations and see her as an icon.
By tapping into her loyal followers, when she takes photos wearing certain brands, eating in certain places and buying certain products, her audience often want to buy these things and visit these places too.
In the below example, you can see that Zoella mentions the wall art where she took the picture by ‘@’ mentioning the user in the caption as well as tagging them in the image.
She then tags the location and ‘Baby Brasa’. This will get her audience familiar with her whereabouts, want to visit this place and of course, the artists’ work to take their own image here.
It also means that by tagging the location, her image will show up to other users searching for this location and looking at images taken here. As a result, this expands the reach for that the artist is getting, as well as herself, increasing both of their exposure.
Other Social Channels
The same type of practice also occurs on social channels like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest where brands collaborate with bloggers to get their products mentioned.
The benefits of using these social influencers are massive, particularly for increasing brand awareness which then can lead to sales:
You can tap into their massive audience
Gain authority in the industry by aligning yourself with a well-established, trusted source
Leverage their creativity to make your brand more exciting and intriguing for audiences
Connect with real customers in an engaging way
Social Media “Buy” Buttons
To cater to this growing trend of social influencer marketing, social media sites have added features to enable users to buy directly in the platform.
This benefits the user by making the buying process, simplified and “do-able” in one place, rather than directing them to an external site. It also means that the social platform can retain its users on their site rather than sending them elsewhere.
Which Channels Use “Buy Buttons”?
Some channels like Twitter have found that these “buy” buttons haven’t been as beneficial to users as first thought and they’ve been removed.
You can read more about Twitter phasing out their “buy” button, here.
On the other hand, Instagram and Pinterest, both more image-based channels, have found them to be extremely useful and so, continue to use them.
To read more on Instagram “shoppable” posts, see here.
Good To Know: Pinterest "buy buttons" are only available in the US at present.
So, now you know a little more about social commerce and the new “shoppable” features that have been added to our favourite social media channels lets take a look at how to use them to increase sales conversions.
How To Use Social Commerce
#1 Get the right message, in front of the right people at the right time
Promoting your products through influencers is a great way to utilise important audience insights that wouldn’t be available to you without the influencer.
The influencer will know their audience well. They’ll often have dedicated teams to analyse their data and see when is best to post, what content their followers love best and where they like to see it.
All you have to do is approach the influencer, get them on board with your product by telling them the engaging aspects of it and giving them an incentive to promote it.
This could be through giving them a freebie, commission every time a product is sold through them or alternatively a discount code for their followers so that they can reward their loyal audience by giving them a “present” from you.
That puts them in their followers’ “good books” whilst also putting you in the limelight.
#2 Get users to complete purchases using their smartphones
Of course, this is slightly out of your hands and a problem for the social network itself, to deal with.
However, if you choose the right social channel that’s actively attempting to simplify its buying process, you’ll see some great benefits. These social media channels include Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
Some key points that your brand can take onboard to increase purchases on mobile include:
Make sure your advert is optimised for iOS and then Android. Users of iOS make a lot more mobile purchases and so, they should be your priority assuming your target audience is on here.
Include discount codes for users who buy on mobile. This idea was first done for brands looking to promote in-app purchases but can easily be transferred for mobile.
Streamline your interface to ensure users get where you need them to be in only a few steps – the fewer the better – and quickly.
Use SMS marketing to send relevant promotions directly into the hands of your user. Insert shortened links to mobile websites where your customers can easily and quickly convert.
Make the checkout process automated or a one-step-only process by making use of indefinite logins and more. This is a highly recommended practice for both mobile and desktop. For more tips, see here.
#3 Use Pinterest to influence future purchases by users in the research and consideration phase
Pinterest is the ideal social channel for brands looking to position their content or products in the eyes of prospective buyers, to influence their purchasing decision.
Did you know that 87% of pinners say they have purchased something as a result of Pinterest? You can read more about this, here. Plus, 93% of pinners use Pinterest to plan or make purchases!
To create conversions from your pins they must do one, or all three of the following:
Be useful for users
Your pins should also target one of the areas on ‘The Pinner Journey’. This is made up of 4 areas which show the stage your users are in.
Once you’ve worked out which stage your customers are in, you can select adverts and campaigns to focus on these people that meet their intent.
For example, a buyer in the “maybe I could” phase could be sent a retargeted email or message that includes the products you know they were browsing as well as giving them some other options of similar things to consider.
Alternatively, a user who further down their journey and close to purchasing, could be sent a 10% discount for a particular product they keep browsing or for general use, to incentivise them to finally make that purchase.
#4 Use Pinterest “Buy” Buttons
I have already mentioned the “buy” buttons above but Pinterest in particular, do these really well. They allow pinners to buy directly within the platform, without ever visiting your website which is extremely similar to Amazon’s one-click purchase for it’s Amazon Prime customers.
By doing this, it reduces the steps for people making a sale and allows impulse buys to happen immediately. In turn, “buy” buttons operate as a solution to reduce steps to checkout.
#5 Reward User-Generated Content With Incentives To Buy More
As well as attempting to get users to buy from your brand, it’s important to reward those who already have.
By encouraging users to submit their own photos of your products and post them on social media, you can then reward this interaction with discount codes and freebies which in turn, can encourage more sales.
Not only will this keep these buyers happy and loyal, user-generated content is a great way to encourage others to make a purchase too.
They get to see other people loving your products and so, trust that the products are valuable to them, are good quality as well as painting you as a reliable brand.
There are plenty of other ways to make the most of social commerce to increase sales conversions, alongside the five we mentioned.
From the above tips, it’s clear Pinterest and other image-based channels like Instagram are proving to be most useful for generating sales and brand awareness for many businesses. If your company isn’t on these channels, it’s a good idea to create an account and get them on there.
However, you want to make that you are on the right social channel, so don’t just jump onto Instagram and attempt to start selling your products here if it doesn’t fit your company and of course, your customers.