These days, you can buy nearly anything you want online — from clothes to furniture, even cars. Online shopping is a booming, multi-billion dollar industry. Thanks to new technology, consumers can view high-quality videos, images, and descriptions of products with a few clicks. With all that level of convenience, it’s no surprise that online shopping continues to thrive.

But as technology continues to evolve, it’s changed how consumers approach online shopping. Since social media has become a mainstay within society, it’s become intrinsically tied to online shopping.

In this article, we’ll discuss social media shopping, also known as social commerce or social e-commerce. We’ll offer best practices for businesses in the retail space to put into practice. You’ll walk away with a better understanding of social commerce and how to incorporate it into your social media strategy.

What is Social Commerce?

As Sprout Social says, social commerce is all about the buying and selling of products or services right within a social media channel. That means consumers can complete the entire buyer journey within a social media platform. For example, someone can be scrolling through social media and find a post promoting a pair of shoes.

Thanks to social commerce, a consumer can click a button that says “buy now,” and complete the transaction without leaving the app. Social commerce provides a huge opportunity by meeting your audience where they are.

What are the Benefits of Social Commerce? 

There’s a reason social commerce has become so popular. It provides many benefits to businesses that know how to use it well. Here are some that you can expect:

  • You’ll have the opportunity to reach a wide audience — As Sprout Social says, more than 5 billion people use social media worldwide. It’s estimated that there will be 110.4 million US social media buyers by the end of 2024 — that’s half of all social media users. The size of this audience can open the door for your business to connect with a huge number of potential new customers. As more people join social media platforms every day, you’ll have an opportunity to see your own customer base grow, too.
  • Convert customers where they are — It’s ideal to make the customer journey as frictionless as possible. So if your audience is already on social media, why not convert them there? If your customers can buy an item they’re interested in on the spot, they’ll be more likely to follow through with the purchase. Also, by converting customers in channels that they frequent, you may even see your customer retention rate grow.
  • Establish social proof — When your audience can’t test out or try on your product, reviews and recommendations are key. Social media is a great channel to get as many recommendations as possible. If you create engaging social content, you’ll attract new followers. If you interact with new and existing followers, they’ll be more likely to leave you positive reviews. As Sprout Social says, “As your engagement grows with new reviews coming in, it sends a positive signal to social media algorithms. These algorithms will deem your content relevant to even more potential customers.”
  • Learn about your customers’ social media habits — When you execute a social commerce strategy, you’ll have access to your customers’ social profiles. If you tie these insights into social media listening, you’ll have a direct line into your customers’ habits and interests.

What is the Difference Between Social Commerce and E-Commerce? 

E-commerce is traditional internet shopping. As Vidjet says, it centers around customers buying your products through your website or mobile application. In a traditional e-commerce set up, consumers can browse and purchase your products through your business’s site.

Social commerce refers to the implementation of product sales through social media channels. That means that customers can buy something directly through one of your social media profiles. They can browse, purchase, make a payment, and leave a review all in one place.

Different Kinds of Social Commerce

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok are among the most popular social commerce platforms. Here’s how each channel applies social commerce tactics:

  • Facebook and Instagram — Meta offers Shops on Facebook and Instagram. Meta calls Shops an online shop for people to browse, explore and purchase your products directly on Facebook and Instagram. The platform offers customizable collections and design tools. That lets you show off your business’s featured products, thus bringing your brand to life and make shopping frictionless on social media.
  • Pinterest — On Pinterest, business owners can create Product Pins. Pinterest calls these, “shoppable Pins, formatted to display accurate and relevant product information.” You can create Product Pins in one of two ways:
    • Upload your product catalog to Pinterest and create Pins for each of your products
    • Add meta tags to your website so people can save Product Pins directly from your site.
  • TikTok —  TikTok Shop “enables brands and sellers to showcase and sell products on TikTok, through a suite of in-app shopping touch points.” TikTok goes on to say that Shop is a one-stop-shop for driving brand growth and sales right on TikTok. Anyone tuned into social media knows that TikTok’s popularity continues to rise. As 70% of TikTok users find new brands and products they like right on TikTok, it’s a great channel for businesses to take advantage of.

Social Commerce Best Practices

If you want to weave social commerce into your business strategy, you need to have a confident grasp on best practices. Here are some to consider:

  • Implement omni-channel experiences — Connect your social media platforms to the rest of your business. This creates an omni-channel buyer journey. Make sure your support and service offerings are consistent across all channels. As Salesforce says, customers will be more loyal to companies that provide consistency. Engage often and provide a through line for branding and messaging across all channels. Customers want the same experience across every branch of your business. Your social media networks should be an extension of that.
  • Experiment with augmented reality (AR) experiences — Studies show that AR is on the rise among consumers. Social media is already a big driver of AR usage. As Shopify says, Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok are already leveraging AR filters. Retailers can jump on this trend by using these filters to demonstrate their products or allow customers to virtually try them on. This will help to give consumers more confidence in their purchase.
  • Produce more video content — It’s a general rule of thumb across the board that video content performs well on social media. TikTok’s massive popularity is proof of that. According to Wyzowl, 89% of people state they have been convinced to purchase a product or service by viewing that brand’s video. Videos can be leveraged as a way to show off products, create behind-the-scenes livestreams, conduct video consultations, and offer personalized product recommendations.
  • Work with micro-influencers — Marketing Dive states that 81% of consumers will trust a social media influencer’s recommendation over a brand’s own marketing message. While you may not have the budget to work with a big-name influencer, you can always work with a micro-influencer. They’ll have a specific audience type, usually local, that will make it easier on you to target different demographics. Their followers will trust their recommendations.
  • Leverage user-generated content — Some of your most influential social media content won’t come from your own brand. It’ll be posting or resharing user-generated content (UGC) from real customers. Images from happy consumers will help to generate the social proof that users want to see before making a purchase. In fact, Hootsuite states that nearly 80% of people say that UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions. You can encourage your followers to submit UGC by creating hashtag challenges or by jumping on current content trends on social and using those in your campaigns.
  • Use AI-trained chatbots — Shopify says that 41% of consumers want live chat while they’re shopping online. Social media platforms are now part of the online shopping experience. That means that you should make your live chat accessible through those networks. Customers want to interact with brands the same way they talk with friends. Live chat through social commerce is what will help your brand become more sociable and interactive.
  • Use targeted ads — Targeted advertising is a great way to ensure that you reach the right audience at the right time. When you use targeted ads on social media, you can ensure that your message is reaching the right potential customers. Influencer Marketing Hub says that 49% of consumers decide what to buy based on targeted advertising. Consumers may not click on a specific ad right away. But the more that consumers see your ad present on their timeline, the more likely they will be to eventually make a purchase. But make sure that your ad content has the right tone for your desired audience. Sellers Fi says that “Millennial and Gen Z shoppers are often looking for a laugh, while Gen X and Boomers crave a more traditional ad experience.”
  • Create a frictionless experience — Even though you might be able to entice consumers to make a purchase, your audience doesn’t want to feel like they’re shopping while they’re scrolling social media. They’re looking at videos and checking out their friends’ profiles. Stumbling upon your brand and product should just naturally fall somewhere in that process. Lean into that experience by offering features like one-tap payments and stored contact information to make the sale. The fewer steps in your purchasing process on social media, the better. Eliminate every unnecessary step that you can.
  • Interact with your audience — Don’t be an invisible presence on social media. Interact with your audience. Social media is full of opinions — the good, the bad, and everything in between. But you can only gain access to those insights if you engage with your followers. Build relationships with your audience. Take the time to really listen and learn. Those efforts can help to produce your next product idea or customer win. When customers see those positive results, they’ll become advocates for your brand.

TL;DR — Master Social Media Shopping with LNP Media Group

We don’t need to sell you on the importance of social media, it’s found its way into nearly every aspect of daily life and shopping is no exception. If your business is in the retail space, it’s important that you learn how to tie the two together. Engaging in social commerce offers a myriad of benefits to businesses like yours. Jump on best practices such as implementing omni-channel experiences, producing video content, working with micro-influencers and more to reap those benefits and watch the social side of your business take off.

But in order to get there, you need a social media marketing strategy. Social media has become one of the most effective tools for targeted digital marketing. Our team is Meta Certified meaning that you’ll be working with people who have deep knowledge of how to make social media work for your online shopping sales.

At LNP Media Group, your results matter to us. Contact us today to learn how we can work together.