How Can Brands Make Social Commerce Work?
The last few years have seen some major changes in the social landscape. Social networks were once a place for updating statuses, sharing photos and generally keeping up with friends. Now there are videos to watch, news articles to read, and not to mention the chance to actually shop.
Social commerce has proven to be a major revenue generator for the likes of WeChat and Line in Asia, so there’s little wonder why Zuckerberg has been quick to encourage in-app impulse buying by facilitating payments on Messenger and ‘Shop Now’ buttons. But how can brands best navigate the rise of social commerce?
Social media is key for research
It’s old news that having a social presence is vital for brands. Not only can social networks boast a massive reach (virtually every internet user is now a social networker), these platforms also have an established role in the purchase journey.
Our latest research shows that 4 in 10 internet users aged 16-64 are turning to social media to research new brands or products.
Considering that younger consumers are the most likely to be doing so, it actually may not be long before social overtakes search as the top portal for product research – a transition that has already taken place across Latin America and the Middle East & Africa.
4 in 10 consumers follow their favorite brands on social
It’s certain from this that brands should be marketing their products across these channels, but what about offering the chance to complete a purchase through social media? The main benefit to brands is that buy buttons allow for seamless transactions and the ability to act upon impulse purchases.
Half the online population are now shopping on mobile which makes this a key trend to watch, but inputting information on small screens can easily put someone off completing a purchase. An online shoppers’ path to purchase can be laborious with the added frustration for many of having to switch between sites to complete a payment.
There’s a clear balance to be made here between effective content marketing and pushing for purchases. Our data shows that 4 in 10 digital consumers follow their favorite brands on social, but that’s not to say these are necessarily loyal followers. What’s more, overloading a page with pictures of merchandise and buy buttons can easily turn followers off.
Surely followers want to see the images from their favorite brands that they wouldn’t usually see from traditional media?
Making social commerce work
Photo-centric platforms like Instagram and Pinterest offer attractive options here, allowing brands to showcase a lifestyle and build their brand story. IKEA, for example, played upon the inspiring nature of Instagram when it distributed inspirational content on the platform (an approach which increased the average order value of digital purchases by about 10%).
And Instagram Stories, in particular, can help humanize brands and forge a deeper connection between social audiences and brands.
New York Times Fashion is one brand that successfully achieved the right balance here; as well as covering the Ralph Lauren Fashion Show and showcasing the designer dresses that would be available for purchase, it also shared celebrity interviews and moments from the after-party across the Stories feature.
Looking ahead, the real power of buy buttons will likely emerge when brand messages reach shoppers known to be interested in a given product. At present, just under a fifth of digital consumers say that a ‘buy’ button would make them more likely to buy something on social media.
But providing these reach those displaying a genuine interest and brands refrain from overloading with ‘push’ content, speeding up the path to purchase with buy buttons is sure to appeal.