Social Commerce – Using Online Media to Drive Sales

As social media continues to grow and integrate into every aspect of our lines and brands, digital marketers are continuously developing how to maximize online sales opportunities and revenue streams,  with social commerce being a driving force. 

An integrated omnichannel sales experience is critical in remaining relevant and accessible to consumers across all forms of the digital world – whether that be on social media or a traditional website. 

In today’s article, we are chatting about social commerce and how it can benefit your business’ online presence and overall bottom line.

We will cover: 

What is Social Commerce?

what is social commerce

Social commerce uses social media, sometimes called networking sites, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, to promote, market and sell products and services online. 

Social commerce can be done either directly in the platform itself or by redirecting consumers to a website or other purchasing platform.  It is relatively simple to measure as success is often categorized by the number of shares, likes and retweets.

Social commerce works by engaging online shoppers on social media while they are scrolling through their feed. By promoting products and services through social media networking sites, brands can capture and engage a broader segment of consumers. 

This strategy is even more successful when integrated with social media ads, which can often be done at a lower cost point than traditional marketing efforts.

There are several facets of a comprehensive social commerce strategy, including:

  • Shoppable posts and videos within the social media platform itself
  • Engaging consumers through user-generated content shared on social media channels
  • Linking directly to a shopping cart or other eCommerce platform
  • Offering personalized shopping experiences
  • Using photo and video to share additional promotional content for products
  • Offering promotions or giveaways for a particular social network to drive engagement

A successful business requires a strong social media presence now more than ever to communicate its message to potential customers. Learn more in How Social Media Benefits Your Business With Real Startup Examples”

What is the Difference Between Social Commerce and eCommerce?

Social commerce and eCommerce differ in one crucial factor – where the target audience is reached and by what method your products are presented and sold. 

Social commerce is focused on marketing your products or services on social networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok etc. However, eCommerce is focused on the primary marketing of your point of sale – whether that be a company website, Shopify site, Etsy site or other forms of online retail. 

 Both social commerce and eCommerce can operate in tandem with each other, and both can be utilized to support in-store retail endeavours. 

Social commerce and eCommerce operate with similar best practices, tactics and goals, but utilize different means to reach both new and existing customers.

Over 2 million businesses use Instagram as a sales platform to increase their revenue stream. Learn more in How to Sell on Instagram: Expanding Your Sales & Business Online.”

Why is Social Commerce Important?

social commerce importance

Social commerce is a crucial element of any digital marketing strategy for online retailers or businesses. Advertising, promoting and selling products on social media networking sites helps to elevate the shopping experience for both brands and consumers into a full-circle experience. 

Some of the primary benefits for brands when  effectively utilizing social commerce strategies include:

Increased visibility

Utilizing social media networks as a product discovery and online shopping platform has changed the way brands can bring their products to a new range of audiences. By using social media, brands can expand their social networks to reach a range of audiences outside their traditional target audience

Social media can reach potential consumers worldwide through the strategic use of trends, hashtags and engaging content.

Also, social media can be a great way to engage with your existing customer base. For customers who follow and engage with your brand regularly on social media, social commerce is an excellent way to show your appreciation for their loyalty. By amplifying new products, campaigns or collections on social media, your most loyal followers can get access first to your new products and other insider perks. 

By integrating social media into your business’s sales funnel, social commerce helps to reward followers while simultaneously expanding your network.

A Two-Way Dialogue with Customers, Creating a More Personalized Experience 

With many forms of digital marketing, the conversation with the consumer is very one-sided. Marketing is directed at a consumer without much opportunity to provide feedback, engagement or personal connection with a brand or business.  

Social media breaks down these walls between brands and their consumers and helps to facilitate a two-way dialogue that can be beneficial for both parties. This feedback mechanism can help brands measure what types of products and marketing are practical and engage customers and what falls flat.  

These metrics are instantaneous and easily accessible with social commerce, making it a perfect tool to gauge your audience’s receptiveness to certain types of digital marketing tactics. In return, consumers can engage directly with a brand and share feedback, which helps build consumer loyalty, brand awareness, and an overall more substantial connection.

Streamline your Conversion Funnel

One of the most significant advantages of social commerce is the ability to streamline your conversion funnel to help convert customers and make sales. With social commerce strategies, customers can see a product on social media and, with a few simple clicks, be redirected to the checkout page of a retailer’s website or within the social platform itself. 

This strategy significantly reduces the potential for losing customers during the sales process, including lowering abandon cart rates and lost customers. 

This simplified sales tactic is beneficial for businesses to entice and retain consumer interest in your product or service.

Examples of Social Commerce in Action

Social commerce continues to grow and evolve, and some innovative brands are using these shifts effectively to their advantage. 

Here are some of our favourite examples of brands using creative strategies to maximize social commerce.

Kate Spade’s Shoppable Videos
social commerce anna kendrick
Kate Spade utilized influencer marketing to further facilitate their social commerce strategy by partnering with well-known actress Anna Kendrick for customers to associate a familiar face with their brand. Source: @annakendrick47

Women’s fashion and accessories brand Kate Spade has mastered the idea of shoppable videos with their influencer marketing series with actress Anna Kendrick. 

Throughout these marketing videos, viewers can easily click the links at the end of the video to shop for the clothes and accessories that Anna Kendrick wears throughout the video. 

This mode of social commerce is an excellent way to capture attention and drive sales.

Influencer marketing is a powerful digital marketing tactic that uses recognizable faces to further your brand. Find out more in The Who, What and Why of Social Media Influencer Marketing.”

American Eagle and #AerieReal Campaigns
American Eagle utilized social media by issuing a call to action to real consumers for its #AerieReal social commerce campaign as a way to engage existing and potentially new consumers. Source: @connerlundius

Another effective form of social commerce is the AerieReal campaigns run by retailer American Eagle. 

In this campaign, the brand encourages real consumers to share their social media photos with their followers. These photos are then shared by the brand advertising their products and directing customers to the website. 

This type of tactic integrates the consumer into the marketing and helps to promote inclusivity, breaking down the wall between brand and consumer.

Allbirds Birthday Collection
Popular shoe brand Allbirds creatively implemented a limited social commerce campaign to commemorate their second birthday by launching an exclusive collection available only on Instagram. Source: @allbirds

In sales, one of the most significant forces is scarcity. When an item is limited-edition, in limited quantities or otherwise “scarce” to consumers, its’ value increases exponentially.

This is precisely the type of scenario that Allbirds created for the exclusive launch of their birthday collection.  To celebrate the brand, Allbirds created a limited edition birthday collection that was only available on Instagram

Without ever having to list this new collection on their website, Allbirds tapped into Instagram’s expansive reach and created a feeling of exclusivity for their followers.

Key Takeaways

Social media remains a relatively new yet prosperous phenomenon. We have ultimately only hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to harnessing its power from a commercial and executive standpoint. 

While social commerce has grown significantly in the last number of years, brands’ process to utilize social commerce continues to evolve. 

No social media network platform has yet to streamline the process altogether. There are still growing pains as brands move through more efficient ways to maximize their social media footprint to convert customers and facilitate sales. 

However, despite these growing pains, social commerce remains one of the most promising digital marketing developments. 

Furthermore, the innovative creativity behind brands’ use of social selling is one that we will follow for years to come.

Written By Emily Rumball

A Content Writer at Advesa, Emily is a self-proclaimed tea addict (her favourite being a nice, strong English Breakfast), animal lover, and eager traveller. When she isn't jet-setting off to the next far off destination, she enjoys spending quality time at home in Vancouver.