Social commerce, the use of social media platforms to promote and sell products and services, has seen an uptick in popularity as consumer behaviors evolve to include a preference for seamless, online purchases. Many social media platforms in recent years, including Snapchat and Instagram, have introduced new creative opportunities and advertising features, maximizing the potential of social commerce for brands.
What Is Social Commerce?
In aggregate, social commerce is the use of social media as part of multichannel campaigns to promote products and drive sales. For advertisers, the use of social commerce stems from the desire to drive conversions from an additional digital media channel, particularly when trying to reach younger, more online audiences. Often, brands deploy creative tactics like video, carousel ads and XR to engage social media users as they leverage social commerce functionality to drive conversions from or within social media platforms.
The growth of ecommerce, online shopping and time spent on social platforms during the pandemic increased consumer comfort with buying directly from social media platforms. Therefore, over the past year, social commerce has evolved to more specifically mean the use of social media platforms to facilitate sales without leaving the platform.
What Are Examples Of Social Commerce?
Some social media outlets, like Pinterest, have been encouraging sales directly from their platforms for several years, while others have recently begun upping the ante. Instagram and Facebook Shops launched in 2020, and Instagram has since expanded its social commerce capabilities to IGTV and Reels. Facebook recently introduced live streaming with “Live Shopping Fridays,” while Snapchat Lens continues to be leveraged by brands for its unique AR and VR, creator-based campaigns. YouTube introduced shoppable ads in 2019, with parent company Google announcing an upcoming expansion of creative that supports social commerce.
What Benefits Does Social Commerce Offer Advertisers?
As social commerce continues to gain popularity, the benefits to advertisers increase, including:
Attribution: Social commerce offers the ability to directly measure the return on investment (ROI) of social media spend, because the conversions take place in the same platform as the advertising.
Reaching Browsing & High-Intent Consumers: Social media has increasingly become a platform on which consumers receive advice on what to purchase from friends, family and interest-based social media groups. Social commerce gives brands the opportunity to contextually target browsing shoppers and convert high-intent audiences.
Engaging Creative Options: Social media platforms offer access to sophisticated advertising features that brands might not otherwise have the budget for, increasing engagement with visually interesting campaigns.
Tight Audience Targeting: Digital advertisers can reach tightly defined audiences, including lookalike audiences, younger consumers and people engaging with creative from competitive brands.
Paid And Organic Growth: Both paid and organic social media campaigns can drive traffic to branded social commerce opportunities.
Social commerce is still in early stages, with new features regularly being launched by social platforms. Brands able to facilitate social commerce are likely to benefit from broad testing to see which styles of social commerce and which platforms perform best to convert their audiences.
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