With increasing access to technology and a digital way of life, consumers are now buying products online and through their mobile phones. The explosion of E-commerce and shortly after, M-commerce, proves that the way business transactions are carried out is ever-evolving. More than ever, brands have to establish a strong digital presence so as to increase their touchpoints with consumers and increase visibility of their products. In particular, brands have to watch out for the latest, and most formidable new trend: Social Commerce.
What is Social Commerce?
According to Investopedia, “Social commerce is the use of networking websites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as vehicles to promote and sell products and services.” This trend comes as no surprise since consumers spend most of their time on their phones and are known to be influenced by brands on social media. In the past, brands used to redirect followers to online stores to make a purchase. But consumers now have the option to buy products without even leaving the social media app.
New tools such as Facebook Shops, Instagram Shops and Instagram Checkout allow brands to meet customers where they are already browsing and shopping. Pinterest also has its own version of Buyable Pins where consumers can buy products with a click of the button. In fact, TikTok recently announced a partnership with Shopify to ramp up its social shopping features, so brands can reach new audiences and drive sales on TikTok. At present, it has Hashtag Challenge Plus which introduces shoppable components to hashtags, and allows users to add e-commerce links to their bios.
The Power of Social Commerce
However, social media platforms are not the only ones ready to embrace social commerce. According to a report on “The State of Social Commerce in Southeast Asia”, 44% of consumers admitted to making “three or more online purchases in the past month” because of social media posts or ads. In fact, social media browsing inspired more than half of Gen Z consumers’ most recent fashion purchase in the United States.
“ Social feeds are quickly becoming the modern-day trip to the mall.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has also driven consumers onto social media platforms to engage in conversations, accelerating the social commerce revolution. Total social commerce orders in the first half of 2020 more than doubled across Southeast Asia, as compared to the same time period last year. The number of sales from livestreaming on social media platforms in the region also increased from nearly 13% to 67%, as shoppers in Singapore and Thailand spent more time engaging with sellers through live-streams.
Creating A Successful Social Commerce Strategy
Interested to create an effective social commerce strategy? Here are 3 essential tips you can follow to create a successful social commerce strategy:
1. Get familiar with the tools.
As social media platforms evolve, it is important for you to familiarise yourself with the social commerce features on each platform. Stay updated with the latest developments and features to get one step ahead of the competition and maximise the value of social media! Some changes in the pipeline include the expansion of social commerce on Instagram to IGTV and potentially, IG Reels.
2. Create a direct call-to-action.
Social media marketing is no longer just about promoting your product, and generating top-of-funnel content to spread brand awareness. Transitioning to a social commerce strategy can consist of giving detailed information regarding price and promotions to help inform purchase decisions and encourage conversions.
3. Influencer Marketing is Now More Relevant than Ever
Influencer marketing has been on the rise due to increasing use of social media over the past few years. With social commerce in the picture, it is predictable that influencer marketing is now more relevant than ever as influencers are key opinion leaders on social media.
“Influencers are like the new catalogue.” – @tylynnnguyen
A successful influencer collaboration can easily lead to a massive increase in conversion rates as transactions become more convenient on social media and users have greater efficiency when making a purchase. Consumers who are comfortable with the prices indicated in the product tag can make a direct purchase by clicking “View on Website”. Alternatively, they can browse through other similar products which might pique their interest.
Brands are now gradually hopping on to Instagram Shops, with the more successful ones integrating influencer marketing into social commerce. An example is Pomelo (@pomelofashion) which features influencers donning their outfits on their Instagram page, for consumers to take inspiration from these #pomelogirls and their beautiful outfits. Well-known Singaporean lifestyle influencer, @mirchelley, was recently featured in her #barbiexpomelo blazer, allowing Pomelo to tap into her follower community of 151k users on Instagram.
@iwearlovebonito by @lovebonito, is a powerful combination of influencer marketing, social commerce and user-generated content. By featuring influencers and users, the fashion brand showcases a sense of community which encourages consumers to explore what others are wearing and make a direct purchase.
Elsewhere on TikTok, Kroger pioneered a shoppable experience using the new e-commerce feature, “Hashtag Challenge Plus”. With hashtag challenges being all the rage on TikTok, Kroger prompted TikTok viewers to post videos of their dorm makeovers using the hashtag #TransformUrDorm, along with a dedicated brand page for viewers to shop their products. By working with TikTok influencers Joey Klaasen, Cosette Rinab, Mia Finney and Victoria Bachlet, the campaign received around 477 million views and hundreds of user-generated content.
Image from TechCrunch
Evidently, marketers will have to leverage on both influencer marketing and social commerce in their social media marketing strategy, especially if they are interested in increasing sales. Most importantly, brands will have to work with influencers that have high engagement rates. As engagement is more important than reach to stimulate a purchase, brands should look past vanity metrics like follower count and focus on engagement rates instead. Finding a match between an influencer’s audience demographic and your target audience is also another important consideration.
BONUS: Influencer Commerce
But influencer marketing is not just driving social commerce. Influencers are now taking over social commerce, in a new trend called Influencer Commerce which is raking in millions of dollars a year. Beauty influencers like Kylie Jenner and Jeffree Star have their own makeup lines such as Kylie Cosmetics and Jeffree Star Cosmetics. Not to mention, the number of YouTubers promoting their own influencer merchandise and many other fashion influencers with their own clothing brands. Closer to home, Singaporean beauty influencer, @xiaxue, also has her own brand called @plasticcosmetics.
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Besides having their own brands, influencers have also faced massive success when collaborating with brands to create new products. @mrbaggs is an influencer familiar to luxury brands in China, having launched exclusive products with top luxury brands like Montblanc, Longchamp, Burberry, Tod’s and Givenchy. The collaboration between Mr.Bags x Burberry Pocket Bag sold out just within seconds and Mr.Bags had garnered over 4.77 million RMB in his collaboration with Tod’s.
What does this mean for brands?
The vast amount of success earned by influencers is testament to their ability to drive sales. Influencers are racking up a storm on social media and it is likely that their influence on consumers’ buying decisions will continue to grow in the near future. In 2020 and beyond, the trend will continue to accelerate and evolve as 65% of influencer marketing budgets will increase this year.
Given the rise in social commerce, brands who can leverage on the power of influencers and their loyal follower communities will become winning brands. By making use of influencers’ creativity and expertise, brands can also create content and products which resonate with customers.
Affable.ai is an AI-driven influencer marketing platform offering powerful influencer discovery and influencer campaign management tools. Find out how you can optimise your brand’s influencer marketing strategy with our influencer analytics platform here.
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