Social Commerce: How to Drive Direct Sales On Social Media

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Social commerce is on the rise

What is social commerce?

Social commerce is selling products through social media networks, such as Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok. It’s e-commerce that takes place end-to-end, inside a social network. It’s not the same as social media marketing, where you’re trying to direct traffic from a social network over to your website. In short, social commerce is when you can complete checkout directly on social media.

Do people actually buy things on social media?

Social is crucial to product discovery: 87% of people say social media helps them decide what to buy. 55% of US consumers have bought products online after finding them on social media. So, it makes sense to let people buy products where they discover them. As of now, 30% of social media users say they want to complete purchases on social apps like Snapchat and Instagram

The idea is to remove barriers to purchase. If buying something is so seamless that you don’t even have to switch apps, you’re more likely to checkout there and then. 

Keep in mind that with the pandemic e-commerce is not only rising, it’s also the only option for lots of businesses. Social commerce could be the key differentiator for your business, if it makes checking out that much easier. Let’s see how your brand can benefit across social networks. 

Leverage Snapchat’s social commerce capabilities

Snapchat’s famous for its augmented reality (AR) filters. However, they’re now leveraging AR capabilities for social commerce, by enabling digital ‘try-ons’ of products through filters. This well-timed feature helps customers ‘try before they buy’ as online shopping becomes all the more essential.

Snapchat recently collaborated with Gucci to offer people a chance to try on shoes virtually, with AR filters before making a purchase. If Snapchat users like the shoes, they can buy them directly in-app, by tapping a ‘Shop Now’ button for immediate purchase. This ‘shoppable AR’ partnership works out really well for Gucci because they can reach customers in countries where retail stores remain closed due to the pandemic. This social commerce strategy also gives Gucci access to a younger market since Snapchat reaches 75% of people under 24 in the US.

Beauty and fashion brands can gain from leveraging Snapchat’s social commerce capabilities. One brand found customers who interacted with the AR filters were twice as likely to make a purchase, and were 30% less likely to return products.

TikTok’s new partnership with Shopify

Gearing up for social shopping

TikTok has been ramping up social shopping with existing features, like Hashtag Challenge Plus. This allows users to shop for products associated with a Hashtag Challenge in-app. Fashion retailer Uniqlo has had success with this method as part of a wider campaign. 

Other social shopping features include a ‘Shop Now’ button. Levi’s experienced high engagement and increased site traffic with this method, as it allows for a smoother checkout process as products are linked to under in-feed videos. 

TikTok also allows users to post links to e-commerce sites from their bio, and videos. This has huge potential for influencer partnerships across industries, since creators can direct viewers to brands, or products.

Taking the next step with Shopify

TikTok’s now taking social shopping to the next level by partnering with Shopify. This allows Shopify’s 1 million merchants to create, run and optimize marketing campaigns directly from their Shopify dashboards. A TikTok app in the Shopify app store gives merchants access to TikTok Business Manager features.

In short, Shopify sellers can now make shoppable videos: native content for TikTok allowing people to buy products directly in-app. This is great news for smaller businesses who can now reach TikTok’s international audience of 800 million people.

Instagram’s ongoing efforts

Instagram has not been subtle about e-commerce. In 2020, they’ve made an entire tab’s worth of room with Instagram Shop. This is a virtual shopping mall where users can find algorithmically-suggested products. 

Previously, Instagram introduced ‘shoppable tags’ on photos – used widely by larger brands like Zara, as well as smaller retailers. These tags allowed for purchases without leaving the app. The idea behind Instagram’s Shop tab is similar: it’s a dedicated app tab solely for shopping. Instagram will also be able to save checkout details for future purchases. This means Instagram as a storefront is likely to become a bigger part of businesses’ monetisation strategy in the future.

Social and shopping case study from Fanbytes

We’ve delivered successful social commerce campaigns for our clients. A key example is our ongoing work with Vestiaire Collective. Vestiaire Collective is the leading online marketplace for pre-loved designer items. They’d worked with Instagram and Youtube, but had not broken into TikTok yet. Their goal was to build a brand on TikTok and drive down CPI for their app, boosting sales. 

We delivered a 4-part campaign. Our first campaign promoted Vestiaire’s express shipping service. This was showcased by influencers who showed how they styled pieces purchased on the app, and later, how easy it was to resell pre-loved items. We then took the best-performing creatives and used these in paid ads on TikTok as retargeting. This led to an amazing 2.7M+ views and halved their CPI. 

For the second part, we used TikTok’s ‘link in bios’ as social commerce URLs. We capitalised on ‘back to school’ and ‘vintage’ as themes, showcasing with micro-influencers. Influencers linked to Vestiaire Collective through their bio, resulting in 2.6M+ views, 1000+ organic installs for the app and an even lower CPI. Our third campaign focused on a different theme focusing on ‘hacks’ showing how you could find 3 outfits under £50 on Vestiaire.

With our final campaign, we chose to focus entirely on ‘link in bios’ for social commerce. We worked with younger influencers to create localized content across Europe, leading to thousands of app installs and a whopping 42% engagement rate from one of our influencers.

@viennaskye

Items from this shoot are from @vestiairecollective Shop my closet @ viennaskye & use Direct Shipping to save money! ❤️ ##vestiairecollectivedrip

♬ original sound - viennaskye
@rayan.xasan

Download the @vestiairecollective app- you can find such great deals on there ! Link in bio ##foundonvestiaire ##ad ##fashion ##vintage

♬ ass is sweaty - Kellan

Conclusion

Social commerce is on the rise, especially in a post-COVID world where online shopping is sometimes the only option. Brands now have a huge range of options available to them across social networks. TikTok’s Shopify integration opens up their international reach to Shopify’s one million merchants. Snapchat continues to push the boundaries of social shopping with it’s focus on AR. And for Instagram, e-commerce looks like the priority as they dedicate an entire app section to it. 

So, for brands who want to remain competitive in e-commerce, its worth shaping up your social shopping strategy. Get in touch with Fanbytes if you’re curious about what we could achieve for your brand. 

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