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    How To Build a Social Commerce Strategy

    September 8, 2023
    11 minute read
    How To Build a Social Commerce Strategy

    Your customers are browsing social media every day. By 2027, Statista predicts that there will be nearly 6 million global social media users.

    Salsify’s “2023 Consumer Research,” which offers a consolidated view of its surveyed countries, reports that social media apps have become consumers’ favorite method for product discovery.

    Social media platforms are emerging sales channels that drive not only product discovery but also transactions, enabling shoppers to purchase at the moment of inspiration. Popular social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok enable direct purchases for brands. 

    The practice of selling directly to customers through social media platforms is called social commerce, which is often referred to as social shopping or social media shopping. 

    If you want to foray into the world of social commerce, you need to create a killer social commerce strategy. Here are tips and best practices that will help you lay a strong foundation. 

    Why Is Social Commerce Important for Brands?

    The term social commerce was first used by Yahoo! in 2005 to describe a set of collaborative shopping tools. 

    Today, social commerce is a strategic opportunity for brands to extend their digital shelf and enable shoppers to engage with brands and discover, research, and purchase products.

    Social media shopping cuts out the middleman, allowing brands to have a stronger connection with their customers. In turn, social shoppers have a more emotional connection with their purchases. 

    For example, social shoppers aren't necessarily searching for something to fulfill a need. They may discover something that piques their interest on their favorite social media app — or that trusted friends and family recommended — and decide they want it in their lives too.

    Social Commerce Contributes to Brand Awareness and Sales

    Brands that don’t participate in social commerce risk losing brand awareness and the opportunity to build direct relationships with shoppers. 

    Instagram offers excellent opportunities for brands that want to increase brand awareness through social commerce. The platform allows brands to import and manage a product catalog in-app. It also allows brands to use product tags to highlight products in videos, Instagram Lives, and posts.

    Product tagging allows for better brand discoverability because shoppers can immediately learn more about an item or purchase it in-app through Checkout on Instagram.Flash Tattoos Instagram Live

    Image Source: Flash Tattoos Instagram 

    Product tags can also aggregate your products into shopping surfaces that users turn to for in-app shopping, boosting product discoverability. 

    Instagram says that “businesses who leverage product tagging see 37% more sales, on average, than businesses that did not tag products in their feed posts.” 

    Tailored Social Content Drives Engagement

    Creating tailored social commerce content for each generation will put you at the forefront of their minds (and feeds).

    For example, Statista reports that 63% of Generation Z and 51% of millennials in the U.S. purchased an item they previously saw on their social media feed. By producing tailored content that matches the taste and humor of each generation, you’ll ensure that you’re reaching your target audience. 

    Beauty brand Glossier does this well by producing laidback content that matches the brand’s casual, fun persona. The brand’s TikTok content highlights their products in unexpected ways and has customers leaving comments like “need this!” and “now i need it even more.” 

    Video Source: Glossier TikTok 

    How To Build an Effective Social Commerce Strategy 

    Here are the four steps required for brands to get started with a social commerce strategy. 

    1. Unite Marketing and Ecommerce Teams

    Brands need a social media marketing team that will understand the nuances of each social channel and can tailor content to meet audience needs.

    Forming one cohesive social media marketing team will ensure an integrated and coherent approach to your social commerce strategy. 

    social media marketing team will help you:

    • Identify your target audience.
    • Align your social commerce strategy with your business objectives.
    • Build presences on the social media platforms that best suit your business and audience.
    • Establish a publishing calendar.

    Whatever your social commerce goals are, your team will help you reach — and exceed — them.

    2. Map Everything Out 

    Brands must be able to sell directly to consumers to use social commerce channels like Checkout on Instagram. This capability requires connecting back-office teams, orders, and inventory management with front-of-the-house marketing and social commerce teams.

    By creating a thorough list of all the people, initiatives, budgets, and technology needed behind-the-scenes, you’ll create and execute a successful social commerce strategy. 

    3. Tap Into the Entire Digital Shelf

    Providing a seamless experience across every touch point and social media platform requires an accurate, reliable single source of truth. 

    Leveraging a product experience management (PXM) solution will ensure that all of your data is up to date, and that your product detail pages (PDPs) are alluring to customers. 

    4. Start Small and Introduce Agile Processes 

    Introducing agile processes will allow you to retain flexibility in a dynamic digital retail environment.

    For example, brands must look at managing product experiences on social media, even if they’re not ready to transact on that channel. Publish catalogs and either drive traffic to the brand’s own site or link to your product detail pages (PDPs) on other retailer sites like Amazon.

    Experiment with selling through third-party partners (3Ps). You might have to start with developing new products and packaging that can be shipped directly to consumers.

    Flexibility Is Critical To Maximizing Social Commerce Opportunities

    What is the best way to maximize social commerce opportunities? Test and learn. Brands must be willing to try new channels as they launch, quickly learn what works, and adapt as channels evolve. Moving swiftly and being flexible means your brand can be one of the first-movers as new channels launch.

    Brands must manage product experiences on social media, experiment with selling as a third-party, and choose a technology platform that can support social commerce initiatives in the future to grow sales, connect with buyers, communicate brand values, and win new customers.


    Written by: Lauren McMenemy

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