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    What Is Social Commerce? The State of Social Media Shopping in 2023

    March 7, 2023
    16 minute read
    What Is Social Commerce? The State of Social Media Shopping in 2023

    After a long day of work, you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed when you spot the cocktail napkins you’ve been on the hunt for, posted by your favorite home goods shop. 

    You click on the image, and it gives you the napkins’ price and a checkout option. Within a few short seconds (and using Instagram’s autofill option), you’ve purchased the napkins in-app and are back to scrolling your feed.

    The convenience and ease of social commerce — the intersection of social media and ecommerce — are noteworthy. 

    With social commerce sales projected to reach $2.9 trillion by 2026, according to Statista, brands don’t want to miss out on this lucrative opportunity.

    Here’s a breakdown of the hottest social commerce trends on TikTok and Instagram, demographics, and tips for adapting your social commerce strategy to win on the digital shelf.

    What Is Social Commerce?

    Social commerce, also called social shopping or social media shopping, is the action of purchasing a product or service directly within a social media platform like Instagram or TikTok.

    Many apps that were once strictly used for social interactions have become marketplaces allowing in-app purchases because social commerce is the marriage of social media and ecommerce. 

    Consumers can purchase items in-app without breaking a sweat, and brands can engage with consumers in their favorite corners of the digital world. It’s a win for everyone involved.

    But don’t confuse social commerce with ecommerce, though they’re very similar in practice. Social commerce refers to purchases made directly in a social media app, while ecommerce usually refers to purchases made elsewhere online, like a brand or retailer’s website.

    The Hottest Social Commerce Trends on Apps 

    Social media has pervaded the fabric of society, becoming an integral part of many consumers’ daily lives. Statista reports that the average user spends approximately 144 minutes on social media daily, and nearly six billion people will use social media worldwide by 2027. 

    With staggering stats like these, it’s no wonder that social media apps have jumped on the social commerce bandwagon. Brands can now cast a much wider net and connect with a whole new audience that might’ve been previously inaccessible.

    Introducing TikTok Shop

    TikTok is well-known as a video-sharing app, but it’s quickly expanding into social commerce territory with the launch of TikTok Shop in the U.S. Previously, this feature was only available in the U.K. and several countries in Asia, according to Hootsuite.

    TikTok describes TikTok Shop as an “innovative new shopping feature which enables merchants, brands, and creators to showcase and sell products directly on TikTok through in-feed videos, LIVEs, and the product showcase tab.”  

    Axios notes that TikTok also has plans to establish an international product fulfillment system, which will position the company against the retail giant Amazon. 

    With hashtags like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt garnering 41.7 billion views, it’s a smart move for the platform, especially since Insider Intelligence predicts TikTok social commerce will reach $107.17 billion by 2025. 

    Video Source: TikTok

    TikTok Demographics

    Although TikTok appeals to users of all different backgrounds and ages, Statista notes that TikTok users are comprised of 17% men and 24% women worldwide between the ages of 18 to 24 (also known as Generation Z). 

    It’s important to note that the app currently reigns supreme over Instagram for Gen Zers, according to Marketing Charts. Gen Zers spend an average of five hours per week on Instagram and more than 10 hours per week on TikTok, according to Statista.

    This is an excellent opportunity for brands to pivot their content to connect with a younger audience. 

    How Can Brands Integrate TikTok Into Their Social Commerce Strategy?

    Partnering with influencers and staying on top of trends can help boost visibility and sales. 

    Take beauty brand Tarte Cosmetic’s influencer trip, for example. This sponsored influencer trip to Dubai resulted in nearly doubled earned media value (EMV) month-over-month, according to Women’s Wear Daily.

    Or consider Ocean Spray’s overnight social media success after one TikTok user gained more than 13 million views in a video featuring a bottle of Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry.

    Video Source: 420doggface208 TikTok

    These social commerce statistics speak for themselves. Partnering with the right influencers and paying attention to what users are interested in will gain you major brownie points (and sales) from your younger audience.

    Instagram Shopping 

    What was once strictly a photo-sharing app has become the perfect breeding ground for social commerce. Instagram Shopping allows sellers to bring consumers down the complete sales funnel — from awareness to action — without ever leaving the app. 

    Instagram allows brands to showcase their products in an engaging way that isn’t always achievable on an ecommerce page. Depending on how the products are displayed, consumers may not even realize they’re looking at an ad in their feed until they click on the image and see prices displayed. 

    Though livestreaming hasn’t made as big of a splash in the U.S., Instagram livestreaming is a great way to capture consumers.

    Consumers can scroll through a brand’s product collection and add items to their wishlist to purchase at a later date. They can also receive updates about future product drops and sign up for an alert so they can purchase an item as soon as it’s available. 

    Image Source: Tanya Taylor Instagram

    Instagram Demographics

    Instagram is still very popular with Gen Z, but millennials slightly outrank the younger generation. Statista reports that Gen Z Instagram users are comprised of 13.4% women and 16.8% men aged 18 to 24, but millennial users are comprised of 14.6% women and 17.1% men.

    It can be a balancing act trying to appeal to different demographics, but keep in mind that all consumers alike can be won over by excellent product images, videos, product descriptions, and more. 

    How Can Brands Integrate Instagram Into Their Social Commerce Strategies?

    Instagram’s monthly users are expected to hit 1.44 billion by 2025, which amounts to 31.2% of global internet users, according to Statista. Standing out to so many users can be difficult in a sea of brands, but there are various methods for capturing an Instagram user’s attention.

    These methods include: 

    • Product tags 
    • Targeted ads 
    • Product tutorials 
    • Brand collaborations
    • Influencer marketing 
    • Showing up on the Instagram Explore page 

    Integrating an ecommerce shopping platform like Shopify can also help businesses maintain a sleek, engaging shopping experience from beginning to end. 

    How Well Does Social Commerce Perform Globally?

    Social commerce is becoming popular around the world, and it’s expected to increase in popularity in the coming years. According to Salsify’s latest consumer research, 7% of U.S. shoppers, 12% of shoppers in Great Britain, 12% of Australian shoppers, 13% of German shoppers, and 14% of French shoppers are most likely to purchase a product directly from social media.

    Salsify’s previous consumer research report found that 31% of German shoppers, 32% of French shoppers, 36% of U.S. shoppers, and 37% of shoppers in Great Britain bought products on a social media channel in 2022.

    These social commerce statistics show that more and more people are buying products directly through social media.  

    Follow the Latest Social Commerce Trends for Success 

    Social commerce is an excellent way to capture the attention of a large audience, but it can be tricky to determine a consumer’s path to purchase. They’re in complete control of their buying experience, so it’s important to meet them at all the right touch points.

    Offering an excellent omnichannel commerce shopping experience is critical for capturing your audience’s attention — and getting them to convert. 



    Written by: Madeline Koufogazos

    Madeline Koufogazos (she/her) is an editor and writer at Salsify, based out of Boston. She enjoys sharing her insights on consumer trends and behaviors, commerce, media, pop culture, and travel.

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