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    4 ways to use social networks for commerce

    4 minute read

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    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced content from friends and family will be prioritized over content from brands, retailers, and publishers. Add that to the fact Facebook’s growth and usage has stagnated, it may be time to reassess your brand’s social media commerce approach.

    The good news, according to the recent Forrester report, “Facebook Loses Ground Among US Online Youth,” is that the majority of youth in the US don’t mind commerce and advertising on social networks, so long as the content feels relevant to them. In fact, “only 26% of young people with a Facebook profile believe that the platform has too many ads; the amount of advertising on Instagram and Snapchat bothers roughly one in 10 of their users.”

    Social media remains a viable way to drive business objectives, but the key is to know which platforms your consumers frequent, customize a strategy for each relevant platform, and focus on authentic, meaningful interactions between your brand’s content and consumers. 

    1. Dig into data (a.k.a. know your audience) and outline clear business objectives

    Knowing where to sell your products starts with knowing where your consumers are spending their time. Organic reach is no longer a viable strategy. Nor is relying on the flashy and inflated “impressions” or “engagement” numbers. Tie brand objectives to what your consumers are searching, both by product category and search key words. Then share that data with all relevant teams – especially the content and social managers. The results will feed your strategy in two ways: being able to adapt content on the fly to meet any channel and creating content that relates to the consumer authentically.

    2. Determine how and when you’d like to reach your audience

    The perception around Facebook being for older generations or parents carries truth. Forrester found 34% of US online youth agree with this sentiment and 22% view Pinterest the same way. If building your brand and selling to these younger generations is your goal, perhaps YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat are more your answer.

    Either way, sync your social commerce strategy with what your consumers are doing when they come across your ad. If you’d like to reach your audience while they are: 

    • Discovering new brands or products. Pinterest is where 43% of young users find new products or brands, according to Forrester’s findings.
    • Seeking entertainment to pass the time. YouTube is the free-time go-to for 71% of young users, with 61% visiting multiple times in a single day.
    • Keeping in touch with friends and family. Snapchat is where 62% of young users communicate with friends. 
    • Keeping in touch with your brand. Instagram is what 25% of young online users identified as the best way to keep an eye on their favorite brand’s updates 

    That said, we advise avoiding the urge to place all your eggs in the crowded Instagram basket. Instagram now has more sponsored posts than ever, next to large-following pages that sponsor items within their posts, next to brands/companies whose pages look like sponsored content. Feeds are quickly becoming scrolls of promotional messages, which leads to consumer apathy and disengagement, as seen with Facebook. 

    3. Implement flexible technology that links back to your products even as social strategies change

    Be prepared for an uncertain future and rely on technology that can nimbly change as fast as the algorithms. Also ensure your technology supports the quick and seamless syndication of product content and details so updates are instant across any and all channels. Using Salsify's Channel Readiness Reports is the first step toward knowing where your content and technology stands in terms of channel requirements.

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    Written by: Salsify

    Salsify drives results for customers worldwide, empowering them to win on the digital shelf.

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