More than a decade ago, social networks transformed the communication of companies with their clients, whether actual or potential. From this starting point to the present, businesses have taken advantage of social platforms to define different strategies and have a new digital channel to achieve their goals. Brands’ social media presence has focused on two-way communication in the best of cases and on a source of traffic for generating business, either for the sale of products in their eCommerce or for attracting qualified leads in cases of service companies.
This new digital player, Social Commerce, has revolutionized the digital sector and transformed social networks from conversational to transactional. But, what is social commerce, and what place does it occupy in the current digital ecosystem? Social commerce is a branch of electronic commerce that allows customers to purchase products or services directly on social platforms. With this definition, the space currently occupied by social commerce is easily attributable: to a common area between the client’s website and their eCommerce and their corporate social networks.
The data also plays in favour of this new digital service. In Spain, 87.1% of the population actively uses social networks where, on average, they spend almost 2 hours a day on these platforms. However, these figures are increasing every year in the face of a digital society that is increasingly younger and with more time of use, both the Internet in general and social media in particular. It is a unique opportunity for the takeoff of social commerce. We face the crest of the wave that companies are beginning to ride. Since in March 2020, the pandemic forced strict confinement, users will spend much of their time on social networks, and brands will take advantage of this situation to digitize and increase their sales through digital channels.
Present And Future of Social Commerce
The most used social networks, Instagram and Facebook, already have social commerce 100% integrated into their platforms, and Pinterest is the other leading social network in implementing this service. In these three social networks, brands can link their eCommerce product catalog to their social profiles to create a showcase within the platforms to promote their products and generate direct sales.
But the other social networks are not lagging. TikTok, the fastest growing social network since March 2020, is moving towards Social Commerce with the test of a new purchase tab for stores, for now only together with Shopify. Twitter has already added the “Shopping” option to its profiles menu, although there is no possibility of linking eCommerce with the social network. It is expected that the full implementation will come from the hand of professional profiles when Twitter launches the “Stores” module to not miss out on the trend of Social Commerce.
But everything does not stay there. The ‘Live Social Commerce’ or ‘Live Shopping’ are already in beta on some of the platforms and include a format established for years in Chinese social networks, and Facebook was the first to put it into practice in May 2021. With brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch or Sephora, it carried out a series in the United States to show the brand’s products live with different themes (clothes shows, beauty tutorials, etc.). However, Pinterest has been the network that has taken the lead in Social Commerce Live Shopping through a special section called Pinterest Tv, where content creators show brand products, something similar to Amazon Live.
Currently, they are only available on specific social networks and in particular markets, such as the United States. Still, they will soon go global and allow brands to create memorable events to increase sales with streaming and social commerce. A perfect hook to demonstrate the benefits of products in real-time, resolve user doubts and attack the hot moment of purchase in a dynamic, different and attractive way for users. If social commerce is the trend and revolution of digital marketing, live social commerce will mark a before and after in brands’ user experience and sales.
A New Reality
Social commerce is already a reality today that allows brands to take advantage of the behavior of the digital user, with more active time on social networks, and create stores in their corporate profiles on these platforms to create a new direct sales channel, using all the Data Lake that social networks offer us when creating campaigns. Social commerce shopping will be an excellent ally for brands and advertisers who want to differentiate, engaging content with a conversion rate of up to 5 times more. Events such as sales, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc., will be dates marked in red on the calendar to create Live Shopping events to boost sales in the global social commerce strategy.
Only past events related to data protection and cybersecurity pose a slight barrier to the implementation and success of social commerce, which will indeed be solved with trusted payment gateways for users and an improvement in the security and data of its users by the different social platforms.