The rise of social commerce and what it means for your 2023 marketing strategy

There was a time when shopping centres and big stores ruled the retail experience. Then came ecommerce, which revolutionised physical commerce into a virtual experience.

As technology keeps improving, so does shopping, and there’s a new kid on the block – social commerce.

“How does that differ from ecommerce?” you may ask. Not so much, but this could change your business game and we’ll tell you more in a little bit.

In this post, we discuss social commerce, benefits, platforms and how it fits into your marketing strategy.

Let’s get started.

What is social commerce?

The simplest way to define social commerce is a hybrid of a bricks-and-mortar shopping experience, social media and ecommerce. 

At its core, social commerce combines human experiences and shopping.

The rise of social commerce

While it may seem new, this trend is actually not so new. 

Here’s why.

In a physical setting, shopping is actually meant to be interactive and fun. Don’t you feel great when you’re out shopping with your friends? Don’t you feel more connected and have a strong sense of belonging?

The pandemic amplified our need for connection and that’s why social commerce is now exploding.

Today, more people spend time online thanks to social media platforms.

It’s, however, important to note that social commerce is not like getting an ad on your feed that sends you to a particular company website.

What makes social commerce even better is that you can get immediate feedback from other customers, unlike online stores such as Amazon where recommendations date quickly.

The social commerce business model

There are two ways to look at social commerce business. 

  1. Social commerce platforms, as in the case of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok and Twitch 
  2. Social commerce platforms without intermediaries – where buyers connect with producers directly and often in a group. A good example is Groupon.

Here’s how this model works:

  • Network driven. Consumers can come together to form groups or teams then buy products at much more discounted prices. A great social commerce platform that uses this strategy is China’s Pinduduo. Customers also get personalised product recommendations based on their social online groups.
  • Content driven. This model needs businesses to create ‘shoppable’ posts. Content can be from influencers or users of the platforms.
  • Experience driven. Another shift in social commerce compared to traditional ecommerce is a chance to interact with retailers directly.  Other platforms like Obssess offer virtual tours with others while shopping.

Types of social commerce

  • Live streaming
  • In-app catalogues
  • Group buy
  • Shoppable posts
  • Referrals

Benefits of social commerce to retailers

Here are some of the benefits of social commerce:

  • Offers a convenient shopping experience. Customers can checkout right there in the app, without signing up or logging in.
  • Better customer engagement because the experience is as seamless as possible.
  • Increased Average Order Value. Naturally if they find it easy to navigate around the social commerce platform then customers are more likely to order more products.
  • Finger-tip customer insights. You get data on your customers quickly because social platforms come with inbuilt business analytics tools that can help you make better informed decisions.

Incorporate social commerce in your marketing strategy

Social commerce market size is projected to reach over $1trillion by 2025 and that’s a huge opportunity that you could tap into and boost your business.

Here are strategies on how to incorporate social commerce in your marketing strategy:

1 | Interact with customers in live shopping

In October 2021, two of China’s top live-streamers, Li Jiaqi and Viya, sold $3 billion worth of goods.

Live shopping helps you interact directly with your customers and learn in real time what they’d love to purchase.

2 | Select the right social platform

While you may want to be present everywhere, this can prove futile in the long run. Not all platforms are built the same and you may find your ideal customer hangs out on Facebook more than Instagram.

3 | Invest in stop-scrolling content

Content is king for social commerce. Every customer touch point, especially online, should engage and inspire. You do this by having posts that are shoppable and attractive.

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