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The shift to ecommerce has accelerated at lightning speed over the past year, bringing with it a whole host of changing consumer expectations. New habits have become ingrained in everyday life, not least social media, which now plays a huge part in how consumers are discovering new products – creating an inflection point where social media and ecommerce converge.

At The Drum’s Creative Transformation Festival, a panel session entitled ‘The rise of social selling’, in partnership with Dash Hudson, took a whistle stop tour across the social selling landscape to explore what’s been driving its massive growth, the creative possibilities, how to best measure performance and ROI, and top tips to build a successful social selling strategy.   

“Social media and online channels are now key places where consumers are engaging with brands and where brands can really have that deeper, more meaningful conversation with their consumers,” said Elise Ngobi, director of international growth at Dash Hudson. “81% of consumers are discovering new products on Instagram and 80% are using it to make purchase decisions. The strategic shifts that brands are making to social, in terms of how they view their sales funnel, holds a lot more clout now in terms of ROI.”

Not only does it open up opportunities to create deeper audience connections but gives brands a platform to create bigger, more immersive experiences to hand over to their customers.

“Consumers can reach brands and products so much more in that they can see how other people have engaged with the product or brand, be referred to the product or brand from their friends, they get to scroll in and see how the brand behaves and the type of products that they sell,” said Liz Stone, co-founder, OK Cool. “They get a real big picture of who this brand is and what they are. This entire experience is making social shopping so easy at the touch of a button.”

Social media is the second most important marketing channel for global workwear and apparel brand Dickies (after its website). Its director, global connections, Rachel Courts, explained: “It’s a great entry point in the consumer journey for consumers to be served with an ad about something that they’ve been looking for. Eventually, that will get them down the customer path of swiping up to shop – and there’s an urgency and immediacy to that, that is really gratifying and fulfilling for consumers.”

Creating a cohesive visual and content strategy

When interweaving ecommerce and social media to create one cohesive sales touchpoint, a big challenge for brands is creating different types of content that is fit for the platform.

“Sometimes the amount of content needed to get it exactly right can be a challenge to keep consistency across the customer journey – but it doesn’t have to be that complicated,” said Courts. “The consumer isn’t asking for something wild and out-of-the-box for each one of these touchpoints. Serving them the product they are looking for and making the shopping experience easy is what they really want.”

Presenting your brand consistently across multiple platforms can increase revenue by up to 23%, according to a Forbes study. That means brands need to be able to repurpose content across different channels and create a cohesive visual identity and content strategy.

“56% of a brand’s sales from digital advertising can be directly attributed to the creative – so listen to your audiences, hone your visual identity and be consistent across channels in terms of creativity,” said Ngobi. “Social is about brand building but it’s also a massive opportunity to convert. It’s about making sure that every touchpoint is shoppable, every time.”

“Make sure that at every touchpoint your brand is consistent but also at every touchpoint that there is a pointer or an option to make it easy to find the product to then buy it,” added Stone.

To do this means taking a social-first, shoppable storytelling approach to strategy – a visual strategy infused with contextual information about your brand and community, creating opportunities for conversions at every turn. It’s critical to tap into community and use the brand story and visual identity across channels to create a strategy that feeds the content engine based on insights – which is where artificial intelligence can give brands a real edge.

The panelists discussed how, to unleash the power of social selling, brands should test and experiment with different types of creative, to find the best ways to create better engagement for users scrolling on the feed. This means changing the paradigms of traditional marketing to make it work on these new channels. That means not just shooting video but using the transitions and tools within each of the platforms to create content that is organic and authentic.

Having a really powerful analytics tool and multichannel scheduler in place is a really important place to start when it comes to measuring performance and tracking ROI –making it easier to bridge the gap between the social and on-site experience, in a frictionless way that ties all platforms together.

For more key takeaways and a look at which brands are leading the charge in the world of social selling, watch the full ‘The rise of social selling’ session on-demand here.