With an annual growth rate of 31%, the global social commerce market is expected to grow to $604.5bn by 2027. With more marketers leveraging the power of social commerce to drive revenue, it’s fast becoming a staple channel for D2C brands. How can advertisers ensure they’re continuing to stay ahead and relevant in a rapidly evolving social commerce arena?
In this article we explore social commerce and key considerations for future-proofing your strategy.
Key platforms to consider
Social commerce changes daily, with new features rolling out frequently, which can make it a daunting task to get started. The platform race to dominate social sales is well underway, with all major platforms heavily investing and trying to make it easier to shop and purchase natively on social media.
Facebook and Instagram are mature platforms, strategically encouraging shopping across their ecosystem. Instagram (Facebook’s largest revenue driver) is prioritizing e-commerce, which often means new inventory space for ads. Shops launched last year as the platform looked for ways to provide an integrated checkout experience. It’s unsurprising we’ve seen new ad placements launch recently, from Reels to the Shop tab. Shop ads will feel native as people are already there to browse and discover products.
TikTok has made a direct effort to court advertisers, especially after phenomenal growth last year. The platform is quickly becoming a staple in the social commerce mix. Recent research suggests that almost half (49%) of TikTok users have purchased after seeing a product or service advertised, which indicates how quickly TikTok users' habits are evolving – a change that can benefit all advertisers in future.
Snapchat is leading the pack in terms of augmented reality (AR) innovation, broadening their commerce features through shoppable AR lenses, including 3D full-body tracking for apparel ranges. The platform found that Product Experience Lenses are twice as likely to improve intent than other formats. Snapchat also found that lenses drive 45% more purchases than other formats. After running a successful AR campaign with UGG EMEA, at Croud we’re now baking AR into an always-on approach across our activity.
Shoppers already use Twitter to interact with brands, and they recently launched Shop Module (US only) as a major step into social commerce, evolving their customer experience away from conversing and into shopping. Shop Module allows brands to add a shopping section in their profile, with the option of checking out in-app so they can purchase a product without leaving Twitter, the holy grail of social commerce.
Tips for social commerce success
Engage your audience on their terms: social commerce is a native extension of your ecommerce website which enables advertisers to have genuine interactions with consumers whilst they discover new brands. Social savvy consumers want to feel like they’re more than just people who buy your products. Brands should harness social commerce features to create an authentic sense of community for their audience, creating a frictionless experience.
Leverage audience insights: leverage in-platform audience insights, which offer a wealth of information on audience behaviour and preferences, to double down on what’s working well. Also use this insight to create an opportunity list based on areas of improvement. Social-first brands do this especially well when they listen and respond to consumer comments. For example, The Pangaia takes note of new colourway requests to inform their buying decisions.
Achieve cut-through and stand out: 82% of consumers feel more positive towards a brand after viewing bespoke content. Creative innovation will play a vital role in succeeding in social commerce, but it’s also imperative that brands integrate the basics and ensure a cohesive and easily recognisable look and feel.
Preparing for the future of social commerce: the key challenge for platforms, brands and consumers alike will be the transition from ‘e-commerce’ to ‘social commerce’, so it’s worth taking note of the implications.
For example, while integrations with ecommerce platforms such as Shopify are becoming more commonplace, the technical and legal logistics of payment and fulfilment can be challenging and costly to build. Brands need to consider the potential loss of control over payment elements, in addition to collecting valuable first-party data from in-app purchases.
The holy grail of social commerce is native in-app checkout and all platforms are yet to launch this feature globally; it’s currently only being tested in the US and to a limited number of other businesses. Adoption has been slow to date and with growing privacy issues, can we expect there to be a degree of conflict between convenience of frictionless in-app checkout versus not trusting the platform with our sensitive banking details?
The future of social commerce is uncertain, yet promising. In the meantime, here’s a few steps you can take to adapt and get ahead of the game.
Be agile and test to learn always
We typically experience ‘honeymoon’ periods across social placements for advertisers who are quick to test newness. Whilst this is not guaranteed, testing new formats or placements early can see cheaper CPMs. For example, we’ve been testing Instagram Reel ads for one of our clients, and CPMs are up to 37% lower compared to all other placements. On the flipside, if the test doesn’t work as planned, you can apply the learnings to future tests.
Get your house in order
Internal logistics can sometimes be a challenge; for example maintaining your organic Shops presence and ensuring all content is aligned to the marketing calendar and tells a cohesive story, whilst leveraging new trends. Keep up to date on the latest releases, speak to your agency and partners, and get organised internally. Get ready and be confident to take the leap.
Yazmin King, senior paid social manager at Croud