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May 19, 2022

What is Social Commerce? Your Complete Guide

It’s hard to imagine a time when social media wasn’t a sales tool. Today, most platforms – from TikTok to YouTube – offer some way of expediting users from post to checkout. And it’s easy to see why: beauty shoppers have long been motivated by product reviews and tutorials, so the next natural step was to make their path to purchase more efficient. Cue Instagram granting brands shoppable feeds and Pinterest developing ‘Buy It Now’ pins; two moves that have contributed to a global market worth $492 billion (at the end of 2021). But, as channels and marketing tactics expand, so too does the meaning of social commerce. Which begs the question: what actually is it today, and how can you use it to boost your beauty sales?

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The Definition of Social Commerce

Quite simply, social commerce is a fusion of social media and ecommerce; it’s the point where scrolling through a feed turns into a ‘see it, want it, buy it’ experience. The likes of Instagram and TikTok have not only helped beauty consumers become more informed about their daily routines, but they’ve also turned products into viral sensations and triggered game-changing sales figures for brands.

Now, by introducing quicker, easier ways for consumers to shop within platforms, social commerce has perfected the art of a seamless, streamlined customer journey. This isn’t just useful for direct to consumer (D2C) or business to consumer brands (B2C), but also for business to business (B2B) brands, such as professional salon companies.  

You’ve no doubt spotted shoppable posts on your own social media feeds, enabling frictionless in-app purchasing with the tap of a shopping cart icon. But some believe that social commerce has a wider definition, covering all purchases that are facilitated by social media. This means it would also extend to affiliate links posted on brands’ and influencers’ organic feeds – something that, with the help of mmi, can now be tracked, so you can see what revenues are generated by those links. There is no wrong or right way of looking at social commerce; either you see affiliate marketing as part of it, or you see it as a separate entity.


Tips for Your Social Commerce Strategy


1. Customise Your Storefront

On both Instagram and Facebook, it’s possible to create a shoppable feed and customise your storefront so you can enhance the user experience. For example, on goop’s Instagram shop, collections have been created for intuitive browsing, including ‘Best of Beauty’ and ‘GP’s Picks’ categories. You could make your own collections to organise a multi-category portfolio or highlight favourite products of the brand ambassador you’re working with.


2. Experiment With Content Types

Test different types of visuals and captions to see what drives higher conversion rates, then assess the highest performers in your monthly reports. Content types to experiment with include tutorials, customer reviews, benefit-focused visuals and product swatches – all with shoppable links to help you understand what makes consumers click. Testing and learning isn’t a ‘one and done’ task – what works for one product may not work for another, so you should be continuously striving to gather more data.

Picture of influencer


3. Highlight Your Lower-Cost Products

Because social commerce purchases are often made spontaneously, consumers on these platforms may be less attracted to the more expensive products in your line-up. Consider championing some of your lower-cost items in organic social posts, and ensure any promotions you have running are reflected on your shoppable grid.


4. Capitalise On Buzzed-About Beauty

If one of your products – old or new – is gaining traction on social media, make sure you’re also posting about it on your owned channels. Similarly, if a star ingredient you use or a product that’s similar to yours is going viral, make sure you’re plugging the relevant item from your portfolio, complete with buying capabilities.


5. Understand the Needs of Your Audience

Tailor your social commerce strategy to your target audience, understanding that different demographics have different shopping habits. For example, data shows that Gen Z does two to three times more shopping on social channels than the average shopper, and tends to prefer Instagram and Snapchat when making purchases. In contrast, Gen X leans more towards Facebook for shopping. Meanwhile, 72% of millennials are more likely to become loyal customers with brands that engage with them on social media. Having this insight helps you tailor your strategy to your target audience, ensuring shoppable posts are appearing in the right place with the right message.


Up next: Discover 5 ways to measure the ROI of your digital shelf tracking solution.

May 19, 2022