Social commerce is the new face of shopping. Social media isn't just for following friends and celebrities anymore. For a long time, brands have been using social media to advertise, boost awareness, and interact with their customers and fans. But now, younger generations are more and more often buying products directly through social media.
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It makes sense, right? Why visit multiple websites when you can do everything within a single app?
Understanding Social Commerce
Social Commerce is Taking Over
People are discovering brands and products on their favourite social media platforms and even buying them through those same platforms, all without leaving one app or even visiting the brand's website. Our wallets cry as impulse buys are easier than ever.
Like it or not, social commerce is here to stay. And that puts pressure on brands to re-strategise and learn how to maximise their exposure and conversions through social media.
It’s super easy for brands to hyperfocus on using social media for eCommerce and forget that its primary purpose is to connect people and create online relationships and communities. But it's through these connections and this sense of community that brands can better position themselves in the world of social shopping.
Community-led growth that organically spreads the word about you online and generates a ton of social buzz is the best way to cover all of the touchpoints with new customers on social media - and retain past customers. An ambassador marketing strategy can be especially useful in the discovery and research phase, but also through the finish line - purchasing.
Who are Social Buyers?
Are you a social buyer? Have you ever bought something because you saw it on social media? Social buyers are consumers who shop online using social media and share those purchases on their social accounts. They trust recommendations of products and brands from family and friends, or online reviews - even from strangers. They use social media to research products and ask questions before making purchase decisions.
Many social shoppers belong to groups that share products and brands with one another - whether that is the primary purpose of the group or not. Are you a part of an online group for sports players? What about parenting groups, outdoorsy groups, or video game communities? These types of groups frequently ask one another for brand or product recommendations and share their favourite products with one another.
You may be part of social media communities based on your brand and notice that people share their favourite (or least favourite) services or software. Engaging in purchases based on your social media activity makes you a social shopper.
As people trust other consumers more than paid ads, a community of brand ambassadors are your secret weapon to higher ROI.
How is Social Shopping Changing eCommerce?
Now, rather than just coming across your brand and perhaps reading some posts about your products, consumers can make the entire transaction through their social media channel of choice. Platforms are adapting to this. Meta added shopping functionalities and virtual storefronts to Facebook and Instagram. Pinterest joined the game with a shopping feature - with in-app purchases being offered for US users. Even TikTok stepped up, offering the ability to shop in the app.
People have always influenced each other's shopping habits but now, without leaving bed, consumers can look to their friends, families, and creators that they trust to provide information and recommendations for products and brands. You need to have a strategy in place to leverage this online word-of-mouth marketing, as well as have the integrations in place to appeal to the nature of customers who don't want to leave Instagram - or whichever app they choose - to buy products.
This is where your army of brand ambassadors comes in…
How Do Brand Ambassadors Meet the Demand?
If social media is where people shop, why wouldn’t you want a community of people hyping your products up on these platforms? Brand ambassadors help you build a network of content creators who shout about your products on social media channels to their families, friends, and followers. In the discovery phase, this helps bring awareness and engagement to your brand. Ambassadors push posts about your brand into the world and introduce you to the people in their online social circle.
As potential consumers search for your products on Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, or anywhere else, they may come across your brand ambassadors. Consumers want to see how people like themselves use and interact with your brand in "the real world". When people see posts from your community of creators, people who actually love your products, they’re more likely to trust your brand’s authority. Reading reviews or posts about your brand by ambassadors gives consumers the information they need to make a purchase decision.
Social shopping is incredibly visual. Quality photos and videos are what attract attention. In a sea of content, you need to be able to keep up. Constantly creating new and interesting visual content can be a challenge for brands and ups your marketing costs. Your ambassador community is a valuable source of content creation.
When you have an ambassador marketing program, you’re able to assign creative marketing tasks that allow you to build up a library of quality user-generated content. Not only is this content on social media through your ambassadors' accounts, but as a brand, you can reuse it on your own channels for future campaigns.
UGC cover image:@sarapericacho2 for NA-KD. Second image:@havardvalstad
for PopSockets. Third image: @daschabeu for IDEAL OF SWEDEN.