ocial commerce, or selling products through social media, is a trend that cannot be underestimated. It is estimated that by 2025 the value of global sales from social media will almost triple. Therefore, many brands are already investing more and more in this channel of reaching customers. If you are still not in this group, read how to prepare for sales via social media and why it is worth doing.
Social selling vs social commerce
Before we get into the recipe for how to effectively approach social media selling, it's worth taking a look at two terms that come up in this context. They are social selling and social commerce. They are sometimes used interchangeably, but they don't quite mean the same thing.
Social selling is a term that refers to building long-term relationships with potential customers through social media in order to convince them to buy your product. This means that all activities such as content publishing, support through social media, or any interactions/discussions with users on company profiles are part of social selling. It can be said that social selling is a wide range of activities that are part of the overall marketing strategy of a brand.
Social commerce, on the other hand, involves using social networks to sell products and services, which in practice means being able to buy directly on a given platform without having to switch channels and go to the store's website. Dedicated features, such as a store on Facebook or Instagram, are used to make a purchase.
While social selling is a phenomenon to which Internet users have been accustomed for a long time, buying directly on Facebook or Instagram is a kind of novelty. This is due to the technical possibilities that have only recently been made available and developed by social networks.
In addition, some features necessary for full social media sales are only available in specific countries. An example is a checkout on Instagram which allows you to make a purchase directly in the app - currently, this option can only be used by companies and users from the United States (as of April 2022). In Poland, brands have a store on Instagram where they can present their products, but to finalize the purchase, the user must go to the store's website.
Does it make sense to sell on social media?
When it comes to selling on social media and making sense of it, China is usually mentioned as an example of how selling on this channel really brings tangible business benefits. The Chinese market towers above other areas of the world in this regard. When we look at the US - more than 30% of internet users in 2021 made purchases directly on social media platforms. China, on the other hand, affects almost half of the Internet users there (46.4%). As a result, social media generates more than 10 times more sales in the Chinese market than in the United States.
The sales potential of social media is going from strength to strength -. It is estimated that sales through this channel worldwide will nearly triple by 2025.
What does it look like in Poland? Do sales in social media have potential in our country? Definitely yes, because that's where potential customers are on a daily basis. According to the report Digital 2022 Polish Internet users spend on average 1h 49 min daily on social media. 28.8% declare that they use this time to look for things to buy and 26.4% to browse the content of brands.
What is worth knowing about shopping on social media in Poland? The sales potential of social media is indicated, among others, by the results of a report The power of social & live commerce report from 2021:
- 27% of Poles have made a purchase via social media.
- 25%, or one in four Poles, have shopped during a live social media broadcast, including 10% who shop this way frequently.
- Women are more likely to buy through social media in Poland than men (35% vs. 24%).
- Young consumers (42%) buy on social media most often - mainly people under 24 years old, but also people between 25-34 years old (35%). However, this does not mean that older generations are closed to social media - 24% of people over 50 also had experience with shopping via social media.
- 82% of people said Facebook is the most common place they shop.
- Clothing, footwear, accessories, and accessories are the most popular products purchased on social media.
Social media sales vs e-commerce platform
Polish consumers find social media shopping fast, easy and convenient. For this to be truly possible, it is essential from a merchant's perspective to properly integrate the in-store platform with the sales capabilities of social media platforms. Easy creation of product feeds, and updating and managing products are key features that an e-commerce system should have in order to generate sales on Facebook or Instagram effectively. One sales platform worth considering in this regard is Shopware 6 - a solution listed among the best in the report Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for Digital Commerce 2021.
Shopware's strength is its ease of use, the platform has a simple and user-friendly interface and a wide set of product types, including customizable products, digital products, services, and subscriptions. Above all, Shopware supports social media sales and develops features that make it easier for merchants to operate in this channel. Among other things, the platform provides the ability to integrate with Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. This allows companies to use Shopware to increase sales on social media and build brand awareness.
Shopware features to support social commerce:
- The ability to integrate the storefront platform with the social media channels with the most sales potential, namely Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.
- Easily create product feeds and distribute them via social media,
- Manage social media sales through a central administration panel.
Social commerce - how to do it right?
First and foremost - it's worth fine-tuning your social media store. This is a separate sales channel that has to be attractive to the recipient while providing the best possible shopping experience. Information about promotions and prices should be up-to-date, while photos and product content should be tailored to the requirements of the channel. It seems obvious, but unfortunately, you can still find profiles that, for example, in a Facebook store, display different prices than those that a potential customer sees after going to the store's website.
In Poland, Facebook and Instagram are the most popular in the context of social commerce. Using the store features in these channels is not difficult. However, when creating a store in these channels, it is worth sticking to a few basic rules:
- Personalize your store homepage - Take care of the first impression by adding collections, products, or promotional banners to your store's homepage. Collections are a function that allows you to group your assortment into categories and create featured sets. This makes it easier for users to browse your store and find the right products, but also adds character and visual variety to your store.
- Highlight bestsellers and current promotions - promotions are a way to keep regular customers interested, but also a method to attract new audiences. That's why it's a good idea to use the "Promotions" option both in your Facebook store and on Instagram. Price reductions available only in a given social media channel will also be a good idea.
- Add more images to one product - one of the golden rules in the omnichannel strategy is to provide a consistent shopping experience across every shopping channel. This also applies to social media, which is why it's worth taking advantage of the capabilities of social media platforms to present products in the best possible way by adding several photos showing the product from different perspectives, e.g. in the case of clothing it will be a close-up on the material, showing the outfit from the front and back, or in a specific context (lifestyle photos).
- Tag products in photos and videos - the current look of Facebook or Instagram profiles doesn't quite make the store feature stand out. Customers who are not yet adept at shopping through social media may overlook this option. That's why it's so important to tag products in the photos you post. Especially for sales, novelties, or special occasions.
Keep up with the trends
Operating in the e-commerce market on a daily basis, you surely know that this is an industry where something is constantly happening and new opportunities emerge. It's the same with social media, where changes concern both new sales functions and content formats that can be used to strengthen sales in social media. For example, since 2020 we have observed an increase in the popularity of sales during online broadcasts (live commerce), which has been efficiently used by businesses from smaller towns. This opportunity is also increasingly used by large brands, e.g. CCC. In addition, social commerce functions are also being tested by other brands, such as IKEA in its "Live Shopping" program. Moreover, social commerce functions are also being tested by such platforms as YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok, and maybe in the following months, brands will have the possibility to create stores on other channels. That's why it's worth following and testing emerging innovations - they may turn out to be a hit for your industry.
Will social commerce move into the mainstream?
Social media is the place where we communicate with loved ones, keep up to date with the news, exchange views, or seek entertainment. In today's world, the list of activities we do on social media also includes shopping. Despite the fact that social commerce in terms of possibilities and functions is still at the beginning of its development, it is undoubtedly a sales channel with huge potential that can be used to develop your business today. It's better to prepare for it beforehand so that you don't miss the moment when social media sales go from niche to the mainstream.