Social commerce: Content to commerce

Global retail specialist Smollan, representing some of the world’s most loved FMCG and commerce brands, unpacks social commerce that plays a vital role in consumer behaviours, as social media platforms light up new opportunities for brands at all stages with their unparalleled reach.

Here’s what Social Commerce is not – a door through social media ads that take you to a brand site. Having clarified that, here’s the actual picture – it’s a means of heightened product reach and sale directly on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest, to name the giants. Any social media user will be able to list at least three instances of the presence of social commerce.

Most marketing and retailing is allowing brands to feature their products and services in social content that users can interact with while they scroll through their favorite social media networks in easy-to-consume, bite-sized entertaining formats.

Here’s how the potion brews.

A retailer or brand can publicize their products in their posts or stories in an aesthetic image or video format and add a “buy now” button or “swipe up” or “checkout” feature, which is an easy call to action for prospective customers that they can act on without leaving the platform. This not only makes the product more relatable but also makes way for long-term generational influence that bends the viewer’s attention in favor of the brand. This is to say that even if there is no instant conversion to sale, the balance tips towards creating brand goodwill for later consumption.

Further, it is essential to note that videos/reels take the lion’s share in the Instagram, TikTok and Facebook attention economy. When paired with carefully customized visuals, music, and text fonts, they create a solid viewer base for the brand and encourage customers to make purchases. Note that the user base is essentially the younger lot whose commercial decisions are subject to global trends and driven by social acceptability. Hence, the power of the influencers who ace this content creation game has gone through the roof, with almost 10x more ROI than traditional banner ad campaigns. This gives “word-of-mouth” the authenticity that propels sales.

Any content created by people endorsing a specific brand on their social media channel is called user-generated content. It is yet another social commerce format that encourages consumers to produce independent content, promoting a brand’s products or services, sometimes using hashtags, giveaways, or polls – which allows brands to collect valuable insights and even traction on their official pages. Someone’s post of their beverage at a swanky cafe or one of their new car, a YouTuber’s unboxing video of a limited edition smartphone, or even a picture of a person relishing an FMCG product like instant noodles on their social media qualifies under this umbrella. Official brand pages can also repost this as credible testimonials with direct purchase links.

Running a close second is the affiliate marketing strategywhere businesses use third parties to advertise their products and pay them on a commission basis.

So, with the added advantages of the convenience of a simple see-click-buy process and relatable human influence, quite naturally, social commerce outdoes e-commerce.

We’ve covered the ‘what’. Let’s see the ‘how’.

Commerce and social media are a match made in heaven. Ensuring that the right strategy has been employed is critical in social commerce removing friction from online shopping experiences. Starting at accurately identifying appropriate social media channels to curating high-quality, relevant content and a continuous process of personalizing the consumer journey by offering the shortest paths to purchase.

While execution seems simple, the long-term result-oriented strategy calls for critical research, analysis and understanding of the target audience. Demographics vary on levels of age, economic strata, and geography on each social media platform and must be weighed carefully to tailor to the requirements of your brand. The voice, tonality and approach must maintain consistency with the brand image. These platforms are as dynamic as the needs of their users, which calls for prompt fluidity in decision making, quick failures and quicker redressals.

The high potential.

According to a report by Accenture, driven primarily by Gen Z and Millennial consumers, India’s social commerce market is expected to grow at a 59% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to $17 billion by 2025. Social media platforms recognize these prospects and pump in big money to dominate social commerce.

Given its dynamic nature, new platforms keep emerging to break ground in the market. For instance, one platform offers users a social platform to discover new products through live interactive chats and video streaming; Another is an influencer-led platform with over 50-million-monthly active users. These platforms are not your usual Facebook and Instagram but are social media for shopping. The relatability and accessibility of such platforms ups the allure of the customer.

The way forward

Gone are the days when people are engaged on social media only to connect with loved ones, watch puppy videos and build community. It has become commonplace for users to expect purchase ease and convenience on their favorite platforms. With heavy technology and data analytics support, these platforms are rife with opportunities. The logistics challenges are also potential opportunities. Social commerce is a silent titan of the retail industry with the power of social media algorithms, paired with a simple design genius and a straightforward purchase process. And this is barely the beginning.

In a 2021 survey, a third of global respondents shopped products directly from the social network where they found them. The expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is 28.4 per cent from 2021 to 2028. Especially after the pandemic that has prompted a shift from physical retail to online retail, revenues in the social commerce segment are expected to skyrocket like none other.

Although complex, a careful strategy that ties back to the brand, it’s offering, and the intended audience is the line between an enriched customer experience and enhanced sales, and non-descript clutter. If one phrase described social commerce best, it would be this – ‘the future is here.’ Conquer yours.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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