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The past year has presented many challenges for traditional models of business. However, it has also provided many unique opportunities for online marketing and distribution. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in the growth of social commerce. In fact, this lucrative market is growing all over the world, with China set to surpass the US in coming years.

Social commerce can be defined as a subset of e-commerce that uses social networks. Rather than just selling over the Internet or shopping platforms, it involves the usage of social media shop integration and marketing technologies. Social media stores are becoming even more common, so companies need to make use of the unique opportunities they present.

Aside from the potential sales social commerce can garner, there are other benefits it presents. For one, social commerce can help your search rankings by generating traffic and can even boost social media marketing. It can even offer an avenue for engaging customers who may not ordinarily find your website.

It also offers an easy means of re-marketing and retargeting. A lot of benefits also come in from the automated nature of social media and how it utilises data. Previous customers are very easy to find through algorithms, so it can be great for approaching old clients with new offers.

This article will go into some basic dos and don’ts of social media for business and retail.

State of Global Social Commerce

Social media’s impact on retail has been immense with social commerce platforms at the centre.

Even if social commerce platforms are not taking the place of a lot of direct sites, they have become a crucial part of the marketing strategy for many retail sites. Being listed on a social commerce app or having a sales or redirect to site option on your Facebook can be essential in driving traffic to your own storefront. Similarly, larger platforms are often where many consumers will prefer to shop.

The 2020 social commerce market grew to USD 474.76 billion and forecasts indicate it will grow by a quarter over the next 4 years. An increasing number of buyers is entering existing platforms, with markets increasing in places one would not expect. Reddit and Taobao are seeing significant rise in social commerce activity recently.

Additionally, companies are adding a lot of value to the online shopping experience to challenge competitors. More and more companies are investing in technologies like AR and VR with shop integration.

Online business models also include more freemium and above-the-line marketing methods like discounts and promotions. As discussed in one of our previous articles, influencer marketing is growing at a rapid pace with 65% of companies planning to increase their investments in this field. Influencer marketing has proven to be a major tool for social commerce efforts, allowing for new avenues of promotion.

Top Social Commerce Sites

Social commerce platforms
Advantages of various social commerce platforms

Instagram offers the highest average order value at $65. It is the largest out of the “big four” social commerce sites with Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest following behind. Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are the only major social platforms with a conversion rate over 1%.

Over 60% of social media traffic to Shopify stores comes from Facebook. Along with Instagram, it is also an ideal place to promote events. Similarly, Pinterest is often under-utilised despite the fact that it is 3 times more effective at generating leads than Twitter.

In terms of digital marketing, Instagram already has 25 million business profiles active on their platform. Among these Instagram clothing shops are particularly popular, with #shopping, #style, and #fashion being exceptionally popular tags that boost social media analytics for retail.

The top social commerce sites can also vary according to what types of goods you’re advertising. Hotels have seen a lot of success partnering with Tripadvisor, but it would be a less effective place for other types of services. On Instagram, jewelry shops and fashion outlets do fairly well.

Facebook shop vs. Marketplace

It bears noting that Facebook has 2 separate markets on the platform. So what’s the difference between these options?

Social Commerce Facebook

The Facebook shop and the marketplace are distinct aspects of the platform. The former is geared towards companies and businesses while the latter is more for user to user interactions. This article mainly references the Facebook shop.

Tips for Social Commerce Startups

Optimising product social media posts, pages, and content

Posts on social media can net maximum effectiveness using a few handy guidelines.

  • Plan with calendars for posts and content.
  • Keep track of times with high engagement to push content/products (holidays, seasons, etc.)
  • Use pols and questions: this offers high engagement while also being a great source of market research.
  • Mix up the content. While text is the easiest to produce, videos get the highest engagement.
  • Humanise the company/product. Make use of fun gifs, company pictures, personal stories etc.
  • Answer questions and keep an open dialogue with customers. Perhaps setting up a chatbot would be useful.
  • Live videos and streaming events can also drive engagement.
  • Post company or employee accomplishments to show off important milestones and achievements.

Social Media Marketing for Retail Brands

This subsection deals with ideas useful for online retailers.

  • Add Facebook Shop Now buttons, website links, and include CTAs.
  • Make use of user-generated content like customer reviews, submissions, and selfies with your products.
  • Create contests, give-aways, discounts, etc. These engage consumers more easily.
  • Add a social media shopping cart. There are themes and programs that can allow you to do this.

How to add social media to Shopify?

Social media Shopify commerce

Integrating your social media retail marketing operations with Shopify is crucial. This is a fairly simple way of bridging your goods and services to your online branding and drawing conversions. As mentioned earlier, Facebook is a massive avenue for diverting Shopify social media sales.

The simpler way to add your social media is to do it from the Social Media Section of the App Store. Available themes often have a social media option pre-embedded. You should now be able to confirm this through the customised theme page by examining the Header, Sidebar, Homepage, and/or Footer menus.

There is a different way to add them to any theme you want. Some platforms even provides a ready to use button on your website. The following steps will guide you to add social media buttons into your theme:

  • Login to Shopify admin.
  • Navigate “Online Store” and then click “Themes”.
  • Open the Asset folder.
  • Beneath this section, you will find the “Add a new asset” option. The upload section should be here.
  • You should now see a list of icons file. Select the icon file you want uploaded and select the “Upload asset” option.
  • The icon button should work once you add the code. You can do this with a “theme.liquid” file.
  • Depending on the code you have pasted in the line, a button should be displayed in the theme now. Here’s an example of the code for Twitter below. It’s also function for Facebook, Pinterest and other social media.

{{ ‘my-twitter-button.png’ | asset_url | img_tag | link_to: ‘https://twitter.com/example’, ‘follow me on twitter’ }}

  • For the HTML version, you can apply this code below with another Twitter example:

<a href=”https://twitter.com”><img src=”/assets/my-button.jpg?1504124251″ alt=”Follow  on Twitter”/></a>

  • Lastly, press save changes and you’re good to go.

Enhancing Digital Customer Experience For All Devices

Any customer experience specialist should keep note of the website UX. 83% of customers say they want to be able to move between channels when interacting with a brand. They’re main concerns in terms of operability is that movement should be smooth, fast, and delightful.

Your portals should be optimised in terms of mobile experiences as well:

  • This would mean optimising image sizes.
  • Testing experience for mobile devices.
  • Keeping as few clicks to purchase as possible.
  • Data shows 89% of customers find to answer repeating questions extremely frustrating.

Social Commerce Case Study: Urban Outfitters

A good example of a Facebook store done well is the Urban Outfitters retail page. The world-famous fashion and consumer goods retailer is doing quite a few things right. For example, they frequently update their header carousel with enticing images and contemporary offers.

Urban Outfitters Case
Header carousel showing a seasonal offer

They designed the layout so that consumers who shop from social media won’t have to go to the company’s site for all the latest updates. They even include the most recent discounts next to their goods, allow for size selection on clothing, and provide shipping/return details. Again, this provides consumers with all of the the tools and info they need to order the good without having to look elsewhere for information.

Instagram Case Study

The best Instagram stores keep things concise in terms of text, but also visually engaging. As for Instagram stores, here is what clothing provider Bloomingdales is doing right:

  • Name: 30 characters maximum, included in search.
  • Your handle should be up to 30 characters max.
  • Your website URL should be in the description.
  • Category page can inform people about your brand in a concise manner without taking up characters in the bio.
  • Provide contact details (if necessary).
  • Provide an attention-grabber or call-to-action buttons in your text.
  • Sample highlights that convey your brand identity.
Bloomingdales instagram case

It may be deceptively simple but the idea is to get people to look through your content and posts. In that case, it’s actually better to not overload the viewer. Instagram is a very visual medium after all. The best Instagram shops keep it concise.