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What is social commerce? Why is a social commerce strategy important for your business? Social media and commerce can go hand in hand, in a very rewarding way.
Feeling overwhelmed when it comes to e-commerce, social commerce, and social media?
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In this article, we'll take a look at social commerce vs e-commerce. And we'll discuss some social commerce trends you should consider for your online business.
What Is Social Commerce?
So, what is social commerce anyway? Social commerce is all about conducting your online business via social media channels. It's business conducted on social media.
Having a page on Facebook where users can directly buy products is an example of social commerce. It's all taking place in a connected way with the social media platform.
There are a lot of different ways you could conduct business via social media. Here are just a few examples:
- You could entice buyers on Instagram and take orders via DM.
- You could use Instagram shoppable posts to tag your products and allow users to buy your items right there, seamlessly in the platform.
- You could accept orders via email, messages, provide direct invoices, direct people to a specific link, and more.
The Difference Between Social Commerce and E-Commerce
Then what about Social Commerce vs e-commerce? Are they the same thing?
While they both involve the internet, there's a difference between social commerce and e-commerce. Consider them siblings, or even partners, but not necessarily identical.
Social commerce involves social media driven sales. Looking at social media, e-commerce definitely benefits from this kind of engagement. But e-commerce would involve an online marketplace like a store or specific app. Here's an example, to further clarify:
Let's say we own our own hand made soap business. We share pictures of our product on social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. This is one of the ways we get our product out there, in front of our target audience. It's the basics of a strong e-commerce social media strategy: share and connect with your audience to increase sales and engagement.
But let's say we've got an Instagram shoppable post, which is then promoted. Our user base sees the post, taps, and can easily make a purchase in a seamless way without even leaving the app. This would be social commerce. Similarly, you can buy things via Facebook shops.
e-commerce, on the other hand, would be a scenario like this: the user goes to our official online store where they browse and check out. There's some crossover here, but this difference matters.
You might stumble upon terms like social media e-commerce because the two are sometimes intertwined. Users can find your online store via social media. Likewise, users can find your social media accounts via your online store or website.
That's why it's helpful to see social media and e-commerce as complements to one another. They each have strengths and have the potential to strengthen one another.
This might seem a little overwhelming. How do you get started selling in your own online store, Instagram, Facebook, and even other platforms? That's where platforms like Ecwid are a huge help. It makes integration with social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook a breeze.
Take some time to research what platforms can help you with your social media and e-commerce goals. Having a platform like Ecwid on your side can really help with integration and social commerce.
9 Social Commerce Trends and Tips You Should Know About
Want to dig into social commerce? Check out these nine social commerce trends that you can use in your e-commerce and social media strategy:
1. Create Share Worthy Content to Inspire and Admire
We want to entice potential customers in a way that doesn't seem needy (and definitely not annoying or bothersome). But how do we get our products in front of an audience without pushing it in a way that annoys them?
The answer is to create relevant content with an appealing aesthetic. For example, if you're selling clothing, share photos of the articles you plan to sell. Present them in visually engaging and enticing ways that your customers will want to like and share.
Compare a simple photo of a dress to a photo of the same dress being worn out and about in an exciting atmosphere. One would have more mood and excitement. You could purposely key into an aesthetic that appeals to your audience. If your brand becomes a source of clothing and outfit ideas, you've got a means of continually engaging customers.
You can also push this further by adding relevant, timely content when showing off your products. For example, if there's a holiday coming up, share photos of your products and associate them with things like gifting. You can share the same product more than once if you do so in creative, relevant, and imaginative ways that resonate.
2. Create a Seamless Shopping Experience
Social commerce has the potential to make for really seamless shopping experiences. For example, a user sees something that interests them on Facebook—and they can tap and buy, right there on Facebook. Instagram shoppable posts are similar. Instead of tagging a person, tag a product, and allow users to tap and buy.
The goal with seamless shopping is to make the experience as easy as possible for the consumer. If a potential buyer has confusing steps to take to check out or gets lost along the way, that could be a lost sale.
It should be simple and quick to make a purchase. Take these ideas and apply them to any platform, even if you switch it to an e-commerce point of view. Make sure browsing, viewing, and checking out is a simple, straightforward, accessible process.
Curious about getting started with Facebook shopping, Instagram shoppable posts, and other social and e-commerce platforms? Remember, there are platforms out there to help you out. If you're looking to give it a test run, for free, Ecwid is a great choice.
3. Network and Connect with Micro-Influencers
Most of us are familiar with influencers—brands, creators, and individuals on the Internet with a very large following—but what about micro-influencers? Micro-influencers are like influencers but tend to have a smaller following and/or a more niche following.
Imagine a content creator with 10,000 followers on Instagram. That's a lot of people following this micro-influencer's content. It might not be the same as a celebrity's one million follower count. But that number of followers can still be a very valuable and engaged audience. This is especially true if the micro-influencer has authority and experience within their niche.
As a business, you can try to connect with micro-influencers in a variety of ways. For example, you could offer products in exchange for a fair review. Reach out about sponsored postings or videos.
You could also ask about collaboration. This can be a really fun way for both parties to benefit and network with each other.
4. Incentivize and Encourage Interactivity and Engagement
Social media is just that: it's a social experience! It's about more than sharing your content and waiting for things to happen. It's about engaging, interacting, and connecting with people.
Think about content creators and brands that you've engaged with in the past. Why do you follow or engage with them?
Here are a few ideas that can help you attract and engage with your viewers, followers, and customers:
- Encourage customers to share a photo or video of their purchase. This is a great way to generate more content revolving around your business. It also means that anyone following that customer also gets exposed to your product.
- Post content that's designed to be interactive. Ask questions and create polls. Ask your viewers what they think. This doesn't always have to be business specific. Let's say you've got a jewelry business. Ask viewers to comment on what their go-to accessories are for the season.
- Consider supplemental, share worthy content that isn't all about pushing product. Yes, you want to get your product out there—but think about your brand identity too. Informational content, quotes, insights, and behind the scenes content can help build interest and even trust.
5. Use Both Consistency and Boundaries
Consistency is important on social media, where things can move really quickly. You want your business to stay active and visible on social media, especially if you're investing in social commerce.
Imagine stumbling upon an Instagram account that looks awesome but hasn't been updated in two months. It's not going to look exciting or enticing to buy. In fact, viewers might wonder if the shop is active anymore—because, as far as the Instagram feed is concerned, it isn't.
Post actively on social media. Set a schedule for your social media channels and stick to it. It can be a strong idea to schedule posts, in advance, so you're always working and planning ahead of time.
But be cautious about over doing it. Posting too much can actually be a detriment.
Think about this in terms of a mailing list. Imagine receiving three, four, five emails a day. You'd probably get annoyed after a while. The same goes for social media. Be consistent, but don't overwhelm your audience with content.
6. Use Live Sales and Video to Boost Sales and Engagement
Live video and live streaming have been an increasing trend in e-commerce. It's a great opportunity to connect with your audience, create a fun, engaging experience, and sell your products, all at the same time.
Maybe your online store has some exclusive items that are only in this live sale—that's a great opportunity to create some hype. It's also a great idea to actually show your products in use—show them off! Live sales can also create added excitement and a sense of urgency, especially if you're selling something in limited quantities. It can even be a great place to announce news, like new product offerings.
Consider looking into services like Facebook Live, YouTube, and even webinar software. You'll need to make sure you've got a proper connection and the right equipment, but it can prove to be well worth the investment.
7. Make Your Social Commerce Strategy Connected
Just like it's important with e-commerce, social media strategy needs to have a connected approach too. Try looking at your platforms as a members of the same family. In many cases you may not need to create unique content for each platform.
For example, Instagram images can be sharable on Facebook and Pinterest. Encourage your user base to check out your business on other platforms. Decide which platforms will be the focus of your social commerce efforts and which ones will have more of a supporting role.
This is why using a platform like Ecwid can be so beneficial and time saving, as opposed to managing all that content on your own. With Ecwid you can easily manage you product catalog and your social commerce efforts in a much more organized and user friendly way.
Make sure it's easy to find your business across social media channels too. Your business name should be consistent, as should your user name. This is tricky, especially if your desired name isn't available on every platform. Even if there needs to be a slight deviation, make sure it's close to your user name elsewhere.
8. Double Check the Basics & Keep Them Consistent
It's common for businesses to be active across several social media channels (besides their own, official website and/or online store). This makes sense. More platforms mean a wider audience.
But keep your basics updated and connected. If URLs, names, dates, or other relevant content changes, update this on every platform. This also goes for visual components, like your profile picture or avatar.
What if every social media channel your business is present on had a different profile picture. At first glance, it might be easy to think you're on the wrong page or that this is a different business. Keep your branding consistent.
9. Clearly Define Your Social Media and Commerce Success
How do you define social commerce success or your success on social media?
This goal may differ from business to business—and it should. Your social media efforts should be strategic and custom tailored to your specific goal. Success isn't a cookie cutter metric!
If your goal with social commerce is to amass a following, then you know that's a metric to follow.
If you're less concerned with follower count, perhaps your goal is to focus on income related metrics. You don't necessarily need a huge following to be financially successful. Think of it this way: imagine a huge following with low engagement, versus a small, close knit following with really high engagement.
Your goals and strategy can change and grow with time, much like your overall brand. Check out what other brands and businesses are doing. But use this information as inspiration, not a diehard blueprint to copy.
What Social and E-Commerce Social Media Strategy Is Right for Your Business?
There are a lot of options out there when it comes to social media, social commerce, and e-commerce. The good news is: all these options mean a lot of flexibility and creativity for your brand.
There's also a lot of great tools out there to help you manage and organize your online business efforts. Ecwid is a great example. Not only can it help you set up your own online store with no coding required. It can help you get set up and ready to go on social media and online platforms too!
You can try out Ecwid today for free, so there's no risk to give it a look. Why not give it a try and see what Ecwid can do to help your e-commerce and social commerce efforts today?
Good luck with your online business ventures!