Retail is changing to meet customers where they are: not only in stores, but online, on the go, and on their mobile devices. More than ever, social media is influencing purchase decisions—through user-generated content, social influencers, ratings and reviews, data-driven advertising, and increasing native purchases on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and We Chat.

Paid Social: Boosted Post or Facebook Ad?

With more than 75 percent of customers using social media in their buying process, according to IBM, it’s important to use these channels to grow your retail business. That’s why you should have a social commerce strategy.

What is social commerce?

We believe social commerce doesn’t solely live in social media channels. That’s just one piece of the puzzle. Instead, brands should focus on how social can help attract, engage, and retain customers throughout the entire customer journey.

Social media is quickly becoming one of the most important factors in the purchase-consideration phase of the customer journey.

When reviewing your strategy, consider using the following three pillars to evaluate how your brand is leveraging social experiences throughout the buyer’s journey:

  1. In the feed
    At the heart of social commerce, consumers are encountering in-the-feed content driving them to see your latest products and “buy now.” The feed is more blended than ever with content from both paid and organic sources across all channels.
  2. Around the web
    Digital experiences use social elements as a key touchpoint in marketing—from featuring user-generated content in emails to showcasing product reviews in emails. In addition, paid social and PPC ads combine to better target personalized messaging to the right consumers at the right moments.
  3. Across the journey
    Social media is interwoven throughout the entire customer journey, engaging consumers with in-the-feed content, around-the-web targeted messaging, and additional influences, including friends, referrals, and ratings.
    By taking this comprehensive viewpoint, brands can engage the most impactful strategy on the most relevant platform for your customers, ensuring a more customer-centric approach to social commerce.

The native purchase (in the feed)

If you’re driving sales directly in a social channel, you’re using in-the-feed content, which results in the native purchase. Whether it’s Instagram’s shop to buy or a paid ad, consumers are beginning to see both experiences as native in the feed.

Paid social is growing faster than ever from the success brands are seeing with targeted, personalized ads and content reaching the right audiences. In order to get the most out of the native-purchase experience, you need thumb-stopping content that’s relevant and curated for consumers’ feeds.

78% of consumers 18 to 34 years old said they had discovered products on Facebook within the last three months that they were interested in buying, either online or in store.
Source: Curalate Consumers Survey, n=1,000 USA consumers ages 18-65

You need stories and creative that captures attention. Starting with what consumers want to see, brands need to create a comprehensive plan that authentically reaches audiences in the right moment, and on the right channel.

Some of the best marketing is the endorsement coming from your own customers. Once purchases have been made, it’s important to encourage the cycle of sharing.

Begin by collaborating with your creative, social, and paid media teams to produce original brand content and place it where your target audience can engage and convert. From vertical videos to GIFs, make sure to produce a variation of immediate, interactive, and immersive content to engage customers in various channels.

The socially enabled purchase (around the web)

Social media is quickly becoming one of the most important factors in the purchase-consideration phase of the customer journey. Because social can make an overall impact on a buyer’s decision through the website, email, and in-store experiences, we call purchases in this phase the socially enabled purchase.

92% of consumers trust organic user-generated content more than traditional media.
Source: Neilson Consumer Trust Index

By featuring user-generated content in product detail pages and email journeys, shared barcodes and promotions across channels, and leveraging ratings and reviews in conjunction with brand marketing, you can optimize your digital experience with social content to enable consumers to make purchases around the web.

The influenced purchase (across the journey)

Shopping has always been a social experience, with consumers asking their friends and family for opinions on products. It still holds true today, even more with the added effect of social media. We call this the influenced purchase.

59% said direct communication between a customer and a brand is more persuasive or truthful than advertising.
Source: 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Brands and Social Media

Knowing that consumers are being introduced to brands on social media more than traditional media, brands should leverage user-generated content, product ratings, company reviews, and influencers—from celebrities to micro—to create a holistic, socially endorsed customer experience.

Some of the best marketing is the endorsement coming from your own customers. Once purchases have been made, it’s important to encourage the cycle of sharing. Brands can turn customers into brand advocates and loyalists through social media.

Why you should embrace social commerce

Social Updates: Interest Targeting and LinkedIn Live

Ecommerce and online purchase behavior are only going to continue to grow. That’s why it’s so important for brands to embrace social as a major influence on the commerce journey.

“You can use social media to turn strangers into friends, friends into customers and customers into salespeople.” — Seth Godin

What’s holding you back from using social media to benefit your commerce business? We can help. Learn why social strategy is an integral part of every cross-channel campaign at DEG.

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