Social media and e-commerce are striving to crack social commerce (or s-commerce). Here are the platforms worth focusing on…
As social media has become one of the quickest ways to connect with a large audience of potential customers, marketers and brands have followed. In fact, studies have found that roughly 223 million people use social media platforms in the US alone. (Looking to connect internationally? Currently we’re at about 3.2 billion social media users worldwide). Brands can use social media to meet a variety of goals, but with a whole host of platforms out there, which should e-commerce marketers seek to focus on? Based on the below chart, you might think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube are the places to be.
However, while the user numbers we just mentioned, and uptake by marketers looks positive, it’s important to consider how each platform can help drive growth for your e-commerce business – beyond simply raising awareness. While Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube are all popular social media platforms, when we look at them through an e-commerce lens, the story is a little different:
We can see that the top social media platforms driving referrals to e-commerce sites are in-fact Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. So now, let’s take a look at what each of these social media platforms has to offer the e-commerce marketer.
Best Social Media for E-commerce
Connecting with your customers on social media is a great way to build relationships, attract interest, and encourage them to invest in your products or services. By focusing your marketing efforts on a select few social media platforms, you can design a campaign that yields a high return on investment (ROI) without spreading yourself too thin. For this blog post, we’ll take a look at investing in a marketing strategy that addresses the top three referral sources: Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
Facebook for E-commerce
Facebook is, without question, the world’s most used social media platform. The sheer scale of the Facebook audience makes focusing on this platform key to driving potential customers to your e-commerce site.
Unlike some of the social media sites we’ll look at, Facebook is not as focused on creating a shopping experience within Facebook itself. The real area it excels is targeted advertising, and this has seen it become an essential part of many e-commerce customer acquisition strategies. With a vast array of age, gender, interest and location data available, virtually any business can find new potential customers by building custom audiences and retargeting existing website visitors, or leverage their existing customer data to find lookalike audiences i.e. new visitors who are similar to their best customers.
Instagram (also owned by Facebook) offers e-commerce marketers an attractive way of marketing products due to it’s highly visual nature. It also allows users to tag businesses in their own posts to help promote products they find relevant. With around 104.7 million users, the Instagram audience is nothing to be sniffed at, and the site has some of the most advanced social commerce features among the leading social platforms. Two of the most important are Instagram Shopping and Instagram Checkout.
Instagram Shopping (or Shopping on Instagram as the platform calls it) give e-commerce brands the ability to ‘create an immersive storefront’ to help Instagram users explore products with a single tap. Brands can share products through their own posts and stories, creating a clickable tag that takes curious visitors to a product description page featuring further information. Take a look at the example below from M&S (one of the first UK brands to test Instagram Shopping) to get an idea of the customer journey from Instagram to the M&S e-commerce site:
Instagram Shopping is now available across a wide range of markets globally and is a great way for retailers and travel brands to showcase their products to an engaged audience.
The other feature from Instagram worth mentioning is Instagram Checkout – launched in 2019 it’s still in beta phase, but seeks to bring the shopping experience to the Instagram platform without the need for users to leave for another site. For more on Instagram Shopping and Instagram Checkout, why not check out (haha) our guide to social commerce here.
Pinterest for E-commerce
Pinterest may not be one of the top three social media platforms. However, it certainly ranks among the best platforms for those with an e-commerce agenda. Known for its wide range of creative, aspirational and product based posts, Pinterest has aligned itself well with the customer journey. And although it has slightly fewer users than other platforms (around 250 monthly active users), it more than makes up for that with its ability to link social media and e-commerce, with 93% of this audience using the platform to plan their purchases.
One feature that Pinterest offers that is particularly interesting for e-commerce brands is rich pins. Pinterest rich pins provide users with links, references, and product recommendations for achieving certain looks, décor objectives, recipes and project designs.
For those who are looking to target Pinterests audience, specifically women aged 18 through 49, Pinterest makes for an ideal social media platform. And when you look at the proportion of referrals that Pinterest drives compared to other platforms, Pinterest e-commerce doesn’t yet get the credit it deserves for the influence it has over consumers.
Social Media + E-Commerce = Social Commerce
By investing your marketing time and effort in the right social media platforms, your e-commerce business can grow exponentially. Utilizing platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook in your strategy can encourage users to feel like a part of your e-commerce business and connect in a way that was missing before.
There is of course, lots more to learn about social commerce as it grows in importance and the platforms continue to develop new features. If you are interested in taking a deep-dive into social commerce, and how it can help you grow your online business, this guide is a great place to start.