Social media provides a bridge between people’s offline and digital lives. Once a means of staying in touch with family and friends, today it provides a daily destination for filling spare time, keeping up to date with news, discovery and self-expression.
Globally, there are 4.62 billion active social media users – that’s 93% of all active internet users. This presents an enormous potential audience pool for brands and an opportunity to connect with consumers at all moments through their day.
Social commerce is the means by which brands can turn communities into customers by facilitating the discovery and purchase of products. It is a way of seeking out and engaging new audiences, moving them along a frictionless purchase journey that ensures they want to shop direct. For this reason, it is valuable asset for DTC brands looking to drive revenue growth.
How do you keep up in an ever-changing field?
The social media ecosystem is rapidly evolving, making it challenging for brands to keep up and identify where best to invest time and money to generate the greatest return.
For example, many consumers are now actively gravitating towards entertainment-led content. This is epitomised by the meteoric rise of TikTok (Douyin), where 167 million videos are viewed every minute.
With this came the shift towards creator content – not just for well-known influencers but for all users. Social media algorithms can catapult your average Joe into the spotlight with just one viral video and peer to peer sharing within communities has become commonplace.
The effect? Audiences are increasingly receptive to more authentic and relatable content. This creates a challenge for brands who are looking to drive sales outcomes from their activity, but don’t want their promotional messaging to feel jarring or off-putting.
Alongside this, social media is becoming fragmented and decentralised. Challenger platforms have gained significant uptake, meaning there are many more directions across which brands must split their attention. Platforms like Discord have been built from the ground up on the concept of communities, where groups of individuals with common interests can take to invite-only servers to discuss passions, news and updates. And within older platforms too, new features have facilitated community conversations in more intimate forums such as Twitter Spaces. Here, we’re faced with a more complex ecosystem where reaching the right audiences en masse comes with new sets of hurdles.
For brands and users alike, it’s also been hard not to notice the speed at which new features are rolled out. This rings true for commerce in particular, with features including social shops, live shopping, augmented reality, product pins, shoppable overlays and even in platform checkout. Marketing professionals must become experts in a wealth of new areas, often learning on the go.
Finally, shifts to a privacy first world promote a more ethical social ecosystem for the end user. But this has also made tracking and measurement much more complex for brands. We’ve seen the roll out of updates like iOS 14 impact tracking on all major platforms unless an alternative solution to pixel-based tracking has been implemented in anticipation. This has made it increasingly difficult for brands to optimise and measure correctly towards a revenue outcome.
So what should brands be doing to achieve success in the face of a changing landscape? We’ve outlined five guiding principles that successful brands should integrate into their social commerce strategy to help elevate their DTC performance:
Before embarking on any social commerce strategy, it’s first vital to understand your audience. Analysing your core audience by reviewing your CRM or social media followers is a great place to start.
However, to drive growth it’s important to expand beyond this to identify new potential customers. This could include reviewing your competitors’ audiences, as these are also likely to be consumers who purchase products in your category. But it could also include looking at additional opportunity audiences who may have the potential to purchase your products, but perhaps are not currently showing signs of intent.
The goal is to understand how, when, where and why these customers shop. At Reprise Commerce we combine third party insights with your first party data, social listening data and even search data to build a complete picture of their shopping behaviours and the need states that motivate them to make a purchase.
This ensures that all plans are grounded in data. We select platforms, content, tactics and features to align with those most likely to encourage your target audience to initiate and complete a shopping journey.
A high-quality shopping experience should provide solid foundations for sales. It removes any frictions along the path to purchase, maximises your conversion rate and ultimately revenue. For this reason, it’s important to audit and address your shopping frictions before attempting to drive new traffic. In each case, avoid creating a blanket approach and instead nuance for each social platform based on differences in setup and features.
Here’s a few ways to do it:
For social commerce, start with the creation and curation of your social media shops. Although it does vary by market, major platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, WeChat and even Twitter all offer some form of in platform shopping experience. As with your DTC site, you need to select products or collections to feature in this store and keep this content fresh over time in line with trends, marketing calendar dates or product pushes.
This should be powered by a hygienic and well– optimised product feed to set you up for success. Consider updating titles and descriptions to engage your audiences with the most relevant product information that will make your items stand out.
Similarly, we’d recommend trialling different styles of lead image, including lifestyle imagery relevant to your customers’ need state, in order to maximise the impact of your store. With some platforms like Instagram and TikTok, it’s even possible to set up in platform payment. Here, it is worth considering the pros and cons to determine whether it is right for your brand – while it helps to reduce the number of steps required to make a purchase, it could result in the capture of less data.
Trust and credibility
Next, it’s also important to analyse how your brand is likely to be perceived by your customers, starting with trust and credibility. Once customers progress into the research phase of the user journey, brand or product credibility can be a significant motivator towards purchase.
On some platforms, like TikTok, positive reviews are very prominent – so it’s essential to keep your ratings high. You should also ensure you have a verified account or verified merchant, and the text on your shop display highlights this authority.
Next also assess how helpful and supportive your brand appears to consumers. Think about integrating key product information that can help users in their purchase decision, such as:
- Delivery info
- Returns info
Similarly, customer support in the form of support chats or chatbots can boost satisfaction with your DTC experience and stop customers exiting the funnel if they stumble upon a question or issue.
3. Create engaging and impactful content
Social media is transforming the way people seek entertainment. For brands looking to build connections, high impact video and engaging formats provide the perfect opportunity for product discovery. But in a crowded market, how can brands ensure that their social content stands out?
Firstly, influencer content can be incredibly impactful when it comes to gaining traction and creating social proof. But rather than simply selecting partners based on their audience size, you must also consider the values and passions of both the influencer and their followers. In this way, brands can connect with partners who are true ambassadors of their products and your content will feel much more authentic and relatable. In some cases, this might mean working with hyper relevant micro-influencers, leveraging tactics such as TikTok’s affiliate scheme.
Augmented reality (AR)
There is also the option to leverage more innovative formats such as augmented reality (AR). If you’re considering this as part of your social commerce approach, be sure it aligns with your business goals rather than simply utilising for innovation’s sake.
- Clothing brands could use AR try-ons to reduce returns rates.
- Furniture brands could use AR so audiences can visualise furniture in their home
- Brands looking to reach new audiences could use AR lenses to help users create sharable content
Live Commerce combines engaging video with shoppable features. This allows brands to create a seamless journey from inspiration through to conversion. Live Commerce first became widely popular in China. Chinese livestream sales are expected to reach $423 billion with the most popular categories being fashion and apparel. Although nascent in the West, a broad range of platforms including Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube and even Amazon are placing growing emphasis on the potential of live shopping.
This space offers the opportunity for brands to get ahead of the curve. We’ve seen that the most successful live shopping streams are those that incorporate influencers or product ambassadors, leading to both increased viewership and trust to purchase. Couple this with media amplification for maximum reach and impact.
With your experience and content in place, you’re ready to direct the attention of new customers towards your store. But where to invest your budget with so many platforms to choose from? The best media plans are data-led and integrate multiple sources into a single framework in order to make the best decisions.
We recommend integrating a range of factors such as:
- historical performance
- brand alignment
- audience alignment
- the platform’s commerce maturity
- forecasted return
- brand safety.
For the latter piece, check out our Media Responsibility Index to see how platforms are currently scoring across 10 different categories.
At Reprise Commerce, we also believe that the best social media executions are journey– based. By structuring your campaigns based on a user’s previous interaction with your brand – from no interaction, to post engagement, to store or site visit, to add to cart and finally previous purchase – you facilitate journey– based tactics.
This can include variable bidding strategies by campaign goal, or sequenced messaging to move potential customers along the path to purchase. For the most advanced and effective media campaigns, consider leveraging a wealth of customer data including demographics, location, need state, value and more to build 1:1 communication using dynamic content optimisation.
Finally, leverage a reporting suite that is able to combine performance across disparate data sources in order to compare and contrast the performance of different platforms, audiences and ads. This ensures you are able to move budget fluidly, evolve performance and drive the best return for your business.
5. Create seamless journeys by bridging brand activations and shoppable tactics
It is easy for brands to fall into the trap of managing their brand and performance activity in silo. But this usually leads to ineffectiveness as your awareness executions will not be connected to a revenue outcome.
That’s why the most successful social commerce strategies think across the entire user journey and ensure that each moment is connected. Platforms are rolling out an ever-increasing number of features to help facilitate a more seamless path to purchase – in many cases collapsing the purchase journey into just a few steps.
Here, think about how you can create shoppable overlays for your brand campaigns. For example, tagged stories, reels and posts connect users directly to your products. Similarly, think about how your awareness campaigns can create pools of engaged users that can be remarketed back to further down the funnel, with all messaging and creative completely cohesive.
Positive experiences give customers a reason to shop direct.
There is no doubt that social media will continue to change and evolve over time, forcing brands to adapt their approach. Failure to do so could mean inefficiencies in spend and time, frictions for your customers and the prospect of getting left behind. But by adopting these 5 principles, we believe that you’ll be able to continue delivering a holistic social commerce strategies, not only moving customers along the path to purchase, but providing a positive shopping experience that will ensure that they return to shop direct.
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To speak to one of our experts please do contact us.