How Big Brands Can Compete In The World Of Social Commerce
The investments social platforms are making into commerce solutions are staggering; they seem to be ushering in an all-out war for consumers’ wallets. From Instagram Checkout to TikTok Commerce, every social platform appears to understand that if you can get users to purchase through your platform, you can win the battle for brand dollars. With Insider Intelligence estimating that social commerce sales in the U.S. will reach $36.09 billion in 2021, time is of the essence.
The interesting nuance here has to do with the fact that many large advertisers do not sell predominantly directly to consumers and thus are unable to take advantage of the vast majority of these social commerce tools. So what can the largest brands in the world do to capture consumer purchases on social media when the tools that social companies are releasing don’t always apply to them?
It’s a very interesting question and one that all brands should be trying to answer today. The following is the playbook I recommend for capitalizing on social commerce when you don’t sell directly to consumers and thus can’t take advantage of the social platforms’ commerce tools.
1. Partner with credible voices: At the end of the day, consumers don’t make a purchase just because you as a brand tell them to; they often buy because the people they follow and trust tell them it’s worth it. Given this, the number one thing brands should be doing to drive social commerce is making sure they’re partnering with the right influential voices to provide credibility and validation for their product or service. Some best practices include:
• Ensuring that influencers are already fans of your brand and use your products.
• Verifying that their followers fall into your target audience so that you are reaching the right people with your message.
• Matching your tone of voice and creative style to the influencer so that the content output is valuable for you to use across your other channels, owned and paid.
2. Drive consumers directly to the cart: Providing checkout options on the social platform is definitely the most seamless shopping experience, but for those who can’t enable this functionality, driving traffic to a retailer’s cart should be next in line. This means taking consumers directly from inspiration to the shopping cart and loading the products that they saw in the social post into the cart for them. I believe bundling is the most impactful way to do this, as it connects a group of products like a food recipe, stylish outfit or a beauty regimen to the checkout experience. This makes it easier for the consumer to purchase the full package. There are many carting providers in the market, so find a partner and ensure your content is carting-enabled across channels.
3. Provide incentives: Incentives can come in all different shapes and sizes, from coupons to giveaways and competitions. The most appropriate option for your brand depends on your goals and how much you are willing to invest in those incentives. Coupons, for example, are about sampling in that they provide a discount to everyone who wants to use it (unless you place a cap on the number of redemptions), whereas a competition is more about social engagement. If you design them appropriately, you can ensure both options require customers to make a purchase to participate.
I believe social will continue to play an increasingly important role in providing shopping inspiration. I would go as far as to predict that in a few years’ time, social will be the number one driver of purchase intent. I expect that social shopping will permeate the U.S. over the coming years with increasing intensity.
As the social platforms continue to battle for the all-important share of wallet, brands should have a social commerce strategy. We are in a critical period of time not dissimilar to where we were with e-commerce about a decade ago. The looking ball is pretty clear to me, and brands that start investing now could see benefits similar to the benefits for those who invested in e-commerce in the early days.
by Keith Bendes