Is social commerce the future of DTC?
Shoppable formats and livestreaming offer the next opportunity for brands to grow on social media, says Hey Honey’s Chris Adams. With conversations with social shopping leaders, he asks: how can brands jump in?
Social commerce is the future – but what can brands do to get ready now? / Image courtesy of Hey Honey
While there have been some high-profile strategic changes in relation to e-commerce and livestream shopping by social media platforms including TikTok and Meta, there are still brilliant opportunities for brands to market effectively on social media. Radical changes are afoot.
Social commerce has become hugely popular, with all major social and discovery platforms looking to generate higher engagement and new revenue streams.
Meta, TikTok, Pinterest, Twitter and Snap have all made e-commerce functions available through their self-service tools, including product tagging, shopping-specific ads, shoppable ads and now livestream shopping.
Let’s get social; let’s go shopping
The most common functionalities are storefronts and product tagging in posts. Meta, with Instagram and Facebook, has been the most successful here (in western markets at least). Other platforms have followed, including Twitter with its Shopify partnership.
Advertisers can ‘tag’ products in posts, linking to a catalog in the app, leading to an online store where users can purchase the item. Snapchat goes one step further by offering advertisers an augmented reality (AR) in-store experience. Snap’s launch of AR shopping combines AR, in-store screens and some pretty nifty technology.
Shoppable ads offer an opportunity for advertisers to sell items online. Shoppable units on social let users buy items or services from the ad environment without leaving the app. Apps such as Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok) have been offering shoppable units for some time, with the payment method embedded in the application. This is making a breakthrough in western markets, with Instagram offering shoppable ads in the US (at present, though, popular payment options such as Apple Pay and Google Pay are not available).
We asked Terry Visser, co-founder of shoppable ad platform Shopala, how brands can benefit from buy-in-ad functionality.
“Traditionally the purchase process that customers follow on e-commerce sites has required the filling of long forms, multiple steps and slow loading payment methods,” says Visser. “When customers are being targeted further down the funnel brands should offer them fast checkout options in the form of third-party checkouts or shoppable ads on social media. This improves conversions and customer loyalty by making the checkout process faster and easier.”
Brands can now also adopt livestream shopping strategies on a range of platforms.
To make the most of livestream shopping, brands must ensure they have a long-term strategy, a clear vision and both hard and soft goals (sales targets, yes, but also improved customer interactions or greater awareness).
Consistency is key: run livestreams at the same time each day or week so that people get used to seeing those notifications. Don’t give up if you don’t see results immediately; with consistency over time you’ll see great results.
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Carmen Muley, chief executive of content broadcasting agency Freim, told us: “Livestreaming shopping goes far beyond social commerce. While social commerce happens exclusively on social media, live shopping can be integrated into a brand’s own website and re-streamed on social media. Live shopping merges the best aspects of both social media and e-commerce, and this is just the beginning of a new era.”
Before you even think about starting your stream, ensure you have chosen the right platforms for your audience. Try one or two different platforms before diving in, and always target hardcore fans in your first few broadcasts to build up awareness and learn for future streams.
With 2.1 billion users per month, YouTube is a global behemoth. It’s cost-effective and offers in-depth targeting, so you can reach the right audience at the right time. We recommend brands explore YouTube as a shopping discovery channel.
Meta, specifically Instagram, still presents a huge opportunity for e-commerce advertisers, with an engaged audience and still-improving shoppable features. During the stream, save clips for off-stream long-term use in both Reels and Stories. Reels generate the most reach on Instagram compared to posts and Stories.
Pinterest is often misrepresented as just a social media platform, but really it’s a discovery platform, and its community has a high purchase intent when using the app. Pinterest launched Pinterest TV back in 2021: a great medium to target niche markets or attract new audience segments that are not active on other platforms. As well as running livestream shopping on social media, brands can run their streams in tandem on their own site by using providers such as onsite.live.
Finally, TikTok is forging ahead with a shopping ads feature, giving e-commerce brands more opportunities to promote products to a huge audience: a three-in-one solution of video shopping ads, catalogs and livestream ads. Successful ads focus on engaging, entertaining and informative content, so it’s important to work with creators and develop an exciting idea.
Get ready for the exciting and limitless possibilities that social commerce and livestream shopping will bring.
If you’d like to set up a call, reach out to the team at Hey Honey.
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