With new, in-app shopping functionalities being unveiled by social media platforms regularly it’s easy to see how social commerce has become widespread practice so quickly.
Gone are the days where consumers had to google a brand or product an influencer mentioned on their stories. Now, with a couple of clicks, they can buy the exact same product in seconds.
Marketers have also embraced social commerce. Due to its revenue-driving capabilities and ability to measure the ROI of influencer campaigns, many marketers have given it a prominent place in their influencer marketing strategies.
With social commerce on the rise, what are the key considerations marketers should have on their radar and what does the future hold for social commerce? Sarah Penny, Research and Content Director at Influencer Intelligence, thinks she has the answers.
Ecommerce to social commerce
By the end of 2022, social shopping is predicted to be a $45.7 billion market and purchases made through social media posts are expected to more than double between 2021 and 2025. This trend shows no sign of slowing down. Our whitepaper ‘The Role of Influencers in Social Commerce’ surveyed 150 marketers from across the globe and revealed that over half (51%) of marketers believe shoppable links will be a ‘must’ for all brands within the next year.
One of the main drivers of the shift to social commerce is the pandemic. When lockdown hit, people leant on social media and influencers to escape from reality, but it also provided many people with social interactions, real time news updates and a new way to shop.
Lockdown forced brick-and-mortar shops to close, meaning consumers turned to online shopping channels. With ecommerce on the rise, marketers needed to get creative and find ways to reach their customers via online outlets. Influencer marketing was a great solution and many businesses, from all sectors, started to embrace it - not only to ensure their brands stayed relevant, but to remain commercially successful.
With influencer marketing proving successful at inspiring consumer purchases, platforms evolved to introduce in-app shopping features. Instagram’s shopping tab was positioned prominently in the app and other platforms followed suit by adding shoppable content functionality. Social media platforms are moving the conversation from ecommerce towards social commerce and marketers are on board.
Now, one in ten marketers allocate more than half of their influencer marketing budget to social commerce campaigns and more than a third (36%) include selling products or services as a measurable objective in their influencer marketing campaigns.
With social commerce now considered a key element in the influencer marketing mix, what are the most effective ways to execute such a campaign?
Instagram is the best place for social commerce
Firstly, marketers need to consider which social media platform they choose for their campaign. Our whitepaper found that just over a third (68%) of marketers have had the most success on Instagram when activating social commerce campaigns, followed by TikTok (40%) and Facebook (35%).
Instagram’s poll position is unsurprising given comments from its director of product, Layla Amjadi, that the platform’s shopping feature was top of its agenda for 2022.
Micro-influencers drive success
Micro-influencers are also on the rise. A ‘micro-influencer’ is classed as a content creator or influencer who has between 10,000 and 50,000 followers. Our whitepaper revealed that almost half (43%) of marketers have seen the most success when using micro-influencers as part of their social commerce strategy.
Whilst these creators have fewer followers, their audience tends to be more engaged – and interested - in the influencer’s content. Because of this, micro-influencers have a higher conversion rate and in the case of social commerce, smaller influencers are likely to be more effective at driving sales.
A brand and influencer’s values need to align
Today, it’s very easy to be cancelled – all it takes is one wrong move. In all contexts, a brand that’s partnered with a creator that does not align with its values and image, will likely impact the brand’s reputation. As influencer marketing becomes a crucial part of social commerce, brands need to consider which influencers they work with, carefully.
A recent example of a brand collaboration called into question is the Kanye West and Adidas pairing, with many criticising Adidas for not terminating the partnership quick enough. Breaking ties is expected to cost Adidas up to £217m in the short-term.
The same goes for social commerce campaigns. An inauthentic partnership can impact the campaign’s ROI, meaning brands could lose valuable time, resources...and reputation.
Ultimately, a partnership that performs well is one where the brand and influencer are well aligned. An influencer, that’s a good brand fit, will have follows that are also aligned to the brand’s image and could be interested in it. This can help to boost a brand’s awareness and, potentially, its in-app sales.
A well-considered and successful partnership is far more likely to boost sales than a pairing that’s met with negativity.
The future of social commerce
As social commerce becomes embedded in brands’ influencer activity, there are signs that marketers will become more experimental, already exploring new formats, features, and technology.
The recent acceleration of developments within the metaverse, where huge brands like Google and Gucci spotted opportunities, is an example, where a new breed of ‘metaverse influencers’ such as Diego Borgo and Rae, have even emerged.
The world of social media and influencer marketing is an ever evolving one that’s unlikely to slow down. As more people turn to content creators for shopping inspiration, social platforms have harnessed this consumer habit by introducing in-app shopping features.
While it's clear that many marketers understand how influencer partnerships can help boost their social commerce efforts, its crucial brands don’t jump whole-heartly into it without a well-thought-out strategy - this is the key to a successful social commerce campaign.