It’s not easy to predict the future. It’s even trickier when trying to predict what will happen in a world like social media that’s been defined as both disruptive and disrupted.
The existence of social media was disruptive to generations of norms in communication, dating, and other social interactions. Then, within the context of that disruptive world, social media itself continued to disrupt and be disrupted by new platforms and activities within each platform, from messengers to social shopping.
Social shopping (also called “social commerce”) is simultaneously one of the most exciting and overwhelming market trends for brands and sellers today. It’s been a seamless adoption for social media consumers, however, which is what’s driven its fast adoption.
Understanding and rolling out savvy social shopping strategies has been no small feat for brands already hustling to keep up with general social media marketing trends. Social media marketing has changed as a result of social shopping trends, too, bringing more new disruptions into the limelight. These disruptions can’t be ignored in a world where consumers now spend more time on social media than watching TV.
Social selling trends have implications on marketing and sales strategies. Keep reading to understand their impact and learn how your social media marketing strategy might change as a result.
Table of Contents
How Does Social Shopping Work?
Social shopping is a more efficient buyer journey for consumers already on social networks neck-deep in content. As they scroll through feeds, users see posts from influencers or brands that feature products in an intriguing or environment-specific way. If the product scratches an itch, a purchase can be made without ever leaving their feed.
The efficiency of social selling outstrips even the most seamless ecommerce purchases before it.
There’s a robust case to make for the qualitative experience enhancements on social shopping, too. Namely, social selling leads to greater:
- Gamification of shopping
- Exploratory shopping
Social shopping works like a dream, and its benefits are clear. How, though, will it change the way ecommerce brands market on social media?
These are the four ways social marketing is already changing as a result of social selling.
Messenger: Now Outperforming Tried-and-True Email Marketing
Email marketing can do more than just get a message into an inbox. As new communication channels have swept in and secured consumer attention, email marketing continued to hold its own.
By 2019, global email users had amassed to almost 4 billion, or over half of the world’s population. Of those, 91% of users access their accounts at least once per day. With the power to segment those users and provide personalized product recommendations and content via email, this channel has continued to become more valuable to overall marketing strategies.
Whatever the continued success of email marketing, however, social media messenger sales have recently begun to outperform email-based ecommerce sales.
Why, you ask? Today’s consumers want to feel valued by the brands they interact with. Part of that is opening meaningful dialogs with those brands and ensuring access to hands-on customer service across channels.
So, what does this Messenger trend have to do with social selling?
Brands are utilizing Messenger as a channel for social sales through:
- Chat blasting
- Drip campaigns
- Customer service
The same benefits that consumers look to when interacting with brands on messenger can be the boon of the brands, too. Typical email click-through rates stick around 2% across industries, but click-through on Facebook Messenger is 43%. Engagement, therefore, is a totally different animal on messengers when comparing it to email engagement.
Couple that juicy fact with the reality that Facebook now has more than two billion monthly active users, and it’s easy to see why social media marketing is shifting to a more messenger-rich strategy.
Everything You Need to Know About Discovery Shopping
Consumers aren’t always shopping for a specific product. Sometimes, they just want to browse a store—the age-old term for this is “window shopping.”
In that same way, social media has become fertile ground for “discovery shopping,” or performing searches for products with open-ended search strings and an underlying intention to search for mere “inspiration.”
Product discovery shopping has become synonymous with social discovery, meaning the concept is simultaneously “the same as it’s always been” but moved to a new channel. Today, Facebook says that 70% of shoppers look to Instagram for discovery, making the platform one of the prime places for brands to favor awareness-level content from the buyer journey.
Pinterest is another strong example of a social discovery platform. In fact, Pinterest essentially exists to give inspiration. The 2015 addition of shoppable Pinterest pins reflected consumers’ desire to browse content and make a purchase without even leaving the platform, and the new feature took off.
Other platform features like “shop the look” have given brands more options to promote shoppable social content. Social marketing has traditionally stuck to a more top-of-funnel focus for product awareness, but with the introduction of this hyper-clickable purchase power, the focus has shifted to further down in the funnel.
Looking to the impact of this social shopping trend on social media marketing, listing as many product attributes on social platforms as possible allows “discovery shoppers” to easily mix and match whatever product inspiration they’re looking for. These kinds of content optimizations focus on product data, which in today’s audio-visual-rich world has become more intricate.
In addition, thanks to multichannel SEO for each unique platform a brand sells on, consumers can now search by voice or text on Google, Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon or anywhere else for instant results when searching for inspiration. This, too, requires additional product data optimizations that end up segmented by channel.
Managing so many versions of product data requires more robust product information management. Adjustments to social media marketing—and marketing across all other sales channels—are necessary to make these kinds of layered optimizations feasible.
Product information management software (PIM) was the SaaS market’s answer to this need. Brands looking to weave social selling into their ecommerce strategy have adopted PIM solutions to tap these new possibilities.
Social Shopping Gives Influencers More Influence
Influencer marketing has grown at an enormous rate since its inception. Doubling in size from $6.5 Billion in 2019 to $13.8 Billion in 2021, brands are rapidly partnering with influencers to share products in a more compelling way.
Social shopping has started to shift how influencer relationships work, too. Previously, an influencer could include a product plug in a video or a post, and the exposure alone would bring huge returns to the brand. With social selling, however, an influencer’s post can be rendered shoppable for an even more seamless purchase from followers.
Along with higher conversion rates, this brings a couple added benefits to brands:
The power to purchase in-post decreases the feel of the content being sponsored. A user clicking through to an affiliate marketing write for us link or similar is a reminder that the influencer has shared something which provides some kickback, thereby decreasing the value of the “recommendation.”
The influencer’s followers also stay embedded in the content itself, which is good for the influencer and good for the brand. For example, if it’s a video the user is watching, the influencer can promote a product without the user pausing or navigating away. This can also provide time for an upsell—imagine the possibilities if the stream of influencer content is consumed uninterrupted!
The structure of influencer relationships in social media marketing will likely change as social selling heats up, too. For example, promoted posts might be configured in a way that automatically processes a commission for the influencer when in-app purchases are made.
Keep reading for more insights into influencer marketing, backlink building and other reputation-building strategies.
Multichannel Marketing, Meet Multichannel Sales
Ecommerce marketing has been “multichannel” for a while. Consumers average around three touchpoints with a brand before making a purchase online, and content marketing is the principal cause. Blogs and social content provide consumers with everything from answers to questions to entertainment. From there, they navigate to make a purchase only after they feel adequate research has been done.
A more recent addition to the dictionary entry for “multichannel” has been the idea of multichannel sales. This refers to brands selling on multiple marketplaces as well as ecommerce websites, social channels, or any combination thereof.
Social selling has added another competitive sales space for ecommerce brands, making a multichannel sales approach even more pronged into separate channels.
Choosing the right marketplaces or other sales channels to sell on requires some of the same analysis needed to choose marketing channels. Where does the target audience “hang out?” What’s the competition doing on each channel? What are the barriers of entry to each channel?
Social media marketing has changed after introducing social media as a sales channel. No longer do social ads have to point users to external product listings. Instead, conversions can take place in-feed without the user ever leaving the platform. Marketing collateral for shoppable posts and ads are cleaner as a result, and they also provide a more seamless experience when compared with the old “social referral” posts of just a few years ago.
Social media is a fascinating space, not least for how fast it evolves and adapts. In just 20 years, we’ve seen a colossal shift from text-based updates among friends to an audio-visual-rich experience with an endless trail of consumable content.
Social commerce has flourished as a response to consumer preferences. It’s been interesting to see how trends in social selling have quickly changed social media marketing, too, and how innovations in SaaS have followed the new needs of businesses as a result.
Pick which of these social selling trends—and subsequent shifts in marketing—could hold the most opportunity for your brand. Assess where you are with social marketing and where you want to be. Then, read up on more digital marketing trends to know about in 2021. The opportunities you identify are yours to own as soon as you work them into a plan!
Author: Alex Borzo
Author Bio: Amber Engine is a software company passionate about ecommerce. The company’s fast and simple PIM software gets sellers, distributors and brands to Amazon and other online marketplaces in weeks instead of months and frees up time and resources to allow ecommerce and marketing professionals to create content that inspires modern discovery shoppers.
Author Picture: Link
The following blog was written by guest author Alex Borzo, a content contributor at Amber Engine, a software company passionate about eCommerce. The company’s fast and simple PIM software gets sellers, distributors and brands to Amazon and other online marketplaces in weeks instead of months.
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