Instagram recently announced its first home screen edit in years: the addition of a Shops tab. The goal of this addition is to support businesses while also giving creators the ability to share products that they love with their followers. Instagram’s official announcement noted that they have “seen an incredible amount of shopping move online, with more and more people buying online and young people looking to their favorite creators for recommendations on what to buy.”
Instagram was already on the path of becoming a big social commerce play, but the coronavirus pandemic accelerated online shopping adoption and Instagram’s internal plans of offering users a seamless shopping experience on the app. Data shows that the pandemic kicked off a shift in user behavior that has accelerated e-commerce by five years in the span of months. This represents a new precedent for baseline growth and sets a higher bar for e-commerce, which social media platforms are eager to reach.
The Rise of Social E-Commerce
Social platforms are creating an ecommerce environment that isn’t only personalized and curated, but brand-friendly. Popular ecommerce platforms, such as Amazon and Etsy, don’t have an easy discovery path for brands, and produce thousands of results when a user searches for a single product. This means that businesses have to compete in terms of pricing, shipping speeds, and other factors, leaving little room for brands to nurture emotional connections with consumers.
Social commerce, in contrast, highlights your brand in a more personal way. Instead of being just a product among the crowd, social media allows you to show your brand commandments, your shopper experience, and your brand’s value proposition in a way that is visually engaging. Most importantly, social commerce goes hand in hand with influencer partnerships. Brands can leverage influencers for more streamlined product discovery and consideration stages that are based on trust.
Social commerce solves the agility challenges brands have experienced within other ecommerce platforms. In 2020 Facebook and Instagram have launched tools that help brands offer an enhanced shopping experience. Here are a few:
- Shops: An online, fully customizable, storefront that allows users to shop directly on your brand’s social media profiles.
- Shopping tags: Tags are a way for businesses to highlight products from their Shop in Stories and in-feed posts.
- Collections: Businesses can group together products to follow different themes or seasons, making up a collection.
- Shopping from creators: Makes the process of shopping products featured in influencers’ posts seamless, the whole process is done in-app.
Influencer Marketing for E-commerce: Trends to Look For
The appeal of live shopping is that it provides audiences with a fully virtual shopping experience.
In recent months we have seen a growing trend of social media platforms launching tools to facilitate live shopping for content creators. Amazon recently incorporated live streaming as a part of their influencer program, which previously allowed creators to share direct Amazon links with their audiences. Now, they can fully talk to their followers about a product on live video. Similarly, Facebook and Instagram Shops plan to launch features that will allow product tagging during live stories.
Live shopping is a must for brands looking to tap into the power of influencers. It takes all the benefits of influencer marketing to the next level by offering real-time communication between the influencers and their audience. The Chinese market is already jumping on the trend, with 60 million people tuning into shopping live streams.
Micro-learning has been a huge trend on social media platforms this year, particularly on TikTok. By announcing a partnership with Shopify, we expect brands on TikTok to fully capitalize on micro-learning to inform audiences about their products.
TikTok influencers have acquired a following based on their ability to pack information into quick bite videos, positioning TikTok in a really great spot for ecommerce.
TikTok content creators are organically utilitarian, presenting themselves as authentic resources for advice that tackles relatable issues across verticals. By providing creators with the tools to directly link products, they are seamlessly driving users from discovery to purchase.
Social Commerce: The Future is Now
Moving forward, we don’t expect this evolution of e-commerce to slow down. 64 percent of small businesses plan to continue their new e-commerce strategies in 2021. With Coronavirus concerns and restrictions still looming into the new year, businesses are faced with the option to evolve with e-commerce or to stay behind.