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Social media has found its way into nearly every aspect of our lives. It’s how we communicate with each other, follow the news and stay entertained. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it has also changed the way we shop. Using social media to drive e-commerce is called social commerce, and it’s growing rapidly.

Jump to the Social Commerce Infographic.

Millennials Are Social Shoppers

A study conducted by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth found millennials as the leading force behind the social commerce boom. Millennials include anyone born between 1980 and 2000, and they account for a fourth of the US population. With over $200 billion in annual buying power, it’s no wonder why millennials have been able to drastically increase social commerce. Here are some key findings from the study:

  • 48% of millennials use smartphones and 21% use tablets to make online purchases.
  • 35% of millennials are likely to use a “buy” button on Facebook.
  • Hair, beauty and apparel are the top product categories for millennials across Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
  • 66% of millennials follow brands on Facebook to get coupons or discounts, 85% on Twitter and 41% on Pinterest.
  • 31% of millennials have purchased a product after liking it on Facebook, 17% after Tweeting it, and 28% after pinning it.
  • Most millennials spend between $20-74 when purchasing through social media sites.

Although millennials are setting the standard, they aren’t the only group of people taking advantage of social commerce. Revenue from social commerce grew year-over-year since 2011. Data from TrueShip shows that in 2014, social commerce revenue was over $20 billion. And the total revenue is on course to be over $30 billion by the end of 2015.

Trueship social commerce revenue

Which Social Platforms Are Buyers Coming From?

Facebook is the top site for social commerce, attributing to 64% of total social revenue. More than half of Facebook users between the ages of 18-34 use Facebook to get informed about online shopping opportunities.

Facebook has the lead overall, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore other social networks. Shopify looked at the social commerce behavior across multiple social platforms and found there are benefits to going outside of Facebook.

Some of the key findings include:

  • Reddit had the largest increase in order growth in 2013 (152%).
  • Polyvore has the highest average order value, averaging $66.75 per order.
  • Facebook has the highest conversion rate with 1.85%.
  • YouTube accounts for 47% of digital product orders.
  • Orders through social media drop 10-15% during the weekends.

Social commerce also includes platforms outside of “traditional” social networks. Popular e-commerce sites like eBay, Amazon and Etsy have all added in social elements over the years to adapt to the way consumers shop. On top of that, more e-commerce stores are integrating Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to make online shopping more interactive and engaging.

Amazon lets you share items on your Wishlist through Facebook and Twitter.

Amazon Social Commerce

Also, eBay makes it easy to to Pin, Tweet or share items you’re currently viewing.

eBay Social Commerce

The Fancy is one of many sites that allows users to create an account using social media logins.

The Fancy Social Login

New innovations for social commerce are popping up every day, and it’s all due to the fact that consumers are relying on social media for shopping more than ever.

Social Commerce on Facebook

Facebook has dominated the social commerce space for years. It naturally lends itself to converting casual browsers into shoppers. People are constantly posting about the products they buy or want to buy, often sharing links to retailers’ websites. Consumers also spend an average of 40 minutes per day on the social network, which leaves plenty of opportunity to be exposed to online shopping opportunities.

Facebook was also one of the first social networks to integrate a “Buy” button, which is quickly becoming a standard for other platforms.

Facebook Buy Button

The real power of Facebook for social commerce though, comes from Facebook ads. Go Digital found 58% of consumers engage with Facebook ads at least once a week before buying from small businesses in-store. The advanced targeting, and remarketing features of Facebook ads allows businesses to zero in on their ideal customers.

Using lookalike audiences to replicate its most dedicated customers, Banana Republic ran Facebook ads to increase their click-thru rate by 60% and it’s their top channel for new customer acquisition during the holiday season.

The keys to social commerce success on Facebook are:

  • Run targeted Facebook ads.
  • Add a call to action button on your Timeline.
  • Engage with your users and don’t just sell.
  • Get positive reviews because 80% of users are more likely to make a purchase if they see a good review on a company’s Facebook page.

Social Commerce on Twitter

Twitter occupies an interesting space in the social commerce conversation. Twitter is known more for its ability to help with content marketing and branding than getting sales. But there are certain industries where Twitter is the top social commerce channel, including:

  • Catalogs: 18% market share
  • Home & Office Furnishings: 18% market share
  • Home & Garden: 13% market share
  • Gifts & Specialty: 13% market share

Twitter made some changes to make its platform more e-commerce friendly. In September, the company unveiled its new buy button that lets customers make purchases right from their Twitter Stream instead of having to click through to the retailer’s website.

Best Buy will Tweet out photos of products and deals, and add in a “shop now” button as a call to action. Clicking the button directs you to the product or category page on the Best Buy website.

Best Buy Twitter Shop Now

All of these different features from Twitter have the same goal, which is to simplify the buying process for consumers. The fewer steps a prospect has to take to checkout, the more likely they are to convert into a paying customer.

The keys to social commerce success on Twitter are:

  • Setup your site with Twitter Cards.
  • Include images for any products or specials you Tweet.
  • Add a call to action within your Tweets instead of just mentioning product names.
  • Keep promotional Tweets to about 10% of your total messages.

Social Commerce on Pinterest

Pinterest was one of the first networks to use social commerce to its advantage. Unlike some of the network’s competitors, Pinterest has been catering to online retailers from its early stages. The visual social network is filled with Pins of products from major retailers, small businesses and even hobbyists looking to sell their handmade crafts.

The beauty of Pinterest is its targeted user base. Pinterest’s main demographic is women between the ages 18-30, which makes it great for apparel, jewelry and other industries with a large female demographic.

Lace and Grace is an apparel company that turned a viral Pin into more than $1 million in sales over 12 months and even received a spot on television show Shark Tank. This was before the introduction of Pinterest’s new social commerce features.

grace and lace pinterest

The addition of Rich Pins gives companies the ability to add details like price, availability and a “Buy it” button to products they pin. ModCloth.com used Rich Pins to increase their transactions by 106% and revenue by 173%. And Macy’s makes it easy for consumers to quickly buy the different products they find on the company’s Pinterest page with Rich Pins as well.

Pinterest Buyable Pins Macy's

The keys to social commerce success on Pinterest are:

  • Integrate Rich Pins.
  • Optimize your Pins by including keywords in the title and description. Pinterest ranks highly for several product/brand searches.
  • Add Pins of your product being used, not just generic stock photos.
  • Use community boards to start building a following.

Social Commerce on Instagram

Instagram is still on the rise as a social commerce contender. Despite some of its current shortcomings, Instagram brought in the second-highest average order value among social networks with $65 per order. When you consider Instagram has seven times more engagement than Facebook and Twitter, it’s not too surprising its users spend more money.

Instagram also has the advantage of being made specifically for mobile. Everything the company does is catered to mobile users, which is exactly where social commerce takes place.

One of Instagram’s biggest downfalls is the inability to add clickable links to photo captions. If users see something they like, they have to exit the app and find it on the company’s website. Those additional steps make the process inconvenient which turns consumers off. However, earlier this year, the image sharing app made strides when it unveiled the new “shop now” button for advertisers.

Instagram Shop Now Button

The purpose of the new feature is to make it easier for users to buy products advertisers are promoting. Although this feature is still in the testing phase, it could completely change the game for companies who have gained a following on Instagram and want more options to convert those followers into paying customers.

The keys to social commerce on Instagram are:

  • Connect with influencers with an active following for collaborations and shout outs.
  • Be creative with the way you promote products in your posts.
  • Take advantage of Instagram ads when it rolls out to more businesses.
  • Use plenty of hashtags in your posts to make them easy to find when users are searching for keywords that describe your product.

Social Commerce Is Here

E-commerce referrals from social media have increased almost 200% between the first quarters of 2014 and 2015. All signs point to it continuing to grow. Stop thinking of social commerce as a rising trend. It’s happening right now and you can start implementing it into your own strategy today.

No matter what social media platform your business is active on, there are opportunities to integrate social commerce if you sell products. This is the time to adapt to the new way consumers shop online and buy products, don’t miss out!


social commerce infographic

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