The fact that we no longer have to leave the house to do shopping has been known for quite a while now. E-commerce, or as it is popularly known, "online shopping", has received an even more important significance in our everyday lives in the times of COVID and the related restrictions of human interaction. Social life is shifting more and more to the online world, to social networks. Instagram is no longer a pure entertainment app to share photos or to communicate, rather it's becoming a place of inspiration, a place to consciously go to make buying decisions. What is new is that we don't even have to leave our native social media platform to do shopping, everything happens automatically with a click in the familiar surroundings. Virtual price tags - direct links to the shopping basket, that's the shopping vibe 2021. Following the motto "shop till you drop", people are shopping online everywhere on the socialnet. But what exactly is this trend called "social commerce" all about?

What is social commerce?

Simply put, social commerce is the fusion of e-commerce and social media. The functionality of the convenient online shopping experience is integrated directly on the social media platform, into the digital living room of every digital native. Higher, faster, further...if that doesn't mean a serious upgrade of the customer experience! 

Why is social commerce worth it? 

More than two thirds of the time we spend on our cell phones is spent on social media - online marketing inevitably means social media marketing as well. Social networks offer enormous potential for companies and brands to reach customers and accompany them on their customer journey. 

From catching their attention, to convincing them and getting them excited about your brand, to helping them make the final purchase decision: all of these stages can be accomplished on and with social networks. Social commerce takes potential customers by the hand and accompanies them step-by-step on their journey until they make a purchase from your brand. 

How does social media support your brand? 

More than half of all online purchases are nowadays achieved by integrating the sales process on a social platform. Consequently, it is only logical to integrate these social platforms into the e-commerce process - social commerce is no longer just a trend, it is the future. 

In a nutshell, social media boosts your company's brand visibility. Potential customers are influenced by existing real customers. This is not a made-up, it is factually proven: Around ¼ of consumers say they first became aware of brands through recommendations on social networks. People who have already bought your product share their experience on Instagram and spread the message. Recommendation marketing is the name of the game. 

Potential customers not only become aware of your product, but also search for information, different opinions and experiences on social media. 60% of Instagram users intentionally use the platform to search for new products. Instagram is a search engine, a place where inspiration for a purchase is looked for and, at best, found. Therefore, what is better suited than Instagram to spread the good news about an inspiring product or an innovative brand? 

Interaction on your brand profile and below your content also plays a key role in this regard. One in five users say that likes and comments from other users have a decisive influence on their purchase decision. People who are interested in buying exchange ideas on Instagram with people who have already bought the product.

Why social commerce should not be missing in your marketing-mix

Online, brands have the opportunity to present themselves in a more versatile way, they are not limited to the size of an ad, the duration of a spot or other limiting guidelines. Advertising you brand on social networks also comes with further benefits. The structure of social networks allows consumers to communicate with each other directly on a platform about a brand and its products. This all-in-one principle simultaneously turns Instagram into a comparison portal. Customers receive all the relevant information they need to make a purchase decision bundled on one platform.

The social customer experience makes the buying process less complex and thus minimizes the chance that prospective buyers will cancel the shopping experience before completing the purchase. Social commerce uses social networks as a base for purchase transactions to take place. This is extremely practical and user-friendly for potential customers: if they come across an interesting product while browsing Instagram, they can call it their own with just a few clicks.  

Due to the fact that no other marketplace is involved in social commerce, consumers and companies come into direct contact with each other, which makes it possible to build up a strong community. Social commerce plugins, buttons or ads with calls-to-action that directly link to the respective online store also provide consumers with incentives to visit a brand's website. 

Multiple opportunities through various social commerce practices

There are several ways to upgrade the e-shopping experience through social media: first of all, it is possible to include direct links to the brand-website, for example via product links in feed posts or swipe-ups in Instagram Stories. Customers don't have to actively visit the online store, but are conveniently redirected by a few clicks without having to  leave the social media channel. To sum it up, social commerce shortens the customer journey & significantly boosts the customer experience. 

Another option is to integrate shoppable posts and stories into the brand's own online store. The keyword here is authentic marketing through user generated content (UGC) and organic influencers. Real content from real customers. The infiltration of UGC in the online store creates a sense of closeness, is authentic and puts the products in the spotlight in a number of ways. A wide range of people can identify with your product and brand through this content marketing strategy. 

The personal relationship between customers and the brand alongside  the exchange of ideas between customers stand at the core of social commerce. They become an integral part of marketing, contribute to a strong brand image, that is nuanced and highly individual. Creative, modern and personal is the motto of state-of-the-art marketing. Your brand should jump on the new e-commerce train: integrate social media into your sales process and use efficient platforms such as Instagram to enable communication and exchange between and with customers. 

How to integrate shoppable content into your marketing in in the blink of an eye

The squarelovin UGC tool helps brands collect customer images based on mentions, hashtags or geo-locations, filter them according to individual preferences, legally secure their use and place the content on all relevant marketing channels. For each image and video essential usage rights are requested individually in accordance with data protection law. The effective integration of user generated content strengthens customer loyalty and significantly improves the performance of websites and web shops. To learn more about squarelovin, click here to arrange a demo with one of our experts.