What Is Social Commerce and How Can Brands Make the Most of It

John Beaton
December 12, 2022
Last Updated On
Social commerce

What Is Social Commerce?

Social commerce is buying goods or services with social media as the primary forum. Having become a staple in people's lives, channels have responded by integrating commerce directly into their platforms as they compete for attention. The benefit to audiences is clear—buying products with a few screen taps is convenient if you're already spending a lot of time on social media. As for brands, the importance of social commerce is even more significant and somewhat existential.

The average internet user now spends 2 hours and 27 minutes daily on social media. This also means that people spend 2 hours and 27 minutes less on activities such as watching TV, listening to the radio, or shopping in person—all activities marketers have traditionally used to attract customers. Consider a person's day as a pie. The slice of pie dedicated to social media is superseding everything else, particularly as they are drawn towards the infinite scroll of TikTok and Instagram Reels.

The amount of content available for people to watch is now never-ending, which is bad news for traditional ads but offers the opportunity of a lifetime for marketers willing to forgo the status quo. They understand that social commerce is no longer a convenience for brands—it is essential to propel growth. To help you get started, we’ve outlined the value propositions of e-commerce for each channel.

Social Commerce vs. Ecommerce

Considering e-commerce is how you checkout, you may be wondering if e-commerce is a subset of social commerce. Many brands choose to have e-commerce without engaging in social commerce, and other brands choose to promote their products with the intent of having buyers shop in person. Hence, the two functions are independent of one another—but brands with the strongest social commerce and e-commerce strategies understand the benefits of using them in tandem to attract customers on social media and send them straight to checkout.

Why Your Brand Should Focus on Social Commerce

Just look at the numbers if you’re wondering how e-commerce changes business. E-commerce sales are predicted to grow by 56% over the next few years, and as many brands are looking to break through growth plateaus, optimizing their online customer journey has become their greatest priority.

A strong content commerce strategy can also contribute to growth. Beauty brands that performed well with Dash Hudson’s proprietary Entertainment Score metric on TikTok grew significantly better than brands with less entertaining content.

Top Channels for Social Commerce

what buyers use social for

E-commerce and social media have played into one another for a long time, and each channel offers something different. From product discovery features to integrated checkout, many tools are available to grow your brand’s online presence and fine-tune your discovery-to-checkout process.

  • As a text-based and link-sharing platform, Twitter is relatively straightforward in how brands send users to checkout. Many brands use exclusive codes or offerings as incentives to encourage shoppers to convert.
  • TikTok is the newest social channel on this list, but it is already making a significant impact, with products that have gone viral on TikTok overnight becoming top sellers. The platform now allows brands to connect to their e-commerce platforms and continues to grow its shopping capabilities at a breakneck pace.

YouTube, by contrast, has been around for a generation, but it is also adding new shoppable features, such as live links to e-commerce during streams. The sooner a brand can get people from discovery to checkout, the more likely they are to follow through with a purchase, and these live links go a long way in making e-commerce an interactive, shared experience.

Instagram

Instagram has nearly 1.5 billion monthly active users and is a top destination for everything from influencer content to entertainment. The channel is deeply integrated with other Meta platforms, such as Facebook, meaning that all of Facebook’s product innovations naturally carry over to Instagram—including its robust product catalog, which allows brands to create their online store directly from Facebook.

Instagram also offers a shop tab on business profiles and shopping tags to send users from photographs to e-commerce. It is the largest channel for link-in-bio solutions (such as LikeShop)—another innovative way to build your e-commerce repertoire.

Facebook

Facebook is the largest social platform, with nearly 3 billion monthly active users, and it is a channel that most brands simply cannot ignore. It is where social commerce took off and has the most sophisticated product catalog on the market (shared with Instagram). Brands don’t even need to connect another e-commerce tool with Facebook. However, there are certainly benefits to having a different, non-social e-commerce tool in your marketing kit—cross-channel campaigns being the most important.

Facebook is also known for its robust Marketplace, where users can buy and sell products to one another. Marketplace has taken on a life of its own and has become the de facto “yard sale” for many communities.

Pinterest

Pinterest’s unique advantage as a social channel is its focus on inspiration and discovery. There is already an audience on the channel motivated to save and share your products, and your challenge is to figure out how to direct them to your store.

Pinterest has a multitude of e-commerce tools, including product tagging on pins, a shop tab on business profiles, multi-image ads, and augmented reality for home decor. The channel continues to introduce new features frequently, and top brands will ensure they keep up-to-date with these new innovations.

Brand Examples of Social Commerce in Action 

Ganni

Ganni uses LikeShop to connect its Instagram content to social commerce, paired with a strategy that puts entertaining short-form videos first. The brand grew its organic Instagram video views by over 60% using Dash Hudson.

Ganni Reels
@ganni

1stDibs

1stDibs analyzes its content performance in real-time to identify trends and adjust its strategy on the fly. The home industry is highly competitive on social media, but 1stDibs succeeds at using LikeShop to send Instagram users directly to its website. With Dash Hudson, the brand grew its website CTR by 80%.

1stdibs reel
@1stdibs

Rare Beauty

Rare Beauty is one of the most entertaining brands on TikTok, and it succeeds at using the channel to deliver entertainment value while linking its content to the value of its product. TikTok users are driven to make worthwhile purchases, and seeing products in action is a substantial motivating factor in their shopping habits. Rare Beauty uses creators to drive 98% of its total campaign conversions on TikTok ads.

rare beauty tiktok
@rarebeauty

Get Started With Social Commerce Using Dash Hudson

Dash Hudson is the ultimate all-in-one social media tool for marketers that want to put their best creative forward and drive measurable business results. With the right tool, you can analyze your social performance, turn your content into an online catalog, and optimize how many customers you are sending to checkout. Dash Hudson has the Social Commerce tools you need to get started.

FAQs

How does social commerce work for brands?

Social commerce is the easiest way for brands to meet customers where they spend their time. There are three main ways that social channels allow brands to sell products:

  • Channels such as Instagram allow you to sell your products through an integrated product catalog
  • Channels such as TikTok allow you to connect your e-commerce platform to your profile
  • Channels such as Twitter allow you to link directly to products or special promotions

What is social shopping?

Social shopping is buying products and services directly through social media. Many social channels now offer storefront pages that allow brands to sell products through one simple interface that is only a few taps away.

Why is social commerce important? 

Social commerce is essential for brands because it is the most surefire way to grow their customer base. The general population spends a meaningful amount of time on social media, and to drive sales, brands need to reach people where they are.

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