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Social Commerce Benefits, Drawbacks and Top Trends for 2021

Apr 8, 2021
by Jolie Stern
Social Commerce Benefits, Drawbacks and Top Trends for 2021

Social commerce is an emerging digital trend that is here to stay, going far beyond traditional ecommerce selling tactics. From product discovery to research and eventual transaction; all steps of the buyer’s journey can be completed seamlessly through social commerce. Implementing a social commerce strategy has been positively linked to increase in brand awareness, revenue, and brand engagement. There are several benefits when adding social commerce to a company’s multi-channel sales ecosystem, and this trend is definitely one to watch and follow in 2021.

What is Social Commerce

Social commerce is a mode of selling that optimizes social media and social interaction to drive engagement and sales. Unlike traditional ecommerce, social commerce utilizes platforms such as Facebook & Instagram to drive purchase decisions outside of a brands’ online ecommerce website. Through social commerce, a user can purchase a company’s product directly on the social media platform in which they are engaged, allowing for increased online buying and selling with minimal touch points in the buyer journey. Social commerce removes friction; allowing brands to highlight product information and content in a new and fresh manner, ultimately taking the online buying experience to the next level. 

Benefits of Social Commerce

Social commerce provides several benefits for the consumer, in addition to the brand itself. On the consumer level, social commerce allows for simple product and information discovery; creating unique, interactive touch points for users to engage with the brand, the product, and its features. On the brand side; social commerce creates a unique opportunity for building brand awareness, networking & social interaction, and data on consumer insights and behavior. The benefits of social commerce enables brands to satisfy the needs of each target audience member through a strong and more personalized digital user experience.  

Social Commerce Provides Better User Experiences

To start, social commerce provides consumers with an improved user experience; offering much less friction and touch points in the buyer’s journey than a traditional ecommerce experience would. Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest aid companies seeking to optimize social commerce by reducing the click journey for users. In general, most Millennial and Gen Z demographics research products first — on platforms like the above, before purchase. By targeting these users on the social media platforms they are using for discovery, in addition to reaching them on the product’s website; there will inherently be less points of friction and the selling process will become streamlined. 

User experience on social commerce platforms can easily be enhanced and optimized through the usage of personalization tactics. It is important to reach customers with the right message  at the right stage in the buyer journey, guiding them toward their purchase decision. Personalization will contribute to minimizing friction points as users move towards completing a transaction, engaging them with personalized content specific to their needs. Additionally, platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest can provide companies with endless customer data. Some information that could be beneficial to learn from these platforms include what the customer recently viewed & interacted with, as well as other data points such as their age and geographic location. Overall, this data will make it easier to hyper-target audience members, producing relevant content for them to engage with, and increase sales end-to-end. 

Social commerce is inherently an interactive social experience, allowing brands to connect with their audiences on many levels. Because of this, companies can collect useful customer feedback — in addition to user data — based on brand engagement and interactions through social platforms. Social media allows consumers to easily network and engage with their friends and admired brands; promoting electronic word of mouth while making it easy to leave comments and reviews on products, product features, and the overall customer experience. 

Drawbacks of Social Commerce

Although increasing brand engagement and connecting with consumers can be achievable through implementing social commerce, there is still a true risk of losing brand awareness along the way. By no longer selling directly to consumers through the brand’s website and using social channels instead, consumers are no longer seeing key aspects of the brand’s identity. Some parts of the brand that can be easily lost are aspects of core messaging, mission & value statements, and what makes the business unique against competition. By using highly adopted social platforms, it is harder to stand out against competition in a marketplace that may be more saturated than traditional ecommerce selling. Additionally, Instagram and other platforms have their own guidelines in terms of design — ultimately hindering brand creativity. Global companies may also face further challenges when reaching their audiences. For example, many countries are behind in technology, and therefore different approaches to social commerce may need to be explored when implementing in various regions.  

Conclusion

Despite these drawbacks, social commerce continues to be a leading trend in omni-channel selling for companies worldwide. It is clear that the use of social media in combination with ecommerce can help educate consumers in ways traditional ecommerce websites cannot. Whether it be guiding users toward personalized content, making consumers aware of product benefits they may not have previously known about, or creating strong and long lasting customer relationships and communities — social commerce is a digital marketing strategy trend that has the potential to increase marketing efficiency, while reducing acquisition costs  in an innovative and progressive manner. 

 

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