Online retailers have long since recognized the value of social media for advertising and marketing, but as people spend more of their time on social media platforms, platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have moved toward letting users make purchases directly rather than going through shopping links. This trend of social media sales is growing, and it’s important to understand how it can serve businesses.
Social media creates numerous opportunities for brands to connect to potential customers. Users on social media naturally discuss products in their posts and stories, and brands can post news and information for their followers, but integration between social media and the brand’s sales platform greatly simplifies the process of turning engagement into sales.
Mobile Platforms Make Social Sales Necessary
Internet use is moving to mobile, and mobile apps account for 84.9% of time spent using mobile devices. With Facebook reaching 73.8% of and Instagram reaching 40.5% of mobile users, per Statista, apps like these are entire ecosystems where people consume content, communicate, and shop rather than using web browsers. Getting customers to visit your site or download your shopping app is difficult, but if they can purchase your products without having to leave their social media app, there is less friction from browsing to checkout.
Social commerce links on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media are increasingly common. TikTok recently tested social commerce links in bios and posts as well, letting customers buy without leaving the app.
Instagram Shopping Adds Checkout
As an image-centric platform, Instagram has been seen as ideal for marketing visually appealing products in categories like food, fashion, and arts. With product tags within the content, users who are interested in the products they see can get personalized referrals to where they can purchase products. The Instagram Shopping platform is going further, now allowing US-based stores to enable customers to checkout on Instagram. Shops can be integrated with Shopify, BigCommerce, and potentially other eCommerce platforms.
Instagram recently announced that Instagram Shopping posts can now be used as ads, making it easier to use social media engagement as a direct call to action with commerce links that customers can follow.
Live Shopping from Social Media Expected to Grow
As live-streaming is growing online, it has become integrated with eCommerce as well. Instagram Shopping has also integrated with its live-streaming feature so viewers can buy products featured in live video content immediately. In 2019, live video shopping generated $60 billion in global sales in 2019 and was predicted to double in 2020, according to Coresight. The U.S. was responsible for less than $1 billion of that total, but it’s likely to grow as platforms popular in the U.S. integrate live streaming with their sales channels.
Restaurant Ordering through Social Media
Instagram has partnered with the ordering platform ChowNow to allow eaters to place orders through restaurant Instagram pages. Just clicking on a picture of food on Instagram can take you directly to buying it. Per Restaurant Business, 31% of millennials often share pictures of their food on social media, making Instagram posts related to a restaurant a tempting place to offer instant ordering. Facebook has had an Order Food option in connection with multiple food ordering services since 2017, but Instagram’s increased integration can lead to more conversions. re
As people spend more time on social media and place their trust in products they see promoted and recommended there, giving them the ability to purchase directly has enormous potential for businesses. Whether as a major source of sales or as a way to promote discoverability and transition customers to a mobile sales platform that you control, social commerce is crucial to reaching customers in the modern age.