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Written by Sam Yadegar on Mar 8 , 2021

Social media platforms are making it easier for brands to sell products on their apps — here’s why your e-commerce company should hop on board. 

Here you’ll learn:

  • How social media e-commerce has evolved
  • What e-commerce looks like on a variety of social platforms
  • Ways to improve your social selling game
  • The latest stats on social selling

In response to the global pandemic, online shopping experienced an unprecedented boost in 2020. While overall purchase power declined, millions of people opted to shop stores virtually over brick-and-mortar counterparts.

Not only did this breathe new life (and competition) into the e-commerce space, but social media brands took notice. In recent months, many of the most popular social platforms added new features to enable e-commerce brands to sell more easily through their apps, also called social selling. 

social selling on mobile

It’s clear that m-commerce and social media will have a big impact on the future of online shopping. (Image via Unsplash)

The rise of shopping on social media

Instagram recently added more functionality to its shoppable posts, rolled out a dedicated “Shop” section to its home screen, implemented an in-app checkout option, and launched Instagram Live Shopping

In May 2020, Facebook introduced Facebook Shops, “a mobile-first shopping experience where businesses can easily create an online store on Facebook and Instagram” (Facebook owns Instagram). Pinterest introduced shoppable pins, a new Shop tab on its search bar, and an enhanced product tagging tool. And TikTok has recently partnered with brands like Shopify and Walmart.

With all of these updates, it’s clear that m-commerce (or mobile commerce) and social media will have a big impact on the future of online shopping.

Why social media selling deserves more attention

Getting the desired results with your main e-commerce digital marketing strategies already? Here’s why social selling is still worth your consideration.

  • 78% of companies that use social selling outsell the competition that doesn’t. (Forbes)
  • 76% of buyers are ready to talk to the brands selling their products on social media. (LinkedIn)
  • 78% of millennial salespeople use social selling tools. (HootSuite)
  • 89% of top salespeople are using social selling tools. (LinkedIn)
  • Companies that create a high-quality social selling strategy are 40% more likely to reach revenue goals than those that don’t. (Digital Marketing Institute)

Social selling is more than just using these platforms to sell your products. A successful strategy often involves paid promotion, thoughtful organic content, and being mindful of the differences in each platform. The good news: If you’ve got an active business account on these platforms, you’re off to a good start.

Let’s take a closer look at e-commerce social selling tips.

blue sky instagram

Post organically and thoughtfully to stay top of mind with followers. (Image via Blue Sky Planners on Instagram)

1. Use a holistic approach

While these new tools and features are appealing to e-commerce brands looking to sell on social media, don’t forget about nurturing your organic following as well. 

Just like search engine marketing, a well-rounded social selling plan involves both paid ads and non-paid efforts. Leaning too heavily on one or the other likely won’t help you reach revenue goals.

Outside of creating compelling virtual storefronts and shoppable ads, don’t forget to post organically and thoughtfully to stay top of mind with followers. Your content should be high-quality and accurately reflective of your offerings. And, if you have the bandwidth, there are even more ways you can build a relationship with your digital audience, such as:

  • Posting Stories or temporary content along with regular permanent posts
  • Following back those who follow you
  • Liking and responding to comments on your posts
  • Sharing user-generated content (UGC) that include your brand

A well-maintained account helps cement trust. It can also help push prospects further down the sales funnel.

2. Create content with a purpose

Social media has evolved significantly from the early day of Facebook, Friendster, and MySpace. Today, it’s not just about connecting with others — the platforms are also places where we get news, explore topics, find inspiration, and much more.

With that in mind, think about creative ways you can engage your followers through text and images. From quick bites of industry news to “how-to” posts and video tutorials or tours, work on bringing valuable and educational content to your social media accounts.

pinterest outdoor voices

Pinterest has rolled out numerous tools for merchants in both the U.S. and U.K. (Image via Pinterest)

3. Don’t ignore Pinterest

Companies sometimes overlook Pinterest when building their social selling strategies in favor of focusing on the big four (that’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram). But, for e-commerce businesses in particular, this platform can be a beneficial resource for sales and marketing efforts. 

Firstly, consider its reach: Pinterest has 442 million monthly active users worldwide, with 98 million in the U.S. In 2020, the percentage of users who leveraged the platform for shopping reportedly increased by 50%. 

In response to the growing demand, Pinterest rolled out numerous tools for merchants in both the U.S. and U.K.

For brands using Shopify, there’s even a special app that can help streamline your Shopify and Pinterest accounts. This way, you can easily turn your Shopify products into Product Pins on Pinterest.

Need more e-commerce marketing help? Let’s talk.

4. Consider product videos

The power of video marketing continues to increase in popularity. These days, more than 70% of potential buyers make a positive purchase decision after watching a product video. This makes social media platforms the perfect place to post and promote video marketing content.

Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube all allow the use of paid video ads. While different platforms have different ad specs and requirements, once you determine where most of your audience is, you can begin creating, optimizing, and modifying video content that can be leveraged across each with success.

For example, Instagram added a “shop featured products” option to Reels (an Instagram video content type that allows users to post longer videos than in-feed video post time limits permit) in late 2020. This allows for seamless purchasing of items shown in the videos.

tiktok shopify

Though TikTok’s audience often skews younger than that on Instagram or Facebook, the purchasing power of these users still offers high potential for many brands. (Image via Shopify)

5. Keep an eye on TikTok

In October 2020, TikTok made a huge step toward e-commerce by entering a partnership with Shopify. Shopify users can now connect their accounts to TikTok for Business and sell products through in-feed shoppable video ads.

And with the app’s white-hot rise in popularity across regions and demographics, TikTok is likely to launch more e-commerce features in the near future. Though this platform’s audience often skews younger than that on Instagram or Facebook, the purchasing power of these users still offers high potential for many brands.

The takeaway

As more and more consumers shop online and via their smartphones, selling products on social media is bringing serious sales to e-commerce businesses far and wide.

Social media is a great way to connect with your target audience, build a relationship, and target new customers in a way that’s streamlined and direct. To stay on top of your selling game, it’s imperative to monitor social media selling tool updates and take full advantage of them when it makes sense for your brand and audience.

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar

Sam Yadegar is the co-founder and CEO of HawkSEM. Starting out as a software engineer, his penchant for solving problems quickly led him to the digital marketing world, where he has been helping clients for over 12 years. He loves doing everything he can to help brands "crush it" through ROI-driven digital marketing programs. He's also a fan of basketball and spending time with his family.

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