What is Social Commerce & Why Should You Care?

by Giovanni "Gio" Thermot on October 24, 2019

“I would focus on delivering 'experiences' in a micro sense...to make...Content and Commerce easier and more seamless for the user.”
- Jeff Stripp, VP, Marketing & Sales, Zogics.com

There lies the big challenge that ecommerce brands and Shopify stores alike face in 2019 and beyond: the ability to seamlessly tie content and commerce seamlessly. Shortened attention span, fueled by the collective addiction to convenience have made things like “1 click check-out”, “Same delivery”, “Free Delivery”, among others the norm in the collective psyche. This is no more evident than in the rise of Social Commerce.

Social commerce entails using social networks for purposes of eCommerce. Of late, it has come to mean selling directly through the various social networks such that one can directly checkout from without leaving the social network they are currently using. It is fundamentally about capitalizing on prospects purchase intent when their interest is highest. Plus - it makes sense.

Offline shopping is very much a social experience: You likely shop in a group, ask friends for feedback, or buy the same brand that your parents / colleagues, or friends do. eCommerce, up until recently, has not carried that social component. That is until the emergence of Social Commerce. Heidi Cohen, formerly of Citibank and of the Economist, puts it best:

“Regardless of where the purchase is made, many shopping decisions involve more than one individual’s input...74% of consumers [now] rely on social networks to guide their purchasing decisions...it’s a no brainer to sell where your customers are.”

One of my first mentors always said, “In God we trust, everyone else bring data.” Well, what does the data say in support of that? Is this a fad or should it be taken this seriously? The short of it is - it depends on who your customers / prospects are. If you are targeting millennials and GenZers, well, you need to be embracing social commerce - like NOW! And you want to do so for two main reasons: 1) Propensity for “impulse purchase” and 2) Virtual social proof.

1.) Propensity for “Impulse Purchase”

According to a recent Statista survey, as of 2018 younger generations are more prone to impulse purchases.

2.) Social Proof

Social media’s primary use case is one of connecting through shared interests, staying updated on your friends’ whereabouts (via their updates), stalk your ex or new flames’ IG, or catch up on the latest updates tied to your social circle’s hobby of choice. Within the confines of those interactions, social commerce kicks things up a notch: social proofing is now directly tied to that circle of friends (or acquaintances with whom you share similar interests). Your consumption of their likes and testimonials of a product is no longer met with the level of skepticism that traditional advertisement entails. My friends find this product / service remarkable - I likely will too. Their word is honest and thus, trustworthy.

The likes tell others - their friends that this thing is attention worthy. Every additional comment, like, and views acts as a positive reinforcement of your brand and offering. According to BigCommerce, “every mention from customers that have nothing to gain by spreading the word is 100x more powerful than any promotion from your brand.”

Those likes tell other users this thing is worth their attention. It’s something they need to be paying attention to. According to Neilsen’s Consumer Trust Index, “91% of users trust other users and their opinions.” Social commerce puts brand-generated promotion and user-generated content- in the form of likes, comments, and shares - in one place to exponentially amplify the effectiveness of your campaign as time goes on. It is compounded interest for your marketing efforts.

To synthesize, Social Commerce, that is the use of social network to drive ecommerce (ideally within the very social networks that your prospects are using), can be a powerful driver of sales depending on your target audience. It seamlessly combines two key elements of traditional - offline- shopping: impulse purchase and social proof. Tomorrow we’ll explore successful examples of companies that have mastered Social Commerce and share tips that you can leverage as you embark / refine your social commerce strategy.