In this digital age, consumers are evolving. When it comes to their attention span, it is only getting shorter. The purchasing journey is now more complicated than before, rife with multiple touchpoints in which to engage the consumer. As the shift towards social commerce begins, the e-Commerce space has now expanded to cohesive, seamless shopping experiences that exist both online and offline, incorporating extensive social functions such as live streaming, chatbots, and real-time customer service.
Why should a brand care about social commerce? It is arguably the best way for a business to connect and build a relationship with customers, translating to increased conversions and better performance presently. Millennials and Gen Zs are increasingly important demographics for marketing efforts. With the widespread use of social media, these audiences are interacting with each other more, discussing brands and services. The younger generation places more emphasis on entertainment value and the experience that comes with a purchase, and that is where brands need to be.
Understanding social commerce and how brands can benefit from it will help in making sure you are part of the evolution, rather than being left behind.
The Social Commerce Landscape
Social commerce is all about engineering organic discovery by consumers and nudging them to complete the purchasing journey all within a platform itself. It can take the form of a social media platform that incorporates e-Commerce elements, or vice versa. Sometimes, it can even be a messaging platform that has adopted e-Commerce features.
The current leaders in the social commerce space include popular Chinese platforms like Little Red Book, Weibo, and WeChat. In a more localised context, Lazada and Shopee are Southeast Asian e-Commerce giants that are leading the pack.
Douyin, or TikTok, should be no stranger to most marketers, having propelled its way to massive success as the go-to short-form video sharing application. Many brands have utilised this platform to create immersive hashtag challenges and encourage user-generated content for brand awareness.
Of course, the stalwarts that are Instagram and Facebook are part of the conversation as well. Both platforms are stepping up their social commerce game with more functions that allow in-app purchases and business services. These two platforms are already widely popular as social media applications, and expanding with an e-Commerce presence can definitely be beneficial for brands with a following on these networks.
Once you have a clearer understanding of your customers, adopting the appropriate platform and features that appeal to them is the next step forward.
Choosing the right marketing strategy
Having an effective marketing strategy can help a brand stand out in an increasingly saturated marketing landscape. Traditional methods of advertising are losing efficacy for the modern consumer, whereas recommendations from trusted sources appear to be gaining traction.
Micro-influencers should be considered as key cogs of marketing campaigns. Seen as more trustworthy and authentic than macro-influencers, these micro-influencers are more likely to be able to reach out to an invested target audience, and also more cost-effective.
The power of exclusivity has also never been greater. Creating a sense of urgency can result in an increased clamour for your products. Time-sensitive deals, limited edition products, or special discount codes are great ways to incentivise the consumer base. In turn, this also encourages consumers to pay more attention to the brand, and act fast. It is all about generating hype and demand for the brand.
It might come as a surprise, but social commerce is not just limited to the digital world. With Online-to-Offline (O2O) marketing, brands can connect offline physical services with users online to create a unique customer experience. Think of ways to add value to online customers and encourage them to visit physical stores, such as special discount coupons that can only be used in-store.
“Leveraging on these rising stars can help build brand awareness, provide persuasive reviews, and create an outlet to offer special deals to potential customers and followers. “
“This will not only incentivise customers to follow the brand online, but also drive footfall to stores. “
From Social Media Marketing to Social Commerce
It is now time to rethink the Consumer Experience Journey (CEJ). It is no longer a straightforward, linear process from awareness to purchase. Instead, the consumer faces multiple touchpoints where decision-making can be affected. They seek information from various sources and platforms, and it is vital to catch their attention quickly and through means that are relevant to them.
Word-of-mouth marketing can be an organic and cost-effective way to promote brands through real customer experiences. With organic reviews readily available on social media, consumers tend to consider these opinions when making a purchasing decision. To ensure brands are well represented, there should be a focus on creating a positive customer experience. A consistent and ever-present brand persona will also aid in the process.
To understand consumers’ sentiments about a brand, it becomes essential to track product reviews using important metrics such as volume and average ratings. It allows for a more precise and complete picture when brands can see just how well a product is doing in the eyes of the consumers and against the competition. Any outstanding concerns can also be readily identified and hopefully resolved.
Reviews are extremely important in a consumer’s complicated purchasing journey. Including them in your social commerce strategy will provide a better understanding of your target audiences, and pave the way for success.
The time to step into social commerce is right now. Getting a good grasp of the concepts and strategies behind it will maximise the opportunities for brands. With an increasingly competitive market, you will need every advantage you can get.