Since their inception, social media platforms have been used for buying and selling. It started out as someone posting a status letting their followers know they wanted to sell an item they no longer needed, but it has come a long way since then. In 2016, Facebook introduced Marketplace. This acted similarly to Gumtree and provided a specific place for users to buy, sell and swap within their local community. However, this was catered mainly to individuals rather than businesses.
Social commerce for businesses
Businesses have been using social media to advertise their products and services for years now, and it is one of the most effective marketing tools. About 67% of mobile users admit to browsing online stores on their devices for fun. More often than not, this ‘fun’ actually turns into an impulse buy as more than two thirds go on to make a purchase. However, until recently, if businesses wanted to encourage a sale from sites such as Facebook and Instagram then they would have to provide a link to an external landing page. This took away from the spontaneity of the purchase and added more steps for the customer.
The need for change
When the world population suddenly needed to transfer their lives online in early 2020, shopping drastically changed for many people. The days of popping to the mall and browsing for anything that took your fancy were suddenly over. The minds at Facebook wanted to try and replicate this for a digital age. They envisioned a place where customers could browse multiple stores at their fingertips and make a purchase without ever leaving the app. Enter, Facebook Shops.
In May of 2020, Facebook launched their new shopping feature. It allows businesses of any size to create an online catalogue of their products. This catalogue is fully customisable. Companies can choose which of their products to feature and include branded colours and images. The best part, it’s completely free and very simple to set up! Customers can then browse the collections; save products they are interested in and complete an order without leaving the page. They can even speak to the company directly through Facebook messenger if they have any queries. This creates a seamless shopping experience.
Since Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 (for a whopping £760 million), they are now the parent company of both brands. This means that when a business sets up a Facebook shop, it is automatically connected to their Instagram account, as long as they have linked their accounts in the app. Though the content of their online store will be the same across both platforms, thanks to Instagram’s unique layout it functions slightly differently for users. On Facebook, users either click into a shop from an ad or directly from the company’s page. Whereas Instagram has an entire tab dedicated to shopping integration. This tab shows personalised recommendations to each user and offers the opportunity to browse almost as they would in a real store. It also allows them to peruse different categories and search for specific items or brands. From there customers can save products, create specific wish lists, send them to other users or directly make a purchase through the app.
Now you understand the basics behind shopping on social media. So, why should you be using it?
- It’s free. What a beautiful word that is, free! You may as well give social commerce a shot, you have nothing to lose.
- Social Media is where your customers are. There are 82 billion daily users on Facebook and over 500 million on Instagram. The likelihood of finding your target market amongst these users is pretty high, don’t you think?
- Users on social media are ready to buy. Over 50% of millennials are likely to make a purchase over social media.
- Ready to read reviews. Customers love to know what others think before they buy and roughly 84% of shoppers will check a business’s social media before purchasing. If your product is as good as you promise, then they will be tempted to buy it straight away if you give them the option.
It seems like a no brainer to us, so why not give it a go and let us know how it goes? Good Luck!